Take It From an Expert Among Your Peers

Visiting Southern West Virginia is worth the effort (and fun) of getting there

Story and Photos by Jeff Samsel
Thinking back on adventures that span two and a half decades I find myself lacking adequate words to describe time spent in Southern West Virginia. That’s bad for a writer. I know. It also sounds like a cliché. Yet that doesn’t negate the fact that I can’t do justice to the experience of catching feisty smallmouth bass between the cliffs that bound the New River or crashing through the Upper Gauley’s world-class rapids during special fall water releases.

The good news is that you don’t need my words. You can come experience Southern West Virginia for yourself at the SEOPA conference in October. Not only is the conference site in the heart of where I’ve enjoyed so many great experiences, but several key players in this year’s conference have facilitated many of those adventures.

One early experience in the area was a writers’ fishing tournament on the New River that was planned in conjunction with an OWAA conference. I stayed at the Resort at Glade Springs for the event, fished a day in the whitewater section in the New River Gorge and fly fished a different river section with Chris Ellis, who is our on-site conference planner. At the time Chris was leading outdoor adventures for the Resort. The same trip introduced me to Adventures on the Gorge and their extraordinarily diverse outdoor adventure offerings, hospitality and understanding of media needs.

I’ve since rafted the New and the Gauley, fished various river sections and even done a zipline tour with Adventures on the Gorge. I’ve also stayed in their mountain cabins and enjoyed many delightful meals on their property, which, not surprisingly, overlooks New River Gorge, and I’ve unfailingly been impressed by the experiences and the people who deliver them.

As much as I am excited about SEOPA friends getting to experience this region – some for the first time – I can’t deny that I’m even more excited about having a good excuse to return to Southern West Virginia and sample more of the region’s offerings. I’ve been anticipating this conference since it was originally scheduled.
In truth the biggest challenge will be deciding which adventures to take on while I’m in the area and which I’ll need to keep on deck for the next time!