7 whitewater definitions you should know this fall

Going rafting? Get a step ahead and know the lingo before you go! With more than 100 rapids in its arsenal, the Gauley River— the “Beast of the East” and one of the world’s top 10 whitewater runs— comes with technical rides and terms. But when you hear rafters chat about pillows, eddies and holes, here’s the scoop about what they mean:

1. Drops

Gauley River in WV

A monster like the Gauley has sudden descents, or “drops.” Take a look at Initiation, a Class IV rapid: its massive boulders give you a wild ride! And then there’s Lost Paddle, a muscular Class V. Its First, Second, Third and Fourth drops will shake you up!

2. Boof

Whenever your boat soars over an obstacle, you’ll want to keep its bow above the surface. Otherwise, its nose will plow beneath the water— a failed boof! Sweet’s Falls, the Gauley’s most famous Class V rapid, has a boof rock. Your rafting guide’ll help you navigate around it before you tumble over the spectacular 14-foot waterfall.

3. Eddies

Find handy river features when a current stops or reverses its flow. These are relaxing, still spots you can float a minute for some calm in the middle of the mayhem. The Gauley’s Geek Wave and Diagonal Ledges rapids have popular eddies.

4. Hole

Also known as “hydraulics,” these river features happen when water flows over a submerged obstacle and curls back upstream. The Gauley has several holes in its collection— like Class III rapids Hungry Mother and Gillespie’s Hole.

5. Surfing

Yep, you can catch some waves in West Virginia! Best of all, you can ride them for hours. Popular surf spots on the Gauley include The Perfect Wave, Diagonal Ledges and Canyon Doors.

6. Pillow

Occasionally, water will plow into an obstacle and pile upwards. Voila! You have a pillow. The iconic Class V Pillow Rock rapid is named after this very term. The water swooshes over a massive boulder— so it’ll sweep your boat right over top of it, too!

7. Wave trains

This term pretty much describes itself: a long series of waves. Wave trains add a playful, bouncy touch to your ride. Try ‘em yourself on Class III rapids Roller Coaster and Fuzzy Box of Kittens!

What rafting terms have you heard on the river?