Monday, May 4, 2009

Cheat River Race 2009

Dropping off the lip of 18-foot Wonder Falls
The Whitewater Wonder Women in Flight
The Massive Mass-Start

West Virginia. The mountains are lush and green, the rivers are roaring, and the people are friendly.
I was lucky enough to go back to my mountainous home for the Cheat River Race, a mass-start (as in 150 paddlers, mass-start) down the 11 miles of roaring class 3 to 5 rapids on the beautiful Cheat Canyon.
I left Wisconsin on Wednesday night, and arrived in Albright, West Virginia at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, where I immediately put on the canyon for a practice run. It went very well (being my first time down the canyon) and I woke up the next morning to put on and do another run. I rested up for the remainder of Friday, then registered for the race with several other teenage girls, as Team Whitewater Wonder Women. We had a great race, our team finishing 6th over all, our top finisher placing second for Women, myself placing 5th for Women, and our final finisher taking a satisfying 7th.
The next morning some friends and I went over to the Cheat River Narrows for some playboating in the explosive hole at Calamity, which was running so high that many of the other rapids had actually washed out. We had a fun morning, then headed back to Albright to hang out at the festival for a while, before taking off for a run on the Little Sandy and Upper Big Sandy.
It was a fun play run, with some slides and ledge drops, but we were really excited for the next day, when we would run Lower Big Sandy.
Lower Big Sandy was running at a pushy 6 feet 6 inches, but we decided it would be manageable. We put on around 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning, and had a fantastic time on the scenic run, which plunges over 270 feet on its' way down to meet with the Cheat Watershed. My favorite drop was Wonder Falls, a beautifull 18-footer, with lots of fun play above and below the falls.
Sunday afternoon we had to head home, but I am so glad to have had such a wonderful expirience. I can't wait for next years Cheat Race!

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