Sunday, September 25, 2005

Room of Doom

Well it was that time of year again: Gauley season! Finally we were getting the team back together to paddle. Mark and I paddled the Upper G Saturday while Josh and Ian took Sylvia and Rebecca on a rafting trip down the Lower. Saturday was damn crowded, as expected, but nevertheless we had a good time. I spent the day practicing cartwheels
the whole way down. Was even getting 2 points fairly consistently.Damn did everything hurt that night though! Overall a very nice day despite the crowds. I finally managed to run all the drops of Lost Paddle clean too, that was definitely a highlight.

Saturday night we hung out at Gauley fest with everyone for a little bit. Lots of funnel cake of course. Ultimately though we were damn tired and headed to Fayetteville to camp (I've camped at G-Fest before, didn’t need to do it again!).

Team NS

Sunday Josh and Ian joined us for the Upper. It was nice to have the team together again! But of course this is where things started getting interesting.... in true Team NS style. The beginning was relatively uneventful. Well with the exception of the near head on collision between Josh and I as he and Mark both decided to suddenly catch and surf a wave directly in front of me. Doh! That would have made great video.

The boys

Next we proceeded on to Insignificant. I swear the first two or three times that I've run that rapid were clean and problem free! ha ha this year though not as much. The first time I had a raft in my way end ended up right on top of the big hole at the top. Somehow miraculously though managed to paddle out of it without getting worked at all. The
next two times though I have no raft to use as an excuse.

I know what the line is "supposed" to be. But damn it I can never remember exactly
how far to the left of that damn hole I'm should be. Needless to say I keep clipping the left shoulder and on Saturday I got a short ride in it. Not too bad though, the far left side is fairly flushy. Sunday I had no problem seeing where the hole was. Ian did a great job of pointing it out for me and he went right into it and proceeded to do multiple underwater loops/cartwheels. Of course I was still too far right and was on course for my usual "clip the left shoulder" line. Well this time I had a bright red obstacle... Ian's boat... anyhow I’m pretty sure that I knocked him out as I hit him. See... this is what teamwork is all about! Anyhow I proceeded onward with few problems after that, having avoided the hole. Ian probably got a good nasal douching but was otherwise just fine.

Next comes Pillow Rock. I think that's always been my favorite rapid on the Upper G. Super fun and relatively consequence free... not so if you read the carnage reports from that weekend. Anyhow I realized that I really don't know what the line is at the top. I haven't had any problems with it at all this year but somehow that day was different.
I'm used to following someone down the entrance and from there I’m just fine on my own. That day though I knew that the girls were waiting to take pictures and I wanted to give the person in front of me time to get down so that they’d have time to take my picture too.

Somehow I got distracted. I don’t now what happened but I got focused on this curling wave on the left. You know how if you look in a certain direction that's where you're
bound to end up. Well there I was, suddenly heading to this wave. Nothing all that scary about it but it did spin me around. blah... no problem.. turn back and head right... ugh... easier said than done. As I flipped I saw exactly where I was headed... straight for the Room of Doom.

Heading for the Room

So there I am... in the Room of Doom... thinking: "HTF do I get out of here?" and then: "should I swim?, I don't wanna swim... damn HTF do I get out?" Okay so one, two, three roll attempts, all useless other than maybe getting a breath of air... sigh... okay getting
awfully friendly with the rock... then... suddenly.. the light at the end of the tunnel... things become calmer and..... I'm out!! the boat is moving along the rock... one more rush of turbulence as I hit the toilet bowl below Volkswagen Rock and I am free. Roll, cough up some water and find Mark waiting there ready to greet me. not.. my best line... but definitely the most exciting.

Me in the Room

Ian watches as Mark runs Pillow

Hanging out at Pillow

After hanging out with Sylvia and Rebecca (who had hiked down the trail) for a bit we headed on. Nothing more too exciting after this. Had a good, clean run on Lost Paddle once again. At Iron Ring Mark had the pleasure of watching from below as every one of the rest of us managed to flip at some point or other. I’m sure it was gratifying to know that he was the only one with a 100% clean run of the river that day. I think that maybe next time I’ll get out and look at Iron Ring again. At Sweets there was a raft wrapped around Dildo rock (the spot where Mark pinned last week...) creating a pretty nice rooster tail. Clean run there too... well 2 out of 5 ain't too bad! lol.

Pencil Sharpener

Dinner at the Palms, Staunton, VA

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Sunday, September 18, 2005


Mark and I wanted to get in another Gauley weekend before Gauley Fest. We also decided to finally check out the Lower Gauley. So on Saturday we did just that. It was a beautiful run but ultimately we were disappointed. First off the amount of rafts was absolutely incredible. Horrifying actualy. We looked up river and saw nothing but rafts. The flotilla was huge, way more than I'd ever seen on the Upper.

We found the rapids to be rather short and not terribly exciting and the miles of flatwater extremely painful. Nonetheless it was worth doing once. The most excitement of that run occurred when we got to Diagonal Ledges. We took one look at the line at the main play spot and didn’t even stop. We weren’t interested in waiting. Just a short way down however we found another hole, and no line. In fact there wasn’t anyone near it. Mark decided it looked like a good play hole and didn’t understand why there was no one there. So he went on in. He did a few spins and cartwheels and came out saying it was a little sticky but good to go.

So in I went. I surfed back and forth a little and then tried spinning but this just put me in a side surf. Then of course I immediately started getting window shaded as I realized that the hole was a lot more powerful than I thought. It wasn’t very big, but it has some bite for sure. The scene must have been quite amusing. I kept rolling up and getting window shaded again. In between monologue went like this… “Mark…*window shade* …I hate…*window shade*… you…*window shade*….how do…*window shade*…I…*window shade*…get out…*window shade*…of here??” That went on for a while until I finally managed to flip and grab some green water with my paddle. The whole time Mark was shouting out non-helpful advice while at the same time trying to suppress uncontrollable laughter. humph!! Not my kind of play spot. If only he could have gotten video of it!!

Mark surfing at Canyon Doors, Lower Gauley

Me at Canyon Doors, Lower Gauley

Me at Canyon Doors, Lower Gauley

Me at Canyon Doors, Lower Gauley

The next day we ran the Upper Gauley again. It was Mark’s first time down this year. Everything was going fine until we got to Sweets Falls. He didn’t remember the line too well and I asked if he wanted me to go first. He said he was fine and went ahead. I watched as he went down and followed a bit behind. He seemed to be going too far left.

As I watched I realized in horror that he was a good bit off. As he went over the drop he came to a dead stop. It was a terrifying moment. I wasn’t far behind him so my first thought was that I had to go farther right so I wouldn’t run into him. I was nervous because I didn’t want to be too far over but I had no choice as I hit the big green tongue I realized that I was exactly on line. In fact I had a great clean run. It probably helped that I was concentrating on doing well myself so I could help him if he needed it. In the time it took me to catch up to him he had slid off and was paddling down beside me. Below is his account of what happened:

As I left the staging eddy above Sweets the only thing I could remember about the line was that there was supposed to be some sort of seam that you were to follow over the drop. Looking around, I saw no seam. I started thinking about alternatives and my memory said that the entire middle was good to go (at least that's what I thought). Then I saw a seam, it was far off to my left and certainly further left than I remember ever going off the drop but since I didn't remember there being any reason to not go somewhere other than the way I had been going, I went ahead and paddled toward the seam. As I went over the point of no return I realized my mistake as I could see water spraying off a large rock right in front of me! I slammed into the rock with considerable force and somehow immediately vertically pinned on it with water rushing over top of me holding me forward onto the front deck of the boat. After a moment or two I realized I wasn't going to move anywhere unless I did something. So I started straining to straighten myself upright in order to change my shape in the water to see if it would dislodge me. Luckily this worked and I slid off the rock and into the frothy water below. Somehow I had managed to keep ahold of my paddle through all of this so I easily rolled up (to chearing from the crowd) and finished the rapid. I found myself quite tired despite how quickly it all happened I was grateful that the day was almost over.

He had pinned on Dildo rock. A week later someone wrapped a raft over it.

Luckily he was just fine. A little sore but overall okay. The experience definitely shook him some though. Overall though we had a good time and looked forward to returning for Gauley Fest the following week.

Mark, Upper Gauley

Me checking out Insignificant

Me at Whale Rock

Me at Pillow Rock

Me after completing my first 2 point cartwheel

Me above Sweets Falls

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Monday, September 05, 2005


After all summer of running the Upper Yough we realized we had only gotten a few action pictures. It's hard to set up with such a fast paced run and small eddies. So we decided to just go for a few easier shots. The obvious first choice was the boof at National, which Mark executed beautifully:

Mark - National Boof

Another good one was a small drop below Bastard (we still need to get a good shot of the main boof there). This drop is just above the big eddy at the bottom of the rapid so it was easy to get a good picture (and the lighting was great there too):

But ultimately one of the easiest places to photograph was a very small boof on the boogie water below all the major rapids. Though the drop itself was small, Mark was able to get pretty good air:

Very Boofy!! :)

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Upper Yough Videos 2005

Mark running boof on Upper Yough

Mark running the Gun Barrel

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