The New River Bridgewalk

Saturday, October 8, 2021

I am on a great photography workshop with Mark Zablotsky (https://www.markzphotoworkshops.com) touring some of the best places in West Virginia. After an early shoot at Babcock State Park, Mark and I went to Bridge Walk LLC for a walk across the New River Bridge on a catwalk running underneath the highway. I do not like heights, but Mark convinced me this is a highlight of the trip. Yesterday we explored a bridge beneath the bridge that gave us a great view of the larger bridge.

“When the New River Gorge Bridge was completed on October 22, 1977, a travel challenge was solved. The bridge reduced a 40-minute drive down narrow mountain roads and across one of North America’s oldest rivers to less than a minute. When it comes to road construction, mountains do pose a challenge. In the case of the New River Gorge Bridge, challenge was transformed into a work of structural art – the longest steel span in the western hemisphere and the third highest in the United States

The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the most photographed places in West Virginia. The bridge was chosen to represent the state on the commemorative quarter released by the U.S. Mint in 2006. In 2013, the National Park Service listed the New River Gorge Bridge in the National Register of Historic Places as a significant historic resource.” (https://www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/nrgbridge.htm)

Bridge Day

two base jumpers against a blue sky
Two BASE jumpers on their way down. NPS photo/John Chapman

“On the third Saturday of October, the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce hosts “Bridge Day.” On this one day a year, the famous New River Gorge Bridge is open to pedestrians and a wide variety of activities—great views, food and crafts vendors, BASE jumping, rappelling, music, and more—draw thousands of people. Bridge Day is West Virginia’s largest one-day festival, and it is the largest extreme sports event in the world.

The first official Bridge Day was celebrated in 1980 when two parachutists jumped from a plane onto the bridge. They were joined by three additional parachutists, and all five then jumped from the bridge into the gorge.Today, the event lures hundreds of BASE jumpers, cheered on by thousands of spectators. “BASE” stands for Building, Antenna (tower), Span (arch or bridge), and Earth (cliff or natural formation), the four categories of objects in which BASE jumpers jump from.

Looking for information on Bridge Day? While the bridge may be the crown on the Beautiful New River Gorge, Bridge Day is an event hosted by the Bridge Day commission. For more information, visit the Official Bridgeday website, or call the New River Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 927-0263″.

As we were shooting the little waterfall from the middle of the bridge, a truck stopped, asking us if we were the ones shooting pictures from the bridge. They were the ones in the raft, and asked if we could send them a picture. Mark smiled and quickly air-dropped a picture to them. He is an expert iPhone photographer, and seems to always shoot some pictures with his phone. The pictures he gets with his phone are pretty amazing.

At Bridge Walk LLC, we got instructions from Paul Story, who has been doing this for a long time, and he has many stories. He is approximately my age, and I thought, if he can do this, so can I.We strapped up in a harness like one you would use for a zip line. Then he attached a line that would be connected to a long, overhead wire. I did not want to test its strength. We loaded a bus that didn’t have to go far to our starting point. Paul explained it is a 2-hour walk across the gorge on a walk suspended 25 feet below the 3,035 ft.bridge. Now I was getting a bit queazy.

Paul Story with some serious clips to attach us to the wire

In the afternoon, we had a great session with Mark on processing pictures, using a variety of software. Although I use and like Nikon View NX-i, I could see where Photoshop and several plug-ins take it to the next step. It was an excellent session.

  6 comments for “The New River Bridgewalk

  1. Mark Zablotsky
    October 26, 2021 at 9:20 am

    You don’t miss a beat bro… Love having you document our times together. Would love some constructive criticism as well!!! Look forward to our next adventure!!!

    • October 26, 2021 at 3:35 pm

      It was such a great week Mark. Thank you for doing such a fabulous job researching these places. I wouldn’t change a thing!

  2. October 26, 2021 at 10:18 am

    Greg, you are my hero, you have done more fun things, explored more beautiful places with your Airstream than anyone I know! I was not aware of bridge day but your pictures brought back warm memories of a wonderful family weekend from years ago. We rented a cabin in a beautiful WVA State park and rafted down the New River! It is one of the most beautiful places that I have been and it’s an easy trip from C’Ville. A very special place (VSP)

    • October 26, 2021 at 3:33 pm

      I am so happy you have found a way to comment Ed! I would love to return to many of these places for longer periods of time. We are indeed lucky to have so many great places near us! All the best to you and Ro.

  3. Pam Grobmyer
    October 26, 2021 at 11:28 am

    I am proud of you! No way could I do that walk! Chip said bring it on!! I love the black and white photos. You are having a beautiful fun fall!

    • October 26, 2021 at 3:29 pm

      Thank you Pam. My feet were very happy to hit solid ground. That walkway shakes when big trucks pass overhead. Spooky!

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