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May 9, 2005

Hey Guys:
All the way up to West Virginia I watched as time rolled back to when
the leaves were just coming out on the trees – redbuds and dogwoods the
only thing out. The weather was cool, and the kayakers were just getting
out and fired up for the first warm runs of the season.

is a gathering to support the cleanup and
preservation of the Cheat River Canyon and it’s tributaries through ‘Friends
of the Cheat’ and AW. The mining damage of the past is plainly visible
in the bright orange rocks that line every tributary creek, but the river
itself is improving. This was the first time I’ve ever seen fish jumping
in the pools and fishermen on the banks – so recovery is happening.

An estimated 3000 people gathered along the banks of
the put-in to listen to bluegrass, check out the new kayaking products,
peruse the craft fair, and see old friends. An of course, every WV kayaker
from the history of the sport showed up too. There were the Snyder brothers,
Dave Bassage, Keith Backlund, Puff, Stroh, John Mason, Mary Kaye and Paul
from PS composites, Tom Love and numerous other plus Risa Shimoda, Charlie
Walbridge, and other hard-core activists who also paddle. It was a serious
social fest and Maker’s Mark helped keep the conversations going late
into the night.

The river was running around 2.5 and the Cheat is one
great play run. So many playspots and so long a day, most everyone was
pooped and partying anyway at the fest. The All-star was perfect: short
enough to loop up the shallow slopers and slicey enough to flop all over
the eddylines, holes, and the abundant flatwater in between. And good
thing it is comfortable – we spent 4.5 hours on the water the first day
and I didn’t even get out of my boat!


Right blunts at Big Nasty, lunar orbits, felix’s and
tricky-woo’s and at Cue-ball, huge loops on the right above Coleseum (sp),
and all the little slots and breaking waves along the way.

Another highlight – Christie D’s Lotus booth raised
$400 (which I heard will get matched!) for the preservation of the Jenkensberg
Bridge take out area (which use to be a real dump). Protecting paddler
access to this river access is neccessary to paddling Cheat Canyon or
the Big Sandy River – and it’s and amazing place to just swim, fish, and
camp when the water is low. This was the first time I’ve seen it without
tires, cars, and appliances scattered down the bank – so Friends of the
Cheat has been an amazing success here as well.

Great event and one seriously playable run. Hope all’s
well where you are –