Every other year my Dad treats my brothers and I on a guy’s trip. In 2006 we backpacked in Glacier National Park and went fly fishing (pictures here). In 2008 we went to they Smokey Mountains and fly fished (pictures here). Also in 2008, the wives (Mom, Erica and Megan) started having their own girls trip. In 2010, it was my turn to plan the trip and I wanted to take them to a place that Erica and I love to go to: The New River Gorge and Summersville Lake. The wives and babies went on their own trip while we were in West Virginia, click here to read about their trip.
On thursday Brent drove up from Atlanta, David flew in from Montana and I drove from Raleigh to meet up in Winston-Salem, NC at my parents house. We got up at 5:30 am on friday and were on the road at 6 for the 3.5 hr drive to Summersville Lake for a day of rock climbing. We stopped and ate breakfast at a Chick-fila in Beckley, WV on the way up and were at Summersville Lake by 9:30am. We got our gear ready and started hiking along the trail, descended the ladder, scrambled across the rocks and eventually made it to the climb I wanted to start on, Hippie Dreams (5.7). Brent had the most climbing experience other than me so I had him belay me. But he hadn’t ever lead belayed anyone. I showed him how to do it on the grigri and had David back him up.
I lead the route and then Brent top-roped it without any issues. Dad was up next and got sucked into the corner a little bit too much and his legs were pumped by the time he reached the first ledge about 30 ft up.
Next was David’s turn and he cruised it. I toproped it and cleaned it and we moved over to another 5.7, That Eight. I got to the second bolt and just couldn’t make the move I felt like I needed to make. I asked Brent to take up the rope and I rested. I think I didn’t have full confidence in Brent belaying me until I had him take, that’s why I couldn’t make the move I needed to. After a minute I had more confidence and made the move without any problems and finished the route. David went next and completely cruised the route. Dad went next and had a hard time getting past the first bolt. Brent went last and but it took him several tries to get past the crux. Once past it though he was too tired to continue. I decided to pull the rope and lead the route again to get the redpoint, which was a success, so I cleaned and rapped down.
We then moved one more route over to do Sniff the Drill (5.8). With my new confidence in my belayer, I was able to cruise this route.
David gave it a go but had a hard time getting through a blank section at the second bolt. He eventually came back down and Brent gave it a go. After a while, Brent did figure it out but then had another hard time getting past the third bolt. He eventually got it worked out and finished the route. David then wanted another go at it through some time and effot he was able to work out his beta and complete the route as well. I toproped the route and tried a few different ways to get past the second and third bolts and tried to compare it to the beta they had worked out. I cleaned it, rapped down and we decided to be done for the day. We went and checked in at the campground, setup our tent and drove to the Walmart in Summersville to get our fishing licenses for the next day. Afterwards we ate at Applebees.
On Saturday we drove to the Four Seasons Outfitters in Richwood, WV to get some flies and information on the local fly fishing. They said the water was low so our best bet was to fish on the North fork of the Cherry river.
We drove to the first bridge and dropped Brent and Dad off. The plan was for them to fish to the second bridge (less than 2 miles) and David and I would leave the car at the second bridge for Dad and Brent to pick up and drive upstream to meet up with David and I. David used a dry adam and I also used a dry adam and dropped a nymph. David caught a few small trout and and I caught a minnow with my nymph. The river seemed to get shallow so David and I walked back to the car but
Brent and Dad weren’t there yet. So we started walking downstream to meet up with them.
After another hour we didn’t run into Brent and Dad yet so David and I walked back to the car and drove it up downstream yelling out the window for Dad and Brent. Eventually David hopped out and looked downstream and found them. We decided to drive down to Fayetteville and eat at Pies and Pints before checking into the campground at Cantrells.
Sunday morning we had to be ready to raft the Upper Gauley at 7:30 am. I rafted the Upper several years ago with my Sunday School class from church. Brent’s been whitewater rafting in the past few years as well but Dad hasn’t been in 20 years and David has never been.
The Upper Gauley is rated in the top 5 most technical rivers in the world and has 5 class V+ rapids. Class V+ is the most difficult rapid that companies in the US are allowed to guide on. We started out hitting a few class III and IV rapids and then we hit the first V+ called Insignificant. After seeing the first drop all of us started being very timid in our paddling which caused us to hit it sideways
and everyone but the guide was knocked out of the raft. I instantly got my feet up in the defensive position like we were taught on the bus ride to the river that morning. The rest of the rapid I had to do in this position or trying to swim to the side to miss the undercut rocks. I felt like I kept getting dunked in the
water and every time I came back up I took a breath that was half filled with water. After I got to the flat water I swam to the left to get picked up by our guide in the raft. But my dad was unable to get over and another boat paddled quickly to catch up to him before he went down another set of rapids. After we all got back into the raft and finished coughing up the river water, we assessed what went wrong and we decided we would paddle better. We went over a few more class ||| and IV rapids on which one of them had a lot of people on the side out of the boats and we saw a park ranger. I asked our guide about it and he said he didn’t really want to think about it because there was lots of undercut rock there.
We later found out that somone had died there earlier that morning. The next class V+ rapid was called Pillow Rock. I was determined to paddle better this time because I didn’t want to swim any more rapids. Things seemed to be going well, we bounced off of the pillow rock and were almost done but Brent, David, and I got dumped out at the last drop. For me, this wasn’t a big deal because the water was flat pretty much right after that. Another raft picked me up and brought me to my raft where I saw David wasn’t there yet and another raft was telling our guide that he was stuck in the hydraulic or toilet bowl but his head was up. They tossed him a rope and was able to pull him out.
When he got onto our raft he had lost his shoe and was saying he couldn’t do this anymore and wanted to hike out. Somone soon found his shoe and we told him that we were in the middle of nowhere and he had to continue. When we assessed what went wrong, it turns out that my dad had fallen out earlier in the rapid and was hanging onto the side of the raft. When the guide noticed this, he tried to pull him back in and was unable to steer the boat to hit the last rapid successfully. The rest of the day went off without a hitch, including the 14 ft waterfall which is the last class V+ of the trip. I also decided to cliff jump at a particular section but no one else in my family would join me. They all said they had swam enough for the day.
We were planning on hiking the long point trail when we got back and taking a group photo but we got back so late we had to go ahead and head back to Winston-Salem. It was an adventurous trip where I had a great time spending with my dad and brothers. Luckily, I don’t think any of them developed any PTSD after the rafting incident. I can’t wait to see what we do in another 2 years. If you want to see more pictures from our trip, click here.