It's big-water IV and IV+ with two 5.0s according to AW. Insignificant and Lost Paddle are the 5.0s. Downgrading does no one any favors, and although I usually agree pretty strongly with the AW grades, I think Insignificant is a IV+, not a 5.0. Lost Paddle has serious consquences if you get messed up. Almost all of the rocks are undercut there. The bottom of the flume at 2nd Drop is very shallow. If you flip there you are going pretty fast, and it won't be pretty. If you get stuck in a hole above the last move in Tumblehome, you will come up in the funniest water I've ever paddled, with the current strongly pushing you toward a row of undercuts. You have to ferry hard to river left to make your line and you have to want it. Ask me how I know......because when it happened to me, I rolled up with the current pushing me towards the Mail Slot....which (oh shit) had a raft pinned across it.
If you can control your boat, brace, roll and read water on the fly, the Upper G is not really a hard river. Even if you swim, I don't think it's that bad, you just stay in the flow and don't cozy up to any undercuts. The only places I can think of where this would be dangerous are at 4th Drop in Lost Paddle (Tumblehome) and Shiprock where staying in the main flow could get you killed. Of course I haven't swam on that river, so maybe that advice is worthless.
IMO the Gauley is not that dangerous if you know your stuff and can paddle. If you don't know your stuff and start making stupid decisions, it could be quite dangerous. I've run it at 5K and I don't think it's any harder at that level, and 2nd Drop is much safer with more water.
Couldn't find the pics of the pin last weekend, but here is one from a few years ago: http://members.aol.com/hunquo/Gauley...n_Close_Up.jpg
Everyone on the river should know where this rapid is and know the EASY line to avoid the death slot hidden behind the surf wave - the Park Service has even posted diagrams on it. But still, every two or three years, someone goes right into it...
And oh yeah, the scout/walk for Lost Paddle is supposed to take over an hour at least. If you crap out at Pillow, you can walk out there, or if you crap out before Lost Paddle, you can paddle back upstream to a RR beach above there and hike the old wagon trail out. Also a good spot to have your shuttle driver(s) bring you lunch.