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Upper Gauley River Whitewater Rafting

Minden, West Virginia - August 4, 2006


This was my first serious whitewater adventure in 21 years, and considerably more intense than when I did the Gallatin River in Montana in 1985. And what a reintroduction it was, running the Upper Gauley River - one of the top ten whitewater rivers in the world - in inflatable one-man kayaks. At the exceptionally low summertime flow during my visit (250 cfs), the rapids became a highly technical maneuvering challenge, and normally submerged rock features turned into rafting playgrounds - caves, overhangs, ledges, and narrow flumes. Several of us even had the opportunity to "surf" the river in places where backflow into whitewater potholes creates powerful eddies. Our three guides - Susan, Leslie and John of Ace Adventure Center - carefully led us through a phenomenal series of Class III-V+ rapids over the course of about eight hours. This was such a great experience I would go back again in a heartbeat, perhaps even for Gauley Season (Sept./Oct.) when the dam-controlled flows are at least ten times greater in volume.

These trips are only as fun as those with whom you get to spend the day, so with me traveling solo, it was quite fortunate that the 12 others on this trek - Nicky, Dacia and Autumn ("Charlie's Angels") of Bay City, Michigan, Tom and Lisa of the Washington, D.C. area, and seven Girl Scouts from Michigan were such an awesome bunch.

I highly recommend ACE Adventure Center -- if I had planned any extra days on my trip I'd have stayed here longer.


These photos were shot on a waterproof, disposable Fuji QuickSnap Marine camera (which contains high-speed Superia X-TRA 800 film) and converted to Super PhotoCD (3000x2000 resolution). All photos were shot at the camera's fixed settings (1/125 sec @ f/10, 32mm focal length). The photos went through extensive sharpening, resizing and cropping in Photoshop.

NOTE: I will NOT buy a QuickSnap Marine again. One needs much faster shutter speeds to effectively freeze motion when photographing whitewater action. Buy a waterproof case for your digital camera instead!

Feel free to use the photos below for any noncommercial use (i.e. anything that doesn't make you money), but please be courteous and include a photo credit (Copyright 2006 Brian Reichow, and link to this site ( If you don't, I will hunt you down and kill you like the dog you are.

Getting Started

Charlie's Angels (Nicky, Autumn & Dacia)
Guides John, Leslie, and Susan, plus videographer Charlie (at far left, in kayak)
Dacia & Autumn

A rare photo of Autumn in the raft.
Susan, our Ace Adventure Center guide.


Lunch at Iron Ring

Autumn & Dacia.
Autumn & Dacia

Flume of Doom

Tom takes the plunge, messing up his ankle in the process.
Nicky jumps in.

Iron Ring: Woodstock, the Saddle and the Cave

Surfing the Cave

Tom surfs the whitewater at the Cave's exit.
John drags Tom back for more surfing.
Tom escapes the wild surf.

Single-Filing The Rapids

Lisa (left) winds around a rock while Tom and John paddle through flatwater.
Duckies line up one by one on the approach.
Tom (left-center) surfs the Gauley.
Tom (left-center) surfs the Gauley.


Game Over

Dacia & Nicky
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Original photography may not be reproduced without my prior consent.