First I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the 2 fatalities over the last 2 days. Horrible news and makes it a bummer to even be posting this thread but I think my experience could help a future newbie
Short and sweet version. 3 of us went out there and met up with a guy who ran it once last year but he guided for 4 years out west and was following a group that has been rafting the UG for over 15 years in a row
A 5th guy joined us and he had rafted several times but never the Gauley.
Trip started Thurs evening. LEft Iowa 530 pm. We drove all night and arrived at Gauley Fest Campgrounds about 7 am. Set our tents up etc and were ready to roll. My buddy ended up forgetting swim trunks so we spent 2 hours going around summersville looking for trunks. Had to wait til 10 am for some stores to open.
Ended up not finding any that fit so he had to use rope to tie some xl trunks around his waist lol. Well I was getting bored waiting so I made a bad decision and started drinking beer.
First thing I learned is I dont need to drive all night and then start drinking beer that morning if I want to try running a river the caliber of the Gauley. That was a pretty stupid
WE ended up not getting on The Upper Gauley until mid afternoon but it still kicked our butts in a couple of places. I took a pretty bad swim one time. Everybody in the raft got thrown out twice all at the same time. The first flip was all due to equipment. The raft floor was not sealed with the raft so it popped up and and caused us to hit a rock and flip in Insignificant rapids.
We also flipped at the beginning of Iron Ring. We nailed pillow rock and sweets falls though.
Our raft was a generic and we found out it doesn't bail as fast as the name brands. It also didn't have near the tube size. 5 guys was too many although we were well under the rated weight for the raft. That caused it to be very sluggish for a stroke or 2 after hitting big waves.
It also had very little bowing to it. So being that flat caused it to really catch water. But it made it through looking like a champ and we all made it through and had a great time but knew we were pretty lucky and knew not to take that raft down it again
The next day the 3 of us (all inexperienced but getting better) went to the New River by ourselves and ran it and had a really good time. It was really easy but a great river for us to just practice on and get comfortable with. I ended up being the guide b/c the other guy did really poorly lol..
So for next year we are buying a larger/ more name brand raft and hoping to practice a lot during the spring and summer so we can try the Lower Gauley. WE won't do the upper Gauley without somebody who knows it.
I am glad we didn't do a guided trip b/c i learned so much by jumping in and being forced to have a major role. We did gain an even greater appreciation for how many dangers there are out there and how serious things can get in a hurry.
Gauley Fest was a blast and great experience. We are hoping to go there next year much better equipped so we aren't the laughing stock lol!
Once again I would like to thank all of the people who gave advice b4 our trip. I wouldn't have known about the new river if not for posters on here and you guys and wouldn't have been able to run it if not for you guys advising it because we stopped to get a travel brochure and it had sections of the New rated class IV and V. My buddies were hesitant but I assured them the lady and ratings on that brochure were wrong thanks to feedback from you guys and a couple of Gauley friends we met and spoke with about it.
I also met a couple of cool Tennessee rafters and they offered for us to come down there in April and they will take us out on some good sections which will help us get ready for Gauley Fest 2011. I hope to make it an annual event!
Not sure what other updates folks would like to here. It was our first Gauley and we really enjoyed it