Longest Gauley season in history kicks off Friday - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Longest Gauley season in history underway

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SUMMERSVILLE -

More white water rafting days are on the way for this year's Gauley Season and Sept. 6 was the first day.  

The extra days this year are because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release higher volumes of water.

This year's schedule calls for 24 weekend releases from Summersville Lake.  Usually there are only 22 releases. This year's releases will happen through October, plus nine mid-week releases.

The Gauley River is one of the highest ranked rivers in the nation when it comes to white water, and it's not hard to see why.

"Compared to other rivers that I've been on this is crazy, it's amazing, it's scary," said rafter Tom Keller from York, Pa.

Many people get to experience the New River in Fayette County, but this trip is perfect for those who leave the New wanting more.

"Extra excitement, higher intensity at the rapids, it's all you would want in a white water experience," said Heather Johnson with local rafting company, River Expeditions.

"It's really adventurous; I got scared a couple of times not wanting to fall in, but other than that, it's been awesome," rafter Nicholas Justice from Michigan said.

Sweet Falls rapid is where the Upper Gauley turns into the Lower Gauley and that lower portion is where the river calms down, so it's perfect for beginner rafters and families with children.

One thing that makes the Gauley River stand apart from other white water adventures is the amazing view of West Virginia's mountains.

"I honestly haven't had a lot of time to look at the scenery I've been praying for my life and trying to keep it intact," Keller said.

2013 is looking to be monumental for rafters and kayakers. They get over a month of Gauley season this year.

"With nine extra days, we're just really hoping that people will plan ahead and take some time off and come to West Virginia and hit the Gauley," Johnson said.

Kids ages 12 and older are permitted on the Lower Gauley trip and anyone age 16 and older is allowed on the Upper Gauley.  The last day for Gauley season is Oct. 20.