Adventures on the Gorge: How and when did you fall in love with white water rafting? How and when did you become a guide?
Matt Stamm: During the Spring/Summer of 1999, I had just graduated from college at Ohio State University and my roommate talked me into coming to the New River Gorge to train with Songer Whitewater. My training class had 5 trainees and for the first couple of weeks, I wasn’t sure this was for me. Then later during training, I was launched out of the boat in Surprise Rapid. I was in the front left of the raft, the water launched me out, I did a cartwheel in the air and landed in the water. The sheer power of the water amazed me and I fell in love with it then and there. I have been guiding ever since.
AOTG: What is your favorite part about being on the water?
Stamm: I love the opportunity it has given me to meet new people and the people that I work with. When I am on the river, it is where I feel most at home, comfortable and at peace. The river can be different from one moment to the next, keep you on your toes, allows you to truly live.
AOTG: What are three reasons people should take a white water rafting trip?
Stamm: 1. There is no better perspective you can have of a river than in a raft/boat. You can stand on the bank and appreciate the beauty and power of it but you can not feel it without being out there in the river.
- It is a great way to see some difficult to access places, so many canyons and valleys you can not see without being on the river, especially in a single day or multiple day trip.
- You have the opportunity to meet new people, make a new connection and learn something you have not learned before. You may meet a new friend that becomes a friend for life.
AOTG: What makes Adventures on the Gorge different and special?
Stamm: The senior staff have come together from all over the country, different companies and rivers that they started out on. This conglomeration makes us truly special.
AOTG: What is your advice to a first time rafter? and what trip do you suggest they take?
Stamm: The first opportunity you get to take a float in the river intentionally, take it. IT will make you more comfortable and up to speed with the river. Most important, don’t forget to take the time to look around and see where you are, take in the beauty of your surroundings.
AOTG: What is your favorite time of year in the New River Gorge and why?
Stamm: Spring time, when the foliage starts to come to life. It feels like the start of summer.
AOTG: What makes the Gauley so spectacular?
Stamm: The river is absolutely glorious. Great drops, fun runs and consequences. The influx of both younger and older guides that come for Gauley Season, seeing the people you have known for years and spending time together again and watching the new younger guides grow in confidence and abilities. It is a really fun time.
AOTG: What is your favorite memory at Adventures on the Gorge?
Stamm: I was leading an Upper New trip. I was rowing a raft with guests and a little girl, maybe 70lbs, asked if she could row the for the trip. In a flat calm pool, she took over rowing. She was trying and having fun. A bald eagle flew over then river and she was the first person to see it. She pointed it out to everyone and I thought to myself at that point, man she is going to be a guide one day.