Its like no other paddling place I have been, the annual Gauley Fest in West Virginia, on the East Coast USA is like the Glastonbury Music Festival of the WW kayaking world. Full of geeks, freaks and uniques every where, plus a host of the mainstream crowd all rubber busing this fine river section. At this point I best say there are some nice normal people there too….. Above is Bumblebee man, a regular paddler on the Gauley.
Before we hit West Virginia, Deb and I went to visit Confluence and its R&D department to look at the new Dagger and Wavesport boats for 2009. Unlike the days of Dagger at Harriman, we were not allow to take any images, in fact we simply weren’t allowed. So from Greenville to Asheville to visit the Apple Pies, the girls had arranged a cook out for us, and we had an array of illuminating conversations and laughed a lot.
After Asheville we headed to Gauley, and the Pie and Pints Pub in Fayetteville, where we meet Katie Johnson, a long time friend of Deb’s. After some great wine, we crashed at Katie place and in the morning we meet up with more friends of Deb, Pamina and Christano, Torinesse from Italy now living in New York. Over the next few days we cruised the Upper Gauely, playing at the top spots, and meeting some great old faces from the US scene, as I’d not been in the US since 2000. Katie showed us lots of little hits on the slot boating lines that the Upper Gauley is famous for. On the Saturday night, the grand event, its like a big gear give away at the end of season, some manufacturers sell off their end of line gear, others simply throw stuff from the roof’s and all kinds of give away events are going off all over the place. The party theme is set with live music on the central stage and free beer on most stands. Its quite the kayaking festival.
Here is a great squirt boat mystery move sequence taken at the take out of the Upper Gauley, such a cool spot to watch these guys chop into the green and disappear for a moment on such a small and seemingly weak feature. Cool hey?
Here is one of my favourite things about the USA, the “Cinnabon”, like a visit to the burger store, one a year is suffice, still what a luxury, mmmmmmm
After the USA, it was a hop through London to Venice and Soča beyond. A quick clean up of 22 Trnovo, some days on the river in my new slalom boat, and then on to the Kanu Messe in Germany for some fun with friends and to see all the new stuff for 2009. Below are the final samples of the new Palm Drysuits for 2009, Gene17 has been testing these beauties since last December, their ace. The two main improvements are the development of a new fabric and a new modern cut. The shoes below are a joint development between Palm and Merrell, which has been an 18 month project. These are paddle sport specific water shoes, with an encapsulated shoe with razor cut lines in the sole to provide more surface area for improved traction on water rock. Both are available in the New Year from Palm.
After KanuMesse, I went to Helsinki to be with my wife and edit the long waited Genotype 2 DVD. Its a labour of love, and has taken 3 years to get this far. Now the end is close, which is a relief, yet there is still much to do. These days I am back in Devon editing away, and waiting for the rain.