First Drop of Lost Paddle Rapid
Just below the Gauley's confluence with the Meadow River and the historic Carnifex Ferry site, the river bends sharply to the right and into Lost Paddle (V). It is the longest single rapid on the river and is broken up into four main drops, although above 4000 cfs, it all runs together into a huge continuous mess. Because of it's length and gradient, Lost Paddle is impossible to scout in its entirety from one location.
It is a real good idea to check the river gauges before running the Gauley. The Meadow River can at times contribute considerable volume to the Gauley, and it doesn't take much water to make a significant change in the nature of the run.
The top of the rapid is rocky and shallow. There are only a few channels that are wide enough to accommodate rafts, all of which start in the center and funnel to the right. I like to key off of the pyrimid rock in the center of the river at the very top of the rapid. I like to enter just to the left of it. There are numerous possible entrances for kayakers. The current quickly flows to the right and funnels down into a well defined wave train. It is good to stay to the left side of this wave train to avoid some undercut rocks on the right bank. There is a large safety eddy on the left directly below the First Drop.