Friday night, Peyton and I headed off to Smith Mountain Lake for her sister, Scottie's premier of Lake Effects. Since most of the film was shot at the lake, the premier was at a local theater there in town. We both really liked the movie and are hoping to figure out a way to have a viewing of it here in Richmond- possibly at the Byrd. We stayed the night with Scottie and Peyton's folks and had a great breakfast, fixed by her dad on Saturday morning.
Soon after breakfast, I hit the road headed for West Virginia- round two. With a brand new clutch and a 2012 inspection sticker, I was ready to try again. It took me about 3 hours to get to the New where I was going to meet up with local squirt legend, Steve O'Keefe. Sure enough, I got there a little after noon and parked roadside to the New, just downstream from Halls of Karma.
This epic squirt spot was found by Jim Snyder, one of the founders of the sport. It is located just below the Keeneys which is a set of three class III drops that are siphoned into a channel that forms the Halls. I had only talked to Steve on the phone, but he was just as friendly in person as he was on the phone. Steve has retired to a cabin he helped build himself between the Gauley and New River gorges. Steve climbs and squirt boats close to 300 days a year, and you can definitely tell.
He gave me some great pointers, along with two other squirt boaters at the spot, whom I would later learn were Stephen and Clay Wright, two world-class play boaters who work for Jackson kayak. Clay Wright apparently invented the loop move. That is one of the many things I love about kayaking is having the opportunity to paddle along side some of the best in the sport and not even know it.
I didn't get to take as many pictures of squirt boating, but here are a few:
After a beautiful afternoon of squirt boating, I drove into Summersville to Ray's where I would camp for the night. I set up my tent and hammock and ended up falling asleep in my hammock for about an hour. I got some dinner in Summersville and then settled in camp for the night.
When I woke on Sunday morning, I knew I had at least a two hour drive to meet Ben and Kyle at the Big Sandy, so I put on the road as soon as I could. We met in Bruceton Mills around 10 and then had a short, but bumpy drive to the takeout of the Big Sandy. I had run this river once before with a few friends from Richmond, but it had been at higher water, so I wasn't quite sure about a lot of the lines. We had an amazing weather for the whole run and a great time lapping Wonder Falls, a 15-20' waterfall, five times. Here are a few pictures of the run
Here is a short video of me running Wonder Falls