The boaters Arnold most expects to see on the upper Gauley during high-flow days are kayakers and noncommercial rafters.
"Kayakers are going to love this," he said. "It used to be the badge of an expert kayaker to run the upper Gauley [at commercial rafting levels]. Kids nowadays are running waterfalls and stuff. Five thousand cfs on the upper Gauley is doable for them."
The extra days and augmented flows are planned because Corps of Engineers officials need to inspect the outlet structures of Summersville Dam, and to do so they have to drain more water from Summersville Lake.
Arnold praised the corps for setting up the releases so that whitewater enthusiasts can best enjoy them.
"The corps is being really responsive to the changing environment," he said. "They understand that water can be converted into economic development. I give them a high five for the way they've set up the season. I don't know if I've ever gone into a season knowing we were going to get flows like this."
He believes the unprecedented conditions will grab the attention of whitewater enthusiasts from all across the country.
"This will appeal to a national crowd," he said. "This is one of the years they're going to want to come. The Gauley does that. It brings people in from all over."
Arnold said he wouldn't be surprised to see kayakers and rafters from other countries on the river this year.
"When conditions are good, we get people from far away," he said. "One time I saw a guy who had the number 7247 painted on his helmet. I asked him what it meant. He said that he was from Kuwait City, and that he had traveled 7,247 miles to run the river. Such is the allure of the Gauley."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.