New River Dries Goes Off

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It doesn’t run often, but when it does it goes big. This time, in early March, it careened in at more than 70,000 cfs, drawing hairboaters like Trent Thibodeaux, Sam Fulbright, Chris Wing, Pablo McCandless and Chris Gragtmans out of the watery woodwork to ply its epic waves. And its name, the New River Dries, is about as much of an oxymoron as you’ll find in the paddling world…

“It doesn’t run very often–maybe a couple time a year,” says Thibodeaux. “When we woke up Tuesday morning it was running about 70,000 cfs. All I can say is wow. I have never seen or surfed waves this big.”

The crew put in about 20 yards upstream of the section’s biggest wave. After washing off, they’d get carried about 200 yards downstream before making it to shore to hike back up and do it again. “The middle wave was a massive hole-wave thingy that could rip your face off,” he adds. “The right wave was good, though. But it’s a super hard wave to gain control on and time your tricks because of the constant surges and boils that randomly appear. One second you’re in a surf, the next you are engulfed by the foam and then bounced three feet in the air. Needless to say there was a lot of carnage.”

The Dries section is below the popular 14-mile Gorge Run that ends at Fayette Station. It’s only runnable on rare occasions when upstream flows are high enough (usually over 9,000 cfs) to overcome the water diversions at Hawk’s Nest Dam.

For more info and photos, visit Trent’s Blog