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Gauley River Whitewater Rafting

Summersville, WV to Woods Ferry - September 15, 2006


Due to the obvious risk of camera damage, these photos were shot on my old 3-megapixel Canon PowerShot G1 housed in an Ewa-Marine waterproof case. Most photos were shot in shutter-priority mode at 1/500 sec. Photos are presented in order, as shot.

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.

Upper Gauley, Sept. 15

10:00AM: Summersville Dam Put-In & Preparations

"Big Richard" Arrington and his paddlers go over pre-rafting instructions.

Guides Eliza Janney (back of photo) and Tim Smith secure their dry bags.

Leslie Pinkerton and her charges review paddling and safety directions.

10:50AM: Below Insignificant?

Team leader Tim Smith (at left) runs safety for the rest of our flotilla.

11:10AM: Pillow Rock Preparations

Big Richard's raft eddies up above Pillow Rock.

Nick Reasner and crew eddy up above Pillow Rock.

Kayakers and playboaters are everywhere on the Gauley.

Leslie Pinkerton and crew enjoy a laugh waiting above Pillow Rock.

Sally from Colorado, one of our raft's 4-person contingent.

11:16AM: Pillow Rock

Here's my raft (I'm in back, to the guide's right). These three photos were shot by ACE's contracted pro photographers. We did not get anywhere near smacking Pillow Rock with our paddles.

11:30AM: Surfing "Hungry Mother"

Hungry Mother (the whitewater line at right-center in the left-hand photo) is one of the premier playspots on the Gauley - a powerful surfing hole caused by whitewater pouring over a rock. The hole results from water downstream reversing direction to fill the void. The balance of the two currents creates a whitewater eddy (a recirculating hydraulic) that is often powerful enough to trap rafts until the next raft bumps it out. The 2nd photo is looking back upstream toward Fountain Rock.

The second-to-last raft of the 9:30 Upper Gauley trip grapples with Hungry Mother.

Guide Leslie Pinkerton lounges with her raft beached on a rock, waiting for the 9:30 trip to clear out.

The rafts of Tolly Taliafero and "Big Richard" Arrington watch the mayhem of surfing, West Virginia style.

Private boaters sneak through between the two ACE trips.

The last raft of the 9:30 Upper Gauley trip survives the surf unscathed.

Nick Reasner and his Team Extreme paddlers lead the charge into Hungry Mother, providing a textbook example of what can happen when you surf sideways.

Tim Smith ejects his rafters with authority.

12:10PM: Iron Ring?

Team Extreme 12-foot rafts thread the needle. Photo 1: Tolly Taliefero and crew. Photos 2-3: Jaime and his Team Extreme paddlers. Photo 4: Nick Reasner and team eddy up post-rapid.

12:50PM: Sweet's Falls Prep

The views up and downstream from the eddy above and around the corner from Sweet's Falls.

Team leader Tim Smith's raft (at left) and Jaime's paddlers wait their turn.

Playboaters make a beeline for Sweet's Falls.

Laugh time for Jaime and Team Extreme.

Tim Smith (standing) makes sure all of our rafts have been corraled.

Sally from Colorado - one of our raft's paddlers - gets settled and wedged in.

Nick Reasner and his Team Extreme crew arrive.

1:00-2:00PM: Sweet's Falls & Lunch

Steve Reid and Team Extreme run a nice clean line.

A great view of Sweet's Falls, with the Energizer recirculating hydraulic at left and Dildo Rock at right. The safe line is only about three boat-widths wide, right down the middle.

Other boaters watch the mayhem from atop Postage Due, the foreground rock, and from the shore rocks in the background. Welcome to the Coliseum of Carnage!

Jaime and Team Extreme prepare to beach at our lunch spot alongside Sweet's Falls.

Steve Reid and Team Extreme finally escape from Box Canyon after being wedged between the back side of Postage Due and the triangle-shaped rock in the Canyon.

Playboaters run more aggressive lines through Sweet's Falls, often boofing off Dildo Rock to accomplish 360's over the falls.

Tolly Taliefero and Team Extreme aim for Box Canyon, where they ultimately broadsided the triangle-shaped rock and flipped.

Some other Gauley rafters scoot down river left.

Leslie Pinkerton and paddlers take a nice big hit, then immediately back away from Box Canyon.

A whitewater kayaker runs through and eddies up below Sweet's Falls.

Nick Reasner and crew take an awkward high hit below the Falls, then have to run river left backwards before shooting down Box Canyon. They also broadsided the triangle-shaped rock and flipped, but while the rafters mostly ended up in the Poop Chute (the "back door" of Box Canyon), the raft escaped and wasn't recovered until after lunch, a little ways downriver.

Our guide, Eliza Janney, pulls out the water cooler we've been carrying.

Paddlers from another Gauley River outfitter watch other boaters run Sweet's Falls from their river-right lunch spot.

A two-man rafting crew run the Falls.

ACE rafters enjoy their barbequed chicken and hamburger lunch.

Arlene & Ed, a couple of the rafters from the 9:30 trip.

A two-man crew from Rivermen run the Falls.

An oar-powered catamaran -- a park ranger! -- shoots through Sweet's Falls.

A traffic jam in Box Canyon. Our first contestants fight to get unwedged but ultimately flip, while the 2nd raft got out safely.

A Rivermen raft waits to run Box Canyon.

Here's one of the craziest types of boaters, the whitewater canoeist. Note the inflatables in the front and back of the craft to provide necessary buoyancy (to avoid swamping the craft). These canoes can be Eskimo-rolled just like a kayak.

A two-man catamaran slips sideways below Sweet's Falls.

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Original photography may not be reproduced without my prior consent.