Written by Chris Preperato


Heinzerling by Chris Preperato

It started like any other Memorial Day weekend trip.

The Penn State Outing Club would travel to the West Virginia area and run trips on the Cheat, the New, the Lower Yough, and whatever else was running. The best boaters in the group would use the Friday or Monday of that trip and try a run down the Upper Yough. The river only ran on hydroelectric releases during the week back then.

Bill Heinzerling found trouble early, pitoning at Gap Falls and breaking out the foot braces in his boat. At the time, they were pieces of ethafoam, fiber-glassed into place, and particularly prone to breaking. So Bill was now at the start of a 4-5 mile stretch of the hardest whitewater, sitting loose in his boat. Six swims later, Bill left the river worse for wear, and with a rapid bearing his name.