During the summer, days off come around as often as a blue moon. A guide who isn’t scheduled on the river that day will talk to a manager and try to pick up an extra trip, a canopy tour or some hours helping repair rafts in the boat building. There’s always something to keep you busy at ACE.
Normally, I sleep later than the ACE breakfast buffet’s open hours, so I head into downtown Fayetteville to grab some brunch at Cathedral Café. Built in an old church, it still retains its stained glass windows and ambiance. Cathedral makes an amazing cup of coffee, served perfectly with Sweet Potato Pancakes. Mmmm, pancakes. Anyway, a good day starts with a great breakfast, right?
From there, the options are endless. Depending on weather and water levels, guides love playing on the river, even on their days off. We’ll go boogie boarding at Canyon Doors rapid on the Lower Gauley or Fayette Station rapid on the Lower New. If the river is high enough, you can raft the Meadow tributary to the Gauley River or a section of the New River, past the normal takeout, called the Dries.
If I want to stay dry, I’ll go hiking or mountain biking on one of the endless trails in the New River Gorge National Park, several of which are located on ACE’s 1,500 acres. On a beautiful summer day, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining and being outside makes me thankful for the place I can call home and the office.
To answer one of the most commonly asked questions, yes, guides are allowed to tag along on any ACE trip going out that day, as long as there’s space available. That opportunity has allowed me go on ATV trips (love it!), rappelling down 70 foot cliffs and down the Gauley River in a ducky (thank you Scotty O. for helping me after I fell out at Iron Ring, twice.).
Working at such an amazing place has really expanded my outdoor horizons. To me, a great day off means I’m experiencing the best ACE and West Virginia have to offer. Forget about relaxing. I can sleep during the winter.