Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gauley Festival 2012

Gauley Festival 2012

Almost as if the relaxing squirt boating week was the calm before a storm, the weekend quickly rolled in and the action level picked up with the start of the Gauley Festival.

SUP ing below the New River Bridge
Each Friday to Monday in Sept and October the Gauley river's dam releases and this weekend each year over 5,000 paddlers descend to the small town of Summersville deep in West Virginia to paddle, shop and party at the annual Gauley Fest. The event kicked off with a Stand Up Paddle Board Race (SUP) on the New River on Thursday and then the arrival of the water on the Gauley on Friday. It was great on my 3rd trip to West Virginia to finally be able to paddle this incredible whitewater run.

Stephen throws some big moves

I ran the Upper on Friday shown down by Gauley and USA whitewater legend and expert guide Clay Wright and the lower on Sunday. Both super fun, play and big water, river running, runs. Saturday I joined Colin Kemp and the World Kayak team and took a group of 'first timers on the Gauley' paddlers down the lower. In just one day, 40 'new' first timers (41 if you include me) ran the Gauley. Thanks to Colin and the World Kayak team of guides and instructors who gave their day to share their love for these runs.
Fun times on the Gauley
After paddling some super impressive rapids, surfing some great play waves and holes and kick flipping and macho moving down loads of waves trains we headed back to the festival site, where there was live music and loads of stands and stalls offering great deals on boats and kit.

Everyone checks out the deals and kit on show
The party went on well into the night and with a great atmosphere it was great opportunity to catch up with a lot of paddlers from all over Canada and the USA.

Jackson Kayaks draws in the crowds as the party goes on late into the night