Gil and Mary met in the mid 70's, just outside
Washington DC. Gil's father had bought the farm
in Slatyfork at an auction in 1973. During a
winter visit, Gil tried skiing for the first
time. Ill prepared, wearing cotton sweatpants
and an army surplus jacket, he fell repeatedly,
became drenched and chilled and walked most of the
way down the hill in disgust. That might have
been the end of this mountain tale for the city
boy, but a determination to learn how to ski took hold, and Gil returned to the mountain
again and again.
Mary and Gil began building a separate residence
near the farmhouse in 1983 and married in 1984.
Gil worked odd jobs while Mary taught school.
Meanwhile, cross country ski rentals grew into a
thriving sideline and vacationing skiers
replaced resort workers as guests in the
Mary and Gil were introduced to mountain bikes
in the summer of 1985. After many exploratory
rides with some early-era West Virginia mountain
bikers, they acquired a rental fleet of bikes
and began a Snowshoe
Mountain Bike touring program. This touring
program quickly became the flagship of the
business. Fly Fishing
WV has been added in a big way to the
adventure choices at Elk River Touring Center. In 1988,
Mary and Gil completed a five room,
two story lodge with a fifty five seat
restaurant, an equipment sales room and an
office. Every couple of years, they add on to or remodel
the Inn. In the 1990s, interest turned from
skiing to snowboarding, and the Elk River
Snowboard shop was added in 1988. A new
snowboard shop was built in 1999.
Sons Thurston and Gus and all past and present Elk River staff have
played an integral part
in helping the Willis' create a unique
Haywood lived in West Virginia for many years
and was voted North American Female Mountain
Bike Racer of the Year in 2004 by Velo News
magazine. In 2006 she was the 24 hour solo
female national champion. She is the 2007 1st
place woman of Costa Rica's La Ruta, known as
"the toughest mountain bike race on the planet".
Sue cut her teeth on West Virginia singletrack
and loves to come back to the Mountain State to
get people excited about the sport of mountain
Meredith Erlewine co-owns Athens Bicycle shop in
Athens, Ohio as well as a being a professional
writer. She has been an avid cyclist and racer
for over 15 years and has helped teach women's
clinics at Elk River for 8 years. She and
husband Pete are parents of Kate, born in
Ski & mountain bike tech, ski instructor, mountain guide, all around trails and fixit guru. Greg is a native West Virginian who tries to spend all his work and free time in the outdoors. He is a former pro mountain bike racer with several top finishes in state and nationally from 1995-2005. A true mountain man with a easy going disposition. He'll lead you around in the woods and be sure to get you home safe.
If you would like more information, please call us at 304-572-3771 or 866-572-3771, e-mail us, or use our online request form.