Hurricane Isabell has altered the entrance to LandSlide Rapid.The sand bar on river left is gone.It also appears that a large rock has migrated to the very end of the rapids wall on river left.There is a juicy hole in the center waiting as you complete the S turn.
Something happened to the gauge at Petersburg. It is reading much higher than it used to. I'm guessing about 2 foot. Does anyone know what changed?
I ran this section both July 13th and 14th 2018. I am a begginer Paddler with a good bit of talent who's home river is the Yough. I made the mistake of not scouting Landslide at lower water and relied on research. There are at least two massive trees now lodged from the cascade line across both left eddys and anchored on the large rock downstream left. I hit the drop perfect but had already been aiming left and when I tried to carve along the flow right to miss the trees and hole, was sucked towards the trees, went under and couldn't roll so had to wet exit. Thankfully nothing bad happened and just floated my stomper downstream. The rest of this river was a blast to run with no trouble. I skipped landslide the second day.
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In response to the previous comments about this section - The four mile stretch from 220 to the picnic bridge is a great run for those who are wanting a beginner creek experience. It is class III with some pools but lots of continuous water. Open canoes should consider this an expert run, but it is not class V. Landslide rapid could be considered a III+ at higher levels.
A big group of us put in at the 220 bridge and took out at the low water bridge. maybe 5 miles. The gauge was reading 2.7. Two of the canoes had two dogs and two paddlers, and another in the group was in an open touring kayak. Most of us ran the "landslide rapid" (w/o the dogs), and ended up swimming. Only one canoe made it through upright, they lined up way right. Nobody got banged up here. I highly recommend this float, and I wouldn't worry about open canoes, at this level a bail bucket and some moderate river skills is all you will need.
We consider this our club run. We usually run it at least 6-10 times a season. Landslide is usually easier than it looks. Everybody in our group has rolled in it and just flushed right through. We always scout it on the left. Stop on the sandbar and walk carefully along left bank. I'ld call it a IV but only because a line too far left will put a new scratch on your helmet. As always...make your own decision. Shoot me an email if you're a solid class III paddler with a bombproof roll, and you'ld like someone to paddle this section with. firstname.lastname@example.org
May 2010: We ran this at 2.75 feet Memorial Day weekend and got worked hard because we made the mistake of bringing open canoes, loaded ones at that, onto the upper section. To be clear to all readers, open canoes have no business above the campground at this level or higher unless you have excellent skills and air bags. More water would have definitely helped, and to be clear, we did not run landslide; we put in below that. Our advice: save those open canoes for the section from the Big Bend campground down to Petersburg, which is a relatively straightforward float at that water level.
Update April 2012: We ran from halfway down upper smokehole (a few miles before Big Bend) down to Petersburg 4/14/12-4/15/12 at 2.25 feet. It was bony but we had very little walking and it was beautiful. With good reading skills and lighter gear, this can be run below recommended, though I wouldnt' run it lower than this. The final rapid at the dam had rebar sticking out but it wasn't sketchy. I recommend anyone running it at this level bring a battery-powered saw and cut that rebar out to do a big favor for boaters at higher water levels.
As an addition to my comments below, immediately downstream of the crux rapid, there is a ledge with a very sticky hydraulic that could well be fatal if you aren't lined up straight and paddling hard, so you need to maintain good control as you exit the main drop.
My dad and I paddled this stretch April 30, 201 | [RIVER LEVEL]: 3.9 (at put-in), 3.77 at take-out [PADDLER EXPERIENCE]: Bow (19 y/o f): novice; Stern (56y/o m): experienced paddler | [BOAT]: Dagger caption complete with front and rear flotation, kneeling pillars, thigh straps, and no camping gear. | [PERSONAL GEAR]: Full wetsuits, helmets, and water/tennis shoes. | This stretch was an absolute blast. 9 miles of nearly non-stop class 3 rapids (a few stretches of calm, but there were definitely more rapids than not). Great fun for the experienced. Guaranteed no boredom! [LANDSLIDE RAPID]: This rapid is the first one you'll hit right if you put in at the 220 bridge. At 3.9, this was a raging V. Experienced kayakers, have fun, but to anyone who's brainless enough to hit this in a canoe or as an amateur in a kayak, I seriously hope you've got your will in order. Hey, this is how natural selection works, right? When you see car-sized boulders, pull off to the right immediately (left is a sheer cliff) and portage around or at least scout it. There is a calm place to put in just downstream. The portage isn't the best (about 15 minutes through bramble-infested cliff trails). If you're on the fence deciding whether or not to shoot this, don't. This is not the place you want to have river rescue pull you out. The cliff by the road is high and impossible to climb and pulling out here would be impossible. There is no cell reception, so you'd have go to downstream to a quarter or a half mile to pull out and hope a car comes by to give you a lift. | ["SCHOOL BUS RAPID"] I don't know the official name of this rapid, but there is an old school bus on the left shore, which is why we refer to it as such. There is a sand-bar/island right by the bus. At 3.9 the river was a bit low on the right, so we went left. We got sucked in by the bank and flipped in a solid III. The channel here is narrow, but the water is deceptively deep. at 5'9", I couldn't touch bottom. The current here is pretty fierce and there's another solid III just a bit after which you definitely don't want to swim, so if you flip, get out asap. It's deep, but there are still lots of nasty rocks. My dad and I both came out bleeding from this one. | [LOW WATER BRIDGE]: There is a great stretch of III's right before the low water bridge. Warning signs to watch for are a sign to the left for Smoke Hole Cave (you'll just see the plaque, though), then a broken down RV (if it's still there, but it looked like it had been there for quite a while). You'll have to pull out in the middle of a long stretch of III's unless getting sucked under the bridge is particularly appealing or you. There is not good place to pull out. We ended up grabbing the left bank trying to stop. Good luck. [WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY]: (1) Worn a light life jacket. My wetsuit provided some buoyancy, but with the current and depth, I would have appreciated an extra boost.
(2)Worn something over my ankles, considering I paddled this over two weeks ago and the four inches between where my wetsuit stopped and my shoes began are still a painful grey/blue from deep tissue bruising and complimented with some lovely battle scars.
(3)Gone with a decked canoe. Especially with higher water levels, there isn't a whole lot you can do in an open boat not to swamp against 3-4' standing waves.
(1)Take this with a grain of salt as I'm still an amateur, but I lost one paddle, so I'd definitely bring an extra even if you're in a kayak, and two or three if you're with a partner in a canoe. You're toast if you're trying this with only one person paddling. Don't forget to strap them in!
(2)Don't touch this if you're not a good swimmer.
(3)Leave the kids at home
(4)Don't make this a training trip for new paddlers. I knew the basics of paddling and still got us capsized 4 times.
(5)Wear a full wetsuit even if the water is gloriously warm. No one plans on capsizing, but if you do, when you get out and see the knicks or tears in your suit, you'll be glad it wasn't your body.
My adult daughter and I ran this section on April 30, 2011. We put in when the Franklin gauge was at 3.9 (about noon) and took out at Big Bend Campground about 5 PM when the gauge was at 3.77. We were in a 14' Dagger Caption designed for whitewater, with kneeling pillars, thigh straps and flotation bags in front and back. We were in wet suits and helmets. I'm a well-seasoned amateur; my daughter has been down 3 very easy rivers, so still a novice. I read a guide book online that said "the first rapid below 220 is the best" and described it as a class III. Fortunately, someone at the campground warned me about it (Landslide rapid). We walked around it. It looks like a mankiller to me, definitely a class V. I think a world class kayaker could do it, but anyone less is taking an unreasonable risk with their life.
The portage "path" on the right is simply awful--high sharp boulder, thorns and brambles, etc. But I'm still glad I portaged.
Not too far above the low water bridge at Smoke Hole the river splits--where an old dilapidated brownish school bus sits on the left. We scouted (as we were driving to the put in) and ran the left side. There is a very large boulder near the left bank with a very heavy flow of water over it and to the right of it. It looks runnable just to right of the boulder, and we tried, but I think a cross current caught us and we swamped, got bashed up a little bit. (If you swamp here, you need to get out fast, because there is another very heavy rapid right ahead where the river re-converges and you don't want to swim it.)
The low water bridge looked deadly--about 6" of daylight between the top of the water and the bridge, with heavy water flow. I could find no good place to get out above the low water bridge. The water is very swift and heavy along the entire length--no eddies, sandbars, banks, etc. We ended up grabbing saplings on the left bank and that finally stopped us, but it was not pleasant.
Otherwise, we had an awesome time. We encountered LONG stretches of non-stop class III waves. We shipped some water in some of the waves (had to pull off and empty out). There were actually not a whole lot of turns to be made--main challenge was picking the right spot and keeping the boat absolutely straight when hitting the waves.
We viewed the river one day before when the Franklin gauge was at 4.34. There were a lot of REALLY ugly looking waves (backward bending whitecaps) at that level. I was highly relieved when the level dropped to 3.9, and those ugly waves tamed down considerably.
We swamped 4 times. There seems to be NO "good" place to swamp on this river--the fast, heavy flow is practically non-stop. Our flotation bags helped considerably in making the boat more bouyant and easier to pull over to a bank. (There is a quiet pool below landslide falls--for the lucky ones who survive.)
When I do it again, I'll wear a life jacket to supplement the bouyancy of the wet suit. My daugther got scratched up where her ankle area was exposed between where the wet suit stopped and her water shoes begain. Next time she'll have uninterrupted coverage there in case we swim again. I wore Frogg Togg neoprene wader booties (purchased at Gander Mountain) as socks inside sneakers and I was fine.
7 months ago
by Earl Baer
9 months ago
by Maurice Greaver
3 years ago
by Chris Preperato
The Petersburg gauge can also be used.
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A new move? We'll call it the Ianator...
Stylin down Landslide
Boy scouts in Smoke Hole
Smoke hole fun
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
Nancy Kell, a very experienced Mid-States kayaker, died on February 24th after flipping in a Class II rapid on West Virginia's Red Creek. There were a number of strainers in the vicinity above and below the water. One of them snagged her tow tether, pulled her out of her boat, and held her under water. She was with a very experienced crew but they could not reach her quickly enough. Equipment snags are a real risk. In the light of this accident I strongly urge anyone using a cowtail, pigtail, or tow tether to recheck your setup, and to consider whether wearing a tow tether makes sense. Be certain that your tether releases cleanly at both ends. Do not attach the front carabiner to a non-releasable point, like a pocket or strap. Ms. Kell did this, and it may have been a contributing factor. Apparently many current rescue PFD designs to not feature a front release point! Do not attach a tether to the rear of your PFD with a non-locking carabiner, as that may inadvertently clip into a rope. The tether should fit very snugly, without sagging, but as the photo shows Ms. Kell did that, and it did not protect her! The harness release should be quick and foolproof. Practice harness releases under pressure before using it on the river. Finally, remember that any additional strap is a potential snag hazard. Ask yourself if the usefulness of a tow tether is worth the risk, especially on small, strainer infrested creeks. Carry it in a PFD pocket or dry bag if necessary. Click for a link to the report in the AW Accident Database. (Jeff Macklin Photo)
Get your groove on baby! This year Gauley Fest is a 60’s themed event to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. To memorialize that historic event we are flashing back to another era for a 60’s throwdown. Started in 1983 to celebrate the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River, Gauley Fest has grown to become the largest paddling festival in the world.
American Whitewater received the following open letter to boaters from the rangers and staff of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. This letter will keep you up to date on important management actions of the National Park Service on the Gauley River. Enjoy your paddling season on this classic whitewater river. As in past years, American Whitewater has leased the field above Masons Branch, also known as the Legg field, for overflow parking.
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