May 14, 2010 Fayetteville, West Virginia
The minute you cross the Ohio River into West Virginia everything seems to change. There’s an immediate influx of lush green as the topography begins to roll through the mountain state. Raised in California I was lead to believe that the only mountains worth a 700-mile drive span ranges well west of the Mississippi. With a dramatic landscape unfolding before my eyes with each passing mile I’ve since changed my mind.
Down the highway a bit further on you come across another bridge and enter into a world all its own. The New River Gorge is this little known wonder spot south of the Mason-Dixon. Here our tribe of climbers, local and national, has gathered to celebrate the spring season and our active lifestyle. The New River Rendezvous is an adventure festival held each year in Fayetteville. Registration closed a few days ago having reached capacity at 800 attendees.
Confederate flags on pick-up trucks not withstanding, this southern enclave is every bit as hospitable as custom demands, even more so. The day-use campsite at New River Gorge National Park was already packed when I arrived. Climbers from across the country set up tents in communion of their love for the life in the wild. Organized by the owners of the local gear shop, Waterstone Outdoors, The New River Rendezvous welcomes climbers and climbing enthusiasts of all abilities to come play, learn and experience this sport that’s every bit as challenging to do as it is wonderful to watch.
An old mining town Fayetteville has come alive with the growth of climbing and whitewater paddling. Waterstone Outdoors co-owner Kenny Parker said the community has flourished over recent years with a wave of new residents. “Fayetteville draws in like-minded people from all over who love the outdoors,” he said. “We’re kind of tucked way and not many people know we’re even here. It’s just a great place hide out and loose yourself.”
I’m pretty psyched to have found myself here. Events through the weekend so far have included a pig roast at Kenny’s house, a full day of climbing clinics, gear displays by the top outdoor brands in the industry, yoga classes and ongoing slackline demonstrations. There’s more to come so keep checking back for more updates and photographs. Check out the first photo album on Facebook.