EVENT: Gauley Fest 2012

I’m an east coast boater and considered WV rivers my backyard runs for the first 7+ yrs of my boating career. The Gauley river is in the heart of WV and attracts all levels of whitewater enthusiasts from around the globe. Gauley Fest is the largest gathering of WW enthusiasts in the world and has been going since 1983, 29 yrs! It was great to go to the Fest this year and catch up with so many paddling friends that I haven’t seen in years. It was also nice to just kick back with friends and a beer and enjoy the fest without having to work, as I was a vendor at the fest for many years. The festival ends the summer paddling season and the crisp air and colorful leaves indicate that Fall has arrived. I demoed some new playboats and got 2 great days paddling the Upper Gauley with good friends. Sadly my body hasn’t been holding up as well as I’d like and I missed some of the super late night debauchery that Gauley is known for and couldn’t handle a 3rd day of boating, as this was only my first paddle without a brace since breaking my wrist in June. I look forward to seeing many new and old paddling friends again soon. Until next season Gauley…I’m coming back healthy and ready to throw down next year:)

Gauley Fest is a great place to unload your old WW boats and gear. This fence, just outside the main festival gates, has seen MANY boat sales over the years.

Find the EE sticker:) Rick Thompson’s (FB group: The Whitewater Kayakers Network) tailgate.

Stephen “The Hobbit King” Wrigtht throws nasty huge air were ever he goes. Here he is in the new ’13 Jackson Star launching big air at Geek Wave on the Upper Gauley.

The Upper Gauley take-out is always a good scene. The hike out of the gorge is something that many complain about, but I’ve always liked the workout and accomplishment of “earning your turns.”

“You know you’re in a sketchy van when:” The entire roof pops inward from the wind pressure and all the reinforcing beams crack down the middle. SKETCHY!

Yes I swam on the Upper Gauley. I did a full 7 second stern stall into the “room of doom” at Pillow Rapid, managed to get back in the flow, but never fully roll up. I swam out of the Fluid M Dope demo boat in the pool below the rapid. We’re all in between swims;)

Even 5 month old babies named after massive waterfalls, Sahalie, with fathers named “The Dogg” enjoy Gauley Fest. Congrats Bobby, cute baby girl:)

This photo sums up boater culture in WV and Gauley Fest as a whole. Take note that this is an unstable SUP simulator that is being spun around by the girl in the background. This dude is drinking a beer, smoking and sporting an arm sling.

New products and prototypes are released every year at the festival and this year Luke Hopkins from Stride SUP showcased his new raft/SUP/kayak watercraft. Cool idea and well executed.

Deals on boats and gear are the best you’ll find anywhere. Rocky Mountain Kayaks always shows up in force and slings crazy deals. The person who stole a kayak from this vendor this year has got some seriously bad karma coming his way!

The crowd goes nuts every year when Jackson Kayak gives away shwag from atop their RV. Each piece of shwag has a raffle number on it and at the end of the night they raffle off a boat of choice.

DemShitz, Zombies, lots of beer and Pyranha Kayaks make for an entertaining show:)

Yes that is a Mexican Wrestler doing a keg stand in the Liquid Logic booth. Par for the course at Gauley Fest. LOTS of free-flowing beer for all to enjoy.

The music was top-notch this year. Eyes of the Elders (EOE) is a very talented hip hop group out of Charlotte, NC that closed the evening down on Sat. night.

Had a quick stop by beautiful Seneca Rocks after Gauley Fest.

I want to give a HUGE shout out to my good friends Jesse & Kim Becker who got married in Oregon during Gauley Fest weekend. You guys rock and I’m sad to have missed your spectacular wedding.

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