THURMOND, W.Va. -- Six Virginia men attempting to recreate Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall's historic 1812 river-scouting journey have tackled the toughest part, plunging into the whitewater of the New River Gorge.

The Marshall Expedition, funded by a National Geographic Young Explorers grant, entered the water in their wooden flat-bottomed boat Wednesday morning, traveled about five miles and took on the most dangerous set of three rapids at midday. By 3 p.m., they'd made it through.

Expedition leader Andrew Shaw said by phone that he was exhilarated at having completed "the best rapid I've ever run in my life."

Marshall and his crew started their journey to the Kanawha River 200 years ago in Lynchburg, Va., and got as far as Kanawha Falls in Glen Ferris, in what is now West Virginia.

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