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October 6, 2009

By Jeremy Adkins

Upon meeting Anne Connelly Thursday afternoon, the two of us set off on the 9 hour trek to the 2009 Gauley Festival. Anne is a one of a kind individual as she earned the 2008 American Whitewater volunteer of the year award. Not only is she a fantastic boater, with her humor and entertaining personality, there is no one I’d rather accompany on a road trip. We arrived at the Gauley River dam late Thursday night forcing us to set up the tent in complete darkness.  Since the tubes were on and it was so quiet, I decided to walk down and grab some photos.   With the night lights shining, the area looked beautiful, giving me some great shots of the water.  Underneath the lights, I spotted a huge, neatly spun web along with a spider who didn’t seem to mind posing for a few minutes. Gotta love a little nature at night. Friday morning came way too early for two exhausted night owls. Anne and I drove over to NARR to meet a group with whom she planned to paddle. Anne did the Ladies of the Lower Gauley trip to help raise money for American Whitewater.  I ran into some friends who talked me into taking on the Lower G for the first time in 15 years.  Most of my life I have heard that the Lower Gauley has better playboating than the Upper, however after spending all day on that portion of the river, I would have to disagree. While it does hold some good playspots, most of them are really shallow hindering the ability to go big or get vertical. But at least I got in one good move…a huge air blunt at Lower Mash highlighted my first day.  

The 2010 All Star did help the situation as its size and shape allows you to paddle so well downstream.  The stern is small but as long as you lean forward in the attack position, it is so easy to handle.  I don’t think any big moves could have been possible in a larger boat, so I was very happy to have the All Star on this trip.  Though my trip didn’t produce many more great moves, as the day came to a close, the sun setting into the beautiful Gauley landscape reminded me of how much I appreciated the opportunity to run its river. And as darkness filled the sky, the festival began with the ever famous, Piano Man center stage.  Wow!!   Every year I have to write about this guy! Not only is he talented, he is so much fun to watch and really gets the weekend of entertainment started off right…well, him and the abundance of margaritas floating around. Saturday was about as kind to me as the previous, thanks to the long visit in Margaritaville.  I dragged myself out and met some other friends who had never been down the Upper Gauley.  I agreed to take 5 newbies down and only had one to swim.  It was truly a great day with great lines.  The Upper Gauley is one of a kind and gives boaters that feeling of satisfaction when its all said and done.  That night it was back to the festival where some great activities were going on.  

Jackson Kayak held The Sponge Givaway with a new boat offered as the winning prize and, as usual, there were many rounds of the never ending, Ro-Sham-Bo and numerous spirits available.  What a great time we all had again this year.  The highlight of the weekend, for me, however, happened on Saturday night.  I was introduced to an amazing dance appropriately named, The Caucasian.  I would like to thank this dance for bringing back the annoying early 90’s chant, “Go white boy, go white boy, GO”.  Here is a link to the Caucasian. Sunday morning started my last Gauley run of 2009.  To change it up a bit, I hopped in the Hero and I have to say, I love it more every time I paddle it. This boat is quick and short, turns on a dime and boofs like a dream.  What more could you ask for in a creekboat?  Definately the best in my book!!  Just try it! While on the river, I ran into 5 more new paddlers and ended up showing them down as well.  By the way, great lines, guys!!  In the process of helping one young lady get her boat back I ended up saving a Dynamic Duo.  If you’ve ever had to pick up this ginormous boat, full of water, then you know how ridiculously heavy it is.  If you don’t want to know…don’t swim unless you want to deal with over 1,000 lbs. of water.  Needless to say, after that, my weekend trip had come full circle…I left the Gauley as exhausted as I had arrived 3 days before.  But despite how worn out I am every time, it is honestly one of my favorite trips each year.  

hope to see you on the river soon,
Jeremy Adkins
Team Jackson Kayaks

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