In the description of "A C+K Guide to WV, 5th ed.", it notes that 'many a copy of former editions spent significant amounts of time in the glove boxes of WV paddler's vehicles'. Mine certainly did. On my bookshelves, I have two copies of the 1st edition that did just that. In their heyday, they were planning documents, starting points, where the hell are we shuttle directions, warnings, inspirations and diaries. Their physical condition suffered for their service, but both have survived.
I moved to West Virginia in 1973 to attend WVU. Being an avid canoeist since my Boy Scout days, I was easily smitten by the added versatility of the kayak in running whitewater. So, through the WVU Outings Club, I hooked up with a couple of kayakers, or rather, whitewater fanatics. This was 'the book'.
The first edition, titled "Wildwater West Virginia" was written by Paul Davidson and Bob Burrell. Not only did they write the guide, but they did much of the research for the information it contained. No one was ever surprised to find one or both on the water, sometimes miles away from a road or access point. In winter, one would show up at our pool sessions at the WVU natatorium, where we duct taped split tennis balls to the ends our kayaks and choked on the chlorined water, happily eskimo rolling. Long story short, these guys lived what they wrote. Their descriptions were right on. The writing was unabashed, somewhat conspiratorial, and downright clever and funny at times. While the book never made any sales records, since back in the seventy's the whitewater kayaking world was a small one, it was a treasure to any who wished to explore the incredible variety of whitewater in West Virginia.
Now, over thirty years later, the guide is in its fifth edition. It is almost exactly twice as thick as the first edition, a testament to the growth of the sport and the constantly improving skill levels of its adherents. The authors; Paul Davidson, Ward Eister, Dirk Davidson all have long and impressive whitewater resumes, as does editor Charlie Walbridge. Bob Burrell is no longer listed as an author, although his presence is still there. Many of the opening descriptions, worth the price of the guide alone, were in some part his work. Many of those overviews in the 5th edition are edits of those found in the original edition. He is also quoted in several sections.
The book covers all of the major watersheds found in the state and some classics, like the Yough in PA and the Savage in MD. In addition, the focus has expanded. The 5th edition includes trip suitable for families in open boats on one hand and an extensive list of eye popper steep creeks on the other. It provides classes of rapids encountered, length of trip, gauge locations, a scenery rating along with a solitude rating. Shuttle directions are provided as is a somewhat generalized description of the run. In fairness, if the run descriptions were provided in more detail, some of the adventure of the trip would be lacking, no to mention the size of the book doubling again. Each description clearly identifies DIFFICULTIES in its own section. Always comforting to know ahead of time that that 30 foot Class 6 waterfall has a pathway around it on river left. As in the first edition, the writing is clear, concise and above all, entertaining.
I highly recommend the book for anyone with an interest in West Virginia Rivers. One need not necessarily be interested soley with the whitewater or canoeing aspect of the book, since the read is far more interesting than just a discussion of water running downhill over rocks. The authors have such a connection with place, so that a reader feels that s\he knows the history of the rivers as well. With the advent of the most destructive of mining techniques available, mountain top removal, the book may also prove its value as a 'history' of West Virginia's lovely mountain waters.