Last spring I wrote a piece for the New River Gorge Adventure Guide describing a trip down the Lower New in this kayak with my dynamic partner. It was part of a larger piece about great spots in the NRG region to get wet. So when they rolled in yesterday, it seemed like a good opportunity to revisit that experience. Here is the full story:
1. Classic Run: Paddling the Lower New
Deep in the New River Gorge careening down the chute above the big hole at Hook 99 rapid, my wife yelled: Paddle hard!
Her frantic tone caught my attention. We had agreed early on in our relationship to never scream at each other. But it was too late.
Uh oh, was the only response I could muster. Our tandem kayak skirted a large boulder on the downstream side pausing on a watery precipice. The boat began to lean into the hole. I thrust my paddle in and arched back, trying to avoid the spray. But like the bar patron trapped by a spit-spraying local drunk, we were going to get wet!
We dropped into the hole, flipped, and swam after a futile attempt to roll up. I sat back into my PFD with my feet up, laughing and enjoying the scenery as our borrowed boat took off down river. The driver of the Wednesday night free shuttle had called our craft a marriage breaker, but we had been confident in our ability to keep it laid back, upright and fun. After all, it is hard to embrace trite relationship battles when immersed in such grandeur.
My wife and I met in the eddy after Greyhound hole, got back in our boat and kissed before the river's cascading green backdrop. A prehistoric canyon, the gorge is a steep, forested guardian to a more primitive time. It is wild, runs fast, and is the perfect place to get wet. So get out there. Float the river with your significant other or just grab a friend. I've seen more relationships forged in this beautiful gorge than not and that is part of the magic.
HOW TO GET THERE: The Lower New River is wild whitewater. Seek experience, either learned or bought (guide) before embarking on a river run. A number of area outfitters offer kayak clinics and Lower New rafting trips. The New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau (800-927-0263) has a full list of outfitters.
****** We survived our paddle in the Jackson Kayak Dynamic Duo , loving every minute in it. Some folks bristle at the idea of paddling tandem. My wife and I do it often. It is not always pretty, as you’ve seen from some of my previous ARC Adventure posts, but it is always rewarding and fun. My wife and I braved the stigma of the “divorce boat” and came away stronger for it. We went on to have a beautiful baby as well. Here is her first visit to the gorge. Maybe one day we’ll take that Dynamic Duo out again, with her in the front this time.