How to Become a Lifelong Adventurer: Learn now
Meet the great outdoors! Once you\'ve been introduced, you will be friends for life. Stand up to the aging process by keeping your body fit and sharp as you get older. And get started now, etching the basic skills into your brain so you can pick up your gear 20 years from now and still have fun.
The New River Gorge is the perfect place to learn, practice and master a number of lifelong activities. Which should you choose?
Kayaking can be a great leisure activity, as well s a thrill ride. Many casual kayakers stick to flat water, paddling long distances to observe scenery and wildlife, building up arm strength with strong paddle strokes. And adventure seekers take on whitewater, choosing boats that can cut through the waves, or smaller play boats that allow them to maneuver more easily, doing tricks in the rapids.
Think Long-term: Any body of water can become an adventure. You can strap your boat to the top of your car and seek out new rivers to test out, or dock it at for nearest lake to await you for a spin.
Investment: You will need all the basic gear to get started: a kayak, a paddle, a personal flotation device (PFD) and a helmet. The type of kayak you buy will depend on how you intend to use it, and whitewater kayaking also requires a spray skirt to keep the pounding waves from filling your boat up with water. Or, you could opt for a milder duckie, an inflatable kayak that tips less easily in the rapids.
While it can be pricey up front, if you invest in quality gear, it will last you years. You can find used kayaks for only a few hundred dollars at festivals like Gauley Fest in Summersville. There are different sizes, so you\'ll want to know how it is supposed to fit your body and find one that works for you.
Start now: You\'ll want to learn basic paddling strokes to control your boat easily in any type of water. For whitewater, you\'ll also want to learn to roll the kayak back over if it tips, and how to exit the kayak if you can\'t correct it yourself. Learn from the pros and take a lesson or a multi-day clinic at Rolling Waters Kayak School or at ACE Adventure Resort.
An extremely diverse outdoor activity, biking can be as simple as pedaling down a path, or as adventurous as sweeping through rocky mountain terrain.
Think Long-term: They don\'t say "It\'s just like riding a bike" for nothing! Once you\'ve gotten used to pedaling and working the trails, you\'ll never have trouble hopping on a cycle and heading out.
You can integrate biking easily into your everyday life. Any point is a good place to start riding. Use it as a mode of transportation if you live in town! Biking makes it easy to get where you\'re going without wasting gas (and those prices keep creeping up!)
Investment: A bike and a helmet are all you need to get rolling on a regular basis. Bikes require regular upkeep, but they\'re elegantly simple machines that usually only need mild maintenance.
A good bike can last you a lifetime, and it doesn\'t have to be a huge expense. A simple bike from a department store or a yard sale can be a great companion for you, or you can invest in a more mountain-ready machine to tackle a wider range of terrains.
Climbing & Rappelling
The sense of accomplishment you feel when you reach the top of a cliffside is unparalleled. You pull through to the finish line, and can look down along the stretch of jagged course you\'ve conquered. And, you automatically earn the rewarded of magnificent aerial views, gazing over the wilderness as it stretches into the sunset.
Think Long-term: Because you\'re engaging so many muscle groups on a climb, you will strengthen your entire body and build your endurance by progressing to steeper and more technical climbs over time. You can always climb at your own pace, so you will be able to push yourself as needed, or take extra time to conquer new challenges.
Investment: Basic climbing gear is relatively inexpensive compared to other outdoor activities, and it can be very long-lasting. Different types of climbing require different gear. No matter what type of climbing you\'re doing, you will definitely want to start with good climbing shoes that fit tightly and will keep you from slipping.
For safety, buy a sturdy harness, a climbing-specific rope and a helmet. (Don\'t let the helmet scare you. It\'s not that you\'re likely to slam against a cliff or fall. The helmet is mostly to protect you from debris that might fall from above you.) You\'ll also need some small items, like carabiners, a belay device and quick draws, to help attack the rope to the cliff and to yourself.
Most climbers also recommend a chalk bag, which you can use to keep a firm grip when your hands get sweaty.
Start now: Chat with the knowledgeable staff at Waterstone Outdoors, and let them help you choose the best gear. You will definitely want to work with a knowledgeable guide who can show you the basics before you begin climbing on your own. Take courses from Hard Rock Climbing or New River Mountain Guides.
Skydiving & BASE Jumping
We\'re a bit biased, but this is our personal favorite. It\'s not as physical as the others on the list, and you won\'t get a workout, but the thrill of the descent really gets your adrenaline pumping, and the views are breathtaking no matter how old or young you are. Think Long-term: Precisely because this activity isn\'t as physically demanding, it\'s easy to take with you through the years. Once you get the maneuvering down and can jump on your own, you\'re set to keep leaping throughout your life.
Investment: Gear for a skydive isn\'t cheap, but you get a great discount on student practice jumps. Compare the costs of learning yourself to the amount you\'ll pay to keep going with a skydiving guide, and the savings start to add up with each trip. Once you are certified and have what you need, you can jump over and over at a much more affordable rate.
There are major differences in the chutes and equipment you would need for skydiving and BASE jumping. You should always be cautious when buying equipment, and if you buy used, look into the history of the equipment.
SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding)
Another water sport that\'s enjoyable in the waves as well as the flat water, Stand-Up Paddleboarding is a simple activity to learn, and promotes full-body fitness.
Think Long-term: Leisurely paddle around the water for a great workout and views, or test your balance on the waves. You can pop your paddle board on the water anywhere, and it\'s easier to transport than a kayak.
Investment: All you need is a PFD, a paddle and a board. Paddleboards are expensive, but can be durable. Longer boards move more swiftly, but shorter boards are easier to maneuver. For beginners, a wider board might offer more stability. No matter what style you choose, be sure to buy a board you can easily carry.
Start now: You can get flat water paddleboarding instruction at Summersville Lake or ACE Lake. It only takes a little guidance to master the basics of this sport! For something more exciting, learn to surf the waves in the New River. Want to make it even more relaxing? Take a SUP yoga class.
We are already excited to be 95 and still enjoying the outdoors. Will we see you out in the Gorge then, too? Which activity are you going to master first?