Saturday, December 01, 2007

Looping on the Upper Gauley

Adam Johnson Loops in Hungry Mother Hole, Upper Gauley, WV.

This fall, after the huge crowd had left town post Gauleyfest, Stephen Wright, Tanya Shuman, Kelsey Thompson, and myself (Adam Johnson) had the opportunity to cruise down the Upper Gauley during near record high temperatures. The day proved to be filled with lots of gyrations, flips, and flops from each person in our party.

Stephen Wright going big in Geeks Hole.
Kelsey Thompson looping in Hungry Mother
Adam Johnson loops in Hungry Mother.
Tanya Shuman, recently retired, heading for the hole.
This is a great sequence
Stephen, completely aerial, about to land on his face after a *huge* ender
Stephen was super fired up about that last ender. We got to catch him in a rare moment of exuberance.
Stephen Loops big in Hungry Mother, and, well, pretty much anywhere.

This was certainly a great day to be on the river. I cannot remember the last time it was late October and I was paddling in a shorty splash top on the Gauley. This past weekend a crew which included David Finney, among others, descended the Upper Gauley from the meadow down at around 12,000cfs (the normal fall flow, pictured here, is 2,800cfs). The following few days were preceded by a 5,000 to 6,000cfs day, as well as a 4,200cfs and a 2,900cfs day. A truly classic river.

Looping Tips:
1. The biggest thing to remember when looping is keeping your boat straight when you drive your bow under water. You can control your lateral movement with braking and ruddering strokes as your bow travels towards the seam of the feature.
2. When you reach the seam, lean forward, keeping your boat straight. Your boat will soon start the ender. As soon as you start to ender upwards, stand on your feet and try to "jump" up and back into the hole to get your boat out of the water.
3. As you start to go over vertical, tuck back up and throw your paddle into the water. Do a stroke that starts at your bow and travels in an arc over your head to your stern (think of it as making a half circle with your paddle). This stroke aids in pulling your stern through the water. As this stroke travels towards your stern, lean back and help get your boat back upright.
4. Once you have completed the loop, be sure to get back forward and on top of things as the feature will want to mess with you while your are on your back deck. And that is how to loop in a nutshell.

See you on the water,
-Adam Johnson

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