My first Non-Gauley Fest weekend

My first Non-Gauley Fest weekend

I’ve been making the pilgrimage up north for 5 years now. We normally take a huge group with a few first timers and hit the New River, Upper Yough and finish our trip at Gauley Fest.
This year the timing just didn’t work out to make it to the Fest. Everyone should experience Gauley Fest at least once.
AW and their volunteers do an amazing job with this event.
I had never done the Gauley on a non-fest weekend, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
We all left out after work on Friday for the 6 hour drive to Summersville, arriving at our Tawny Farms campsite around 1am.
The next morning, with our eyes barely open, we decided that our first timers should experience a Gauley marathon.
A Gauley marathon is when you paddle the upper, middle and lower which gives you 26 miles of great whitewater.
We shuffled boats around, had 20 minute shuttle conversation and headed to the put-in.
We arrived to a packed parking lot of kayakers, rafters and river boarders. With excitement, we gathered our gear and headed for the water. The river wasn’t quite as crowded as Fest weekend but you still had the same group of hecklers at Pillow and Sweets, which I was glad to see.
All in all it was great trip. Our first timers got to see the whole river and I got my 3rd marathon.
You should try to make it to the Fest but if you can’t, or the crowds are just too much, a non-Fest weekend is still a great time.
Check out the video of my two upper laps in the Unlimited and the Antix.

– Brandon Beaty

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