The Green River Narrows is one of the most iconic steep creeks in the Southeast. Most paddlers see it as a right of passage and daydream at least once about running it. After three years of kayaking and just a summer of open boating, I finally saw the creek at the November 2012 Green Race. I watched as kayaker after kayaker cut between the narrow channel of the Notch and sailed off the launchpad of Gorilla Rapid into the whitewater chaos 16′ below. From that day I started to dream.
Not all of the 160+ paddlers ran clean lines. Gorilla and many of the other rapids on the Green served some handy beatdowns, a broken leg, and plenty of broken gear. I was both inspired that day to run the Green and also learned to respect it and make sure I was ready, and not ready to just kayak it. I wanted to canoe it.
Not sure why I wanted to canoe the Green. I’d only just started five months before, and had been kayaking three years already. Friends had been inviting me to kayak it for a few months. Maybe it was ego or an excuse for a little extra time. Either way I had decided on canoeing it, and the next year and a half were all about getting on harder runs.
Fast forward through many river runs, states, and beatdowns to June 29. Below is my overall summary of my personal first descent of the Green River Narrows:
The Good: Rhododendrons, moss, hemlocks, and local deciduous trees drape the steep granitic gneiss (thanks for the geology factoid Furtrapper!) gorge into a beautiful green forest in North Carolina, transforming it into a fiery red and gold in the fall. The Green’s got slides, boofs, and slots. It’s pool drop and still a fun run at 7″, though looking forward to running it at 9″. The locals have regularly paddled it past 25″.
The Not-So-Good: It may be beautiful. It may also have an easy shuttle and access. It’s definitely also fun. The Green can still easily and quickly put the hurt on the foolhardy. I swam Rapid Transit after starting upside at the top of the rapid trying to get past the tree. We all in my crew had a great run, walked a few rapids, and still came away with some Green River marks. It can get a lot worse real fast on this run.
The Surprise: The Green is one of the most fun runs I’ve ever been on. Having the amount of fame the Green does can take away the fact that it is really just the same as any river, full of challenges, dangers, and great sense of reward for a boof well hit. People from all over the country move to Asheville, N.C. for a reason.
The Boat Though a discontinued playboat, the Blackfly Ion makes for a great time down the Southeastern creeks. It spins on a dime, making it very responsive for those quick moves carving into eddies or ferrying across waves. The Ion also BOOFS EVERYTHING. Rocks, waves, holes, you name it. Good for creeks and fun for everything. With a wide hull and short profile, the Ion is probably the slowest boat in Blackfly’s fleet, but it’s for playboating. That I as well as other open boaters can successfully run the Green (and some I’d dare say style it) in the Ion is a testament to how awesome this boat is (hint to Jeremy).
Respect it, prepare for it, and have the time of your life when you run the Green. I did, and the best part for me is I’m going to have new rapids every time I run the creek for the next while as I step up my game. Yee haw, y’all!