Here it was a Saturday morning in August–typically the driest month of the season, especially in a year in which we are in a drought and we still had the option of five different rivers to paddle (the advantage of being surrounded by dam-controlled rivers). So thinking through the options: Tuckasegee, Nantahala, Pigeon, Ocoee (Upper or Middle no less!) or Green, we decided on the Upper Green since the gang we were paddling with had not paddled the river.
We arrived at the put-in for the Upper Green to find it full of paddlers. Wow, everyone had the same idea as we did. So imagine our surprise/pleasure/luck to end up paddling the river with no one in front of us, no one behind us, as if it was our private run for the day. This being a Saturday in August.
What a treat. Part of what made the day special was the chance to share the river with a family (dad, daughter 16 years old and daughter 12 years old) and two of my fellow guides. And also the chance it gave me to reflect on my first time down the Green.
It was 1989. And I was down from Washington, DC, boating with Eric Neis. I had never heard of the Green River, but then again in 1989, few people had. I don’t really remember my run down the river (must be a sign that I did not make too much of a spectacle of myself that day); I do remember the “delightful” walk out (Eric had his own leash that he used to drag his boat, I was not so prepared).
Probably my best recollection of the day was when a group of three boaters passed us on the river and I asked Eric “where they were going and in a hushed tone, he said they were headed down to do the Narrows. What Narrows? I asked the guy who had a rapid in the Narrows named after him!
Not being from the area, I was not so in tune with who the local greats were at the time, and it turns out the group consisted of Bob McDonough, Risa Calloway, and Tom Visnius; three of the original Green boaters. What is remarkable looking back on it relative to Saturday’s crowd is that at the time, those three could still list where they were in the line up of who had run the Narrows and in what order/number.
Times have changed and now there are days on the river where it is not where you are in the line up of having run the river, but where you are in the line up of boaters waiting to peel out of the Notch. Regardless, it is a great river, located in a great area of the country where a drought has no effect on whether you have paddling opportunities, and we personally had a remarkable day on the river shared by no other paddlers other than ourselves.