Inflatable Kayaking on the New River
Trip Start Mar 21, 2010
11Trip End Oct 17, 2010
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We left here really early after nearly an hour of strapping three feet worth of gear on the top of my Blazer for the journey south. We brought our own kayaks, paddles and river gear as well as all the camping gear, food and a shit-load of beer that we needed.
We arrived in the early afternoon on Friday and started setting up camp. Within 15 minutes Tim, Mike and I had polished off a case of beer. We made Dave our D.D. and headed out to "drunken Wal-Mart" because the guys forgot alot of stuff and we needed beer and some food. We had a really fun time in Walmart and picked up more beer and liquor on the way back to Songer
Back at camp Crystal, Brooke, and Nick were waiting for us. We made some food and continued drinking. I was happy to see that my friends from work got along well with my WV friends, everyone was telling jokes and having a good time together. We wandered over to the High Water Lounge to play some pool and drink some more. They had $1 PBRs on special so we got pretty drunk. Mike and Tim were screwing around and pushing everyone and Mike actually got kicked out of the Highwater Lounge. I've never heard of anyone getting kicked out of there...it was hysterical! We returned to camp after some hi-jinx continued drinking and went to bed really late.
Needless to say we were all hung-over the next morning. We got up late and made some breakfast. The plan was to kayak the New River. Now I had only rafted the New River twice, Tim had done it about 4 times, Dave and Mike had never been on the New before. The level was at an easy and low -.5 feet on the Thurmond gauge. Our friend Dave M who is a guide suggested we follow behind his trip so he could give us some good lines. Dave and I went to ask the owner's daughter Mel if it was ok that we followed behind their trip and she said yes, she even gave permission for their gear trucks to take and bring back our kayaks with their rafts
Since it was a go we returned to camp to get river gear on and take the kayaks to the raft shed. Dave M and I went and set up shuttle leaving my Blazer at the take-out in Fayette Station. We got our boats blown up and strapped onto the raft truck and then we followed the bus to the put-in at Cunard. I had talked Crystal into going along since she had her own inflatable kayak even though she hasn't really paddled hard whitewater before. Crystal has rafted the New more times than any of us so she atleast had an idea where things were in the river. She was definitely nervous.
We had no trouble at all in class III Pinball rapid which is just a series of wave trains. When we got to class III Upper Railroad rapid we decided to make Tim the Point Guide, me and Mike were Roam Guides, protecting Crystal in the middle of the group and Dave would be the Sweep Guide at the back of the group. We hoped that this would give her a good idea of where to go and enough people in front and back of her if something happened.
Tim took a bad line through Upper Railroad and hit the meat of the giant hole and got flipped. Crystal followed him and also flipped. I came down next and missed the hole, Tim and I helped Crystal back into her kayak as both Mike and Dave came swimming down the wave train at the bottom of the rapid.....it was going to be an interesting day! Both Mike and I are hard-boaters so being in an inflatable kayak that doesn't roll was a little disconcerting. Tim and Dave always use the inflatable kayaks so they were used to them.
At class III Lower Railroad rapid Tim, myself, Mike and Dave came through the rapid fine but Crystal got flipped again
Mike was amazed at the size and power of this river. He's been a kayak guide for nearly 12 years but had never paddled anything more difficult than the Lehigh River. Up next was the Keeney Brothers. First is class III Upper Kenney rapid, no one had any problem here. We drove hard right of whale rock and made it down fine. In class IV Middle Kenney rapid Crystals kayak got sucked into the large hole on river left. The good news was that she was still upright, the bad news that I was heading right for her. She was really stuck in there so I decided to rear-end her to see if I could knock her out of the hole. It worked but left me stuck in the hole. I was able to work my way out with a little time. I was glad no one swam here because the Meat Grinder is right at the bottom of the rapid and a site of several fatalities
Up next we went through class II+ Lollygag rapid, class III Dudley's Dip rapid without any problems. Crystal seemed to loosen up since she got through the Keeneys fine.
But up next was the most complicated rapid on the river class IV Double Z rapid. We eddied out behind Thumb Rock and took a look at our options. We decided to run to the right of Otter Rock and follow the wave train down with a hard left hand angle to keep well away of Table Rock and Chair Hole, we didn't want any swims here! Everyone made the move fine and we didn't have any swims!
We went through class II Halls of Karma and class III Hook 99 rapids without any incidents. We came to class IV Greyhound Bus Stopper rapid and decided to sneak around it on the far right so no one would get stuck in the hole and swim. We next passed through class III+ Upper and Lower Kaymoor rapids without a problem.
When we came to class IV Miller's Folly rapid Crystal hit a hole sideways and flipped
We could see the New River Gorge Bridge coming into view and knew we were almost done, we had a few small riffles to go through until we came to class IV Fayette Station Rapid, which is one of my favorites! We took the line right through the meat and rode the huge fun wave trains down to the take-out.
I decided to try to roll my inflatable kayak at the take-out, which is really hard to do but I managed one. We hiked up the hill to the Blazer after loading our kayaks on Songer's gear truck. We all piled into my Blazer for the trek back to Songer. Mike was amazed at the new River, the gorge and the roads that lead out of the take-out.
Back at camp we showered and went over to the carnival that Songer set up. We had some drinks, got some burgers and food. Brooke road the mechanical bull, we went to the Highwater Lounge for awhile and continued drinking. And when sunset hit we watched the fireworks out in the field.
We returned to camp to play some drinking games, set off fireworks and generally carry on.
New River info: http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/2418/#tab-rapids