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Green Narrows (NC)

Friday Mar 25, 2005
C1: Will Lyons, Alden Bird
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Gauge (ft): 100%
Gauge (cfs): 250
Author: Alden Bird

(I hope that whomever edits the Bow and Stern can leave this out -- I feel a little bad even putting it here, but I wanted to record it, and it feels so good to write it up somewhere "official.")

"Nature's first green is gold

Her hardest hue to hold"

- Robert Frost

It was the first hot day of the year. Along the highway the trees were spotted with gold. The hills were becoming green again. North Carolina was everywhere in bloom. With a feeling of excitement that bordered on dizziness, I drove slowly and wonderously through Asheville, a wonderfully new place for me. I felt like Marcel Proust upon reaching Combray. It seemed to me an enchanted city. 40 minutes later, I wound my way down the 36 switchbacks of the take out road as into paradise and walked down the sandy beach to the river at the take out. The water was sparkling green and people were swimming and sunning themselves on the beach.

"The first trip out of the box for the new paddle season is always the toughest. Do I have all my stuff....?"

- Fritz Senftleber

What a way to start off the season! The first creek of 2005 and all I need are shorts and a drytop. As we descended the half mile put in trail through the hot air, I sweated though I had not yet put on a shirt of any kind.

"It was such a lovely sun-drenched day and the water was sparklingly clear and I was in the company of low-key friends...what more could you ask for?"

- Tony Shaw

I had never descended a creek with another c-1er before. But this time I had one of the South's most prolific with me -- one who paddles on the same side (right) as I, and who even has the very same boat that I do! Not to mention his many runs of the Green. Talk about a perfect guide.

The Green is the most fun river I have ever done. I have never run a river that was so clean and had so many good boofs. I have never so wanted to interupt the passage of my life and continue returning to the put in of a river indefinitely. All of the rapids were incredibly clean and distinct and wonderful as real people. The constant image that I saw in the drops was Will's blue C-1 leaping off some boof into the air, bow high above the stern in a wheelie.

The Green was the perfect level of challenge. After all, this was the first creek of the year for me. We both portaged the two hardest rapids, Gorilla and Sunshine, which are both as difficult as Tunnel Vision in Vermont. Will had run Gorilla many times, but chose to walk today. It was by far the most impressive waterfall I have ever seen. I'll be back.

"He was like a man who stands upon a hill above the town he has left, yet does not say 'The town is near,' but turns his eyes upon the distant soaring ranges."

- (Asheville native) Thomas Wolfe

The Green's final waterfall is a scary, ominous constriction - reminding one of Rebirth on the Middlebury Gorge. This waterfall on the Green, dubbed "Hammer Factor," was a fitting last test -- not only of one's balance in a canoe, but also of one's mind. If one can feel the same sense of joy (blind to the fact that he has portaged, and blind to the "distant soaring ranges") that he imagined would be in his heart, when, the year before, he stumbled upstream on the trail in daze of pleasure and first beheld this secret waterfall, then he has done as well as a spring day.

At the end, I paddled the final "bonus rapid" (a rocky, emerald class II rapid) and down to the main beach, instead of using the normal kayaker take out just upstream. I did this because I had so long imagined myself one day descending this rapid and climbing out on the sand like Odysseus. Life occasionally works out exactly as one expected. The Green is magic.

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