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Float Report, Greenbrier River, WV

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  • jimmiamcd
    On Sunday, May 6, Mia, the dogs and I followed Omer and Dorothy Ann up to their daughter s and son-in-law s home in Ronceverte, WV, for a long talked about
    Message 1 of 1 , May 9 2:53 PM
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      On Sunday, May 6, Mia, the dogs and I followed Omer and Dorothy Ann
      up to their daughter's and son-in-law's home in Ronceverte, WV, for a
      long talked about float on the Greenbrier River. On Monday morning,
      Omer in a kayak and Mia, the dogs and I in an open canoe put in at
      the park in Ronceverte for a fifteen mile run to Alderson (remember
      Martha Stewart's prison time?). Omer's daughter, Joanne, shuttled my
      van to the take-out over some of the wildest mountain roads I've seen.

      The river was running very fast and quite high though not at flood
      stage. The first ten miles were mild with the river width between
      one to two hundred yards and the rapids in the riffle to class I
      range. The weather was clear and sunny and the water was not too
      cold. We spotted a herd of whitetails coming down to the river for a
      drink at about mile one. Omer pointed out a redtailed hawk being
      chased by a smaller bird as they flew directly over us.

      We got a little bored in the upper section and started exploring side
      channels around some of the islands. At about mile three, we went
      left around a rather long island that had a very large house on it
      with no visible means of accessing it except for an aluminum canoe
      tied to a tree on the river bank. The channel around the island
      narrowed down and shallowed out over a gravel bar that broke sharply
      right then left under a downed tree that stretched across all but
      three feet on the left side of the channel. Mia and I in the lead
      missed the sharp left turn required to get into the clear space and
      slammed into the horizontal tree trunk -- Omer following closely
      behind hit the trunk ten feet back on the right. Our canoe got
      wedged under the trunk and filled with water, but the real scare was
      that Mia was pinned between the canoe and the trunk and could not
      extricate herself. I jumped out into the thigh deep water to try to
      lift the trunk and push Mia under it. Fortunately, the current
      helped free the canoe but not before Mia had taken a dunk and bruised
      her ribs. We got out of that jam and set on the bank to dry off and
      empty the water form the boats. No one was serioulsy injured, so we
      pressed on a little more cautiously but still eager.

      By the time we reached Fort Springs at the ten mile point, we had
      spotted an osprey, some woodpeckers and a small black snake which
      swam under Omer's kayak. There were a couple of class IIs just above
      Fort Springs, but the section between there and Alderson was one long
      run of class II/IIIs. The very first rapids on this section are
      called "Snowflake" (no doubt because of the froshty white plumes that
      make up the wave train). Following Omer down the through the largest
      section of standing waves caused our canoe to nearly swamp. We had
      to pull out on the bank below the rapids to bale out the water. We
      wound up spending a lot of time baling out after each section of
      rapids.

      Just beyond a monolith on river right, called Anvil Rock, we ran into
      a standing wave of about 3.5 to 4 foot tall with a wave train that
      ran about fifty yards. After running it and nearly swamping again,
      we decided to try to avoid the worst sections for the remaining run.
      Just before reaching the take out, we pulled off the river to climb
      the one hundred foot bluff to eat lunch at a road/riverside
      restaurant called Stuart's that serves up ice cold beer and delicious
      hotdogs. We ate and recovered on the deck of Stuart's overlooking
      the river. One of the employees asked us if we'd had any trouble at
      Snowflake. He was much surprised to learn that we had survived it
      intact since he had recently lost his canoe at that spot when he got
      jammed between two rocks (I'm not sure that story made us feel
      better).

      Anyway, the half mile run to the take out was uneventful, and except
      for being soaked, we had a great time on a wild and scenic river.
      Many thanks to Omer and his family (Dorothy Ann and Joanne and her
      husband Ray and their great kids, Johnathon and Megan) for graciously
      hosting us and sharing in our wonder.
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