Adventure Kayaking Lifestyle Rafting Wallace

PUT IN: SEPTEMBER 2016 ~ Gauley Fest, Frank Fest and Save The Grand Canyon. A look ahead… by Mike Toughill

September may indeed by our favorite month of the year at Dirt Bag Paddlers. Why, you ask? Two words- Gauley Season. And with the return of Gauley Season comes the best whitewater festival in America, Gauley Fest, and the reunion of scores of DBP Admins from around the country and the world converging in tiny Summersville, West Virginia to paddle, party and live the #OneLoveOneRiver Philosophy.

First, a bit about the cover photo for the month. This one I shot last year at Sweet’s Falls on the Upper Gauley, the terminus of the Animal Race which goes down each year the Monday after Gauley Fest. What you see here are the various race teams and other river runners from that day gathered atop Postage Due Rock. This massive stack can only be reached by paddling out to it, and you can see various rafts tied off the backside of it. Everyone is sharing the communal spirit of togetherness and joy that is the hallmark of dirtbags everywhere. Although there is fierce competition for first in all the various disciplines that compete, there are no losers in the Animal Race. I’ve enjoyed many sweet moments over the years atop Postage Due (hell, I’ve also had some bad ones, like when I Wallaced and dislocated my finger on a dismount a few years back…) and the camaraderie experienced there is second to none, and probably as much a reason for me putting together this Magazine, the amazing staff that assembles it, and the entire DBP worldwide movement as any. Many of my friends will compete in this year’s Race. I expect Rage Cage to medal. No one is faster or more determined than our very own DBP Superhero Aaron Erdrich! You may even see yours truly give Nori a run for his money in the IK class if I survive the festival… Hah!

Gauley Fest is the best!! Where to begin? Well, how about our Events section on the Dirt Bag Paddlers Facebook page. We’ve been posting hype there for over a month about all of our plans. I encourage you to go there for full details, directions to the festival, and ticket info. Whether you’ve been to Gauley Fest 25 times or this is your first year, the festival just seems to get better EVERY YEAR!! For us, it’s a time of seeing our friends from all over! Once again, a large contingent from DBP HQ here in the upper Midwest will be coming. Rallying around the DBP Banner will be smiling faces from Colorado, Maine, Tennessee, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and of course West By God, and even Ollie El-GAMEL of New Zealand and Asaf Arad of Kenya! WORLDWIDE!

On Friday Nite we will be hosting a massive party on the Main Stage featuring the Drum and Bass of DJ TERRENCE YOUNG! (He’s a badass rafting and kayaking soulboater to boot!) It’s a costume optional party, but if you wear one you WILL get free DBP swag! And we got all sorts of gear from stickers to hats and shirts… Wow us! We will be selling tickets to our Dirtbag Raffle all nite long. Five dollars gets you a chance to win a new playboat from EXO KAYAK! courtesy of our friends at Casper Kayak. There are also tons of “consolation” prizes from Dirt Bag Paddlers and our friends at Cascade River Gear (like a $50 gift certificate!) and Relise Designs, as well as some goodies (think moonshine…) that we will elaborate on at that time. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to American Whitewater, and the funds we raise will be matched by Allen at Casper! Terrence will be spinning at the Casper booth Saturday nite when we hold the drawing, directly after the Jacksons end their annual gear toss off the roof of their RV, so come by and WIN!!! Must be present for the small stuff (but Casper will ship the boat!) You can order tickets NOW at!soul-booty-call/cg7d/8f85400a-18ec-d040-30ef-73b9c54eb16b

We once again are organizing volunteers for Natalie and the AW crew for Gauley Fest, in particular for the setup on Thursday. (After all, we will be running the Upper every other day!) This massive event doesn’t just “happen”, it takes a lot of sweat and hard work to get everything in place. I’ll be meeting up with many members of our Magazine staff to help, and we will also be giving out free beer (must be 21!) and bumper stickers to all the volunteers who show up! Just tell Natalie you’re down with DBP and let the party begin. Because when you’re a dirtbag, work doesn’t have to be drudgery… So we will see you there?

We are also completely stoked to be hosting the third annual FRANK FEST in Niagara, WI this weekend, September 3-4. It’s the World’s Best Free Whitewater Festival! That’s right, free camping, free beer (over 21 only!), free dirtbag potluck, pig and corn roast, at the Barn Party at Kosir’s Rapid Rafts’ Menominee Outpost Saturday night to celebrate the life of our buddy Frank Sade! (Details in the Events on the DBP Facebook page) They say a person never dies as long as the love and memory of his or her deeds are kept alive… Take a moment to read about Frank Sade. And come enjoy our Dirtbag Hospitality!

On Sunday we start the real fun! The Frank Fest Kayak & R2 Downriver Race: open to Both classes. In true Frank Sade style, each race will be in Boater Cross one mad start fashion. Boats will be parked on the beach, ready to roll at start whistle. (You can walk your boats in or float down, positioning is first come first serve and your spot must be approved by our start judges.) Boaters will start side by side on the beach and everyone in the class runs at once! All racers must drop the tongue, and rafts must run over VW Rock (level permitting). (This spot famously ate Frank’s shorts one day on a big Wallace in a borrowed IK!) A clearly marked flag (a pair of old crappy board shorts like Frank used to wear!) grabbed by the first boater just after the Diagonal Wave will decide the winner! There is no second place! $5 to enter, winner takes the pot! Estimate 230 pm race time for Kayakers, 245pm for rafters, subject to change. Check in around noon at the Menominee Outpost for final details, or just be there in the Gorge! You can also register the night before at the Barn Party. WINNERS GET THE ENTIRE POT! As well as a DBP Flatbrim, a #danewho Tshirt, and a gift certificate to Kosir’s!

All Classes of Wallace Surf Comp: Following the Downriver Races, all contestants will rally at Terminal Rapid (4th Pier) along with the judges and crowd walking back from the Gorge. Everyone will have a go, and we will have a three round playoff to determine winner by crowd roar (determined by judges). No entry fee. Winner walks home with the Frank Fest TROPHY made by Val Jean Marcoe! This was Frank’s favorite spot on the river, one that he played at many times, surfing any custies who dared! We will do you proud , Frank…

We also have an urgent message to get out TODAY about the Grand Canyon.

Action needs to be taken NOW. Our beautiful, wild, world wide treasure, the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, is being threatened with commercial development. The proposed Canyon Escalade bill is seeking approval from the Navajo Nation to make a resort and Tram to riverside mall on the river. Is this what the Grand Canyon Experience is about??


Sign it. Spread it. We need to get as many people entered as possible!!

Make your voice heard. We must keep this a sacred land, honor the rights of the indigenous Diné people, and preserve this for future generations to explore. Please go sign the petition to have your voice heard by the Navajo Nation Council.
There is more information on We are a worldwide family, let’s stand strong and get the petition fully supported!! Please share!! WE NEED 50,000 EMAILS OR WE LOSE!! Please help!!
We have some great articles in store for you too, as we return to our roots here at DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE. We hope you enjoy our new look and feel here at, where we will continue to serve up The World’s Best Free Whitewater Publication. We built this foundation on stories like the Reiger Regatta festival report in upstate New York filed by DBP Admin Garry Sergeant, coverage of Beaver Fest from Staff Writer Jay Carpenter, and interviews of paddling stars Viktoria Wolffhardt of ICF fame and the one and only Nick Troutman! Along with much much more!! So stay tuned, and stay safe… It’s gonna be a GRAND MONTH!
Mike Toughill



By Chicago Mike

Editor-in-Chief "Chicago" Mike Toughill is co-founder of Dirt Bag Paddlers and former Peshtigo River Manager at Kosir's Rapid Rafts in Wisconsin. He's been Wallacing since 2003.

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