Gauley River West Virginia
The Gauley Festival (known as “the paddling world’s biggest party”) is the largest river festival in the world, and it’s coming up this weekend. Located only 3.5 hours from Charlottesville, this is really a can’t miss opportunity. The jist of the festival is kayak (or climb) during the day, hangout with other fun outdoors-oriented people during the evening, and camp at night. We’ll leave Friday afternoon and return no later than early evening Sunday, and what you do (activity wise) at the festival will be up to you (and ON you… see possible activities below).
IF YOU WANT TO PADDLE: the Gauley is class III+ to class V+ water, which means experts ONLY. I’m sure many of us will end up paddling together (along with a few thousand other kayakers), but YOU are responsible for YOURself. (If you are planning to paddle on this trip, you should have no problem with this. If this bothers you, you should reconsider running this river). Thanks to damn release, the river “turns on” at 6am and “turns off” at 2pm. We will likely run the river at least once Saturday morning and at least once Sunday morning. The club can provide any kayak gear you might need.
IF YOU WANT TO CLIMB: climbing is not the primary purpose of the festival and trip, but I’m told there is some great climbing in the area (and I believe there will be people at the festival who will be climbing). Like the kayaking, however, YOU will be entirely responsible for YOURself and YOUR climbing. If you need climbing gear, you must be certified to check it out from the club. There will not be any “led” trips (although you may be able to to meet some other people with whom you could climb). I present this just as an option for experienced climbers who would like to take advantage of the trip for travel purposes and hang out with fellow “outdoor enthusiasts” in the evening.
IF YOU WANT TO CAMP, MEET PEOPLE, HANG OUT, LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC, WATCH LOTS OF KAYAKERS AND/OR BE IN THE MOUNTAINS OF WEST VIRGINIA FOR A WEEKEND: you are totally welcome to come on this trip, and no prior experience or qualifications are required. YOU will, however, be on YOUR own to determine what you do during the day and YOU and YOU ALONE will be responsible for determining how YOU capitalize on this phenomenal opportunity thus ensuring the overall positive outcome of YOUR trip. That said, gentle suggestions may be offered by other trip members if you are in this category and feel that you may have difficulty meeting the above requirement.
Lastly, if you are looking for kayak gear, a BIG part of this festival is a “market” of sorts, where you will be able to find LOTS of gear (new and used I’m told) for VERY good prices. So if you’re a beginner kayaker but looking to pick up some gear, you should consider coming on this trip (even if your current skill level is not yet high enough to allow you to run the river).
After reading the list of activities, If you plan to participate in this adventure, you will need to bring clothes for the weekend, whatever camping gear you have, and money for food for the weekend (to be reimbursed up to $24 / person). The club will provide any other camping gear we need (tents, sleeping bags, stoves, etc), will cover our gas and our camping fee(s).
The trip is currently limited to 5 people, but will open up to more people as drivers sign up.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about this trip: my cell phone is 480.586.7755 and my email is Driver@virginia.edu
For more information about the gauley fest, the gauley river, or the festival schedule, see: http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/Wiki/aw:events_
To get a better feel of what the gauley fest is like, you can read an article on it (from the 1998 fest) at: http://www.iplayoutside.com/Events/?eid=1998/09/0115c