I love September because that is our month to head to Summersville Lake, in West Virginia and enjoy everything the area has to offer, a beautiful lake, amazing rivers, great hikes and time with friends. Now that the girls are another year older, it is even easier and more fun to play. They are more active and can keep up with us easier than before.
We spent most of the time in West “by God” at our campsite and on the water around Battle Run Campground. I have yet to stay here during summer lake season, but during September it is almost empty during the week and full of paddlers on the weekend. It is family friendly, with a great little playground and smooth, paved roads which are perfect for the kids to ride their bikes. The water on the lake was still really warm. Other than a fishing boat every now and then, the lake was mostly empty so it was ideal for taking the kids tubing.
One of the highlights of the trip, for me, was taking the girls hiking at the Kaymoor Mine Trail. When I used to live in West Virginia, my mom and I (along with any family or friends in town) would hike that trail, and upon reaching the mine, we would walk or run down and back up the 821 steps that the National Park Service built to the bottom of the mountain before heading for breakfast at Cathedral Cafe. I wasn’t sure my five year old would be up for it, but with a little motivation, she did it! Little milestones like these make me even more excited for the days we start racing together… at least I hope they will race with me, but I might be wishful thinking.
Since we had decided not to paddle ChattaJack this year I had no long paddles on the lake planned, just short morning trips that allowed me to have a little “me” time. Our three year old has had some sleep issues recently, so I feel like I have been constantly fatigued. Being on the road is much worse than when she is home in her own bed. I try to make myself go to bed earlier, but it’s so difficult to give up that time of unwinding and enjoying adult conversation. How I wish I could dose her a bit with some sleep aide… Seriously though, when do they grow out of it?
My biggest disappointment of our trips to West Virginia was skipping the New River SUP race that our friend Melanie Seiler puts on each year. Luke and I split it up last year, I paddled the attainment and he paddled the downstream, but this year, I was feeling run down. I had absolutely no motivation. Luke decided to race in both races. When we arrived at Fayette Station, on the New River, I decided to paddle upstream to cheer for everyone on the water, and get away from the crowds. I picked out a demo board, loaded up the girls and started paddling. As soon as I started paddling, I felt 100 times better. The rain didn’t bother me. The girls were both happy dipping their hands and legs in the water and we made our way up the river, and I knew I had made a mistake not racing. The attainment race did have a challenging move this year paddling through “Thread the Needle,” a set of boulders in the middle of the river that create a few different little channels, all of which are mellow going down, but can be challenging paddling up through. The easiest (and only way for many of the boards to attain) was through a very narrow slot, so it got a little congested. The downriver race is always one to please the crowds. Fayette Station Rapid is a class 3-4 rapid with wonky waves coming diagonally from both sides. It is a challenging rapid to paddle, but really fun to watch others, as there is usually a few crashes. Our friend Ian came down from Pennsylvania to race and dominated, coming in first place overall. Luke placed second. The women’s division was strong this year with women such as Brittany Parker and my friends Nadia Almuti and Stacey Lyon. It was so fun to watch them, but I am looking forward to participating again next year!