River Expeditions, Visit West Virginia Day #3 – River Expeditions is an adventure lovers’ dream, located in West Virginia. There is white water rafting for beginners, zip lining, and for our last day of our adventure we headed to experience the New River Gorge Bridge Walk and do some rappelling and rock climbing too! Your family can have the ultimate outdoor adventure experience too! Here we go with Day 3.
We began our day at the locally recommended Cathedral Café and Coffee Shop. We had a lovely breakfast in this quaint café housed in a retired church and the food ….. was awesome. We sure had worked up an appetite with all that adventure and we really appreciate great local hangouts while on vacation! It’s where you meet the best locals, hear the most amazing stories and get the best in local tips of where to go and what to do!
After breakfast, we headed over to begin our guided adventure over the New River Gorge. Walking on a cat walk underneath of a bridge 850 feet in the air sounded INSANE but at this point we’d thrown fear to the wind and said, “what the heck!” You can’t miss the huge sign so you’ll easily see where to turn when you’re looking for the place. Once you check in they’ll get you all set up with your safety harness then pop you on a shuttle for a very short ride to begin your high adventure bridge expedition.
The bridge is in service overhead and 851 feet below is the beautiful New River Gorge. Bridge Walk has been in operation since 2009 in conjunction with the National Park Service and the catwalk that we crossed has been in existence since the bridge’s construction in 1977. I wasn’t sure if that gave me a sense of comfort or worry that it was old! It was a thrilling adventure I must admit and the views are simply breathtaking! The innovative safety system makes it impossible for bridge walkers to fall so while you will feel a bit nervous at first, you can soon relax and take in the view! The catwalk is 24” wide and the guided walk is 1.5 to about 2.5 hours long, giving you plenty of time to stop for pictures, take in the beauty all around you and learn some fascinating facts about the history of the bridge from your guide (they don’t send you out on your own, it’s all very controlled). This was an experience everyone should have …… at least once. You just can’t imagine the glory of it all and you can FEEL the bridge move as the 18 wheelers pass overhead! We had such a great time! Those smiles are excited, fear and thrilling fun all rolled into one! And yes, there are times through our River Expeditions adventure my husband and I looked at each other and said, “What are we doing with our kids?!” ☺
And would you believe, here at River Expeditions, that wasn’t even our last adventure! Not at all, we had a ½ day tour arranged for us at Hard Rock Climbing Services for some added excitement (as if we hadn’t already had enough, right!). It was time for some rock climbing and a rappelling adventure…… and I thought the adventure was over – NOPE, it had only begun!!
So we pull into the small Hard Rock Climbing parking lot not knowing what to expect…. After all, I’m a mom, I could use a little more exercise, and although I loved hiking I had no idea if I could physically handle what could potentially be thrown my way but I was determined to be a part of the fun and not let my family down. Next I met Bryan who completely relieved me of my nervous fears! Bryan is author of 2 climbing/hiking guides (Hiking and Biking in the New River Gorge: A Trail User’s Guide, and Vertical Aid: Essential Wilderness Medicine for Climbers,Trekkers, and Mountaineers), plus he’s military trained and well experienced in nursing, climbing injuries etc…. Relief! I was gonna be safe and if I wasn’t Bryan was as good and it gets for help in the field! You may be laughing but as a mom I had to admit fear did happen to cross my mind a time or two!!!! ☺
So we leave our car in the parking lot, hop in the Hard Rock Climbing SUV and drive outta town while I nervously explain my former knee injury to Bryan praying he has mercy on this body because the next day I’ll wake in my own bed and return to real life and would prefer not to be on large doses of Motrin due to severe muscle aches! He was probably chuckling to himself the entire time, either that or he’s heard this a million times! Whichever one it was, he made us all feel at home, safe and excited to get going!
Rappelling was our first adventure. We started with a short rope climb where we hold on to a rope and kind of walk ourselves up some boulders. Then it’s a rather short hike on a trail to a breathtaking spot overlooking the bridge we had just walked under! We planted ourselves on a rock and Bryan pulls out his gear from the pack and sets up the rappelling gear while doing a great job of educating us on the safety system, how it all works, then finally asking for a volunteer to go first!
My son volunteered first and was excited to begin. He’s never been rappelling and although he’s rather introverted, he’s always up for an outdoor adventure! As I watched him drop down all I could think of is, “Am I really allowing this man to drop my son over the side of a cliff!!!” I was second….nervous, excited, thrilled to start! Once I started my way down I realized that the system allows you to let yourself down slowly, as slowly as you like. From the pictures it looks like it takes a HUGE amount of strength to go rappelling but really after I did it I’d say anyone could! No regrets from this mamma!
Next was Samantha, my 8 year old 48 lb daughter. Well, she tried and tried but she just didn’t have the weight to make it down. She still wanted the adventure so Bryan hooked himself up, did a double take and went down with Samantha and then RAN back up to give my husband his turn. OMG, this guy was what I call awesome in action. He’s like a superman! We had great fun!
Back into the SUV and we’re headed on a scenic route to do a little mountain climbing. I’m thinking we’ll use our hands and feet and scramble over some boulders, right? No way….! Mountain climbing in West Virginia is scaling the side of a rock wall! Thank goodness my kids used to love those rock wall climbs at places like Bass Pro because they were putting all of their skills to the test on this adventure! Bryan hooks up a safety system so that if anyone falls the harness and ropes will catch them (thank goodness!) and then he asks for a volunteer to start. Of course it’s my son once again. I’ve never thought of him as a thrill seeker but maybe I overlooked that aspect of this quiet teen.
They were amazing to watch as they scaled these beautiful mountainous rocks like Spider-man would! They climb up as high as they can go and then sort of bounce their way back down hitting their feet against the rocks bouncing off every 3 to 5 feet or so. They looked like they’d been doing it all of their lives….It was exhilarating!
As our time at River Expeditions came to an end I look back on so many memories we have made during our vacation. We have made so many entries into our Family Vacation Journal (click here for directions how to make your own Family Vacation Journal) to help us remember what we have done and share all of the feelings we’ve had doing it. I heard, “Are you ready?” frequently on this trip and if I waited until I was “ready” I wouldn’t have ever done anything! I once read a heart touching article about what people shared that were literally in bed with death knocking at their door and what it said was that people don’t regret what they’ve done in life, they regret what they DIDN’T DO in life! That won’t be me! The next time you are thinking about doing something different for your vacation, consider booking at River Expeditions. You won’t regret it and you will have experiences that last a lifetime! A big thanks to River Expeditions for hosting our adventure!
If you missed Day #1 of our River Expeditions adventure article go here.