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November 19, 2017  //  3:33AM EST   
 
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Gauley River: West Virginia White Water Rafting
Gauley River: West Virginia White Water Rafting
Gauley River: West Virginia White Water Rafting
Gauley River: West Virginia White Water Rafting
Gauley River: West Virginia White Water Rafting
Gauley River: West Virginia White Water Rafting
 
The Lower Gauley

Big Water, Big Numbers

Early river gauges were a haphazard affair. Often, someone simply put a marker on a bridge abutment and thereafter, the river was said to be up or down so many feet from that thoroughly arbitrary level. While modern scientific measurements of river flow are much more precise, some of the old conventions remain in effect up to this very day. Ask your guide what the New River is running at today, and you're likely to be told that it's so many feet above the venerable marker at Fayette Station. In contrast, rivers where flow is carefully controlled from dams above the rafting area -- such as the Gauley - are usually reported in cubic feet per second, or simply "cfs" for short. Much more accurate, to be sure, but sometimes just as baffling.

A New River Every Day
What's it all mean? For starters, the day's water level is not always as important as many people think. The New, for example, offers very different but equally exciting rides at levels as diverse as two feet, eight feet and - on really wild days - 10 or more. On high water days, you may simply float over a rapid that packs a huge wallop at two feet. Other new and exciting rapids may appear at high water, meanwhile, as the river cascades over a new set of giant rocks and shelves. During their rigorous training periods, new guides must learn how the river behaves at each one of these levels. It's no exaggeration to say that every trip down every river is unique - and that's one of the reasons veteran rafters return to the same West Virginia rivers year after year.




 
 
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