Last night hillbilly camp site #1 merged with hillbilly camp site #2 and rolled their coolers right by our tent. Phil and I were dead tired from rafting all day, so when we couldn't sleep from the ruckus next door, we counted out ways to return our neighbors' hillbilly hospitality instead of counting sheep. My suggestion was to go Bam Margera on them by sticking our hatchet in the side of their pick-up and removing their license plates. Phil wanted to run over their tents, and I liked that idea so much that I couldn't stop giggling. (Sorry for the ranting. I really did hate those bastards.)
Rafting was awesome! I'd definitely go back (as long as I can stay in a cabin :)). The New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world, and according to our guide (who was funny as hell, but quite the liar), it's the second oldest to the Nile. Sure.
We lucked out with a gorgeous day. It drizzled for all of 10 minutes and the temperature reached mid-80s. We rafted just under nine miles for a total drop of 290 feet. The water was about 60 degrees, so Phil and I wore wetsuits, and I was glad we did because I was really comfortable all day. Our wetsuits kinda matched (which is why I don't have any pictures--forbidden by Phil), and we looked like Mr. & Mrs. Wetsuits. Mine was from my water-skiing days in my youth and Phil's was my brother's.
We started with the sissy Pin Ball rapids on the Lower New River (our guide said if any of us fell out on this one, we really sucked) and finished with Ol' Nasty, just past the New River Gorge Bridge, which was incredible. The bridge has the world's second longest single arch steel span (China is first). At 876 feet above the New River, it is the second highest bridge in U.S. Only the Royal Gorge Bridge over the Arkansas River in Colorado is higher.
None of us fell out of the raft involuntarily, but there were a couple close calls. We also got to swim some rapids, which was great, surfed our boat a few times and jumped off of a ginarmous rock called Jump Rock. My entire raft made fun of me because I plugged my nose before jumping off. Hey, you have no idea how much water had made its way up my nose by then! I also was relentlessly teased around the camp fire last night for somehow ending up backward on the raft when we started to paddle after a swim. When I got pulled into the raft, I moved to the opposite side of it so others could get in, and I just never turned around again. Our guide, Doug, told us to take two forward strokes, and I couldn't figure out why everyone else was backward. Oh yeah, just me. Good times.
The bus ride to the rafting drop-off point and the return trip to the campground was almost as scary as some of the Class V rapids. Our bus driver looked just like Elvis and took some crazy turns in those mountains. I stopped looking out the window once I realized there were no guardrails on the dirt road and the river was straight down below. But, we got to ride over the New River Gorge Bridge, which was really cool. I couldn't believe how small the rafts looked.
Once we got back to the campground, we sprinted to the shower house since there were only so many stalls, and then stuffed ourselves silly with an all-you-can-eat dinner and booze fest. Mac n' cheese, s'mores and Bud Light Lime (tastes like Corona) made my night. We recapped our adventures around our camp fire once it got dark and discussed trying the Gauley River with Rivermen next May, which no one in our group has done and is supposed to be a step up from the Lower New River rapids. I'm in.
Next trip is San Diego in a couple weeks. Can't wait!
(To the left: Phil's dream portrait)