Most folks have now recovered from one of the best weekends out here in West By God: Gauley Fest 2015! With so many stories and fun adventures had by all, this weekend was one of the best I have experienced. I want to thank all those who voted for me to be crowned the DBQueen Of West Virginia! It means a lot to me.
It all started on Thursday when many of the Dirtbags began arriving in Summersville from the Upper Yough. A group of us came out to volunteer at Gauley Fest, (special thanks to Natalie and American Whitewater for believing in DBP and giving us an opportunity to show the haters we aren’t a bunch of pigs!) putting up signs and fences around the grounds. Once done we set up our areas for the DBP Admins streaming in from all across the country (20 Admins, about 1/5 of our total, and the many friends they brought, attended.) We had a huge group of friends and family so we made sure to secure some great spots for everyone, some up by the pavilions and some set in the woods. We definitely got the party going early, and made plans to run the Upper Gauley on Friday.
I told my friends I would gladly take them down, seeing that Saturday would be my first commercial trip on the Upper and I figured I could use a test run. I took one big group of Admins in the Party Barge (16 footer), Aaron Erdrich took down his Paddle Cat (don’t dare call it a Shredder!!) and we had a few other small rafts and kayakers in our flotilla. I about took myself out at Insignificant Rapid, but had one bad ass run on Pillow; stoked on that. We stayed for a bit to watch some of the Wallacing before heading on down river. It was all smooth lines all the way down, with a stop at Sweets to watch some more fun; a lot of carnage was to be seen. Getting to take my Dirtbag buddies down the Upper was epic. For some it was their first time, while others have worked the river and some have been there before for fun. To hear how great a job I had done made me feel happy. (Special thanks to Taz and Chillywater Larry!) I love this river… scares me to death but I still go out and do it.
PICS FROM OUR RUN ON THE UPPER GAULEY:
Once back we all relaxed for a bit before Chicago Mike took me to meet Lee and Hannah from the Gnar Fairies and Mika and Darek from Whitewater Wood Art, who had kindly contributed a shirt and an awesome plaque of the Upper Gauley for the DBQ of WV award. Then we went to the Main Stage and I was crowned by Aaron Erdrich! Before that, to calm my nerves I had Wallaced down a whiskey bong… got to celebrate in dirtbag style! The DBP DJ Danceparty was off the hook, and the costumes put everyone in the mood! The Role Models (DJs TerrEnce Young and Alan Rockhouse, both DBP Admins) definitely got the crowd going all night! Crazy Legs had some ridiculous moves out there! The afterparty went off when Saturday night’s headliner Kalob Griffin found Chicago Mike, and with chants of “bring a piece of wood to the firepit!” a large group gathered. Acoustic music is the best when you’re camping, and a highlight was everyone singing “Country Roads” as the boys from River Funk played. Great times!
PICS FROM THE FEST:
After about two and a half hours of sleep… I headed back to Oak Hill to check in at 5 am for my first ever commercial trip. I was nervous, but once I dropped Sweets Falls that day,
I knew I had accomplished something. I came back that night to Gauley Fest to celebrate with everyone and enjoy the music of River Funk, who opened before the Kalob Griffin Band. This was billed as one of the final shows for KGB, and they put their all into it! Chicago Mike got crowd surfed onto the stage and fired up the hundreds of friends and DBFamily dancing and partying in high fashion. After the performance most of us went to the fire pit for more afterparty fun. We watched a guy not once but twice try to do a gainer over the fire (“Hold my fuckin’ beer!!”) That didn’t go too well… we talked about that one for days to come, shudder! We sang, we cheered, and we just had a great night of fellowship with other rafters and kayakers, dirtbags each and every one! Once 5am came around some of us finally got to bed. What a great Gauley Fest!!
Most of us just chilled for the day on Sunday. I was getting ready to run the Upper Gauley the next day in a shredder to set safety at Iron Ring for the Animal Race. (If you’ve never attended the Animal Race on Monday after the Fest, then you are missing out!) We had a big run at Pillow Rock as we back flipped to the left and I probably had my longest swim of my life, it was a ride for sure…and I would do it all over again. We are all in between swims. We got to watch Aaron Erdrich take first place for the second year in a row! Aaron is a badass rafter and deserved the credit he has earned, no matter how the organizers play. Now will it be Chicago Mike vs Nori next year in the IK category… guess we’ll see! Can’t wait!!
PICS FROM THE RACE AND AWARDS CEREMONY AT THE BURRITO BAR IN FAYETTEVILLE:
Finally on Tuesday some of us got on the Lower New. I R-2ed while others kayaked. It was nice to show others the river that I guide all the time, and watch my Dirtbag friends grow. Everyone’s skills seemed to get better every time…. We are all just blessed to be able to get out here. We said our goodbyes to everyone, wishing each other safe journeys and good lines till the next time we meet.
PICS FROM THE NEW RIVER:
This will definitely go down in the books as one of the best weekends of my life. Thanks to everyone who made it amazing! From DBP to the Gnar Fairies, Whitewater Wood Art, KGB, River Funk, AW and the many new friends that were made : ONE LOVE ONE RIVER!! Frank, we made you proud this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!
RING THE DAMN BELL.