Christmas Party. The annual ... Members are asked to bring a covered dish and
good stories. WVWA will ... Please RSVP via the WVWA message board. Time to
... from the website, the dues will .... crowded than Saturday, a welcome change.
Volume 15 Issue 27
West Virginia Wildwater Association October 2015
50th Anniversay Special Edition
50 Years of the West Virginia Wildwater Association – It’s a PARTY!! by: Bridget Tincher The West Virginia Wildwater Association (WVWA) was founded in 1965 with the purpose of paddling and enjoying the wild and scenic rivers of West Virginia and the surrounding Appalachian area, and that’s just what we did to celebrate 50 years of the clubs existence. Folks started arriving at the old Rivers Campground, now owned by ACE, on Friday afternoon August 28. You knew you were in the right place because Dan Waller had staked out his campsite and there was a huge pile of wood ready for the night’s bonfire. No boats were in sight though because a group was already out on the water, running the Glade Creek to Grandview Sandbar section of the Upper New. Tom and I dropped our camper off and headed out for a later trip on that same section with close to twenty other excited paddlers. When we got back to camp around dark the place was hopping with activity. It was great to see familiar faces, people I had boated with over the past 20+ years, but what was really nice were all the unfamiliar faces. Over the next two days I met and boated with a whole new gang of $20 friends. It was obvious from the crowd that the WVWA had grown from an original hand full of members to a group that included families, women, adrenalin junkies looking for the next big wave and boaters interested in a more peaceful/scenic way to enjoy the great outdoors. There were even a number of folks from out of state, proving that word gets around about the WVWA. Matt Tucker was the master of ceremonies Friday evening with a slide/video show he had compiled from club member submissions. Memories of running many rivers over the course of many years were shared. It was neat seeing the progression of change in boating equipment, photography and hair color. I woke up around 3AM to the sound of gravel crunching as a vehicle came into the campground. Peeking out I saw a truck loaded with kayaks. That in itself wasn’t unusual but what was odd was the fact the each boat had a bunch of those little glow in the dark bracelets dangling from it. I woke Tom up so he could see. He told me a small group (Carson Wright, Alex Howden and Caleb Varney) had run the New River gorge by the light of the full moon. Falling back Photo by David Fairburn
Photo by Brent Smith
Photo by Woody Davis
asleep I could only imagine what it must have looked like, a silhouette of a kayaker and a boat, bouncing down through Middle Keeney, surrounded by flashes of neon colored light. Saturday morning the campground was bustling with activity. Groups gathered to hit the water in one or another of at least 4 different trips. Tony Daniel was leading a gang for a tour of Hawks Nest Overlook, the Mystery Hole, and an
island picnic and paddle at Kanawha Falls. There were also trips on the New River which included a beginners run on the Glade Creek to Grandview Sandbar section lead by Ruth and David Bell. Tom and I led a longer beginner friendly trip on the McCreery to Stonecliff section where we stopped at Ledges for lunch and a soak in the pour overs. David King organized another big group for a Gorge trip. A delicious barbeque dinner, with all the fixings, was served Saturday evening. The hall was crowded and spilling out into the parking lot. Folks that hadn’t seen each other in years recounted river trips from the past while the youngsters darted in and out with plates full of cookies and cake. It was great having Chally Erb, with his painted toes and psychedelic truck in our midst. A new Mamba kayak from ACE was being raffled. Chuck Brabec had a line waiting their turn to collect an arm’s length of tickets for twenty bucks - the longer your arm, the better the chance to win, I don’t know how many tickets were sold, but I know we went through one roll Photo by Linda Barthwick
Volume 15 Issue 27
and broke out a second before the drawing was held. Talk about beginner’s luck, Jerry Jefferson, a new member that had run the upper new for the first time in borrowed equipment, held the winning ticket and claimed the new boat to the cheers of the crowd. Harry Netzer made a short speech and presented a “bear claw” Tshirt to a deserving Matt Tucker. After dinner, the music began out by the pavillion. As the moon rose up over the surrounding hill tops, Cody Wickline, a Beckley native that competed on the VOICE TV show, entertained us with some good ‘ol foot stomping, hand clapping country tunes (ain’t that true Briar Stehman!). Some one set off some 4th of July worthy fireworks and upon the conclusion of the music the crowd relocated around a roaring bonfire. You could tell everyone had spent the day on the river because, unlike the previous night, the mood was mellow and relaxed. Sunday morning rolled around with the sound of tent’s being unzipped and the smell of coffee in the air. A group was heading back to run the Upper New and a huge group was trying to figure out the shuttle for a Gorge trip. Susan and Turner Sharp were running their yellow kat, I ran my kat with Linda Barthwick as cocaptain, and Tom guided our raft with seven paddlers on board. It was hard to get a good count, but I believe there were at least seventeen hard boaters in the group. Looking back upstream from below some of the rapids, it looked like a bag of brightly colored jelly beans had been dropped into the water. Don and Jo Beyer sailed along in their C2, and Doug Ackerman (aka Freeze) and Kim Casto were styling on their umpteen hundredth trip down the Gorge. Brian Parker, the youngest paddler in the group, had an awesome run along with his dad Rob. Tom dumped Angel McClure and Chuck Brabec in Middle Keeney, along with himself, but no harm done. Jim McClure summed it up back at camp saying he’d had a really good day on the water, no swims and no horse fly bites. All in all it was a group of twenty dollar friends out doing what West Virginia Wildwater club members have been doing best for 50 years; surfing, swimming, rolling, smiling, and woo hooing our way down the river. Photo by David Fairburn
WVWA 50th Celebraon August 28, 29, 30 by Ted Kinder The old Dirt Bags were out in full force this weekend along with a lot of new ones. The West Virginia Wildwater Associaon held its 50th Anniversary get together this weekend. Trips of all diﬀerent skill levels were run around the Fayeeville area. The New River was covered from Glade Creek to Fayee Staon. Trips were taken to the Mystery Hole and Kanawha Falls. I heard rumors of a full moon run. It is hard to imagine what whitewater would be like today without the early members of this group exploring rivers, naming rapids and building water cra$ of all kinds. My esmate is nearly 100 members new and old parcipated at some point in the weekend. A shout out to Casey at Ace Gear Shop for hooking us up with a place to camp, eat and a great deal on a Mamba kayak that was raﬄed oﬀ. One of our newest members and ﬁrst me kayaker Jerry Jeﬀerson boated in a Corsica that day and was the winner of the new boat. Thanks to all the oﬃcers and trip leaders for your work pu.ng the event together. Thanks President Tony Daniel for your leadership and coordinang the event. There were legends in our presence and most of us didn't even
recognize them, but on the water we were one big family. I saw teaching, playing, swimming, helping and developing new friendships. That's what it's all about. To all you dirt bags from young to old, thanks for a great weekend. See you on the River.
New - GC-GVSB - 8-28 by Dusn Johnson Level: 3.2 $ @ Thurmond Coordinator: Dusn Johnson Parcipants: Dusn Johnson, Ruth and David Bell, The Stehman Family, Wes and Linda Barthwick, Dan and Lori Waller, Cha Nopa Uhah (Two Scks), Stephanie Moreﬁeld, Woody Davis, Derreck, Ma Gailliot There were eleven kayaks, one open canoe, and two double ducks to kick oﬀ the 50th weekend. Not a bad group to spend a Friday a$ernoon with on the upper New. There was LOTS of playing around and working the river. We had hoped to meet Tom's trip at the takeout at 3:00, but we spent so much me surﬁng, ferrying, and eddying out that we surpassed that me about halfway through the trip. We caught up with Alex Howden and Ma Tucker and a few of their friends about halfway down and had a massive group playing our way to the take out. No swims to report. There was a lot of roll pracce along the way, and a great combat roll by Dan towards the end. No Nirvana at this level, so we spent our me surﬁng where the opportunity presented itself. Lori did great in the Do It Now, being really aggressive at every ledge we stopped to play. Derreck and Woody seemed to remember everything from the beginners clinic and looked great all day. There was a lile excitement and SWR pracce at the boom of Quinnimont with the Stehman’s double duck pinned on a rock, but some quick acon freed them without incident. When we ﬁnally took oﬀ, I couldn't convince any of the red parcipants to do some laps at Fayee Staon, so my apologies to Frank who showed up with nobody to join him. It was a great kick start to the weekend, and what seems like a bunch of successful trips by a lot folks!
Photo by David Fairburn
We had a great day on the NRG Saturday also. Good luck to whomever writes that trip report. Above Upper Railroad someone asked Harry how many people we had, to which he scanned the river and replied "I can't count that high!" We deﬁnitely had a great ﬂolla of cra$s working our way down the New River this weekend!
Volume 15 Issue 27 I connued down, Alex became a beater at some point in Double Z. No worries though because I believe you can duct tape Alex’s hands to his face and he will sll roll up with a smile. Gus boofed over a rock at the boom of Double Z causing his back band to snap providing Alex and I a 30-45 minute window to ﬁgure out how uncomfortable it was to aempt to sleep in a kayak. One important lesson learned during that 30-45 minutes was that throw ropes substute well for pillows. A$er Gus ﬁxed his back band with some webbing from Don’s awesome swi$ water rescue class, we connued down the Gorge. Photo by Jim
New River Gorge - 8-28 by Carson Wright River: Level: -0.51 Parcipants: Carson Wright, Alex Howden, and Caleb Varney (AKA Gustavo!)
We made it to Miller’s Folly without incident and were all woken up by Colgate wave catching us oﬀ guard with a punch to the chest. As fog covered the New River Gorge Bridge, we connued on through Fayee staon. A$er packing our gear and Alex into the back of the truck, we drove back up to Ace at 3:00 AM to ﬁnd Derek si.ng alone by the ﬁre raising his hands up in excitement. We sat around the ﬁre for a celebratory drink before everybody staggered back to their vehicles to sleep.
It was a great night to be on the Gorge. The sky was clear and the moon full as we crawled out of Jim’s minivan and began aaching rave party glow scks to every piece of gear we had. Jim snapped a couple photos of our technicolored glow and we shoved oﬀ towards Pinball and the warm ups at 11:00 PM. We anxiously meandered our way through Pinball and the Railroads. We quickly realized that green is the worst color glow sck to have in front of you and our conﬁdence was building.
Photo by Caleb Varney
We stopped at Ender Waves to let Gustavo set up his camera tripod and snap some acon shots of us surﬁng. I discovered that the moon was so bright it could be seen from underwater while rolling. A$er snapping a couple photos and a PBR at Ender Waves around midnight, we connued on to the Keeney’s. We made it through Upper and Middle Keeney with no ﬂips unl I decided to count a couple of ﬁsh forcing me to punch the hole at the boom of Lower Keeney backwards. We made it to Double Z and Alex took the center line as always, Gus and I ran right and connued down center right. As Gus and Photo by Linda Barthwick Photo by Caleb Varney Photo by Linda Barthwick
State Whitewater Group Has Seen Rapid Growth by Rick Steelhammer "Sunday Gazee Mail", March 4, I990 On a blustery spring morning in 1965, Charlie Mallory showed up at the starng area of the Washington Canoe Club's annual Eastern Canoe Race near Seneca Rocks, lugging a decidedly non -streamlined wooden Old Town canoe with a canvas cover. Trying hard to ignore the smirks being cast between the District of Columbia boaters that surrounded him, he signed his name on the entrants’ list. "l could see them looking at me with that ‘where's HE from?‘ look," Mallory, a Charleston area real estate developer, recalled. "But this race was being held in WV, and no one from WV was ever in it. I thought it was me for that to change." Mallory didn't know it unl the following day, but another West Virginian was also entered in the race. Bob Balhatchet, a Public Service Commission court reporter living in Charleston, was red of seeing all those people from Washington running that race. I wondered what was wrong with West Virginians. I had to see if I was good enough to run it too. Both men managed to successfully negoate a qualifying run, but during the main event, they discovered that to be compeve in whitewater sports, they had a much longer journey in store than the 15 miles of rapids that awaited them in the races main event. The race course passed through the rugged Smoke Hole secon of the N. Fork of the Potomac River's S. Branch. "My boat was leaking, and I had to stop occasionally to bail out it out," Mallory said. "I remember waving to Bob a$er we went into Hopeville Canyon. I was the last one in the canyon when I overturned about halfway through, and rode my canoe out like I was hanging onto a log. The temperature was in the 30’s. I saw a kid on the shore from what must have been the only family that lived in the canyon. I asked him if he wanted an Old Town canoe. I gave it to him. His father took me out of the canyon." When he arrived at the ﬁnish line, Mallory discovered that he was listed as a non-ﬁnisher and Balhatchet had ﬁnished dead last. "That evening, Bob and I tried to drown our sorrows," Mallory recalled. "We decided that with pracce, we could do beer. We agreed that WV should have someone in the standings. So we got together with (Mountain State Outﬁers owner) Bill Riley and several others in the Charleston area who ca-
noed, and started the club. Within three years, we were winning a third of the prizes from that race.” The WVWA outlived the Smoke Hole races which ended in the l97O’s due to safety concerns and a lack of local support stemming from incidents of rowdy behavior generated by the annual compeon and those who gathered to watch it. Spreading whitewater know how to promote individual skill development, rather than compeon, is now the group's focus. Now 25 years old and nearly 200 members strong, WVWA has introduced hundreds of other West Virginians to the joys of whitewater paddling, canoe camping and exploring the states thousands of miles of boatable water. With whitewater ra$ing now a mulmillion-dollar industry in WV, it's hard to imagine that in the mid-1960’s most of the state’s whitewater streams, including the upper Gauley, were virtually unknown to boaters. By the late 1960s, there were two guidebooks that carried how to ﬂoat trip lisngs for WV streams. "We devoured those books, and told each other about the trips we'd taken," Joyce Cooper recalled. "Then the club put out a newsleer with informaon on new streams. There was such a sense of the unknown, a sense of adventure back then." "I think our club had a lot to do with sparking the development of the whitewater industry," said Balhatchet. "We explored many of the streams in the state, and some people in our bunch put together the ﬁrst real guidebook. It was prey excing to go down a stream for the ﬁrst me and not know what's waing for you around the corner. Mallory used his skill as a pilot to help chart out a paddling route through the upper Gauley River. "I ﬂew in low over the canyon and mapped it out by hand and took pictures of some of the bigger rapids. Most of the names of rapids that the guides point out on the New and Gauley were named by our members.”
New River - 11-78 On the evening of November 10th, without ceremony, President Carter signed the Naonal Parks and Recreaon Act of 1978 which designates the New River Gorge Naonal River as part of the Naonal Park Service system.
Volume 15 Issue 27
Splashing Around - 1990 by Idair Smookler The ﬁrst meeng was probably April I965. The ﬁrst newsleer was not dated, but it announces a May trip. We met in Bob Balhatchets recreaon room. Later we used the Red Cross building in downtown Charleston, the South Charleston and St. Albans libraries, at least once the South Charleston City Hall, the Dunbar Senior Cizens Center, and a building in the Dunbar City Park. We started with $2.00 dues and 10 members. Four of those are sll members - Bob Balhatchet, Charlie Mallory, Bill Riley, and me. Our dues are now $10.00 and we have about l40 members. The early SPLASHES issues (which were put out by Bob Balhatchet) have boundless enthusiasm. Other editors that I can remember were Bob Burrell and Paul Davidson as a team, Frank Jernejcic, Bob Taylor, Frank Pelurie, Ward Eister, myself by default, and now Mike Gilzow. For a me Norman Williams, who was heading an organizaon ﬁghng against strip mining parcularly and other environmental threats, did our prinng without charge. The ﬁrst trip was on the Elk. In those days it was all open canoes. I paddled the bow in Bob Balhatchets boat. Fiberglass was a fairly new material. All the talk was about shoe keels for aluminum boats and covers - mostly canvas or plasc. Without covers, ﬂotaon was likely to be inner tubes. There were trips praccally every week. I didn't go on many of the early trips because I didn't have a boat. I probably had the ﬁrst kayak in the club; a folding 2-seater Klepper and maybe the ﬁrst hard boat - a C-1 made by John Berry. In 1968 the price quoted for a Berry C-l was $180, a Klepper S244, a Berrigan $250 plus. In September 1966 we held a clinic at the Mary Chilton Roadside Park. At ﬁrst clinics weren't annual. We had at least one below Quinnimont. For years now we've used the Cooper’s camp and Charlie Mullins does the organizing. A pool session was scheduled May 1967 at West Virginia State College. For a while we used the pool at the old Charleston YMCA. The sessions were very late in the evening. Other pool locaons have been the University of Charleston, the Hunngton YMCA, and ﬁnally the WV Rehab Center at Instute. At mes there were sessions at WV Tech, Marshall, somewhere in Athens, Ohio (probably Ohio Univ.), and the Parkersburg Y pool. The Morgantown members used the old Mountaineer pool.
In 1972 there was a secessionist movement among the Northern members. They were too far away to get to meengs in Charleston. One suggeson was to set meengs at other locaons in the state. I think Ward Eister tried this, but it didn't work out. The Northener’s formed what was to be an organizaon which was to be peripheral to the WVWA. They were named WV Voyageurs (WV2). They had trouble ge.ng people to meengs and eventually the succession talk stopped. In the early days a WVU aﬃliaon allowed use of space for boat building. In those days there were few hard boats being made commercially. Finding molds was an important acvity. The materials used were ﬁberglass cloth and epoxy or polyester resin. Paul Rhudy was able to get some experimental Kevlar before it was on the market. For a while the club sponsored a race from Hinton to Brooks Falls. There was always a problem with publicity. Some years there were very few competors. The Hinton people ﬁnally took it over. Bryan Bills started a Gauley Wildwater Race from Peters Creek to combat a proposed dam at Swiss. The ﬁnish line was below Pure Screaming Hell. At that me the Corps paid lile aenon to scheduled releases for the races. The races ﬁnally dwindled because, although paddlers came from long distances, they were more interested in running the river than racing. The Petersburg Races were an annual event which many WVWA members aended. There was a great deal of sasfacon when our members started winning. Craig Wilger, Mort Barley, and some others I can't remember started the Coal River Marathon to promote cleanup of that river. They may have had as many as 200 parcipants in the early races, but the numbers kept going down and the race was disconnued about 1987. Most of the people entering found once was enough to paddle 33 miles. Barney Lilly, who organized the ﬁrst Naonal Youth Science trip, thinks it started in I975. On the ﬁrst trip we took 22 campers; we have had as many as 50. There was a hiatus in these trips. The Camp arranged ra$ trips on the Cheat instead which was closer to Pocohontas County. A$er a few years we were asked to start our trip again. Since then it has been run annually on McCreery to Thurmond with only one cancellaon because of low water during the 1988 drought. Once we ran Ronceverte to Alderson because the New was too high. Besides Barney Lilly, organizers were Dave Hunt and Dennis Brink, Aggie Casto and myself, and Karen True. In I990, though Karen True was the principle organizer, Mike Gilzow, Charlie Mullins, Bob Shamblin, Amy Stump, Dan Nolte, and myself all helped in the planning.
Barney Lilly Photo by Bridget Tincher
In Admiraon of Big Brother Dave
WVWA Membership Roster 1965 Enrique Aguilar Montgomery, WV
Joseph Hutchison Morgantown, WV
R. Balhatchet Charleston, WV
Jack Lee Kern Charleston, WV
C. Bartels Charleston, WV
Edwin King Bridgeport, WV
Darrell Cogar St. Albans, WV
Thomas King Bridgeport, WV
Ernest Cogar St. Albans, WV
Charles Mallory Dunbar, WV
William Colyer Salem, WV
Robert Plo Charleston, WV
David Davison Charleston, WV
Joe Rieﬀenberger Charleston, WV
S. Cooper Dawson, Jr. Alexandria, Va
Bill Riley Montgomery, WV
Benjamin Downing Dunbar, WV
Idair Smookler S. Charleston, WV
Alan Gilbert Morgantown, WV
Richard Stone Winﬁeld, WV
by Don Beyer - 1976
Jumping in his van, Dave bumps his knee. He swears but once as he turns the key. The engine roars and he’s gone in a second, Headed for the New or the Gauley, I reckon. Halfway to the river, Dave clutches his throat. Oh, Great Day! He’s forgoen his boat! With the pedal to the metal he trucks on back, And throws the old kayak up on the rack. Dave’s truckin’ again with lots more class, But his confounded van is low on gas. “Ten bucks even,” the man says with a grin, And the brown Chevy van is going again. In no me at all Dave reaches the New, And an angry canoeist gripes, ‘“We’re waing for you.” With an empty stomach and a bump on his knee, Dave hops in his kayak and gets stung by a bee. At once he’s paddling away like a nut, Trying to forget the throbbing of his bu. The river is splendid, swollen by rain. And the picturesque scenery lessens the pain. By mid-a)ernoon he’s feelin’ just ﬁne, Unl he remembers he‘s forgoen the wine. With all of his problems, Dave musters a smile, ‘Cause he’s paddling whitewater, mile a)er mile. Once back at home Dave limps through the door. He gets to the kitchen, and passes out on the ﬂoor. When he ﬁnally comes to, he’s snug in his bed. (lt’s good to have a wife when you’re out of your head.) He's heading to work the very next day. But his light-hearted mood fades quickly away. He looks at his van as he puts on his coat, And screams out loud, “Where the Hell‘s my boat?
Lovell Greathouse Charleston, WV
Don & Jo Beyer on the Elk River 3-21-15 Photo by Bob Anderson
Volume 15 Issue 27
Blast from the Past - by Turner Sharp 1965 The ﬁrst meeng of the West Virginia Wildwater Associaon was held May 13th in Bub Balhatchet’s house in Dunbar, West Virginia. The annual dues were set at two dollars. Ten members have been signed up. 1966 The West Virginia Wildwater Associaon will hold a whitewater class on May 1st on the Elk River near Clendenin. Beginning and advanced instrucon will be given with an opportunity for everyone to pracce what is being demonstrated. The instrucon will be followed by a cruise down river to Clendenin. The class is held to oﬀer new members an opportunity to acquire whitewater skills. The WVWA applied for membership in the American Whitewater Aﬃliaon. Richard Langdale Smith will show "excing" slides on the rugged Cherry River aempt. This river will be "conquered" this year by those of us with decked boats. 1967 Sunday March 12th - Six canoes eased into the swi$ current of the Cherry River from under the Holcomb bridge... two lads from Richwood had their boat turned sideways in the current and lodged against a rock. The power of the river crushed the middle of the aluminum canoe so that the gunwales and boom almost touched. The rest of paddlers connued without mishap. 1968 Eight canoes, 16 people, and one dog, in 10 degree weather, made the Coal River trip from Peytona to Nellie. The trip made TV and the Sunday newspapers and included one "ferry" over ice to reach open water. Petersburg whitewater weekend— 1st place, cruiser class, senior division, C-1, Bob Balhatchet. 1969 $250 was approved for the cost of publishing the West Virginia Wildwater Associaons guide book to be called "Canoeists Guide to West Virginia Wildwater." A resoluon was passed recommending the name of a Cheat River rapid be changed to honor Pete Morgan, who died in August I969. 1970 New River - Thurmond to Fayee Staon by Richard Harmon On Sunday, June 28th, Paul Davidson, Donna Berglund, Larry Synder, Jon Dragon, Joe Stuck, and I ran the New River from Thurmond to Fayee Staon. Jon and Joe ﬂipped in Lower Keeney Creek rapid respecSully. That means they have more respect now. In a nothing rapid I took a wrong route and was almost upset by a strong cross current. While recovering from this I was shoved beneath an overhanging rock. My boat ﬂipped from under me and held. Six of us failed to pull the boat from its watery tomb. Later, with the help of a come-a-long, we had the leverage to pull 4' of the bow oﬀ. So I bid farewell to my boat; 9 1/2' under a rock, 4' of it in a tree as a reminder for future trips, and a small piece of deck under my arms. Old "99" was the nickname of my boat since that was the race number from the Petersburg races sll taped to the bow. New River — Thurmond to Fayee Staon by Ward Eister On Sunday, July 19th, eleven boats made the Thurmond to Fayee Staon run with the water somewhat low. Several of the people were on the canyon run for the ﬁrst me and were impressed by the torrenal rapids encountered. They were likewise impressed by the shaered remains of Richard Harmon’s "Old 99" found scaered on the rocks. Richard later reported that for ten dollars of material and thirty hours of labor, "Old 99" was recovered, repaired and survived trips on the Lower Yough, New River Gorge, Savage, Dry Fork, and Lower Gauley. The patching survived in ﬁne style, but new holes kept appearing, so I rered "99" and built a new boat in half the me. Bill Riley is now doing business as Mountain State OuSiers at Charlton Heights near Montgomery, West Virginia. There was a proposal from John Carey that the West Virginia Wildwater Associaon set up a formal Northern Division.
Meadow River - 2-8-87
Rock Creek - 5-1-87
by Randy Butcher
by Mitch Casto
Rader Ford to Russellville 917 cfs at Mt. Lookout
Foster Grade School - Length of Playground
K-1: Tom Willis, Chuck Cantley OC-1: Randy Butcher
Class: 3-5 (Mrs. Hale and Mr. Bell) Gradient: 100
We le$ Charleston with blue skies and sunshine. We arrived at Corliss to ﬁnd 8” of unbroken snow on the shule road to Rader Ford. We decided that since we were here and were in Chuck’s 4-wheel drive, that we would probably make it back out. So we dragged our boats about 1/2 mile to the river. It was not strenuous at all with the snow. We had a technical, minimum water run. Chuck and I portaged the ledge near the end of “The Rapids”. Tom slid oﬀ the thinly covered drop. In the last two miles we encountered wide, shallow water, and near blizzard weather. Snow, ice and strong winds blew up river snging our faces and making it diﬃcult to see far enough to read the deepest channels. We reached Russellville in somewhere between an hour and forever, warmed Tom’s truck, and changed into dry clothes. In the approximately ten minutes it took to change, our gear was covered with an inch of snow. We knew we beer get a move on to reach Chuck’s Bronco. Well, Rt. 60 was crazy; solid ice, semi’s jack knifed, and cars all over the highway, but we ﬁnally made it to the Corliss turn oﬀ. With the help of Tom’s studded res and the weight of our boats and gear, we managed to drive to within 1-1/2 miles of the Bronco. It was me to get out and hoof it, armed with two strap-on chains. We hiked through what was now 12” of snow. We reached Chuck’s Bronco and a$er a couple of hours of pushing, digging and backing oﬀ for runs, we topped the hill. Whew! Then it was just the small maer of driving back out to Rt. 60 and through 3-1/2 hours of insanity back to Charleston. Turner & Susan Sharp, Bridget Tincher, Tom Connelly, Ed Gertler, Amy Thornton, & John Fitchner - Tatshenshini River, Ak - 7-23-12
Scenery: A for all Time: 3 minutes each Level: Scraping Several lives were losr on this ﬁrst known run of this steep creek when some of the 40 expedion members inadvertently stepped on crawdads. The nature of this run required 39 portages since the adventurers were all using a kayak. Trip leaders Fred Bell (principal) and Mitch Casto (substute teacher) posted rescuers at diﬀerent secons of the run. The ny hydraulics and exposed rocks made the run highly technical. Amazingly, no one turned over. Diﬃcules: Fortunately none of the trees created strainers. Shule: Two of the kids carried 38 shules. Gauge: Since the biggest kids didn’t scrape too much, we knew the others could make it. Note: All joking aside, the students were lectured on water safety and the hazards of acvies that can be dangerous without proper training.
The Most Exci ng Hundred Yards of Whitewater in Va. From the 2-88 issue of Splashes - Author Unknown Where my canoe was at the me, I didn’t have the foggiest. We had parted company at the top of the slide. Going into the course, a big rock grazed the le$ side of my bow, just enough to kick it to the right about two inches too far. Instead of passing the next big one cleanly on the right, the bow smacked it, shunng the boat oﬀ to the le$. I leaned downstream, but I put too much into it. I wasn’t in my thigh straps and my brace didn’t work, so I just bailed out over the downstream side, leaving the boat, for all I know, bridged high and dry between two rocks. I was on my back, bobbing along downstream, feet ﬁrst, buoyed by the PFD and wetsuit, fending oﬀ the rocks with my feet, bumping my bu occasionally. It worked well. I was comfortable. I was composed. I was hanging on to my paddle and, with my free hand, was ge.ng in a breast stroke toward shore now and then. I had been in this posion a me or two before; no reason to panic.
From that very low vantage point, reading the water seemed just about like it is over the bow of my boat. I could see a good drop coming up. I was dri$ing into a rather fast chute. The boulders that bracketed it weren’t linked to either bank by other rocks. I could see no advantage in trying to wash up on either boulder. What wasn’t yet visible from above was that the rapid’s downstream V, about 20 yards below these rocks, ﬂushed under a solid sheet of ice. I was halfway down the ﬂume before realizing the seriousness of the problem ahead. In a ﬂash I recalled Bob Sterling’s experience on our ﬁrst trip on the ice choked Moormans River in Virginia. He came out of his C -1 and was washing down toward a sheet of ice. He took it head ﬁrst, trying to raise himself onto the ice with his arms. It wouldn’t support him. He did a buerﬂy stroke. With each stroke the ice would break oﬀ and the river’s force would try to sweep his legs downstream under the ice. It was stroke, crack, kick, stroke, crack, kick for a good 20 yards unl he got to an eddy where the ice would support his weight. He laid out spread eagle on the ice, catching his breath and being thankful. I also recalled reading that approaching a shelf of ice was one of the excepons to the rule of ﬂoang downstream feet ﬁrst. A sketch showed the vicm ending up with the back of is calves on top of the ice and his body swept under the ice, head downstream, face down. Snap judgement; I liked Bob’s way beer. I was almost through the chute, sll on my back. This move would have to be fast. I tucked my knees and slapped the water with both arms. This would be worth the loss of my paddle, if it worked. The idea was that if I could get enough of me above the surface when I hit the ice, the momentum would take me on top of the ice. It caught me just above the belly buon, slapping my upper body to the surface. Had it worked? The ice seemed thick enough to support my weight, but my legs sll dangled and were being ﬂailed about. The force of the water had a beer hold of my legs than I had on the ice. As I’d get up on my le$ elbow to swing my right leg up, the river would tug at my le$ leg, pulling it further under the slab. A$er the third try I was slipping. Helpless. The water was tugging, tugging, relentlessly tugging. Gasping for a ﬁnal lung’s load of air, I was jerked below the surface. I’m too old to have expected a lot of help from the mammalian reﬂex, but I did consciously conclude that I could get more use from my limited supply of air if I didn’t struggle, if I’d just go with the ﬂow. Light through the frosted glass of the ice above made it clear that it wasn’t uniformly dense. I might be able to punch through a weak spot. My last gasp of breath wouldn’t last for-
Volume 15 Issue 27
ever…well maybe forever for me, but I wasn’t ready to worry about that quite yet. From childhood, the widely accepted wisdom had been that, as one neared the end of his string, every event of his life would ﬂash before his eyes, further evidence that my me was not yet ripe. I was experiencing almost total recall of everything I’d ever read or heard about cold water survival. Ideas, paragraphs, pages, whole arcles zapped past, like single frames of a 16mm movie. I felt a tree branch brush across my hand, then my face. That’s one thing that hadn’t crossed my mind. Didn’t I have enough problems without having to worry about a strainer? The prospect was terrifying. Whap! My legs buckled as I impacted upon another boulder. I was wedged. My shins and knees were ﬂat on a rock. My right shoulder and side of my face were pressed up against the ice. The river was beang at my back. I let it help me roll my torso downstream to where the nape of my neck and both shoulders were squarely in contact with the ice, knees and feet braced against the rock, arms rigid against my thighs. I got a ﬂeeng picture of an illustraon I’d seen of Atlas with the weight of the world on his shoulders. No simile could have been more apt. That’s exactly where the weight of my world was at the moment; squarely on my shoulders. Straining to sﬀen every muscle, I heard or felt the cracking of bones or of ice, I couldn’t tell which, and it didn’t maer. I was going up. The ice ﬁnally seemed to explode as I sprang into an upright posion breathing! Cold air never felt so good on my face; never burned so good throughout the inside of me. I stood there trembling like a leaf in a high wind, not from cold or fright, but from sheer exhauson. I seled back to a secure kneel on the most beauful boulder I’d ever seen. I breathed. One never thinks much about breathing unl it’s imperiled. Oh, what a joy! I breathed and breathed. I began to survey my domain. Si7ng on the rock I could see that the tongues of water down opposite sides of my rock were rushing under a solid ledge of ice. The ice was reinforced with limbs of hemlock that stretched bank to bank across the channels on both sides of my rock. The river wide strainer, the hazard most feared by canoeists, was laced in place. Had I ﬂushed into the chute on either side of the rock on which I knelt, a foot or less in either direcon, this account would have been wrien in the third person.
Meadow Creek to McCreery - 10-16-88
WV Rivers Bill - 1988
President Reagan signed the West Virginia Rivers Bill into law. The bill made 25 miles of the Gauley River and ﬁve miles of the Meadow River a Naonal Recreaonal Area. It also designated 13 miles of the Bluestone as a Wild and Scenic River.
The compleon of I-64 has made the shule for this run a pleasure. By using Route 41 South to connect to 19 South you go right into I-64 and can reach Meadow Creek in about 45 minutes. I suspect that people coming from Charleston and using the WV Turnpike can save me ge.ng to McCreery by taking the North Beckley exit and a road to Mt. Hope. I didn’t have the me to check that out on this trip. Another pleasure is the access at Meadow Creek which has been set up by the Park Service; easy access, plenty of parking, and two porta-po.es. Paddlers on this trip were Jo and Don Beyer, Teddy Willey, Walter Jenkins, Mitch Casto, Mike McClanahan, Mike Stump, and Idair Smookler in kayaks. The water level at Hinton was 1.6. While it would have been nice to have had more water, there was enough to ﬂoat through if you picked the right places. We only had two spills; one at Grandview and one because of a broach on an unnamed rock. As we neared the take out there were three men si.ng on the bank who had probably been doing more drinking than ﬁshing. As I passed them, one of them yelled “She looks prey good for 70 years old.” How did they know how old I was? Well, when Mitch, who was ahead of us told them we had come from Meadow Creek, they remarked that it must have been a diﬃcult trip. He told them it was no big deal; a$er all there was a 70 year old woman who was along.
Reward Oﬀered for Gauley River’s Iron Ring - 1988 The Gauley’s famous symbol of a bygone era in West Virginia was sawed oﬀ and removed someme in the spring of 1988. According to Wild Water West Virginia, an 8” iron eye ring was anchored into a rock shelf to assist in blasng a channel to ﬂoat logs through a parcularly nasty Gauley rapid in the early 1900’s. Early boaters named the infamous rapid “Iron Ring.” Someone hacksawed through the ring’s two inch thick iron anchor, and the stub of the anchor is all that remains. The Canoe Cruisers Associaon of Greater Washington DC is oﬀering a $100.00 reward for the return of the iron ring, no quesons asked. We are not interested in prosecung anyone. If the ring is recovered, ouSiers on the Gauley have volunteered to weld the ring back onto its anchor. If you would like to pledge money to increase the reward, or if you can help recover the ring, contact Mac Thornton (Canoe Cruisers Assn.) or Dave Arnold (Class IV).
Pinch Creek - 4-90 by Dave Brisell Yes, friends, several inches of wet snow fell last night preceded by lots of cold rain. The calendar says April, but the wind cuts like January. Kinda makes you feel like boang, doesn't it? Something steep and very cold; preferably in a deep, rockstrewn gorge where everything is in shadow by 1:00 in the a$ernoon. Right. Well Ernie Kincaid and Leo Bode must have goen inspired by the hint of spring in the air (it’s the ice-encased redbud blossoms that did it) because they proposed a ﬁrst descent of Pinch Creek. I, like a freshly stocked hatchery trout, didn't have the sense not to take the bait. By late morning we were standing in a meadow amid winter bare blackberry bushes and rusted barbed wire staring at an eight foot-wide ﬂow of water coursing leisurely through a tunnel in the alders. It looked like fun to me. The vegetaon receded within a quarter mile to more typical hardwood, hemlock and rhododendron. We passed a trout ﬁsherman who had caught two in the last ﬁ$een minutes and was no doubt ecstac to see us. He told us that there was nothing serious on this creek, though we might have to carry around one or two spots. The stream meandered for another mile or so, gradually picking up speed as more bedrock became evident in the stream bed. At one point we had to carry around a 4+ foot beaver dam which blocked the enre stream…ambious rodents. While the current/rapids had been connuous, we didn't seem to be making signiﬁcant vercal progress toward Glade Creek unl we hit the ﬁrst series of sloping rock shelves which terminated in a jagged l2 foot falls, then the second falls of about the same height, then another series of sloping rock shelves, boulder jumbles, another falls, etc. When Pinch Creek ﬁnally decides to lose elevaon, elevaon will be lost. The canyon is beauful; the feeling is one of total remoteness. There isn't even a ﬁsherman's trail along the banks once the
Volume 15 Issue 27
stream actually drops into its gorge unl almost at its mouth on Glade Creek. The vegetaon mirrors that on Glade Creek with rhododendron and hemlock providing the greenery and everything else providing a deep cover of last year's leaves. The drawback on this creek is that with enough water to avoid scraping on the many ledges and boulder gardens, the run becomes absolutely horrendous in spots. 45° cheese-grater slides would become smooth chutes into muncher holes. Several of the beer drops end in jagged falls. On the other hand, if Glade Creek isn't steep or technical enough for you, you might ﬁnd this entertaining. I, however, think the best thing about running Pinch Creek was the ﬁve miles of top quality whitewater on Glade Creek. Goa let the trouters have some peace someme. Oh, by the way, did I menon that we made this run in duckies?
Kayaks Anonymous - 2-91 Hi, my name is C, (names have been changed to protect conﬁdenality) and I have a kayak problem. Sure, you might think, how could anyone (ra$ers aside) have a kayak problem? But soon a$er starng paddling I was on the river all day, every day, every weekend. Then every day a$er work. Then I stopped going to work at all. I graduated from plasc to hard stuﬀ: kevlar and graphite. I found myself spending every moment oﬀ the river patching ﬁberglass in my garage, which soon had enough boats to equip a terrorist navy; yet I couldn't bring myself to get rid of any of them. I thought I could handle it. "Hey, it‘s no problem," I told myself. "I could give this up anyme and take up mountain biking or something." Then one day I arrived home with my latest purchase, a used Prijon race boat in bad shape. "I don't have one of these yet," I thought when I bought it. "I'll ﬁx it up and sell it to someone." When I put it in the garage, I saw that I already had three Prijons, each in worse shape than this one. Suddenly I realized that my life, like my garage, had become dysfunconal. I collapsed on a pile of PFD's. When I awoke I was at a Kayak’s Anonymous meeng. It was a whole room full of lost kayak souls like myself. They told me about the Warning Signs of Kayak Dependency: - Do you ﬁnd yourself involuntarily doing high and low braces as you "peel out" of your driveway?
- Do you have an inﬂatable kayak in your bedroom? - Do you ever sleep in it? - Do you pray for rain every Thursday and Friday? Do you spend all day Friday calling river gauges? - When it is raining midweek do you stare hopefully out the window and pray for sunshine on Saturday and Sunday? - Do you consider winter paddling "fun?" If so, is it because of the wetsuits? (Anyone who has ever had to de-ice his PFD zipper with coﬀee at the end of a trip should seek help IMMEDIATELY.) - Do you ever use your kayaks as furniture at home (watching TV while si.ng in the living room kayak, for instance) because the boats are so comfortable and all your other furniture is covered by boang gear? - Have you built an addion to your house to store boats? - Have you ever driven oﬀ the road (over a cliﬀ or into the ditch) because you were rubbernecking while driving past a river? - Have you sunk more money in your boats than your car? Than your house? - Have you stopped washing your polypropylene underwear because, well, what diﬀerence does it make anyway? I ﬁnally admied to myself that I was ﬂoang upside down on an eddy line to oblivion. Kayaks Anonymous encouraged me to start on their twelve stroke program, and it has changed my life. I have given all my boats to charity. I can even watch a bunch of kayakers launch without twitching a bicep. Now, if I can just do something about all those mountain bikes, ﬁshing gear, skis, and hang gliders, I'll be able to get into my garage again. PUBLIC HEALTH ANNOUNCEMENT - NO BOATER IS IMMUNE. A milder form o$en strikes ra$ers and canoers. The most virulent form, usually fatal, is found in C-1 boaters.
Top Ten Excuses for Swimming - 10-91 (Late Night Humor with Mitch Casto) 10. Looking at ﬁsh 09. Catching ﬁsh 08. Cleaning out a sinus problem 07. Cross training: kayaking and Scuba diving 06. Tesng air bags 05. Wearing top and boom of boat evenly 04. Why have a life jacket if you don’t use it? 03. It’s a fantasc world down there 02. Trying to mystery move a high volume boat 01. Oooh! It’s a sensual experience
Idair Smookler - In Memorium
manded "WELL! GET BACK IN YOUR BOAT". Dufully l did so.
by Turner Sharp In May of I965 Idair was welcomed as a new member of the ﬂedging WVWA. She was the ﬁrst female member and went on to be one of the ﬁrst women to regularly paddle whitewater in southern WV. In the fall of 1994 I spent several late evenings with ldair in ancipaon of the 30th anniversary of the club. Although not admi.ng so, she was red and weak, but she was sll adamant that we sit down and collect some of her memories and sort through her old issues of "SPLASHES", the club newsleer. It was only as I reviewed her 30 year aachment to this organizaon that I realized the scope of her involvement. Right from the beginning she was elected secretary/treasurer, a posion she held connuously through the years. She claimed (with a hrrrp) that it was because she was the only woman available. Through the years she edited the newsleer, helped organize many beginner trips and clinics, science camper trips, and generally cajoled, needled, and demanded from the members of this unruly group of paddlers that what needed to be done get done.
Several years later, with a lile more skill and conﬁdence, I was on a trip down the New River from Meadow Creek to Quinnemont with Idair. At the very beginning of the quarter mile long Quinnemont Rapid ldair ﬂipped and was soon swimming. She swam the enre rapid to the Grandview Sandbar where we got her to shore. A$er she regained her composure somewhat I paddled over to her and commanded "IDAIR! GET BACK IN YOUR BOAT." Slowly a grin of recognion came over her face as she curtly told me "This IS the take out." And so it was. For ldair Smookler the take out was December 30, 1994 at her home in South Charleston. We miss her.
WVWA on the Web - Sept. 1998 West Virginia Wildwater Associaon now has its own place on the World Wide Web. Point your browser to - hp:// spiSire.cwv.net/~gregp/wvwa/index.html.
She parcipated in many of the early trips including a 10° day on the Coal River in 1968 and connued to paddle in the 1990’s on the New and Greenbrier Rivers. She gave of herself and her equipment to any new paddler that wanted to learn, and gave advice to paddlers on where to paddle. She operated a hotline telephone service, acted as a conﬁdant, matchmaker, and cric of people and events associated with paddling. Through the years she came into contact with perhaps thousands of paddlers from around WV and surrounding states and said she could not make up her mind whether it was the colorful places she paddled or the colorful people she paddled with that was most enjoyable. Many people have "Idair stories" to tell. Here is mine. In 1990 when I took to paddling I found myself on the New River between Prince and Thurmond swimming a rapid a$er exing a capsized boat. Somehow I got to shore with my gear intact and was si.ng on the graveled shore with my head in my hands, water dripping from every oriﬁce, contemplang just why I was here and probably looking for a lile encouragement. Idair paddled up to me and instead of kind words she com-
Bridge Day - 10-18-13 Photo by Tom Connelly
Top Gauley 6-22-13 Photo by Bob Anderson
Volume 15 Issue 27
Charlie’s Petersburg Trip - 4-94
Three Times is a Charm - 4-94
By Mike Gilzow
A Semi-Accurate Account of My First Run on the Middle Cranberry by Roger Hager
Good friends, superb weather, excellent food; we even got to paddle some this year. What a great place to spend a spring weekend, get the winter cobwebs out of your head and just plain have a wonderful laid back Easter weekend. The base of Seneca Rocks was the scene; and what a scene it was with blue skies all weekend. Folks around all or part of the weekend included Don Bloss, Kim Clancy, Joy Ferris, Mike Gilzow, Sarah Howell, Robbie Keyser, Mike McClanahan, Bill Morris, Charlie Mullins, Jack Nall, Rick Nicholas, Turner Sharp, Kathleen Simpson, Wayne Smith, and Carter Zerbe. Creeks were high and muddy west of Elkins, but everything east of there was wonderfully clear. All trips were on the North Fork of the South Branch, going from Circleville to Seneca Creek on Friday, the Cruiser secon on Saturday, and Hopeville Canyon on Sunday. We must have our salmonoid switches in reverse; anadromous species usually run upstream in the spring. The only mishap occurred on Saturday. There is nothing below Diagonal Ledges in the Cruiser Course, right? That’s what we thought. The next rapid down (a river right funnel) had a huge boulder in the middle at the top of the channel creang a tough line with all of the current smashing into the rock wall on the right and a nasty hole from the reaconary wave. The lead boater (in a ducky) tried to sneak le$ of the boulder, but got hung on the shallow rocks. The next two hard boaters went successfully right of the rock. I, in a canoe for the ﬁrst me in two years, was next and momentarily stopped traﬃc while the ducky worked free. However, he got stuck again and the slot le$ of the rock where I intended to go was now blocked. I somehow made it right of the rock, through the hole and was able to stay upright. One of the hard boaters ﬂipped in the hole, and was momentarily body pinned on a submerged rock. Fortunately, he came away with only a slightly bruised ego and very badly bruised toes. His wet suit booe on that foot was almost oﬀ by the me he was rescued below.
There was a warm spring breeze in the air and the sun was shining that April morning. John Hamon, Tom Connelly and I met at the usual me and place. We had discussed the Elk, but the Cranberry was running and John suggested that would be a good run. "Do you think I can handle it?" I asked. "Well Roger", John replied, "I've seen you playing in Fayee Staon and your roll is good. You shouldn't have any trouble." I said "let's go." We drove through Richwood to the "Cranberry Road" and stopped at the bridge to check the gauge. It read 4'1" - runnable but not too pushy, so we drove to the put in. As we unloaded and suited up the weather was noceably worse. It really didn't take a rocket scienst to ﬁgure that we'd driven back into winter. I had a neoprene vest and shorts, polypro long johns and a paddling jacket. Not my usual winter gear (that warm spring breeze in Charleston). I walked my boat to the edge of the river. There was a campsite on either side of me, both with campﬁres crackling. It was hard to ignore the sleet bouncing oﬀ the black seat of my boat. We put in and made it downstream about a mile. There was a drop with a large rock below in the middle and a strainer on river le$. Tom and I carried. John ran the drop, but ﬂipped before the strainer. He exited his boat so he wouldn't roll up in the strainer. I wasn't in a comfortable spot and tried to rush downstream to a beer spot. I ran a drop, didn't make a turn, ﬂipped and got hammered out of my boat. We spent about half an hour looking for gear. We couldn't ﬁnd my paddle. While John and Tom waited, I disappeared into the woods and returned to my boat. They were surprised to see me coming downstream using a 12 foot sck as a paddle! Luckily, John had purchased a breakdown paddle (that morning) and had it in his boat. We gave up on my paddle a$er probing the banks for a good mile. Then John spoed a yellow pogie against the bank. He'd found my paddle!
In retrospect, I should have eddied out above the drop, pulled the remainder of the group over, assisted the stuck ducky and scouted the rapid. Some of the group (including me) may have elected to carry.
We paddled down around a bend where some ﬁshermen were. I was a lile red, didn't make a move and amused the ﬁshermen when I missed my roll. We connued down to “S-Turn," which Tom and John ran successfully. I had already swam twice, so I chose to walk all but the last drop. Somehow I got upside down again below the drop and had one more swim. While John chased my boat, Tom helped me to a large rock. Looking downstream I could see the yellow pogies on my paddle waving good-bye to me - again.
West Virginia Wildwater Association PO Box 8413 South Charleston, WV 25303
John's spare paddle came back out and I shivered. The guys were asking me if I wanted to walk out, what river we were on, and if I could sll feel my legs aached to my body. Having goen the best (or worst) part of the river out of the way, I de-
Splashes cided to paddle out. About a half mile later we found my paddle! Again!! We made it to the takeout without any further mishaps. On the way back to the top I got to hear the story about Chris Pierce's Silver Creek paddle and the beaver. The laughter helped warm my bones. I guess the day was a success because (1) I didn't get hypothermic, and (2) the paddle is sll with me. Thanks, John and Tom, for a great run. Only a paddler can swim three mes in an icy West Virginia trout stream and want to go back again. But I'll have my farmer john and dry top on the next me.
The Trip with a Lot of Bull - 7-98 by Bridget Tincher Lower Second Creek: Tributary of the Greenbrier River Put in: Bridge across Second Creek on US 219 Take out: Bridge across the Greenbrier at Fort Spring Gauge reading at the put in: 2.2 Trip leader: Turner Sharp It was an overcast day, but only rained on us during the get dressed period prior to the run. To those of us waing, the length of me it took to set up the shule should have been an early indicaon. We accepted the jusﬁcaon of “Turner ran oﬀ and le$ us”. It was only later, much later, that we put two and two together. At ﬁrst there were 10 of us with a 50/50 rao of male/female. Us girls are claiming our place in the paddling community! During the shule we picked up two more for a total of 12. Three of us admied to being grandparents and there were 2 parent/child combos. Not the typical group featured in Paddler or one of those popular white water videos.
we had to paddle Second Creek unl it joined the Greenbrier; the bridge was over the Greenbrier. It was a good while longer before we emped into the Greenbrier. (FLAT, FLAT, FLAT) Thank heavens for a good current. By this me no one was bashful about watching for “the bridge.” Another bridge came and went. I don’t know how far we paddled on the Greenbrier; someone said about three miles. By the me the right bridge appeared, we were all hungry again. More than one of us groaned at the take out. Arrangements were made for the shule and a place to link up and get some dinner. Unfortunately Silly Willey’s was closed. In spite of the ﬂat water, this was a trip that will go down in memory as one of the more enjoyable. It's a good place to start your creek boang experience. You did a good job pickin’ the spot Turner. Thanks a lot and let’s do it again someme! PS. In case you are wondering about the tle of this report…the secon of creek passing through the farm land menoned earlier was home to some curious cows. There was no fence along the creek, so they could pass freely back and forth. I had been having a MOOing conversaon with a cow tro.ng along the right bank. When we rounded a bend, there, knee deep in the water, was THE BULL - with romance on his mind!! I don’t think he was appreciang our group interrupng his mission. Needless to say I stopped the MOOing PDQ! We quietly slipped past within 30 feet of him. He was massive and the expression on his face was not friendly. I could imagine it — Charlie Waldbridge's annual accident report; kayaker injured (or worse) on Class II WV creek. Stomped by a cow! Add that to the list of paddling hazards!
NPS Morning Report - 12-99 We hit the water which had a fairly good current ﬂowing due to all the rain we’d been having. Not 15 minutes into the trip a log strainer caused a pile up; no mishaps thank goodness. Then there was a mandatory portage around another log jam. Once past the inial distracons, the creek opened up to provide a great class I/II run. The scenery was a mix of laurel covered rock cliﬀs and farm land. There were a few places where the creek narrowed or parted around islands, and there were several good rapids that provided just the right amount of challenge for the novice. We had swimmers occasionally. The water was COLD, but our spirits remained high throughout the trip.
We paddled, and paddled, and paddled unl someone ﬁnally brought up lunch. We stopped for a quick bite and then took back oﬀ before we got too cold. Then we paddled, and paddled and paddled some more. The subject of the take out started coming up. I asked Turner about it and he said it was at “the bridge". How far is that l wanted to know. The reply was “you know as much as I do, I've never been here before". All along I thought he had done this stretch of the creek. A bridge did appear and I thought ok, this is it, unl I was told
Delaware Water Gap The park received a report of two overdue canoeists on the Delaware River on the evening of Sept. 28th. Rangers Mike Zirwas and Jennifer Kavanaugh began a search for the married couple, who had rented a canoe from a local business, and found them in pitch darkness just a few hundred yards north of the point where they had put in at Smithﬁeld Beach. The couple had been dropped oﬀ that morning and instructed to head down stream to Kianinny Point. They had instead paddled upstream against the current, covering about three miles in six hours of steady paddling. According to the woman: “When we reached the fourth set of rapids and the water was sll going the wrong way, we decided we had probably been going the wrong way.” They turned around and paddled for 90 minutes, then pulled over to the shore to wait for morning, not realizing how close they were to the boat ramp where they had put in seven and a half hours earlier. Both were okay and in remarkably good spirits.
Rescue on Upper New River by Club Members Saves Child’s Life: Shows Importance of Rescue Training. The following is an account of a rescue on the Thurmond to Cunard secon of the upper New River in the summer of 1999. It is a composite of emails by several club members and parcipants in the rescue. The account illustrates the importance of proper rescue training. We have omied the name of the ra$ing company. The child was a parcipant with his mother, in a double ducky, on a trip led by an ouSier. A trip of WVWA club members, led by Don Beyer, were on the river at the same me. The incident happened near the top of the rapid below Surprise on the river le$ side. The ducky ﬂipped upstream of a fair-sized rock. Bridget Tincher was eddied out behind the rock. She saw the ducky ﬂip, saw the mother come around one side, but did not see the child come down. Bridget poked her boat up the river le$ side of the rock and saw the child with his head just barely out of the water right at the edge of the rock. He told her his leg was stuck. She grabbed him and the rock, couldn’t get him loose, then her boat started pping. She wet exited, swam back to the eddy, got behind the child and kept his head out of the water. It was not easy for Bridget to get into posion or to stay there, because she had nothing to brace against; she was actually in the child’s eddy but not the rock’s and couldn’t get much leverage against the rock side. The child’s body was being forced downstream. He was facing outwards toward the le$ bank. Bridget was facing upstream. The water was deep enough that the child’s nose was just barely out of the water, even with adult support. The water was chest high on the adults. The child’s foot was apparently stuck somewhere in the big rock, so that the water the adults were trying to work in may have actually been deeper than where the kids foot was stuck. Rescuers could feel down the child’s leg to where it was caught about three inches above the le$ ankle. It felt like a slot crack and they couldn’t tell where the entry point had been. Tom Connelly was 20 yards downstream. He looked upstream and saw Bridget’s boat upside down and her swimming toward the large rock. Tom saw a helmet right at water level at the corner of the rock and yelled over to Mike Surbaugh in his canoe asking if there was a body with that helmet. They decided there was and both of them started towards the scene. Tom helped Bridget hold the child’s head above water. Be-
Volume 15 Issue 27 tween the two of them, they could BARELY get him to where the water was at chin level. The water was forceful enough that they were making no headway at all – just barely keeping the situaon stable. Tom had a ﬂip line and beaner around his waist. He aempted to get it around the caught leg. The current started to ﬂush him, so he dropped the ﬂip line to grab hold and stay in place. Mike got there next, laid down on the rock and got a bear grip on the boy to stabilize him. Tom tried to go under water to see/ feel the situaon, but quickly got washed out by the strong current. Tom swam back to the eddy, crawled up on the rock and blew a whistle and waved a paddle. He then returned to help hold the child from the rock, straddling Mike. Jim Casey showed up to add more support for the boy and for the rest of the rescuers. The group was then stable enough to pull the child at various angles; sll no luck freeing him. Don Beyer was downstream at the end of the rapid (this rock was near the top of the rapid) with his two kids – 8 and 15 year olds. They saw loose gear dri$ by. Don told the kids to stay put, got out on shore and ran upstream. On his way, he met a ra$ guide, who told him it was her trip in trouble. Supposedly, she was the sweep in a ra$, saw the accident, but couldn’t get there. She had sent someone from her trip for help. It was 10-15 minutes into the incident before Don and the ra$ guide got out to the rock where the child was stuck. Don got down into the water upstream of the child to help create an eddy He was supported from the rock by Jim and Tom as he lowered himself in. The ra$ guide got into posion behind Bridget, who was ring. Once Don was in the water, the group was able to get a rope down the leg to try to release the foot entrapment. Don was pulling on the rope and sll could not get the child loose – Don said he was pulling as hard as he physically could and was worried he would amputate the foot. At one point Bridget put her foot up against the boy’s leg just above where it disappeared into the rock and leaned back and pushed, with no apparent eﬀect. The last adult in the WVWA group was Kenny Geronilla. Toward the end, he and Tom provided general support for all, allowing folks to relax and readjust their grips as needed. The trip leader from the ducky trip showed up someme near the end. He was opposite the site on the bank for a while, then went upstream
Splashes and was on a rock in the river, but he was not in a posion to get a rope to them, was at the wrong angle if he had, and had nothing to anchor a rope. So he was never really involved. Every minute or two, the group would all muster strength and give a concerted eﬀort to move the boy upstream a lile bit. Each eﬀort gained an inch or two and took a lot out of the group. The child’s helmet and life vest were being pushed oﬀ him. They had at least one rope on his torso, and as they were working to get one rope more secure the child suddenly came free. Don said he thought the child passed out and relaxed. Tom said they had the kid in every possible posion and ﬁnally one worked. Bridget just describes it as a miracle. At any event, the child was up on the rock. This was 20-25 minutes a$er Bridget ﬁrst saw the child. Don then took the child and the ra$ guide down to the take out in a ducky. The child had a pair of thick soled river sandals on his feet. When he came free, his trapped foot sll had the sandal on it, but his toes had worked free of the front strap. The group wondered if part of the reason they couldn’t get his leg to budge was that the rubber sandal itself was ghtly wedged down in the crack. Bridget talked to the ra$ company the next day. The child was OK; bruised and a possible sprained ankle, complaining of back pain from the beang he took from the water, but no broken bones. Bridget, Tom and Don all said they thought the child would die in front of them, with them helpless to do anything about it. The child was 6 years old. Don’s 8 year old was si.ng downstream in an eddy the whole me. Jon, the 15 year old, was rescuing gear as it ﬂoated by. Even more amazing than this incident is that this was the second foot entrapment at this rock that day. The ﬁrst child was sll in the hospital when the second was brought in. Supposedly that child had a chipped heel. Bridget notes: I would like to thank Glen Carlson for making himself available to the WVWA as a swi$ water rescue instructor over the years. I believe that it was because I parcipated in this course (more than once) that I was able to do whatever I could to aid in this rescue. I also encourage my fellow paddlers to seriously consider parcipaon in a swi$ water rescue class. You never know when it might be you – on either side.
NYSC 1999: A Non-boater’s Perspecve by Roberta Nolte How many professional people does it take to organize a Naonal Youth Science Camper and have it come out smoothly, without a hitch? A bunch! I promised Dan that I’d come with him and Max to the Naonal Youth Science Camper annual trip down the New River. I really wanted to see Kathleen and Amy again, and since I can’t get them to come to my home for High Tea on Thursday a$ernoons, Mohammed went to the mountain! Arriving at the Lile General at the appointed me, I was greeted with fantascally warm hugs from them both, and from Mike Gilzow, and from John Hamon, and from Mike McClanahan, and from Turner Sharp. Oh, it was going to be a wonderful weekend! First, let me explain, I am a NON boater. I gave up the sport a$er a very long ra$ trip in which my beloved husband decided that he wanted to be a widower, but failed. I have watched from the sidelines as my husband has introduced both of our sons to it. I have never allowed them to see me wring my hands. Fear of the river has long kept me ﬁrmly planted on the banks. With instrucons and dues handed out in the parking lot of the Lile General, we traveled en mass to the put in. Here, Kathleen shined as she organized all the pods, meted out boats and gear, dealt with the shule and kept the very nice Park Ranger from freaking out. The bus arrived on schedule and while the kids ate their lunch, boaters got organized. The mantel was then passed to Bridget, who with wonderful energy and charm explained the rules to the campers. Then it was me to match kids with boats. I was surprised with the organizaon and the skill with which the boaters ﬁnished this chore and had the kids in the water to pracce their “wet exits”. The kids were excited, but soon realized that this was “like, for real, man” and paid close aenon to the adults. The trip was organized, it began. I watched with envy. I didn’t have very long to wait at the boom. In fact, I didn’t even have me to get bored. In they came, all smiles and laughter. What a wonderful experience for those kids! We all headed for the campground and dinner. It was me to set up camp along the river and to help the cooks. I will always remember this young girl walking past me to get a drink. “You people are just the MOST AWESOME!" she squealed. “This is just the BEST!” I felt proud to be associated, even if I am a chicken. A$er dinner Woody with his dulcimer and Hunt with a guitar started strumming and singing. I sat there, watching the kids
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Page 18 swimming in the twilight and listening to the music. It was a perfect end to a perfect day. We broke up about elevenish and headed for our tents. Around midnight, the thunderstorms started. For those that remained dry, this was perfect. For those that got a bit wet? It was perfect. We were up at 6:30 a.m. the next morning. John Hamon, in his perfect sensivity, had breakfast made and coﬀee hot. What a guy!
Cooperisms - 1997 Doug and Joyce Cooper, early members of the WVWA, share the following bits of paddling philosophy: Doug: “I spent many years paddling in cold, nasty weather. I don’t need to do that anymore. If the temperature is lower than my age, I stay home.” Joyce: “Love many, trust few, always paddle, your own canoe.”
A$er tents were packed and bellies full, we headed out to the river. Again, organizaon was the key. To our delight, even Charlie Mullins appeared like a River God. Smiling, he hugged everyone and expressed his sheer delight at being there. Smooth as glass, everyone ﬁlled their spot and the kids were most cooperave. Oﬀ they went. Down the dusty road I went, le$ over gear in my trunk.
Congratulaons - 06-01 Nancy Brabec has joined her husband Chuck in the New River Gorge 100 trip Club! Nancy recently completed her centennial trip on the gorge in the company of her husband and others.
Five Dollar Frank - 3-23-01 On the bank, I had me to watch the wildlife, and then venturing into the river, me to swim and relax. No whitewater for me, but the beauty and the peace of the New River has always given me a sense of wholeness, of calm. The trip down was even shorter this me. One incident with a girl with hypoglycemia could have marred everything but for the calm and friendly voice of Roger Hager. He got the girl down river in a ducky, towing her boat. He laughed and talked to her, watching her carefully, but never le.ng on about his concern. There were a few spills on this second trip. My son was one, although he fervently argues he was hot and did it on purpose. I am sll glowing from the weekend. From my trip report, you will noce that I don’t go into anything technical about the river. Being a NON boater has its piSalls, but it also has its advantages. Although I went to “watch”, the people drew me in. I saw unprecedented selﬂessness. I saw joy! I saw friendships that have blossomed. I saw kids having the best me of their lives. I remembered those that have gone on ahead of us on this river called life. West Virginia Wild Water Associaon - Idair is smiling!
The sky over the New River Gorge will be somewhat empty as “Five Dollar Frank” Thomas died March 23rd at age 79. Frank was one-of-a-kind and got his nickname for giving plane rides over the gorge for 5.00 a head…and if you got him talking either polics or religion, it could be an excing 5.00. He was somewhat put oﬀ by the Park Service and/or the FAA requesng him not to ﬂy under the NRG bridge.
A Short but True Fairy Tale - 7-26-01 by Susan Kilmas K-1: Turner Sharp, Susan Klimas, John and Linda Wiggins Craigsville gauge: 11.8 Once upon a me there were four lile kayakers in search of a river to run. They drove 150 miles to the Williams River, saying to each other “the gauges say this river should be high enough to run!” They put on the Tea Creek to Three Forks Bridge sec on of the Williams River. They took out a#er 1/2 mile, since the Williams River was waaay too low! The hapless lile kayakers said “let’s try the South Fork of the Cherry, the gauges say it should be too low, but maybe since the Williams has no water, all the gauge readings are from the Cherry!” So the poor lile kayakers drove over two mountains to the South Fork of the Cherry. In dismay, they cried to one another, “the South Fork of the Cherry is waaay too high!” In the mean me, the four lile kayakers had passed the Cranberry, which was JUST RIGHT! But…by the me they had gorilla paddled 1/2 mile of the Williams, driven over two mountains, and looked at the South Fork of the Cherry, it was too late to paddle, so the poor lile kayakers had dinner and drove 150 miles back home.
Ledges-New River - Photo by Tom Connelly - 8-29-15
We conﬁrm that the Dyer USGS visual gauge should be at least 3 feet to do this sec on of the Williams. It was 2.36 for our aempt. There is a painted bridge gauge that read 1/2 foot.
Robbins Run - 4-22-02 by Jim Lakiotes Robbins Run is a tributary to Spring Creek, which ﬂows into the Greenbrier River below Renick. When my neighbor and I were on our way to run Spring Creek, I asked if anyone had run Robbins Run. It turns out my neighbor had been dreaming of a ﬁrst descent - so we did it. We put in about 200 yards below the CR 5/2 bridge which crosses Robins Run just below its conﬂuence with Boggs Run. We put in here because shortly below the conﬂuence is a two foot river wide ledge with a terrible looking hydraulic with a fence in the water just below. The creek is 20-30 feet wide and fast with some rock dodging required. There are a few rapids that are more technical and require good boat control in fast current. Call it a Class III intermediate run. A couple of foot bridges encountered had plenty of head room, and one strainer was portaged just above the conﬂuence with Spring Creek. Our take out was 1/2 mile down Spring Creek. When Robbins Run has boatable ﬂows, Spring Creek will be high with big bouncy waves. The gradient was 60’/mile spread evenly over the three mile run. The boaters were Charlie Erb and Jim Lakiotes.
Harmon Creek - 6-02 by Ed Gertler Just before Easter weekend there was some high water up in the northern panhandle, permi.ng Tom Irwin and I to do what we love best; bagging a bunch of new creeks. Our ﬁnal of four selecons on that sodden day was a lile known rivulet that ﬂows into the Ohio at Weirton. With water warmed by the eﬄuent from a steel mill, rocks lubricated by a ﬁlm of oil, and a bank trash selecon that would bring a tear to the eye of any diehard scavenger/ﬂea market enthusiast, this less than prisne waterway made for an easy trip…almost. About 200 yards short of the takeout, there was a challenge unique to my experience. Perched upon a berm, a haul road that is used to carry slag from the mill to a disposal area crosses the valley, rising perhaps 75 feet above the stream. The stream passes through this berm through two huge corrugated metal pipes, with diameters greater than our four meter long C-1’s. Guarding the entrance, however, just downstream of an oil boom (easy to bump over), is a three foot weir, atop which is a ﬁrmly planted metal railing. The railing was apparently con-
structed as a trash rack, and I would say that it was performing superbly, collecng a sizable log jam. Horriﬁed at the thought of ge.ng aerobic exercise from a canoe trip, we elected to challenge the trash rack rather than hoof it over the barrier. So we stepped out on the log jam, found it stable, eased our boats over the railing, and set them down one by one on a six inch wide I-beam that separates the rack from the berm. Ge.ng into a boat that is balanced upon a narrow beam, followed by a seal launch into some very turbulent water, proved to be more excing than most whitewater I have done lately. A$er all, a long swim through a corrugated pipe can have a forbidding consequence. But we survived, and now that I have told you about it, check it out if you dare.
A Long Day & Night on the Cheat Canyon - 8-25-02 A group of paddlers from Calleva Outdoors arrived at the Jenkinsburg bridge take out about 1:00 am a$er swimming the last secon of river in the dark. Twelve beginner boaters aged 13 to 65 and three guides put on the Cheat River at Albright about 1:00 pm Aug. 25th. Somehow the guides miscounted and didn’t have enough boats for everyone, so the guides decided to take turns swimming the river. The water was low with the Albright visual gauge about 1/2'. The group was originally scheduled to do the Cheat Narrows, but the guides decided to change the trip at the last moment. Once on the canyon, the group made very slow progress because of the many ﬂips and swims by the students. It became apparent that they were not going to make the take out before dark. One of the guides paddled ahead, arriving at the Jenkinsburg bridge about 10:00 PM. The guide found that a rescue squad had been called by the spouse of one of the overdue students. The rest of the conngent entered the water out of their boats and formed a chain by holding onto boats in front of them and in back of them with a guide at the head of the chain and one at the back. They proceeded down the river in the dark in this fashion and made the take out about 1:00 am. One of the student kayakers arrived home about 7:00 am and commented he just did not feel like going to work that parcular Monday morning. Calleva Outdoors is owned by Tom McEwan, and holds a West Virginia Whitewater license for the Cheat River. He is quoted as saying “Calleva never agreed to let a group of advanced beginners paddle the Cheat Canyon because of the diﬃculty and length of the trip. It was an error on our trip leaders part.“ Eric Starr, the trip leader, with Pete and Sarah, did get everyone safely to the take out although a lile (or a lot) late.
West Virginia Wildwater Association Dedicated to the preservation and safe paddling of our West Virginia Rivers Affiliate of American Whitewater, American Canoe Association, & West Virginia Rivers Coalition
West Virginia Wildwater Association P.O. Box 8413 South Charleston, WV 25303