I’ve always enjoyed other people’s stories of their first runs of the Gauley River, but they’re very different from the early days I knew. John Berry tried to run the river in open canoes sometime before the dam during the mid 60′s and Sayre Rodman made the first successful run in rafts in 1966. The first closed-boat run of the river was in the summer of 1968 and in the next couple of years a handful of boaters followed. My first run on the Gauley was in October of 1971. A recent college graduate, I’d been hired to teach seventh grade Biology in the Washington, D.C. area. I’d taught myself to paddle with friends in a college outing club, first in open canoe and then C-1. I was looking forward to trying new rivers, and I had deliberately moved into this vital center of East Coast whitewater paddling.