Caving, Rafting, and Biking in West Virginia

On a warm sunny afternoon in mid September 2008, seven guys, and myself, all rushed home from work on a Friday, packed our bags, loaded up a few cars with gear and started an all night drive south.

By the time we left our homes in Ontario it was already dark. We drove south to the USA border and continued to drive through New York State and Pennsylvania State until reached our rustic log cabin in the middle of the forest in West Virginia. After a painstaking all night drive, we arrived at our cabin with just enough time to unpack the cars and settle in for an hour before we had to jump back into our vehicles and drive roughly an hour east towards the Virginia border.

Our first task of this adventure trip was to start out with some caving in the amazing “Lost Caverns” abyss. Once dressed in our coveralls and suited up in our technical gear we entered the caves. The trek originally started with a short walk along the lighted paths that had been put there for the faint-hearted. But then we jumped over the railings and started crawling towards a hole. Once through the hole we were in a totally different world. The wet and muddy walls and floors kept everyone alert as we climbed massive boulders and encountered countless bats. We knew that the way we came in was the only, known, way in and out of the cave. So whatever was down here with us had to pass us by on its way out. The formations were pretty cool looking and the trek was amazing as well. At one point I found myself trying to shimmy down a hole in the floor. My hoodie rolled up and made me 2 or 3 inches wider and so I got stuck. After everyone tried to pull and push me out I eventually just took my hoodie off and slipped through the hole. But this didn't deter me from trying the next escaped. This one was called “The Birth Canal”. A crawl through dark murky water in a tight, long, and narrow canal ended with us having to distort our bodies to fit through the exit. The highlight of the caving trip was laying on our backs and squeezing through a crack 50 feet long and 1 foot tall, all while knowing that there was 300 feet of solid rock above us.

After 4 long and physically demanding hours of caving and climbing, we left the caves, took a shower and headed back to our cabin to celebrate a great trek.

In the morning we had to rush off quickly to the New River as we had a full day of white-water rafting planned. We had requested 4-person “Crazy Man” boats. This boat was small and light so it go abused by the rocks and waves, and our guide wasn't all “there” either. It was pure adrenaline.

We took a few rapids while floating down the river outside of the boat (and got smoked all over our bodies by some rocks). Of course we stopped for some cliff diving and some lunch, but the highlight of the trip was the “Ace-in-the-hole”. Our first boat of 4 went down one of the rapids and surfed the hole at the base of it for a while. Eventually I lost grip, kicking a buddy in the face, who then grabbed onto the third guy and the three of us fell in the water leaving one man in the boat. At this point, the guide stood up and yelled “ACE IN THE HOLE” and all of a sudden the next raft of the four of us adventurers, came hurling over the rapid and landing right on top of the, now nearly empty raft!

It was quite humorous to watch. When the rafting trip was over, we went back to our cabin for another evening of shenanigans.

Again after 4 hours of rest, everyone got up and headed to the New River Gorge where we started our mountain biking excursion. The trails were pretty nice. They were, for the most part, double track trails with a few obstacles. But the views of the gorge were unreal. We spent most of the day riding and looking for a particular trail called “Rigamortis.” We eventually found this trail. It was a CRAZY! Nearly 1000 feet of pure downhill riding over rocks, boulders, roots and drops! Lots of fun, but definitely not the XC that we'd been doing the rest of the day. After some trail side chain repairs we headed back to the vehicles and dodged back to our chalet. It was time to shower, pack and get on the road for another 10 hours so we could make it home just in time to get to work! What a weekend!

West Virginia, A Great Place to Hang Your Hat and to Visit Also

The United States is truly an awesome country, as there are all kinds of folks, the diversity of people, culture, and scenery is superb in every way, how lucky we all are. Not long ago, someone contacted me from West Virginia, and I couldn't help but allow that famous song to run through my head; “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver.

The mountains in West Virginia are spectacular, I've been to every city in the country, and can't tell you how many times I've just turned off the Freeway in West Virginia to take a long scenic route, and often got more than I bargained for, but loved the adventures just the same. I've often wanted to stay longer. I've past roads in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where they went, but longing to take a chance, take a turn, and go exploring – it's as if the road was calling me forth.

Well, I guess if I'd been on a Honda Goldwing instead of a motor coach, I just might have. Someday, I'd like to do that (Spring or Summer of course), just take one of those roads, just to see where it goes, such curiosity you'd share if you were in the same position there. Perhaps, you'd take the chance, and with fate you'd dance. Yes, that old country road, John Denver got it right, he captured the essence in fact. You see, if you'd have seen what I've seen, you'd agree too.

Yes, that old road, where on Earth does it go, someone knows, someone in W. Virginia, were life is simple, and resources abundant. I'd like to take everyone one of those roads, spend a year, and see it all. “Take me home, country road” – well, for me, I'd like to do this in more states than just W. Virginia, I've experienced the same sensation in Montana, Wyoming New Mexico, California, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona, and in the New England states too. It's amazing, what a beautiful country we live in.

Still, W. Virginia is so beautiful, so mysterious, so inviting, so interesting, it's simply amazing. Yes, sometimes the weather is treacherous, but when it's a clear day, there is so much to see, it's so beautiful. Many folks in the city never get the chance to see it, but they should. They really should. Perhaps, you will consider visiting W. Virginia, meeting some of the folks, and I am sure you'll understand too.