Good Gauley! Memories from the RiverSeptember 4, 2020
Fall in the New River Gorge brings cooler temperatures, beautiful foliage and … world-famous whitewater! Every weekend in September and October, the Gauley River has scheduled, controlled water releases from the Summersville Dam. This period of time, known as Gauley Season, is West Virginia’s fifth official season. Adventurers count down to this chance to raft 25 miles of the most wild rapids. The first release date for the 2020 season is on September 11, with the season ending on October 18. Until then, we are getting in the Gauley Season spirit by reminiscing with some of our friends about some of their best memories out on the water.
We’re kicking off our countdown to Gauley Season with a submission from a first-time whitewater rafter!
I’ve always sought adventure and what better place to find it than in one of the most iconic whitewater rafting destinations in the world? One season, feeling particularly rambunctious, I set out to mark something off my ever-growing bucket list: whitewater rafting on the Gauley River during Gauley Season — where the water levels are guaranteed to be perfect. Feeling invincible at the ripe age of 23, I booked the adventure with six friends.
As soon as our raft gained momentum from the swift-moving current, I felt awe-struck at the canyon views decorated with fall foliage. In the quick approach of the first rapid, our instructor impressed upon us the importance of heading his direction and provided us with a quick overview of the paddle instructions. Going through the first rapid, shouts of “paddle forward, forward two, backward, forward two and left back,” fell into my ears. Almost instinctively, our arms seamlessly fell into motion, crashing our paddles into the raging whitewater.
Each rapid ended with the same result: a huge smile on our faces and a meticulous recount of each stroke. Our group of partnering paddlers recalled every detail of the rapid, every mishap, every hazard — as if to hold onto those moments one minute longer.
There is nothing quite like going through a roar-ripping rapid, and Gauley Season created a perfect environment for experiencing unique rapids — from “Fuzzy Box of Kittens” to “Pure Screaming Hell.” It ignited that sense of adventure I had not ever experienced.
So what do you say? Are you ready to tackle the Beast of the East? Start planning your whitewater adventure now!