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Old 01-14-2008   #11
Caspian's Avatar
Englewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1978
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 882
New, Big Sandy, Yough, and Gauley (which at release to 5K I'll call IV+ except for Lost Paddle - AW also rates Insignificant a 5.0 but I'm not convinced). If you head down further south, the Doe is supposed to be really beautiful, although full of wood or something like that. Into the Smokies, Big Creek is stinkin' fun but pray for rain.

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Old 01-14-2008   #12
rhm's Avatar
steamboat springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 93
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 199

if it rains and you are near the gauley it is a great place to hit a lot of whitewater in a very small area.

the new has a huge watershed. it actually starts way down in north carolina. so rain anywhere 200 miles south of there will bring it up. it sounds like you were on the upper new if what you did was class II. the lower new, or gorge section, is like III+ to IV. there are several dangerous spots with undercuts and sieves, but they are really most dangerous at lower water levels. up to 5 feet (10,000cfs) on the fayette station gauge the gorge section has awesome play. there are great holes and surf waves at various different levels. check ot the description on eddyflower. there are descriptions of each rapid and where the good playspots are.

from 10,000 to 30,000 cfs it is a great big water run. it is unlikely that the water will be that high when you are there, but it has happened when a hurricane or some really heavy storms roll through. i've paddled it at around 50,000 cfs and it isn't for the faint of heart. i was in a crossfire, and got stern squirted in some major eddylines and boils at the bottom of lower keeney. there are really crazy boils and eddylines everywhere. also the holes from about 25,000 cfs and up get absolutely enormous.

above 10,000 cfs the dries section starts to run. it is downstream of the gorge section below hawk's nest lake. there is a large tunnel where elkem metals takes 10,000 cfs and diverts it through the mountain to make hydro power. the tunnel can only handle 10,000 cfs. anything above that runs down the usually dry riverbed. the put in waves are awesome at really big water (i think like 20,000 to 30,000 cfs). they actually formed after i moved from wv to colorado, so i have never been there to catch them when it is running. at lower levels there are lots of other great surf waves and holes on the section as well. there is a rapid called milelong toward the end it is probably close to a mile long, but probably not quite. at 30,000 cfs it is a mile of 15 foot waves that culminates with two really ugly holes at the very bottom.

the gauley runs all the time in the summer. i have paddled it at 300 cfs. it is ok, but not as much fun as it is at higher water. it starts getting more fun at 600 cfs. from 300 to 700 cfs everything is runnable. from 700 to 1500 cfs iron ring gets really nasty. there is a hole at the bottom of the first section of the drop that flips boats and then hammers them against "woodstock rock" before dropping over the second part of the rock. i got stern squirted there in the same crossfire around 1000 cfs. rode the stern from the first hole past woodstock and then got flipped into woodstock just as i was going down the second part of the drop. rolled up with bloody knuckles and elbows at the bottom. after that i have walked it every time it is at those levels.

the lower meadow (V+)feeds into the gauley above lost paddle. one day i saw some guys paddle out of the lower meadow and then walk around iron ring around 1000 cfs. that should tell you how burly it is.

the lower gauley is a great play run also. if it is raining it will probably be running too.

the middle meadow is a fun class III run. put in near anglens creek above a section that they call the miracle mile. take out at the route 19 bridge. it might be good to have someone show you down the middle if you can. there is a pin spot in the miracle mile where a guy died several years ago. the spot doesn't look dangerous, but that is kind of common with west virginia rivers. there are undercuts, cracks, sieves, and potholes in very safe looking drops that people get stuck in.

below the route 19 bridge is the lower meadow. it is pretty serious. several people have died boating this section. i never got enough courage up to run it while i was living there. probably not your cup of tea if you want III+ to IV- rivers.

the upper meadow is a fun section if you are looking for a III+ to IV kind of run. the put in is hard to find. i think i could still find it if i were driving, but i couldn't begin to tell you how to find it. you might look for a guidebook that has directions. well worth it if it is running.

unlike the yampa here in steamboat that has many dams and reservoirs, but people still call it free flowing, the meadow is a truly free flowing river. there is not a dam of any kind on it. it is completely dependent on rainfall.

the cheat is also truly free flowing, so if it rains it will run, but it could be really low if it doesn't.

i remember summers in wv when we didn't see the sun for weeks on end though. everything was running. then again i remember praying for rain when we were running the new at only 800cfs. which is as low as i have ever seen it. so even during the driest summers the new still runs all the time.

i would call the yough IV+ to V. especially if it is higher water. it has a gradient of 120 feet per mile i think, and several of the rapids are pretty burly. it does however have releases, so when nothing else is running it probably will (if they remember to turn the dam on) i used to guide rafts on the yough and safety boat. one trip we were sitting at the put in and the water never came. one of the other guides drove back to town to find out what happened to the water. when he returned, he informed us that nobody bothered to turn on the dam until outfitters started calling when there was no water. it takes several hours for the water to get down to where the upper section is. so we went on a scenic drive and hike in the woods for a couple hours before returning to the put in.

the russell fork has some great drops, but i would call it IV+ to V but i think the water was pretty high when i ran it. it has a lot of undercuts and sieves. there have been several deaths at fist. i remember feeling pretty scared above both fist and el horrendo. if you want IV- i wouldn't go there.

same with the upper blackwater it is V+ and very remote. if you are looking for IV- i wouldn't go there.

the only time i was ever in western nc was with a college paddling class. we did the tuckaseegee, little tennessee, nantahala, and section III of the chatooga all three were II - III because the school would not let the instructor take students to anything harder. any of these would be fun if you just want a easy day on the water.

hope this helps you plan your trip.

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Old 01-15-2008   #13
Durango, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 87

I think we paddled on the San Miguel a couple years ago during the Bluegrass fest. Have fun back east.

Everyone's beta is pretty spot on. Lots a great runs out there. I do highly recommend the upper G at low summer flows. It gets slotty, and has a totally different feel to it than fall releases. It's very manageable and you'll likely be the only ones out there. Below 800 it's not pushy and you can eddy hop and boat scout everything. 800-1200 iron ring is stompin', but it's an easy scout/portage. Definitley worth it.

Also, the new rocks. Always has water and there's lots of play above 2 ft. Put on after 2 pm and you'll have the river to yourself. Put on in Conard and take out at Fayette station - 8 miles. Take your time and enjoy the warm water.
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Old 01-16-2008   #14
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 245
hey Dugan, that's very likely, I did that run once a few years back. maybe it'll run again for us this year!

so I had forgotten that the new runs north, so I'll watch south for good storms, good info all around rfm

chad, do you mean the tygart river perhaps? that's all I saw on eddyflower, but you might know more than they? that's a good list!

sounds like the lower new would be the best to plan for longterm, fixed plan, and if it's dumping right, I bet I'd have little trouble finding friends at the putin for the gauley!! thanks for all the info

anyone ever boat the middle fork of something at Audra State park, near Buckhannan??
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Old 01-16-2008   #15
rhm's Avatar
steamboat springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 93
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 199
Originally Posted by redbeard View Post

chad, do you mean the tygart river perhaps? that's all I saw on eddyflower, but you might know more than they?

sounds like the lower new would be the best to plan for longterm, fixed plan, and if it's dumping right, I bet I'd have little trouble finding friends at the putin for the gauley!! thanks for all the info
chad does mean the tygart. also, finding someone at the put in at the gauley might be a crapshoot in the summer. i've paddled it a lot in the summer when i was living there, more often than not my friends and i were the only ones at the put in or takeout. we did occasionally (and sometimes regretfully) take on stragglers at the put in, but some people might not if they don't know you or your skills. i would try to visit some of the rafting companies and find someone to go with. most guides should know the river, and you won't end up hooking up with someone else who has no idea what the river is like. also, i would put out a post on boatertalk and try to make some friends to meet up with when you are there. plenty of wv boaters on boatertalk. i might be there in the end of june, but i just don't know yet. my parents just moved back to summersville after 40 years of living in southeast ohio. i am so psyched to be able to go visit family and have great boatin' in the backyard.
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Old 01-16-2008   #16
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 245
yeah, I'm probably just dreaming with high hopes of the gauley. maybe someday, but on a trip by myself, just meeting people I don't know, I'll likely stick to III-ish stuff I would feel confident to run alone, but with someone to at least have a "last spotted" to report, eh?

I'm pretty cautious in reality...

I'll post up on boatertalk too, maybe a little closer to the date.

nice to have the family home again, eh!! summersville is "close" to mine, but between them and fayetteville. oh well, if only they'd gone "back to the land" in CO I'd be all set... !!

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