Risk: taking on some of the most harrowing white water in the world, your boat propelled by the force of an entire reservoir of water.
Reward: a beer, a steak and a hot tub awaiting you at the end.
Presenting Gauley River Season at Class VI Mountain River, taking bookings for September trips into rare, once-a-year white water.
First, some background: every year, the Army Corps of Engineers releases water into the Gauley from a reservoir upstream, resulting in five weeks’ worth of world-class rapids. Your move: head to West Virginia, meet your fellow flotilla-mates and gear up while you watch the other boats head out.
You’ll want to be near the end, so you’ve got the entire river to yourself. Your guide—ask for the one from the Uzbek Olympic team—will situate four to eight of you in your raft, lead you into the river and bark out orders as you tackle rapids with names like “Rollercoaster” and “Pure Screaming Hell.”
After five hours of paddling, you’ll land at the outfitter’s 200-acre private campground, where your dry clothes (and a celebratory bottle of cognac) have already been delivered. There, a chef will whip up prime rib and salmon, you’ll crack open a couple beers and warm yourself up in one of the spring-fed, wood-fired cedar hot tubs. The next morning, you’ll awake in your tent to a huge breakfast and a morning through the canyon-lined waters of the lower river.
Just keep your cognac away from the rocks.