Hardy paddlers complete the 100 mile Coal River Water Trail
by FRED PACE, EDITOR
It started with a challenge over Facebook. Jeff Petry asked his friends, if anyone would be interested in joining him to do what no one had ever done. The challenge was to paddle the entire 100 miles of the Big, Little and Coal Rivers in three days.
Very soon afterword, Tim Ligon a seasoned Kayaker answered with Lets do it. Others indicated interest, but in the end, only two hardy paddlers arrived to start the trip.
Jeff Petry, an employee of Dunn Engineers Incorporated, was joined by Tim Ligon who works at Bayer Crop Science in Institute.
The two started their 100 mile journey early Friday morning, March 16, 2012, at the Coal River Water Trail ramp in Whitesville. The water conditions were poor. Heavy rains earlier had created near a flood level flow of water. The two launched their Kayak, and off they headed 35 miles down river with a current that they estimated was 4 to 5 miles per hour.
They arrived in Dartmont two hours later. Jeff Petry had family at that location and they gave the paddlers a hardy welcome, lunch and encouragement to continue on down the Big Coal, to Sproal. The final trip segment on Friday was approximately 12 miles. The fast moving river allowed them to cover that section in 2.5 hours.
The next morning, Saturday, March 17, 2012, they drove to Madison, the headwaters for the Little Coal River. They again faced high water and cold skies. They two set out at approximately 7:30 a.m. and continued to paddle and float until they reached the junction of the Little Coal River and the Big Coal River at Alum Creek. The 34 mile trip was completed in approximately 5 hours.
On Sunday, March 18, 2012, Tim and Jeff returned to the Big Coal River and departed from Sproal (Briar Creek) for St. Albans. The final leg of the three day journey would prove to be the longest and the most challenging 22 miles.
At the Upper Falls of the Coal River in Tornado, the two had to navigate the dangerous falls. They made it over the dam at the falls and proceeded on to the finish line at St. Albans. The final segment was a grueling 7 hour trip.
Upon arrival in St. Albans, they were greeted by a number of Coal River Group members and congratulated for their accomplishment.
Bill Currey Chairman of the CRG said, The adventure of traveling 100 miles in three days was a once in a life time event for the guys but it had a serious purpose as well. The CRGs Coal River Water trail is about to be opened for the season and the guys helped us with the important annual early spring scouting to search for river impediments and trash.
The travelers reported the rivers had very little trash despite the recent floods and that no trees or other obstacles were found on the entire trip.
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