Rivers West Virginia

Mattie P. and Brian H. stand above one of many drops at Kanawha Falls in West Virginia. Scouting the waterfall for a runnable line in a whitewater raft. Photo by Kathie Green.

Standing cliff-side, watching mass amounts of water pour over a waterfall isn’t something that most people would find appealing. For a select few however, that vertically falling water holds something magical. It is the catalyst for adventure; it is experiencing the unknown.

This magic is not limited to waterfalls though. We individuals who seek out the next big whitewater mania, climb just a little bit higher for that hold, or push just a little bit harder toward the unfamiliar to know this magic well. We are addicted to it, always wanting more.

Most of society finds us as having a few screws loose in our minds. Maybe that’s why we gather together in these camps, vans and campers, living happily by riverside and fire light, away from the lights of the city. It is true after all that birds of a feather flock together.

So call us crazy adrenaline junkies, dirt bags or hippies. We’ve come to have affection for those terms. We will always continue searching for the magic that is the unknown.

-Written by Kathie Green-

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West Virignina Adventure Racing

West Virginia Adventure Racing Adventure Racing has gained popularity in recent years as athletes seek greater challenges in the outdoors. Adventure Races combine multiple outdoor disciplines that challenge not only strength and endurance, but team work and mental tenacity.

Adventure races vary in length from a sprint style, lasting just a few hours to an expedition which can last as long as 10 days. Once the clock starts, racers navigate the course, as long as individuals or teams meet checkpoints before cut off times they decide when and how long to rest. Racers carry their own gear and can resupply at transition areas. Often the teamwork required to navigate a course together can be the toughest challenge of Adventure Racing. Navigating team dynamics can make navigating the terrain seem simple. Some teams will simply meet at the transitions and relay, with each team member completing a section of the race. Other times teams are expected to stay together and complete the course as a team.

Adventure Races are held in some of the wildest and most rugged places on the planet, so it should come as no surprise that many are held in West Virginia. The entire state of West Virginia is located within the Appalachian Mountains, the terrain is steep and rugged. The state also boasts the highest stream densities of any region in North America, with over 40,000 water miles or 1.65 miles of water per 1 square mile, now you know why we love it here so much. Add in the sandstone cliffs and hardwood forests and thick foliage and you’ve found natures most challenging and beautiful adventure race course.

This year there are 2 amazing and tough adventure races right here in our backyard; the Wild Wonderful 24HR Adventure Race and The New River Gorge Challenge. We are excited and proud to support the 24HR Race by offering gear and guides for the whitewater section of the Wild and Wonderful 24HR race. Once the paddles hit the water, our guides go from leisure mode to full-on competition mode. The guides lend support and well, guidance through the Class II-V whitewater of the Lower New River after racers have completed the cross country run, navigation and mountain bike sections. The Wild and Wonderful 24HR race is May17.

Just down the road in Fayetteville, the New River Gorge Challenge takes racers all through the gorge on foot, wheel and watercraft. Racers run from Fayetteville to Cunard and paddle the Lower New and then mountain bike from Fayette Station through the Gorge back to Fayetteville. The New River Challenge is August 2.

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ATV tours in WVWhen you make your living guiding people in the outdoors on epic and exciting adventures, you realize that having partners is not only makes life more fun and interesting it’s essential. Whether choosing a partner in life or ATV adventures, there are many traits you want your partner to have: availability, integrity, responsibility, healthy self-esteem and a positive attitude. ACE recently partnered with Burning Rock Adventure Park, Southern West Virginias’ premier Outdoor Adventure Park and we have to admit, we are smitten. We couldn’t be happier or more excited by our choice. Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park has all the traits you want in an adventure partner and more, about 10,000 Acres and 100 miles more of ATV trails.

In their own words Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park is; ‘a family-fueled, mom-approved, razz-your-buddies, go-big-or-go-home, beginners-always-welcome way to have good time on a West Virginia vacation in the New River Gorge region. ATVs, SxSs and MX are the main focus here at Burning Rock with over 100 miles of well kept trails for every skill level on 10,000 acres and 1.25 mile professionally designed MX track!’ How’s that for healthy self-esteem and a positive attitude?

We sat down with Katie Sweeney, Director Of External Operations and asked her to give us the full scoop on all the ways you can have fun at Burning Rock. With a full offering of progressive guided tours, they literally offer something for everyone. If you a total newbie to rolling through the woods on an ATV, your guide is going to start out with a full introduction to the machine; the brakes, the throttle and gears. Then they teach you basic riding technique and let you practice on the trail and small features. As you start your tour and warm up to riding and get comfortable you’ll have the option to ride bumps and hills. Guides are knowledgeable and answer questions and tailor tours to your comfort level. Folks can bring their own machines or rent one as they have top of the line Polaris machines for you to ride. If you bring your own machines there is a loading ramp and a wash station available for you to use.

Just like at ACE, safety is important and you’ll be outfitted with a helmet and given a safety talk. Katie does recommend that you wear sneakers or hiking boots and bring a complete change of clothes, just in case. The wow factor is different for every one; so don’t be surprised if you come back to base covered in mud or with bugs in your teeth. Some people like to ride long distances while others enjoy tackling technical obstacles like steep drops, mud puddles or rutted trails. The fear factor is typically not knowing how the machine is going to react, and as you could be riding steep trails with rocks and mud, that is a very realistic fear. But all riders go at their pace and only ride terrain they are comfortable with. Like most sports, riding ATV’s is an experiential experience, you have to try it and learn it for yourself. Guides are there to teach you techniques and give you tips to make you a better rider. Families enjoy riding together and often parents have as much or more fun than the kids. The biggest smiles Katie sees are when parents see their kids gaining skills and confidence while having a great time. All of the trips are customized so you can have a fun zooming through the woods with the girls, the guys or have a chill family activity.

Riding through the park really gives you a historical perspective on coal mining and the rich heritage of West Virginia. You’ll ride through old coal fields, abandoned towns, your guides know the history and will entertain you with stories of days gone by.

So when you are planning your next vacation to ACE, add a day and check out Burning Rock Adventure Park, you’ll be as excited as we are to ATV with them.

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Spring in the New River Gorge

The view of the New River Gorge from ACE’s Zip Line Tour

As the ground finally thaws, flowers begin to bloom and birds serenade me each morning, my junior year of college winds to an end, and the promise of another year of adventure begins to renew itself. I couldn’t possibly be more excited to begin working with ACE Adventure Resort again at the beginning of the summer season.

Winter found me trapped indoors, unless otherwise to shovel mounds of snow, working monotonous retail jobs indoor, writing essays and spending my free time on the Internet. Cabin fever is all too kind of a word for how I find myself through the cold months. Sure, snow has its beauty in nature, just as all seasons do. However, it can be a put-off. Few have found themselves trapped inside because it was just too sunny and nice outside.

And while we become busy with work and finding things to keep the time going while indoors, there is always the promise of spring, and it’s ever more popular sister, summer. Nature turns up the radio on the noises that fill the air, from animals singing praise of sunshine and the new life babbling water offers to adventure seekers. As the sound of your cell phone is doomed to dull, and you reconnect with the world we are meant to love and appreciate, you gain back a small piece of whatever was frozen during winter.

When the first wave of New River water splashes me in the face, it will cleanse me from whatever stress has built up from months before. It’s ironic that everyone sort of stops what they are doing to appreciate summer. Schools close, people take time off of work to take trips and travel places that they have been planning all year long, perhaps even years. Why not take trips and adventure during the winter? Because the song of summer calls your name and it is simply too sweet to ignore. Nature cannot ignore it, human cannot resist it. So as life begins to wind down for us and adventure begins to wind up, ask yourself what you would like to connect with this spring in the New River Gorge?

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Mountain Music Festival in WVAs the start of the new season approaches we’ve wrapped our minds around hosting the Mountain Music festival in WV on June 6th & 7th. The days of whitewater adventure, music outside, sunshine, and dancing barefoot aren’t that far away.  Get ready for ACE Adventure Resort’s first Mountain Music Festival! An eclectic mix of bands from various musical genres and festival circuit favorites round out a line-up that is sure to please. Jam bands, funk bands, alternative Bluegrass, Americana and well, there are some that don’t fit any genre. We’ll just say they freaking rock.

Our music festival venue is located smack dab on top of a mountain and in the heart of the New River Gorge in West Virginia. You’ll be dancing under the stars at one of the most unique festival grounds ever created. The Mountain Music Festival announced their 2014 lineup, and we couldn’t be more excited by the festival buzz.  And so the countdown begins…

Keller Williams

Keller Williams defines the term independent artist. His 16 recordings tell only half the story; his reputation is built on his engaging live performances, no two of which are alike. Williams’ solo live shows—and his ability to improvise to his determinedly quirky tunes despite the absence of an actual band—quickly became the stuff of legend, and his audience grew exponentially when word spread about this exciting, unpredictable performer. Keller always reveals himself as an artist of great stylistic breadth and infinite imagination. A singer, songwriter and musician, always on a quest for the new, Keller Williams has never followed the prescribed path laid out by the conventional music business but rather one of his own making. It’s a path that has served him well.

The Wood Brothers

Chris Wood had a scrap of a song, scribbled in a notebook. He played it for his older brother, Oliver, who’d had a verse lying around he didn’t know what to do with. The two pieces, composed months apart, one in urban Atlanta and the other deep in the Catskills, dovetailed musically and lyrically: the verse about a man regretting chasing unattainable women, the high-lonesome, harmony-driven refrain of “When I die, I wanna be sent back to try, try again.”

“The experience marked a deeper level of collaboration for The Wood Brothers, a newfound fraternal synchronicity that’s captured on their latest album, ‘The Muse.’ The cohesion comes from the brothers having spent the last two years on the road with new full-time member Jano Rix, a drummer and ace-in-the-hole multi-instrumentalist, whereas they relied on session musician-friends to fill out previous albums. Jano’s additional harmonies give credence to the old trope that while two family members often harmonize preternaturally; it takes a third, non-related singer for the sound to really shine.

Larry Keel and The Natural Bridge

Larry Keel is one of the most powerful, innovative and all-out exhilarating acoustic flatpicking guitarists performing today. Keel has absorbed the best lessons from his Bluegrass family upbringing, both sides deeply steeped in the rich mountain music culture and heritage of Southwest Virginia. He has always integrated his solid musical grounding and natural-born talent with an incomparable approach to flatpicking the guitar and composing original music. He’s also got a knack for choosing interesting and appealing material from all realms of music with guts, whether it’s a tune written by a fellow song-writer/musician friend, or a tasty cover from any number of genres all over the map. The combination is pretty irresistible, and has earned Keel the highest respect and billing among the top acoustic musicians alive.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Funk, Rock, and Electric ENERGY: These four Pigeons bring it every night. Based out of Baltimore, MD, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has an undeniably unique and versatile live sound that ascends peaks of musical ecstasy. Their evolving arrangements of original compositions, psychedelic improvisational jams, and contagious smiles have ‘The Flock’– their self-identifying fan base that stretches from coast-to-coast– coming back for more. One of the fastest growing emerging artists in the jam and festival scene these days, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is here to bring the party with their danceable electro-funk grooves and infectious ability to bring positive energy to any environment.

Spiritual Rez

There is nothing more mind-bending than the diverse sounds and omni-present textures of Spiritual Rez…their music changes your mind and your soul. The Spiritual Rez reggae dance experience is an unabashed display of musical virtuosity. When paired with a deep, sub-sonic groove and powerful heart felt vocalization; crowds are left dancing and screaming for more. Over the past 8 years, these six men have relentlessly toured the country to share their music and appreciation of the arts. Rooted in Rock, Reggae, and Funk; their diversity exemplifies their love and desire to put on a live experience that will not only cut to your core, but also ignite the inner flame that exists in us all.

Big Something

Breakout rockers The BIG Something have just released their highly-anticipated new self-titled studio album. Within weeks it captured three Album of the Year awards! With several years of relentless touring experience now under their belt, the band has crafted a powerful sound that is refreshingly original and yet classic in its approach. In a digital age of popular music dominated by programmed computers, BIG Something is a breath of fresh air: a straight up rock band that calls upon a diverse range of sounds created and performed live by 6 musicians on real instruments.

Yo Mamas Big Fat Booty Band

Funk has a new spokes band, and that band is Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band. Known for their raucous live shows and outrageous stage wear, the Booty Band’s sound is a mix of deep funk, high-energy rock, plus a little old school rap and soul thrown in for good measure.

Brain Child Bio

Brainchild is a band that combines the feeling of jazz, funk, and soul with the intensity of shredding guitar solos. Their growing list of original songs combined with a diverse selection of covers is a perfect blend of many styles of music… They will get you up and moving as they draw you in to melt your face.

What makes us unique? The festival grounds happen to be located within our 1,500-acre outdoor adventure resort. No kidding. Nowhere else can you whitewater raft a class V section of river and dance the night away without even having to start your car. Nowhere but here, that’s where. In fact, it’s so awesome; we’re not even calling it a music festival. It’s a Music Festi-Vacation. And we want YOU there. A music venue like no other. Come. Play. Dance.

For more info on how to get tickets, what to bring and even how to be a vendor check it out here!

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Kayaker Nathan Barbier is no stranger to wild and daring adventures and this double waterfall drop in Norway is liquid proof. It’s a wild and scary looking ride, but all’s well that ends well.

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Wondering what the best cure for the winter off-season blues is? Please don’t say more snow. Even if you are a snow bunny, please don’t say more snow!

spring rafting in WV

First trip of the 2014 Season

I’ve got something even better.  Spring rafting on the New River is back and it’s pumping.  The first commercial trip of the season went out Saturday, March 8th.  Three guests, two guides and myself went along with our safety boater on a lovely near 60-degree spring day.  It was the perfect first day of the 2014 season, and now I can’t shake the river off my mind.

So what tends to be the difference between spring rafting and summer rafting on the New River?  During the spring we get a lot of snowmelt and rainfall that makes the river have significantly more volume than normal summer flow. Last year with all of the extra rain, we actually saw more high-water days than normal. High water means bigger waves and bigger hydraulics. Think of being in the front of raft and seeing a huge wall of water ahead of the raft. Then, imagine crashing through it. Now, imagine wave after wave of this. That’s spring rafting.

So what kind of weather should I be prepared for and what should I wear? Water and air temps vary quite a bit in the spring.  Your best bet is to check the weather before coming, but never worry. We have wetsuits, neoprene jackets and booties, and splash jackets to rent for a very low price. Check here for more info on rental equipment. We also highly recommend base layers of poly-pro, fleece or any synthetic clothing. NEVER bring cotton, as it will make you feel much colder as it gets wet. Cotton is only suited for HOT days when you want to be cooled. Neoprene gloves and wool socks work really well for spring rafting too.

Another advantage of spring rafting is that not all the trees are in bloom so you can see a lot of the old remains of the coal mine towns of the New River.  It’s amazing how much more of the old bridges, coke ovens, company stores and rock ledges can be seen on the river in the spring.

Keep in mind if the river is above 10,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) or just over 5 feet, the minimum age for the Lower New goes to 14. Spring rafting is best suited for folks who enjoy big volume rafting and a little more excitement. To check out what the river levels are before your next adventure at ACE click here. We hope to see you all on the river soon. Especially as these spring days get longer and warmer. It’s the perfect season to raft in WV!

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girls guide to overnight rafting

No matter where we live, we all appreciate new experiences that make life more interesting and challenging. At ACE, that’s where a river overnight comes in. It’s a mix of some good ol’ fashioned fun with an evening sitting riverside eating great food and being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the current passing by.

Unplugged from work, responsibilities, electricity… it’s a dream for many, but not for everyone. A river overnight also means unplugging the hair dryer, flat iron and clothes iron. If leaving your mirror, make-up and hot shower at home make you shudder, fear not.  We’ve compiled a few need-to-knows to keep you looking and feeling good. After all, stunning on the river means you look like you belong: naturally beautiful and relaxed.

Clothes aka Gear: Gear is outdoor speak for clothes and accessories.  We all hate that feeling when we show up wearing the wrong thing, and we don’t want that to happen to you. We suggest:

  • A Sensible Bathing Suit: Note the emphasis on sensible. You’ll be wearing a PFD (life jacket), so a suit with beads or lots of strings might chafe or rub. Additionally you’ll want to avoid wardrobe malfunctions. If you have a super styling bikini, save it for an afternoon at the ACE Lake.
  • River Shoes: We recommend a sturdy pair of water sandals.  Buckles work better than Velcro in wet conditions. These shoes are made for wet rocks and are great for hiking to the bathroom.
  • Clothes Made of Synthetic Fabric: These fabrics wick moisture and dries quickly, so if a cool breeze comes through at the end of the day, you’ll still be comfortable. Many of these fabrics can also provide SPF/UV protection and repel bugs. Check your hangtags.
  • Layers: dressing in layers helps you regulate your body temperature… and looks good.
  • Sunglasses: Leave your fashion shades in the car and get a pair of sporty wrap around shades for the river. Wrap around shades protect your eyes in the outdoors, and are especially helpful at reducing light that reflects in all directions off the water. You’ll also need a sunglass strap, for when your sunglasses fall off you won’t lose them in the river.

If you have questions about gear we highly recommend that you stop by the ACE Gear Shop and talk with our expert staff.

  • Hair and Make-up: You’ll want to leave your full make-up kit and hair products at home. Even makeup that says 100% waterproof doesn’t stand a chance with whitewater. Besides there aren’t any mirrors on the river. Leave the eye-shadow, eye-liner, mascara and blush at home and pack just the essentials.
  • Sunscreen: No river trip should ever be undertaken without waterproof sunscreen. You’ll need 2, one for your body and one for your face. You can get a tinted face sunscreen if you really can’t live without foundation.
  • Lip Balm/Gloss: A tinted lip balm, or gloss is fine and brings the right amount of glam to the river, make sure your balm or gloss has SPF in it.
  • Bug Repellent vs. Perfume: Perfume attracts bugs, bugs leave red welts and make you itch. Bug repellent repels bugs. We’re not going say anything else about this; you know which one to bring.
  • Hair and Hats: Keep in mind that for your day on the river you will be wearing a helmet, and they don’t do anything to make your hair look good. That being said, we recommend ponytails or braids for longer hair. If you have shorter hair, it’s probably going to stick out of the helmet, it will annoy you, but everyone else will think it looks cute. Start your braid or ponytail below your ears, so you won’t give yourself a headache. For that same reason, avoid hair clips and headbands. Use hair elastics. Hats rarely fit under helmets, but are great for riverside stops.
  • Nails: If you can’t go without nail polish, wear clear or very light colors so when your polish chips it won’t be noticeable. If you have long nails or tips, we recommend you trim them. Or bring clippers, a file and superglue for when they break.
  • Toilets and Showers: There aren’t any. We recommend you chat with your guide to get the full scoop on river bathroom etiquette. Pack wipes and search ”poison ivy images” so you don’t accidentally find yourself in a patch of this itchy plant.

We know it’s hard to break routines and patterns, but we also know that the experience of being outside and on the river is a great way to recharge. And nothing is prettier than a genuine smile!

We hope this girls guide to overnight river trips helps you stay as beautiful on the outside as you already are on the inside. And don’t forget: ‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.’ Helen Keller

 

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Dear Whitewater Adventurer:

We write to let you know of a BIG change happening in the New River Gorge. Please read the Press Release below for imperative information about this landmark event.

New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge dismantling has begun

National Board of Parks: New River Gorge Bridge Must be Moved

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Due to the destruction of the West Virginia mudrat habitat, a protected and endangered species, the W.Va. Department of Thoroughfares and National Board of Parks have unveiled plans to move the New River Gorge Bridge, the most photographed landmark in West Virginia.

Officials say dismantling the bridge and moving it to a new location is the only viable option to save the habitat of this endangered species.

The Environmental Protection Association and the New River Institute (NRI) have been lobbying for the protection of this rodent’s natural habitat for decades, unbeknownst to local residents.

Insiders at NRI say recent studies concluded that the cliff network under the bridge is crucial for the vermin’s fragile reproduction cycle and thus, its ultimate survival.

The rarely spotted animal is nearly all tail and teeth and is known to cannibalize itself when its habitat is unsuitable for reproduction, according to professor Lionel Compton of the NRI.

“People who might question the case for moving the bridge need only look into the eyes of a mudrat that’s considering cannibalism, and I think they’ll change their minds.” Compton said.

The bridge is projected to be moved upstream to a location near the Summit Bechtel Reserve sometime late in 2014, according to a release from the Department of Thoroughfares.

Contractors were sent in last week to begin the project. Dismantling began with the careful removal of the bridge decking. Helicopters are being used to transport the steel super-structure upstream one piece at a time.

For more information about this project and alternate driving direction for those traveling south on Route 19 through Fayetteville, West Virginia, please click here.

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Ramps

WV Ramps

Spring is on its way, and nowhere is the scent of its rebirth quite so pungent than when ramps come popping from the ground. Formally known as Allium Tricoccum, a wild perennial onion, it has a unique flavor and aroma that is reminiscent of garlic and onion. But that doesn’t really tell half of its stinky story.

The little town of Richwood, WV is the self-proclaimed ‘Ramp Capital of the World’, boasting both a Ramp Festival and a Ramp Farm. Ramps have a cult-like following and are both savored and feared. Served at the famed Beard House in New York as a featured recipe of Chef Mario Batali, ramps are gaining the recognition their aroma deserves.

Ramp diggers from all over the east coast descend on West Virginia forests in early spring to harvest the wild onions. A member of the lily family with white bulbs and wide tender leaves, the whole plant is edible. Ramps grow in the higher elevations on north facing slopes. Prized by chefs and home cooks alike, they can be sautéed, baked, braised and included in just about any savory recipe. At the festival, you can find ramp jam, ramp jelly, ramp butter, ramp bread… well, you get the idea.

Their pungent aroma has given them the fond nickname of ‘little stinkers’. During the festival the aroma of the cooked ramps fills the air in Richwood. The festival includes a ramp dinner and a ramp recipe contest.

This year the 76th Festival of the Ramson will be held on April 26th. While Richwood boasts having the longest running festival, there are many throughout WV, PA and OH. We’ll be making our way to one, and we hope you can check one out, too. Don’t forget to bring some mouthwash and gum — not that it will help; ramps are not called little stinkers without reason.

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