Well although Martin Wick is one of the characters involved in this trip report, he actually isn’t the eeeky scary guy referred to in the title. At least, I should say that Martin wasn’t eeeky and scary during this specific weekend. He has that potential every now and then but most of the time he’s quite adorable.
The real eeeky scary guy of the weekend was a total stranger at the campground. I had chosen to make reservations for camping for the group at the Summersville Lake Retreat, the place with all the boats leaning against it on the right as soon as you turn onto Rt 129. I had chosen it because it has nice wooded sites and because Battle Run doesn’t take reservations after a certain date. I was the first to arrive on Friday night around 8 PM. I knew that the others were meeting me there but would not arrive until later. I went ahead and set up my tent, then put all my sleeping stuff in it. At this point, Jason Harkobusic arrived. Thank goodness. A couple minutes after his arrival, eeeky scary guy decides he wants to make friends. With us. His entrance into our conversation followed a stumbling drunken walk from his camping area to where we were standing. He greeted us with a “howdy” and proceeded to offer his assistance in helping us set up camp as he was an expert in these things because he was a real “mountaineer.” We politely declined his offer, thanked him, and attempted to disengage ourselves from further conversation. He wasn’t easily turned away though. He then observed that both he and I had blond hair and that I didn’t have a ring on my left hand. After a few more uncomfortable similar revelations by this scraggly individual, I was ready to just leave the campground, but he finally got the hint and wandered back towards his camping area. For a little while at least.
The next arrivals were of Dave Greenwald, then Sally Love, her hubby Rene, Andy Niedra, and Martin Wick arrived together. Their arrival initiated eeeky scary guy’s second attempt at making friends and helping anyone with their tent-pitching and/or fire starting because of his self-proclaimed mountaineer status. His efforts were again thwarted, politely. He stated that he would be sleeping in his car, which was parked beside his set-up tent. When asked why, (I’m not sure which of us actually encouraged further discussion) he reasoned that it was due to getting ran over by a car while sleeping in his tent once. At this point, everyone was thinking “eeeky scary guy” and he was picking up those vibes. His inebriated reaction to this was to get in his car, hastily put it in reverse, slam into a tree, then throw gravel as he sped out of the campsite, not to come back that evening. He was spotted again the next afternoon when he came to get some of his belongings that he had left, but not his tent. Luckily, there were no more interactions with eeeky scary guy.
Now onto the kayaking part of the trip report. It was a fantastic weekend, being that weekend of record breaking high temperatures in October. It averaged a little over 85 degrees each day, making what to wear on the river a tough decision. Saturday morning, we convened at the playground by the Summersville Dam to figure out logistics. Open boater Alan Andrews joined us as well a guy named John from Minnesota who had googled us and hooked up some other members for an Upper Yough run the day before.
The groups were split into a Marathon group and a Lower Gauley group. It was decided that the groups would try to meet up on the river as the Marathon group spilled into the Lower. The Lower group was prepared to shuttle members of both groups out in the take-out town of Swiss. This worked out well, letting the Marathon group start a little earlier. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Gauley, a Marathon is the entire Gauley River (Upper, Middle, and Lower) equally roughly 26 miles.
The Marathon group consisted of Jason, Martin, Minnesota John and me. It was to be John’s first time and Jason was still in the low single digits of number of runs. Everyone ended up being super-strong boaters, and we boogied through the miles and the rapids of the Upper Gauley with no mishaps. John was most impressed with Pillow Rock rapid. I was especially impressed with Jason’s ability to get out of all the holes he kept discovering.
We had told the Lower group (Andy, Dave and Alan) to stay at Diagonal Ledges until we caught them. They had just given up on us around 2:00 in the afternoon and were leaving that rapid when we caught them. The rest of the day was great- playing in some spots, Martin surfing Pure Screaming Hell hole on purpose, paddling into the sun and onward to the waiting cars with beverages of choice.
Dinner that evening was at a brand new restaurant called Embers. It is about 2 miles on the left on Rt 129 after the turn off of Rt 19, before the dam. Its sign says it is a wood fired pizza place which is what most people ordered and loved. The lasagna was also sampled and declared yummy! Free homemade salsa and chips were delivered with the orders of local beers ( I believe the fave micro-brew of the evening was called Coal Miners Daughter.) At the end of the meal, it was agreed that dinner there was a good decision and we’d be back again. Be sure to check it out when you’re in the area.
Sunday morning, our group size was morphed by the deletion of Jason and Alan and the addition of Sally and her friend Stacy in a shredder. We hooked up with Charlie Walbridge kayaking and his wife Sandy and her friend Kate in another shredder. This worked out very well since this was Sally and Stacy’s first shredding experience of the Lower Gauley and they were able to follow the more experienced shredder’s lines. Another fantastic day of boating ensued with a highlight of the day being ender play at the rapid that is now called Chicken-Ender. A majority of us were in long boats ( a Crossfire, a Pirouette, a Dancer, and Charlie’s long glass C-1). These long boats provided some excellent entertainment for almost an hour as we popped them up into near vertical enders over and over. I think I still have water in my ears from rolling so many times! Very fun. It was a nice, leisurely day on the water with great people.
Hope to see you all for some of the TRPC Gauley trips next year!