by Mary Frances Hansford
Photos by Scott Martin Images
Friday September 16th, 12 women ranging from age 15 to 55, from CO to PA, to West VA, descended the Lower Gauley together to raise money for American Whitewater. The morning was chilly and wet, the perfect setting for a day on the river. We were greeted at Swiss, the take-out for the lower, by Lila Menzies and Shannon Christy, the paddling representatives from AT Paddles and Confluence. Lila brought demo paddles for the women to try out. The rest of the crew trickled in and we were all present by 9:30 and ready to suit up and load up for the river. Lots of women took advantage of Lila’s offer, checking out the cool bent shaft AT Paddles.
Once we made it the put-in with the help of Lee, Angie and Stewart (huge thanks!!) we played a fun “get to know you” game, learning a little more about each of the women and their experience with the Gauley. Anna then led us in some great “Yoga for Kayaking” stretches which warmed our bodies and boosted our confidence for a great ride down the river.
We put in at Wood’s Ferry, so we were able to punch through Back Ender and some other fun warm up rapids. We then reached Kuntz’s Flume where we all rocked our lines and cheered for one another at the bottom. Anna informed us all that when you see the river curve around a corner, that implies that there is a big rapid ahead. So, we would paddle a rapid and then coast through the mellower sections, chatting and laughing and then gather together before each rapid to discuss the lines. Our group was small, fierce and fun! The river seemed quiet and uncrowded so we were able to relax and stay together easily.
We stopped to eat lunch just up from the ledges. During our lunch we were visited by a beautiful water snake and a teeny bright orange lizard, who looked like he belonged in a tropical place like Costa Rica.
We nailed all of the rapids and enjoyed every minute of it, making great friends and future paddling partners. At the take out we raffled off the awesome AT Eddy Paddle that Adventure Technology Paddles donated to the event. Angie Purcell was the lucky winner of this awesome prize! We also raffled off a Girls at Play tee-shirt and Girls at Play DVD of choice. What a wonderful start to a weekend full of water, friends, laughter and adventure at the Gauley.
We raised $400 for American Whitewater! Thanks to Kelsey, Lee, Brynn, Joanne, Julia, Angie, Heather, Lila and Shannon for coming out and contributing your dollars and time!
We were fortunate to be accompanied by Scott Martin, a professional photographer, shooting for AW for the weekend. He has shared with us many of his beautiful shots to solidify the memories. Thanks to Scott for donating his time and talents!! scottmartinimages.com