Rapids on the New River

Zach S. running the middle section of the Kenney Brothers Rapid on the Lower New River.
Photo by Kathie Green

For some, kayaking comes more easily than for others; like my friend, in the photo above, running a Class V Rapid. For me, I am still proudly in the “others” category. While I’m still very early on in my kayaking career, boating has been a continuous struggle for me. However, as with most struggles, this one has come along with lessons.  Before we go any further though, let me give you some back-story.

I moved to West Virginia in the summer of 2013, with the intent of being a video boater on the New River. The fact that I had never kayaked before didn’t seem like much of an obstacle at the time. I’ve always been the kind of person to easily jump into whatever was in front of me. I didn’t see why this would be any different.  As you’ve probably assumed already, I was terribly wrong.

Quickly, I discovered that kayaking did not come naturally to me. In fact, almost everything about it felt un-natural. Along with that struggle, I was completely new to the river. “Green tongues?” “Hydraulics?” “Undercuts?” It was a foreign language.  With each pull of my skirt and each long swim, I became more and more scared of my boat as well as the river.  Frantically, I would paddle away from any water that moved. To top it all off, I was alone. No one else at camp was learning how to kayak, no one I could relate to or vent to. Only experienced boaters that I kept comparing myself to. After about a month, I wanted to quit, to never sit down in a kayak again.

So here are where the lessons come in. I realized that I didn’t want to fail more than I wanted to quit.  So I reached out to those experienced boaters for help and guidance. With welcoming arms they showed me the ropes and taught be about the river. Slowly I became more comfortable on the river and in my boat. The joy of boating started to take ahold of me rather than the fear of boating.

Now, almost a year later, I am still in my boat. Does whitewater kayaking still scare me? Hell yes. Do I still struggle with kayaking? Absolutely. But I am still trying, still pushing to become a better boater. Because my whitewater lessons have been this: never give up, never compare myself to others, and to appreciate the life that I have. It’s crazy that something as simple as water moving downhill has taught me such vital life lessons, but there is no doubt that it has. So what lessons has whitewater taught you?

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Mountain Music Fest

Keller Williams & Larry Keel performing at the 2014 Mountain Music Festival

We are all wishing we could go back a couple weeks when we were having out first big booty-bumpin’ blast in the mountains at the Mountain Music Festival. Other than it being put simply as, “it’s a dang good time”, we want to spell out to you just WHY we at ACE like to Mountain Music FEST.

F- Friends. At the end of the day, ACE Adventure Resort is all about giving its guests a good time! It’s why we do what we do. We love to share our love of adventure, with other people. Sharing this sweet “tunage” with a mass amount of friends is no different. The music festival will only continue to get bigger and better. And we are so thankful for all the friends we continue to make the many adventures we offer and at the music festival.

E- Experience.  What an experience this was for employees, guests and the talent alike! Out in nature, amazing music, dancing, laughing, adventures… This is the kind of experience you want to relive again and again. We want to keep this experience on repeat guys, it’s just too good not to.

S- Surreal. Can you name another music festival you can go whitewater rafting or zip lining at? Seriously, think about it- at any other festival, you get music and camping. Which is great, but we want to give you the most surreal adventure possible. Here’s the recipe: whitewater, zip lines, lake toys, sweet camping, good vibes and some great bands = one heck of a festival! As the Wood Brothers called it, there was “frosting” everywhere.

T- Tunes. A wise man once said, “Go where the people dance”. He wasn’t wrong. If people are dancing, then people are happy! We’re music lovers – and bringing together the beautiful outdoors and jammin’ tunes we all love, just seems to make sense. We have a feeling you agree.

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Staff at ACE

Don Wargowsky is this weeks employee of the week! Don has been “in a relationship” with ACE for 4 great years. Originally from Cutler, Ohio, Don now resides with us in our home among the hills as both a climbing and raft guide. And boy is this guy awesome at what he does! His love of climbing brought him to ACE 4 years ago. He intended to only work one summer with us while he was finishing his master’s degree in education, but one summer was enough to get him hooked!

After being the district manager at a large sales company with over 100 employees under him, working for a Fortune 100 company, and pursuing teaching, nothing felt quite as right as doing what he truly loved, which was working in the great outdoors. He loves working outside with his family of guides and sharing his passion with guests. Climbing is Don’s main passion and because this guy has such an awesome rep for it, we thought we would share:
•    Significant climbs
•    Mt Rainier, Washington (14,410’) 3 attempts, 2 summits, 1 in winter
•    Mt Washington, New Hampshire, 4 winter ascents
•    Mt. Katahdin, Maine, 2 winter summits (35 miles round trip, skiing/climbing)
•    Grand Teton (13,770’), Wyoming, 2 summits
•     Mt Athabasca, Alberta Canada (11,453’) climbed the last 300’ with a broken hand from falling rocks (his longest day in the mountains so far, 26 hours of continuous climbing)
•    Mt McKinley, Alaska (20,322’) 21 days on the mountain, but did not summit due to incoming storm, experienced wind chill of minus 108 degrees F.
•    Climbing Consultant credits in Hollywood film A New York Heartbeat
•    He has multiple first ascents on rock and ice in Canada, most of which have not been repeated by any other climber.
•    Lead 2 expeditions to climb floating icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada (more people have been in outer space than have climbed icebergs. His girlfriend, Sarah (also a guide at ACE) is the only women in history to have ever do it)

Here’s a link to a short film about their trip to New Foundland that won a couple of international awards.

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Bike Rides

Mountain Biking at ACE

Why Bike Ride at ACE?

I want to ride my bicycle- I want to ride my bike. I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride wherever I like. That “Where ever” meaning the scenic homeland that is ACE grounds. Not only was that a nice spin on a great Queen song, but also an idea for the next time you visit ACE Adventure Resort for vacation.

Bike rides were the glory of our childhood. Many kids spend their summer on bikes. It’s the first real “wheels” they ever got. And with those wheels, we gained freedom.  To turn off your mind and take in the world at what feels like a high rate of speed, or even a slow pace, whatever you desire, is to feel energized, refreshed and free of care. As kids we knew this, but as adults we seem to forget. We become obsessed with schedules, even on vacation, that make it still seem a bit like work.

When you’re at ACE, you can’t help but notice the beauty around you in nature. No matter the activity you partake in, you are also partaking in a tour of nature at its finest. It really only makes sense to bring back a love from your childhood that is both healthy and happy, while experience the wild and wonder West Virginia. Perhaps you aren’t from the area and don’t know the terrain. Maybe you don’t even have a bike at all.

ACE is so bike friendly that you can rent a mountain bike, AND/ OR have a guide take you on an enjoyable, scenic ride. You are in control of how challenging or easy going your bike path will be. Also, the perk of having a guide along is not only the unique tour of the trail they will give you, but also having some security while you’re on your ride. Allow life to hit cruise as you peddle away your worries. This can be family fun, or individual fun. Either way, it is the epitome of classic fun that we loved as kids. Pay homage to the child in you while on vacation at ACE this summer, you owe it to yourself.

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World's largest raft

We are no strangers to capturing Guiness Book of World Records titles. We still hold the title for ‘most people down a zip wire in an hour’. You can check out that action here.

We love love love this picture from Lake Placid-based photographer Nancie Battaglia. This aerial image is of the record-setting 1,925 canoes and kayaks, the canoes and kayaks competed for the Guinness Book of World Records title as “World’s Largest Floating Raft.”

We admire the vision and the logistical planning that it takes to establish a record like this. It sure makes us enjoy the peace and quiet here at home on the New River, cause that sure looks like a busy day on the water.

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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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