But we really need to blog about rock. Not like, “Hey, you rock!” (Though I’m sure you do.)
Like, “Okay, when our rafts turn this corner, you’re going to see the biggest rock in your life.” So without any further introduction, let’s talk about some of the biggest, or nastiest, or most interesting rocks in the Gauley River.Shall we?
Volkswagon Rock- You know it. You love it. The Pillow Rock rapid is near and dear to all of us that raft the Gauley. It’s that huge thing on the left that looks like a duplex fell into the river.
But what’s that lump of sandstone below Pillow? The one right in the middle? The one right where you ideally would take a raft? It’s Volkswagon Rock!
Big as a VW microbus, but not all like, “Peace and love, man,” Volkswagon Rock is the last obstacle in a rapid full of obstacles. Go left, go right, but don’t go over it. Or if you do, get ready to highside.
Six Pack/Indecision Rock- If it wasn’t for Six Pack, there would be a lot less going on in Lost Paddle rapid. But it’s there, and we all have to deal with it, so we may as well enjoy the, um, challenges that Six Pack presents.
It sits directly below one of the biggest hits on the whole Gauley River, the Hawaii-Five-Oh wave. So as your raft comes screaming down through a maelstrom of exploding whitewater, it sits right up and says “Hi!”
To the left is a tight, rocky channel with all kinds of hazards. To the right is a big, pushy channel with all kinds of hazards. Choose well.
Shipwreck Rock- One of the Big 6, Shipwreck Rock rapid is named after the elementary-school sized “rock” that blocks the entire center of the river.
Shipwreck Rock itself is a definite no-no. The routes on either side of the rock are fun and easily reached. The rock itself, however, is incredibly undercut, which makes it an absolute no-touch hazard.
It’s a straight-up nasty, avoid-at-all-costs piece of sandstone. Thankfully, it’s easy to go around Shipwreck Rock. Lucky for us.
“Ejector” Rock- Ah, Sweet’s Falls. What an awesome drop. Just line it up in the center, and you’re good to go.
What happens if you go too far left, you ask? Why, you get to meet The “Ejector”. The name’s in quotation marks because Ejector is one of, well, several names for this particular hunk of earth, the rest of which are a little too unrefined for this delicate blog.
Suffice it to say that you’ll know all of them if you hit the rock.
In a nutshell, here’s what happens if you hit The Ejector: Raft stops. Everything else keeps going. No worries if you fall out, though. Just watch out for Postage Due rock right downstream.
Postage Due- This rock is such a significant marker in the Gauley River that the annual Animal Upper Gauley Race ends right at it. And it just so happens to be the best seat in the house.
Postage due is a master-bedroom sized rock smack in the center of the current at Sweet’s Falls. It gets its name from rafts “stamping” it all season long. Some of them make it off the rock upright. Some don’t.
Here’s the thing, though. To the right of Postage Due is freedom, relaxation, and lunch. To the left is Box Canyon. The Box is a slot where a raft can go in flat, but has to come out sideways. It’s one of the reasons we picked Sweet’s as our lunch spot.
So we can watch.
There are hundreds of notable rocks in the Gauley River. Some have names. Some don’t. They all have stories. And they’re just as much a part of the river as the whitewater.