Canoe ~ Kayak ~ SUP ~ Raft ~ Rescue

ACA State Director for Pennsylvania Supports Friendsville in Deep Creek Lake Public Hearing

I’m proud to be representing the ACA and the whitewater community at the Deep Creek Lake Public Hearing.

Deep Creek Lake Management Public Hearing, American Canoe Association Pennsylvania State Director

Full meeting audio:

Learn more about the Deep Creek Lake Water Management Plan from another post. Below is some personal experiences from the Upper Yough.

Upper Yough Video KayakerMy name is Steve Barber and I’m currently the American Canoe Association State Director for Pennsylvania. I’ve also spent 19 years on the Upper Yough and worked this section of river commercially as a media boater and safety boater for 9 of the 19 years.


The Upper Yough is one of the best whitewater sections on the east coast.

Upper Yough, Heinzerling Rapid
I’ve been on the Upper Yough section for 19 years. The first time I was on it was in a raft with Chris Danse a legendary Wildwater Expeditions guide from the New and Gauley rivers in Fayetteville WV. He guided us down the river with a style all of us trainees had never seen or used in the big water ways of southern West Virginia. He spun continuously looking always down stream with a focused stare, educating his crew on movement through the tight boulder strewn technical whitewater. He guided the raft in a way that  used the rocks to stall the boat or drag across to initiate the timing and positioning to navigate this steep whitewater ribbon. We ran slots where our intimate 4 person crew would deliberately low side the raft to squeeze through tight passage meant only for water, or so I thought at the time. Our movement in the raft was constantly leaning forward and paddling with quick, short precise strokes then alternating to highsiding the stern of the boat to lighten the bow and essentially boof the raft over waterfalls and pour overs. It was essentially kayaking in a small 4 person raft. The first time I was on it I was hooked. I’m sure many people have this same kind of story who fell in love with this section of the Youghioghney River.

Shortly there after I was driving the three hours one way that it took to get there from southern West Virginia to kayak and learn this class IV-V legendary section of whitewater.

Kayaking the Upper Yough was and always will be very active for me. A kayaker needs all their skills and foundations as a boater to navigate this waterway and there is always a different way to go. It seems endless and you can make it as hard or extra difficult as you want it. Then throw in the varying levels. On the Upper Yough the levels I’ve experienced are from 1.8′ which is the lower end of summer release to 3.4′ which is the highest I’ve seen it or even really want to. It’s one of those rivers that every inch makes a big impact on the features of the river and when I worked it commercially 1.8′ to 2″ was the bones. The Take Out in Friendsville was full. 2′-2.3′ was the fluff and people were having normal stories the raft guides loved these levels due to the predictability and proportional amount of water and time needed to make the moves were all in harmony.  2.4′-2.6′ was the juice getting really pushy and you needed to have your head out of your a$$. Roger Zbel would love to be in the bottom eddy of Powerful Pop Up and yell at me that it wasn’t 1.8′ anymore Steve!  The parking lot in Friendsville wasn’t as full during this water level. 2.6′-2.8′ was really big. At this point for me at least was where alternate lines had to be run because pour overs were just to big and holes to retentive such as the hole above the Cleavers and the Big Hole in Triple Drop. 3.4′ was a crazy day and I was in a raft and the river was sick. It was good to see it. I remember working some of these high water days as a safety boater and photo boater thinking dam it’s on today. Saving myself if I had a swim was a major issue let alone saving people that fell out of a commercial raft, but that was my job and at the time I was good enough to perform it.  It’s fun to think back on some of those high water days.Ohiopyle Trading Post and Rive Tours Rafting Guide I pretty much prayed for people not to fall out of the raft and if I had to make it happen I just did it and didn’t think about it. What a wild place and time. So many folks on my boat through crazy whitewater rapids and awesome rafting shots captured of my fellow guide staff taking guests to the edge of what insane for most normal folks, but just another day at the office for Upper Yough Raft Guides.

I loved safety boating on the Upper Yough.  My friend Marc Harmon checked me out as a Upper Yough Safety boater. He was powerful and smooth and always ran the boof with style.

Upper Yough Safety Boater


This was a video I created detailing the job of an Upper Yough Safety Boater.

This was a video I created for the Upper Yough in 2009 during my time as a media boater.

It was really great and I thank everyone I worked with for welcoming this southern boy into this northern scene.


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