Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Lower Green

Green River
Fishtop to Big Rock
North Carolina
July 24, 2012

Level = I don’t know what but the outfitter said it was a little higher than usual for July.

The Green River in North Carolina lies to the East of the Eastern Continental Divide, thus its waters eventually flow to the Atlantic Coast of North America. The Green is renowned for whitewater due to the steep section known as the Narrows that is one of very few runnable dam-release steep creeks in the world. Below the narrows is a section floated in the summer by tubers and lazy, lollygagging class II paddlers looking for low stress wet recreation on their vacation. After nearly killing myself mountain biking in the high heat and humidity of late July the previous day, I decided to float the river to cool off.

I tried to arrange a trip on the internet but as usual any post looking for a trip on class II always results in a series of self-serving replies that range from “you don’t want to run that if you're any good” to “run this other much more difficult and dangerous thing instead because that’s where I want to go.” See my previous post regarding unhelpful help for further elaboration on this phenomenon.  The only truly helpful reply I received was that there are tubing outfitters on the Lower Green that are willing to set shuttle for a price. Since it was only class II, I decided to take the chance on running it solo and stopped at the first decent looking outfitter, Adventure Cove Tubing. They were low-key and completely cool and set me up with my vehicle at the lowest takeout for $10 and dropped me and my gear off at the Fishtop access point for a full run of the Lower Green.
Fishtop is a great name for a river access point.
The view upstream from the Fishtop Public Access. I'm not sure which is the outlet of the Green River Narrows, or could it be both? Is one of those a tributary?

After the put-in there are a couple of nice I+ to II- drops that start things off well. I was pleased that the gradient on the drops was already more than I expected. After paddling my way around a bevy of tubers, I finally got past most of the houses and riverside cabins and the run started to remind me quite a bit of the Toccoa River in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia. There are numerous I+ to II- wavetrain rapids and a few solid class II rapids. I was informed that the level was slightly higher than usual for this time of year due to recent rain so perhaps I was enjoying a slight “upgrade” of my experience.
An early rapid below Fishtop. Not pictured: 4 million tubers.

There are some really big sycamore trees on the run, well in excess of 100 feet I’m sure, and there is a nice little section where some of these giants are bamboozled by bamboo thickets. It’s a nice place to float if you aren’t too big on adrenaline.

Huge sycamore trees tower over the river for a mile or two roughly in the middle of the run. This was a particularly pretty section with bamboo undergrowth on river left (at the right of the photo, this is looking upstream).

After running about a hundred or so class I+ wave trains I was starting to get pessimistic about surfing potential when I came upon this beauty. You could stay on there all day.

The eternal surfing wave. It's only a foot and a half or so tall but it's just right for a freestyle boat that is about 6 feet long.

There are a handful of rapids that are slightly more technical and feature minor boulder gardens and slot moves, although still nothing beyond class II. Below is a photo of the most difficult rapid I encountered and it would have been much easier if I had chosen to take the right channel instead of the left channel. It was maybe II+ but even that is probably stretching the rating system a little too far.

The most difficult rapid of the day. I ran down the left channel but as you can see it would have been easier if I had taken the right channel (on the left of the photo as we face upstream). I'd rather take the difficult channel though.

A lengthy class II very reminiscent of the Toccoa River in Georgia. There was a little play in this rapid.

Aside from the glassy surfing wave I got a couple of flat spins in some tiny hole but basically kept moving downstream as it was clouding up and the outfitter had told me a tale of a vivid lightning storm the previous day. I knocked out the run in a little over 2 hours, which is pretty fast for me to paddle 5 to 6 miles in a freestyle playboat, but things go much faster when you don’t have friends around to talk your ear off and hog up the surfing wave. It’s a nice float, but it’s about a 4 hour drive from my house so I won’t be going there very often. The run is very comparable to the Toccoa but has a slightly less remote feel due to the vast number of tubers on it. I’d still give it a thumbs up and add the comment that it looks like an awesome tubing river.


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