Whitewater rafting on the Gauley

Week of August 21-27, 1997
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Whitewater rafting on the Gauley
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Whitewater rafting on the Gauley
Question: Could you please advise us as to the most challenging whitewater-rafting rivers in the East (for a run this fall) and the outfitters who offer them?

Den Frelinghuysan
Darien, CT
freling5@mindspring.com

Adventure Adviser: By far the most challenging fall whitewater is West Virginia's Gauley River. By whitewater, I mean more than 100 Class III, IV, and V rapids in a 28-mile stretch.

You're guaranteed rowdy water on the Gauley because back in 1988 Congress mandated a 22-day stretch, from Labor Day weekend through October, where Summersville Dam must release 2,800 cubic feet of water per second just for recreational purposes.

The trip starts at the base of Summersville Dam, where three house-size tubes jet water into the river making the launching point as spectacular as some of the most intense rapids.

Though the adrenaline rush is what most Gauley season rafters are after, the scenery is equally impressive. You'll be twisting through steep hillsides dense with bright yellow, orange, red, and green maple, oak, hickory, and sycamore forests. But don't get too caught up in the scenery or before you know it you'll be sucked into the river like a measly piece of driftwood.

There are a few dozen companies on the river that provide one-, two-, or three-day Gualey trips. They book trips years in advance so you'll want to make reservations as quickly as possible. Try calling Class VI River Runners (800-252-7784), which runs one- and two-day trips for $111 to $274.

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