On April 8th, I had the pleasure of shooting the COOPERS ROCK 50K & Half Marathon. It was a beautiful day and the stoke was high (even with the sub freezing morning temps). In typical WV spring fashion, Coopers Rock was covered with 3in of snow at 6am, and by 2pm it was 60°F and all the snow had melted. The photos below are a few that stood out, but here’s a link to the rest of the images from the race.
This is a rocky, challenging, and scenic trail race at Coopers Rock State Forest in north central West Virginia. The 50 km course covers nearly every trail on the south side of the forest, features several scenic viewpoints, and has 4000 feet of elevation gain. The half marathon course is a shorter version of the same trails and has 1500 feet of elevation gain.
Just had one of my photos pop up on National Geographic Adventure’s Facebook page. It’s the last one in the video.
we decided to go skiing in those part…
On Sunday the plan was boating the Cheat Canyon! ..and I was in a raft with two of my friends, Lydia and Dani. Though, I was really itching to hard-boat as I had recently found some success on the Cheat Narrows with my friend Everett’s Wavesport Recon, being able to roll it with ease (onside & offside…it’s a magical boat).
We didn’t have the Recon on Sunday, but I found that another friend, Matt was going to tow a play boat with his shredder for surfing in Big Nasty. I had hard-boating fever since my last trip, so I asked if he minded if I went down in his play-boat. I asked quite confidently, feeling that I was ready for the undertaking that is hard-boating the Cheat Canyon.
In the Hard-boat:
The play-boat was much different in the water than I imagined, and compared to the Recon I had a very hard time rolling it. I swam once at the end of the first large rapid, and was a little shaken up by how I couldn’t roll the boat when I needed to.. but, I thought no, I can figure this thing out, and gave it another try… and down the river we went. The next larger rapid was more complex, and I was the only hard-boat among 3 inflatables…So I picked a line that looked …well, not good. I was headed right into a curling hydraulic that consumed me and my boat..I had a good breath though, and tried rolling back up, failing twice, but getting close with another breathe each time. On the 3rd attempt at rolling, I reached out to brace off the surface of the water, but at the same time I went over a spillway in the rapids, my right arm extended to far and smacked down into the next tier of rapids. Under water I heard the crunch/crackle and a tear, as my should slipped free of it’s socket…I suddenly lost all use of my right arm. Upside down, underwater, and with one arm I tried to jettison the boat. Forgetting to pull my skirt, I got caught by it’s elastic embrace before I was able reach it with my working/swimming arm to release it. I seemed to stay under for a little while before it was done with me. Then, the river kindly reset my shoulder back in it’s socket. Suddenly able to use my right arm again, I made my way into an eddy where I was rescued by a raft of friends.
Maimed, ego flattened, and feeling thankful to be alive, I sat humbled by the river. The realization of how much knowledge I had yet to earn and learn came over me… The Cheat Canyon is big water, and we were running on the low side that day. From a raft, the large white water is much easier to manage, which warped my perspective of the Canyon. My girlfriend Tara had warned me of the magnitude and technicality of the canyon, even when the water is low.
“The burned hand teaches best.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien.
The following collection of images were taken post injury while riding princess in Dani and Lydia’s raft (save the first two). I think these photos are a good testament to the products of staying positive after unexpected/unfortunate events, and also the support of great friends.
The irony is that on Saturday evening I took a jaunt on my bike through White Park (prior to boating Sunday ) and thought the whole time that I was going to break or dislocate something if I wan’t careful. My biking skills are only so so, & going over large logs was simply me asking to hurt myself…so I didn’t. I just cruised around, or hopped off and ran over them… and it was a good day. I need to learn to listen to my intuition more, and crosswalk some of that logic into areas where my ego has set up shop.
An underwater journey with Jim Snyder into the mysteries of squirt boating. …from an evening with friends along the Cheat River
“Squirt boating originally evolved from slalom kayaks. Racers found that if they let the upstream hip drop into the current and slide the stern of the boat under water, they could decrease the amount of time required to make large degree turns (90+ degrees). West Virginia kayaker Phil Coleman dubbed it squirt because of the way the boats squirted forward with extra speed thanks to the trapped buoyancy of the stern and the shape of the hull and deck. It is analogous to squeezing a pumpkin seed in between your fingers and having it shoot out away from you.
After this original maneuver was developed, a number of paddlers noticed that squirting was a lot of fun and introduced a new method of playing on the river. Squirts allowed the boats to get vertical even in flat water. The problem was that the predominant kayak designs of the 1980s were not conducive to doing squirts. Most kayaks at the time were more than 10 feet long and had a volume greater than 70 gallons (260 liters). Jess Whittemore, a kayak designer, designed the first chopped boats based on race boat designs that were intended to squirt. Then, one fairly well known paddler, boat designer, and paddle maker by the name of Jim Snyder decided to try and create a shorter boat that was designed to squirt that could also be used for running and playing on the river. The result, after many years of trial and error, was a radically low volume boat.
Squirt boating is slowly becoming more and more popular. Because it has the best of both worlds, since certain ones are very good at doing tricks in (Underdawg, Hellbender) and others are very good at doing Mystery moves in (Shred, Kor) and some are just as good as doing both (Funk, Angst.) Also most squirt boats are very good at surfing.” ~wiki
A few photos from climbing in Colorado last October (trying to get caught up on 7+ years of photos).
Tara’s first time climbing in Colorado started on the First Flat Iron (direct route 5.6R). We simul climbed most of the 1,200′, which is a great way to shave a few hours off long and easier sections of climbs. After playing around Boulder for a day we met up with friends Alex and Brittany, and simul’ed the 3rd Flat Iron in just a couple hours (which helped them break their personal speed record on the 3rd by a decent margin). On this trip, my favorite climb was the Edge of Time (5.9), up by Lily Lake near Estes Park.
Enjoy the views.
Poem by Dylan Jones – Photos by Gabe DeWitt
‘Twas the first day at Coopers, and all through the woods
The climbers were out trying to bag up the goods;
Spotters huddled round the crash pads with care,
In hopes that success would ring through the air;The toes were nestled all snug in their shoes,
While visions of moves in their heads they would cruise; Read more
My second day in Hawaii we head to a locals spot near Hilo for a little uncharted slacklining…