a few weeks back, i headed to wild and wonderful west virginia for my buddies' bachelor party. we rented a house in summersville, spent the evenings drinking and the days rafting on the gualey river. on the way there, i stopped at the new river gorge bridge, it is one of the longest single span arch bridges in the world, and i travel over it frequently on my way to and from pennsyltucky, but i had never hiked down to the overlook - this time i did. i was able to snap a few good images before continuing on my way to the river. i arrived friday evening to a sweet cabin in the woods, where a few of my friends were all ready pretty tuned up. we ate and drank far into the evening as everyone trickled in through out the night. the following morning we re-introduced our selves to don, who was our newly acquainted friend that brought the raft and the experience to get us down the river alive. after a healthy breakfast, we figured out shuttles and set them, about and hour and half long ordeal, but well worth it in the end. day one we paddled the lower gauley, the less intense section of water here, but still pretty huge in spots. six of us set out in the raft along with don, and my brother and his buddy nate paddled their play boats along side us - they were able to get some good footage with go pro strapped to my brothers helmet. don did a good job whipping us into shape, and soon we were paddling in sync. about halfway through we stopped for lunch at diagonal ledges, which is one of the best surf waves on the river. jimmy let me get in his play boat and surf the wave - it was awesome, i need a play boat. we managed keep the boat upright the entire trip, and no one had to swim any of the rapids. that evening consisted of drinking and eating, followed by more drinking and some old time david allan coe sing alongs - making sure we were thoroughly prepared for the intense trip we had the following day. sunday morning we managed to get up around 7, don cooked breakfast while the rest of us nursed our hangovers and tried to get gear ready for the upper gauley. we set shuttles, another hour long trip, and met another new friend chris, who was gracious enough to guide us down the upper section of the river. this section was quite intense, and luckily we had someone who was quite familiar with the water and what lines we needed to take in all of the rapids. jimmy got in the raft with us this time, not wanting to kayak the upper with out another kayaker who knew the water a little better than he did. we ran every rapid smoothly and with out incident and were able to keep everyone in the boat yet again, even through pillow rapid, which is the most intense white water on the river. we stopped for lunch at sweets falls and had a good time watching rafts flip trying to go through box canyon, a slot just big enough for a raft to sneak through. after watching numerous people swim here, we decided we were going to attempt it - knowing very well that we were 99% guaranteed to swim as well. if you watch the video, you'll see the view from the raft and the rock we were on (don filmed it, he didn't want to swim). the rest of the day went smoothly as usual, and we were off the water by 3. we deflated the raft and crammed it into the back of the dons car, along with 10 paddles, pfds and helmets - somehow there was still room for a kayak, don and my brother. everyone else packed up their gear, we all said goodbye, and headed our separate ways. this was an awesome trip, my first time down the gualey river, and i hope to be back next year to paddle the lower in my kayak.
the video i posted here is a long one - but if ya have 10 more minutes to kill, check it out. i did a time-lapse of my trip up, mostly through virgina and west virginia, and also one of us drinking around the fire. the rest is the highlights of the rafting trip, shot mostly by jimmy's go pro. enjoy it if you have time. i had originally set the video to john denver and metallica, but lars ulrich found out some how, and decided youtube needed to mute the soundtrack, so i replaced the awesome tunes with stock music google provided. i recommend queuing up country roads by mr sunshine on my shoulder john denver, and the four horsemen by metallica - and letting them play over the soundtrack on the movie. enjoy.