The G.S.P. Raft Trip

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Yes folks, the time is drawing near to once again begin packing up the family truckster with all that camping, hiking, river, and beverage gear so you can hit the road for that annual pilgrimage to the hills of West Virginia.

That's right GSP's, it's time to get yourselves ready for the 30th Annual GSP Raft Trip - The Pearl Anniversary! The first GSP’s are expected to start arriving in camp on Sunday June 27th or so with the rest trickling into camp throughout the week, most arriving by Thursday or Friday at the latest. So start warming up those packing skills and we’ll see you in Hico!

Camping: Of course we’ll be at Ray’s Campground again. For those that can’t yet find their way to Ray’s with their eyes closed or who want to test the accuracy of their new GPS, Ray’s address is: 1199 Sunday Rd., Hico, WV 25854, or go to for directions or contact info. Don’t forget to stop in at the office and pay Ray ($8.50/person/night, kids 12 & under are free). We typically set up camp on both sides of the road between the office and the bathhouse, and the group campfire will be between the volleyball court and the picnic shelter (behind the office).

Rafting: Since the GSP’s haven’t been banned from the New River yet, we’ll be doing some rafting. The schedule is as follows: Upper New: Friday July 2, check-in time 7:40am, hard boat drop-off – see me in camp for instructions Lower New: Sunday July 4, check-in time 8:00am Our rafting company, North American River Runners (NARR), has merged with two other outfitters, ACE Adventure Resort and Wildwater, and the combined company has moved all operations to the ACE facility near the town of Oak Hill. This will have some advantages and disadvantages for us. This location is a good bit farther from Ray’s than NARR’s old facility, so we’ll all need to allow more drive time in order to get there by our designated check-in times. Also, since this location is on the south side of the bridge, we’ll have to save our traditional “ooh’s” and “ah’s” until the post-rafting bus ride. On the plus side, I’m told the ACE facility is touted as the most extensive and impressive outfitter facility in the New River Gorge, and GSP’s will have the opportunity to take advantage of some of what they have to offer. They have a lake with a swimming beach that sounds like it will put Summersville Lake to shame. It has some giant inflatables for swimmers to climb, jump, and slide on, a zip line to ride into the water, a volleyball court, and various other attractions. I was told that as NARR customers, we’ll have use of their facilities from 48hrs. prior to our Upper trip to 48 hrs. after our Lower trip. With this in mind, I’d like to organize a GSP trip to the NARR/ACE beach for those interested, probably to occur on Thursday July 1. This could also serve as a convenient opportunity for hard boat drop-off.

For directions to the new NARR location and a map and additional info. for their facility, please refer to the following links. Note: I was told that GPS units often have trouble finding their actual address, so those wishing to use a GPS should use the linked ‘GPS’ directions.

If you are interested in rafting but haven’t yet paid or let me know you intend to raft, please let me know. I can still easily add people up to 48 hrs. before trip time, but the earlier the better.

Food: The famed ‘rambo’ grill will be powered by slush fund charcoal and available for your use while in camp, feel free to utilize it and help lend a hand in maintaining it. Your slush fund fees provide all the ice you’ll need for your cooler. The GSP pot luck dinner will take place on Saturday July 3, so bring a dish! Also, in recent years several of us have participated in a group fajita dinner night. This year, we’ll make it official and announce it in advance so all who want to can plan to participate. Bring your contribution and join us at the picnic shelter for fajita dinner night on Friday 7/2, time TBD.

Libations: Yes, GSP’s have been known to enjoy a beverage or two. The community beer cooler will be set up in a shady spot behind the picnic shelter. GSP’s strive to bring as diverse a selection of local or micro-brews from around the country or world as possible and share what they bring with all. So if you’d like to partake, bring at least as much as you intend to consume and deposit it at the community cooler upon your arrival, then help yourself to any of the available selection.

For many years now GSP’s have held a ‘Tasting’ night to broaden our taste buds’ horizons on a variety of beverage types. On this 30th annual raft trip, this year’s tasting event will take us back to our roots, beer. But not just any beer, this year’s tasting will focus on ‘specialty’ beers, aka ‘craft’ beers. These are typically unique limited production or seasonal beers produced by micro-breweries. Some are found in more traditional beer bottles while others come in specialty bottles up to and including the half-gallon ‘growler’ size. So those interested are encouraged to bring along an entry for this year’s tasting. With so many varieties out there, we probably won’t have problems with duplicates, but if you e-mail your intended contribution to then others will know what’s being brought. We’ll plan the tasting for Friday night 7/2.

Non-rafting Activities: Of course the New River Gorge area offers all sorts of outdoor activities, many of which GSP’s have been known to partake in. Hiking and swimming at the ‘swimming hole’ are regular favorites. Perhaps we can organize some geo-caching this year too. Every day people head out of camp to do one thing or another, so ask around, maybe others are interested in the same activities you are!

In the first GSP letter I sent this year I also mentioned a new activity starting up this year for the first time, the New River Gorge ‘Bridge Walk’ tour, a chance to walk across the canyon on a 24” wide catwalk just under the bridge’s road surface 850’ above the river. Several of you expressed interest in this trip so I contacted NARR to set up a GSP tour. Unfortunately, NARR informed me that the first Bridge Walk tours won’t occur before ~ 7/14. It seems that because this bridge is considered a major landmark it’s also considered a potential terrorist target by Homeland Security, thus requiring the Nat’l Park Service to apply for a special permit in order to conduct these tours. Apparently getting the needed permit has been taking longer than anticipated, so it looks like a GSP bridge walk tour will have to wait until next year.

Campfire: After dark the group campfire is of course the place to be. Bring your instrument if you play and your ears if you don’t. Silly skits and antics are also a certainty around the campfire late in the week, so start preparing yours now. Various campfire culinary delights are also quite common, so bringing something to share is always welcomed.

Schedule overview:

Thursday 7/1:

Time TBD - NARR/ACE lake beach trip

Friday 7/2:

7:40am – Upper New trip check-in at NARR
6:00-ish – Fajita dinner; Specialty beer tasting to follow later (9:00-ish?)

Saturday 7/3:

6:00-ish – Pot-luck dinner
9:00pm – Campfire – skits/songs/raft assignments/cool gift distribution

Sunday 7/4:

8:00am – Lower New trip check-in at NARR 9:00pm – Campfire – skits/songs

Your humble GSP XXX Organizer,
Gene Cowen
H (843)-875-6468
C (843)-875-4390

Your 2010 GSP’s - responses received so far (if there are any errors shown in who’s rafting, let me know):

(blue = Upper New, red = Lower New, green = Upper & Lower New, black = camp slug)

Di Begley, Gwen Evans, Beth Evans
Darrel & Kim Bourne
Ed Bronson, Eileen Gelblat, Aaron Gelblat-Bronson
Dan, Charlotte, Jackson, & Emory Brunner
Stacey, Cori, Erin, Sean, & Ryan Bucherl, Emily Chavez
Paul Carlile, Sue Strang, Peter & Rita Carlile
Gene & Caleb Cowen, Hudson Barnes
Renee Gelblat
Jim & Cathy Hands
Rich Kulawiec
Kris Meade
Paul, Bronwyn, & Zach Pagram
Jeff Schwab
Deb Smith

Maria Thompson & Shelby Munsterman
Jef Treece & guest (probably rafting)

Don, Roberta, Jimmy, & Annie Wegeng


Air Mattress or Thermarest


Bug Spray

Canteen/Water Bottles


Cookstove and Fuel

Cooking Utensils

Clothing (optional)


Day Pack

Dining Fly

Eating Utensils/Dishes

Flashlight and Batteries

Stuff to wash Eating Utensils



Hiking Boots and Socks




Lawn Chairs

Lawn Ornaments

More Beer

Personal Hygiene Stuff


Props for campfire hijinks

Sleeping Bag

Beer Again




Water Jug



Duct Tape


Groundcloth for Tent

Musical Instruments



Footgear (old sneakers/teva’s)

Waterproof Sunscreen

Sunglasses w/ Croakies

Cap with bill

Waterproof camera

Dry Bag


Nylon Pants/Shirt

Paddle Jacket/Wet Suit




Recreational Drugs


Shower Stuff


Dry Clothes and Shoes