This Spring I packed everything that I thought I would need to camp for 8 months into and onto my backpack and once again, I knew I was headed in the right direction….away. ACE is an outdoor adventure center where there is over 1400 acres of property to explore, you can ride ATVs, horses, mountain bikes, zip lines, kayaks, rafts, duckies, go mountain climbing, take a swim at the lake, drink at the bar, meet tons of great people, and so much more! It is also where I am training to become a whitewater raft guide. I arrived at ACE and they were nice enough to let us use a bunkhouse for the first week because of the snow but we all felt a little too spoiled. After a week in our bunkhouses we all moved to the top of the mountain and set up our “tent metropolis”.
When you cross the top of the mountain and enter our parking lot, you will be amazed by the plethora of different colored tents that are tucked away in various places all over the ridge. Our training class has 40 people and there are also 170 other guides that are showing up every day and adding their tents to our color palate. ( On top of that there is another training group of 40 in May ) We are all having a lot of fun and we always have at least one community fire plus where we cook, talk, and sing around. ( I love how quickly a huge group of strangers can become like family so fast in the seasonal world )
Another great part is that with all these people, you have a great opportunity to pick up different, fun hobbies that you’ve never had the opportunity to do. Like last week I took over 9 people bouldering for the first time in their lives, and I’m pretty sure at least half of them will keep it up! Then the next day we decided to go and kayak the New River and go creek kayaking (which is all extremely new to me because I am used to sea kayaks and canoeing…but I absolutely loved it! )
I don’t have a car here either but everyone is great at taking groups in for supplies or just getting a lot of people together to go explore some of the local spots. Like the New River Gorge Bridge, any of the thousands of caves, creeks, rivers, cliffs, “The Mystery House”, ghost towns, railroads, or whichever floats your boat. So definitely check out ACE, and the New River area in West Virginia.
As an added bonus we’ve been getting great training from some of the best guides around. We also get a great opportunity to run the New River and Gauley River at HUGE spring levels! The level changes every time we go out, so it’s a great place to learn to read the water. The boats we use are self-bailing and ACE is one of the only companies still allowing guides to “surf” our boats. Plus we usually have a video boater come too and we get a chance to look back and really see where we need improvement.
Oh…..but beware!!! I realized the other night that it has been 50 years this year since the last sighting of “Mothman”…..so make sure to look up if your in WV!