Trip participants: Gary Boehle (trip leader), Julie McCall, Sheryl Teague, Sonja Duelberg, Andrea Lacy, Doug Ramsey, Dennis Artrip, Cliff Cooper and Daniel Moody
There were nine members for this outing, including one that didn’t know exactly where he was going until about five minutes after he got there because his wife had planned it without telling him where or what he was doing for the next few days.
The trip started on schedule with a group breakfast at 8:00 AM. We had unseasonably warm weather for this trip, with the forecast calling for 84 degrees on Saturday for our time on the water. The drive east was pretty uneventful except for an exit that we almost missed. I rectified that situation and got us heading in the right direction for an approximately 4:00 PM arrival time at Ace Adventure Resort, in Minden, West VA. The cabin was spacious, with bunks for 12, a shower, a couple sinks, heat and electricity.
Seven from the group had arranged to zipline in the area, so we made it just in time to unpack the van so they could make it to the meeting point on site for transport to what sounded like a fantastic time above the New River Gorge.
Upon their return, the evening consisted of a campfire, chili, hot dogs, socializing and a fairly early turn-in because we needed to be prepped and to our buffet breakfast by 6:00 AM so we could make it to their orientation before leaving the facility for the river at 7:30 AM.
After an entertaining ride to the river, we were divided into two rafts (6 and 3) for what was to be about five hours of an unforgettable ride on the river. We were to soon find out why this seasonal release of water from Summersville Lake dam produces what is considered the #2 ranked whitewater experience in the U.S. I heard later that it’s #2, only behind the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon earns that distinction only because of the number of people that are drawn to the area annually. The Upper Gauley seasonal release typically only happens 23 days per year. The flow rate during these releases is regulated at between 2,400 and 2,800 cubic feet per SECOND.
There were lots of Class V rapids, a few V+’s and several other exciting runs as well. We swam on purpose, swam on accident, we jumped from a rock cliff and learned what it was like to be eaten by a “fuzzy box of kittens,” just to describe a portion of the outing. All of this gave us a good appetite to enjoy the hot riverside meal prepared by our guides on Ace’s private area with a great view of the last class V of the day. There were a couple more exciting rapids before making it to the end where we found the bus for the return trip, along with a nice selection of post-river beverages.
After the bus ride back to Ace, we cleaned up, rested, and snacked….then headed to the “Big Tent” to view the video of the day’s antics. There was lots of laughter and reminiscing about the great time that had been had by all.
The evening consisted of a nice meal at the on-site lounge where we had abundant choices that ranged from nachos to roasted whole hog, including brick oven pizza that was enjoyed by at least a few in the group.
We had another nice fire (thanks to the two Eagle Scouts in the group), some rested and four of us took a hike to the resort’s gorge overlook; it was a nice walk (desperately needed by at least one of us….due to my excessive grazing), but we didn’t get the full affect of the overlook due to the darkness.
When we made it back to the cabin, some slept, some enjoyed the fire, some sawed logs, some listened to the sawing logs, and the fight between the occupants of the cabin across the drive from us….and some of us slept through it, only to find a girl sleeping in the shower stall at the camper’s bath house in the morning. By the looks of their porch, I’d guess she might have had a run-in with Jack Daniels.
Our trip concluded with an hour late departure and a dead black bear along the highway, which required a (safe) pull-off for a closer look. We made up for the lost time with a couple brief gas/food stops, to make it back to Indy before 5:00 PM.