1. Pillow Rapid-
I mean really? Could there possibly be a more fun rapid in the entire universe? Sure maybe there could be, but I don’t think I’ve seen it. After last year’s regularly scheduled flow on the Gauley River being increased to drain Summersville Lake, in 2012 it’s been so nice to have Pillow Rapid back to the way we all know and love. 2,800 cfs at Pillow is pretty much whitewater heaven.
2. Hawaii 5-0-
Second drop of Lost Paddle Rapid is a thought that instantly brings a smile to most boaters’ faces. To me, when you hit it just perfect, it feels like being on the last cart of an old wooden roller coaster right as it crests its first major drop. Simply put it’s my favorite “hit” on the river. Always has been, always will be.
3. The Video Boater’s Challenge Awards (VBC)-
When I first put this one on the list I thought it must just be because I was still coming off last night’s thrill of laughing so hard I almost peed my pants. But then I really thought about it: Every Gauley Season I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of, the VBC is consistently a standout event. Guides and boaters from all over come together, and for one night it’s just about making fun of ourselves and laughing. And I mean really laughing! Random side note: ACE video boaters really are the force behind this Gauley River tradition. They have become legends in our river community and we are very proud of them.
4. The “Cool-aids”-
I don’t want to be the defining author of what a “Cool-aid” is, but the short version is anyone who is normally a western boater who comes out for the six week Gauley Season in West Virginia. Most “Cool-aids” are from Colorado, but they can also be from anywhere out west. I am a “Cool-aid” at heart. The core of my river miles came from the West. So for me, when they come, it’s like a small piece of my old home visiting my new one. And let’s face it; some of my favorite people in the world are “Cool-aids”.
5. Cotton Underwear-
Anyone who has boated with me and been with me at the end of a trip knows I love to sing a little song about how excited I am to put on my cotton undies. I know, dead sexy right? Well, if you’ve worked on rivers most of your adult life, you know that there is no better feeling than putting on DRY cotton underwear after a day on the river. It is kind of like being Mr. Rodgers when he changes his sweater and shoes at the end of his day. Just in my world, it means I’ve just had another great day on one of the world’s best rivers.
6. The Gauley Animal Race-
My true competitive nature comes out! I love to race. And I really love to race in the Animal Race, because it is the one time of the year that I get to boat with some of my favorite (and the best) female guides I have ever known. It’s an old NARR tradition (where my WV rafting roots started) and no matter where we work or live, the animal race always brings us back together. I love you girls and I’m proud to boat with such strong, beautiful women. I just couldn’t leave this one out, because I love it that much.