First Time Kayaking the New River

Trip Start Feb 17, 2011
Trip End Oct 23, 2011

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Where I stayed
What I did
whitewater kayaking
New River Gorge
Cathedral Cafe
Dirty Ernie's Rib Pit

Flag of United States  , West Virginia
Saturday, July 30, 2011

I've been down the New River at varying levels, 3 times rafting and twice in an inflatable kayak but today was my first run in a normal whitewater kayak. 

I was somewhat nervous but also very excited to give the New a try, its one of my favorite rivers with huge wave trains! 

There were nine of us who were going together. James who was leading us since he has been a guide on the New, his father Scott, John, Lisa, Bob, Kathy, me, and two guys named George and Craig that we met at the campground. 

We decided to go to breakfast at the Cathedral Cafe in Fayetteville before hitting the river. The Cathedral is a cute place and has free wi-fi. I liked what I ordered and the portions were huge but don't come here in a rush or with a time limit because it takes a while. After breakfast we changed and ran shuttle. 

Once everything was set we departed for the put-in. I could feel my nerves working but I knew the level was very similar to what I duckied last 4th of July so I atleast knew what to expect. I was also using my Diesel which is my bigger-water/creek boat so its alot more stable than my playboat. 

Naturally there were a ton of rafts on the river and we happened to be between two rafting trips. At the put-in we did a few practice rolls and mine seemed to be working fine. James gave us a little talk to how to the trip was going to go etc. and then we set off. 

Up first was class III Pinball rapid, which is basically one large wave train that is run right down the center, fun enough! 

Next up was class III Upper Railroad rapid. I had a good swim here on my first rafting trip on the New in the Cunard Stripper and I didn't want any piece of it in a hard boat! James ran us to the left of the rock and avoided the hole! Kathy was surprised by the size of the waves on this river

At class III Lower Railroad rapid James picked a line that seemed to be relatively center river, I know its not the line that I ran in my ducky but it was a good line with a well defined tongue that threaded between two large holes. So far so good! We floated through class II Swimmers rapid and dodged all the rafters who were swimming in the river. 

James was a big help. He knew the best lines to give us as much fun and challenge as possible without a high risk of carnage. He took us through class III Strippers and Ender Waves rapid without incident. 

Up next we dropped into the pool above class III Upper Keeney rapid. Upper Keeney is unmistakable because of the large rock that looks like a whale on river left. James pulled us into the eddy behind whale rock to get us set up for class IV Middle Keeney rapid. A raft trip had caught up to us and James talked to their TL. The raft were running just to the right of Moss Rock in Middle Keeney so James decided to run us just to the left. I hate running rapids with rafts but atleast these rafts had skilled guides in the back, nothing like the Lehigh! We hugged the left side of Moss Rock and punched the large hole and wave trains to ride out the rapid. The hole spit me out backwards so I ran most of the rapid backwards. We eddied out on the river right so James, Scott, John, George and Craig could play some in the waves and holes. Kathy,  Lisa and I sat in the eddy and watched the guys mess around for awhile. 

Next was the rapid that I was most nervous about running, class IV Lower Keeney rapid. Its a rapid that is pretty impossible to scout and intimidating because it is a river-wide horizon line that drops off in a large chute of water that wants to crash you into a large rock and a sieve. James led us exactly as I expected, to the river left side and told us to paddle hard from left to right to punch the large hole. I got caught on the seam of the curler wave from Wash-Up rock and the Juicer Hole and got flipped. Getting washed into the hole upside down was violent and the current wanted to take my paddle. Fortunately I knew I just had to hang on long enough to be washed out of the hole and then go through the trough of some large wave trains and I'd be clear to roll in the middle of the rapid. And that's exactly what happened, I waited it out, told myself there was no way I was coming out of the boat here, set-up and rolled! I came up to the sound of cheering from all directions. Everyone I was paddling with was cheering as well as about 10 other private boaters in the rapid, the photographers on shore as well as 3 rafting companies eating lunch on the banks of the rapid. I was so happy not to be swimming! The guys stopped to surf some of the smaller waves near the end of the rapid while I shook off the flip in the eddy. 

Thankfully our next rapid was class II+ Lollygag rapid and we just threaded the needle between the two holes and were home free. I was feeling more relaxed and confident since I knew my roll was working in bigger water. We had no problem in class III Dudley's Dip rapid. 

At class IV+ Double Z rapid we once again caught up with a rafting trip and were forced to improvise our lines somewhat. We swung in below thumb rock and had to thread the needle between a large hole and a pour-over since a raft was in the safety eddy we wanted to use. James ran us hard right and told us to drive hard to punch the large hole at the bottom. Bob got flipped several times in this rapid and nearly run into Table Rock but he managed to roll each time. 

Up next we pretty much floated through class II Halls of Karma rapid and class III Hook 99 rapid which reminds me of a much smaller and easier Double Z. We skirted through on the river right side of class IV Greyhound Bus Stopper rapid before I even realized where we were. We played around in the small waves of class III+ Upper and Lower Kaymoor rapids. 

We dropped into the pool above class IV Miller's Folly rapid which is also another tricky rapid. James gave us the line and we followed him. Kathy got caught on the seam of a diagonal wave and flipped. I didn't want to run her over while she was trying to roll so I veered off our line and headed slightly right. I was headed for what I thought was a large wave which turned out to be a rooster tail shooting off of a huge rock. I boofed the rock and landed sideways in a large hole below and was flipped. I tried my roll got part-way up and was window shaded. I rolled again and once again was slammed back down. I moved my paddle around in the water trying to get the hole to release my boat but it just wasn't happening. I tired to roll again got part-way up and slammed back down by this time I was out of air and was forced to pull out. John helped pull my to an eddy while Scott and George plowed my boat in. I wasn't too happy about swimming but I wasn't alone. On the other side of the river James was plowing Kathy's boat into shore while Lisa was helping Kathy into the eddy. John drained my boat for me and inadvertently lost my drain plug in the river. After a bit of searching the nearby rocks Bob actually found it and we continued on down river. 

We pulled over at Thread the Needle rapid to let some of the rafts get ahead of us and the boys wanted to play at Prudential Rock. John, James and George were rock-climbing up the face of the rock and jumping into the river. Kathy and I took some pictures. Kathy somehow managed to swim here as well playing in some feature. When everyone was back in their boats we headed down river through one of my favorite rapids, class IV Fayette Station rapid! We had a huge bouncy ride down through the wave trains dodging the rafts. Bob managed to roll about 6 times and def. made it onto some of the raft companies carnage reels. At the bottom John and Scott went up to run Fayette Station again while I ran video for them and everyone else ran the shuttle. It took about an hour for the shuttle to get back so played around at the takeout and worked on Kathy's roll in the eddy. 

Afterwards we went to Ace Adventure center to look at gear. I bought a drain plug since Kathy lost mine while trying to roll my boat at the take-out. George got a new drytop. Next we returned to camp, dropped off the boats and gear and went out to eat at Dirty Ernie's Rib Pit. We had a bit of a wait since there aren't a ton of restaurants in the area. But we had a ton of fun chucking peanuts at each other and drinking beer til our food came. The food was pretty good and a fairly reasonable price. Back at camp we got a fire going and sat around drinking beer and talking. We made plans for the next day before heading off to bed.
New River info:

Cathedral Cafe info:

Ace Gear shop:

Dirty Ernie's Rib Pit:
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