On Friday the 4th of May we slept in and then drove to Baltimore, where the warehouse of Fluid Northamerica is situated, to get our boats, which got there one day earlier. On our way we made a small detour to Rockville to get two WRSI-helmets in the local paddleshop Potomac Paddlesports. Rockville also houses one of the biggest second-hand shops in the area and for 200 Dollars we find quite a lot of usefull stuff for our van (e.g. dishes, cutlery, books and also a solid oldschool wooden chest, where we would store the dishes in and at the same time also use it as an extra chair).
Back home at the Chapelles we collect our stuff together, do our laundry and for the last time for a longer time enjoy the big-family lifestyle! At dinner we are convinced to make a “small detour” to the west before we head to the big waves in Canada and visit Cheat-Fest with them. Seila, Pete and Ocoee already leave one day before us, as the festival lasts three days from friday to sunday and we follow them with Seth on Saturday morning. We drive three hours west until we arrive at the putin for the Big Sandy at around noon! Just a few minutes in the run we get to one of the highlights of the river, the Wonder Falls, a 6 meter high waterfall. Actually the first waterfall for Maria :-)
At the falls we meet Ocoee, who paddled the upper part of the Big Sandy with Bobby Miller and Adam Rettig of Fluid North America and joined our group after the falls as Bobby and Adam had to go to the Fluid booth at the festival. The rest of the Big Sandy is, besides the rapid “Big Splat”, a very nice III – IV creek. “Big Splat” is a more difficult (WW V) rapid, which is portaged by Ocoee and Maria. The nice thing about the portage is, that you can get back in to the river by a very fun seal-launch!
We finish the run at half past six and after a quick pizza on the way, we make it to the Cheat-Festival, one of the most famous kayak-festivals in the USA with around 2.500 visitors!
After an exiting night we go for a relaxing paddle on the Cheat Narrows, with Sheila and Pete on their Shredder, the next day.
After the Chapelles started on their drive back home, we paid McDonalds another lengthy visit to check the water-levels of the east-coast in Canada in order to finalize our upcoming travelling-plans. After 5 hours of research and chatting with Canadian locals we decide to skip East-Canada this spring as the snow melt was already and we had missed it by a couple of weeks and the levels were already too low for the big waves to come in. We hope for better luck next spring, keep the fingers crossed!
So we decide to head south again to visit Fayetteville, West Virginia and the New River Gorge once more to test the quality of the rock there . As that area is supposed to also be one of the best climbing-areas on the east-coast of the USA! Besides, it had rained quite a lot again in the drainage of the New River and the level was on the rise again…
As we get to Fayetteville our first stop is Surprise Wave. The level is around 6 foot and we find a wave, but this is not Surprise Wave, but a few meters upstream the so called Sucker Wave.
Unfortunately after a few runs we see a guy standing on the other shore waving at us frenetically. As I paddle over to see what he is all about I learn that he is a park-ranger and he came to search for us as he has spotted our car because the road to the putin is going to be shut down as a landslide has hit the road and they want to repair the street and everybody has to get out. A shame that we have to stop but very nice of him to hike up the shore of the river to come and tell us about it! :-)
On the next day Maria, Samantha and me paddle the Middle Meadow with a kayak and three other friends paddle it down with a raft. The Middle Meadow is a very nice mellow creek (WW III), which runs into the Gauley.