Archives for September 2013

Green Feather Light

In my opinion the Green River Gorge is one of the prettiest places in the entire Southeastern United States.  Unfortunately, only a relatively small number of people, who have the skills needed to paddle here, ever get to see the place. Sure you can hike in and scramble around the rocks, peer over the banks at one rapid after the next, but it just doesn’t compare to seeing the power and beauty of the riverbed from the seat of your kayak!

This past sunday was my first time tagging a long as part of a Green Feather Light Crew. I promised that I would keep my head on a swivel and my mouth shut.  It never hurts to have an extra hand for safety, but it can be debilitating if everyone is giving you directions on a river.

If you have run the Green River it is safe to assume you know the term Green Light, which is running the river excluding the three major rapids: Go Left, Gorilla, and Sunshine. The next step would be Green Ultra Light which excludes Frankenstein, the slides below Gorilla and maybe Hammer Factor and possibly one or two more rapids. The next run is what shall now forever be known as Green Feather Light.

Green Feather Light is so awesome. This section of the river runs over 300 days a year and is full of excellent class III-IV whitewater outside of the excellent class V that is present in the gorge as well.  All this is walkable. It is an amazing training ground and will certainly allow you to improve your paddling skills. Just think of all the boof strokes you take and how they vary in style and the hundreds of eddies to catch and ferries to make. It is practically a slalom training ground!

Who should do Green Feather Light? A paddler who is not just competent at paddling class III-IV, but excels at it and is ready mentally, physically and skill wise to step up their kayaking.  Green Feather Light is awesome because it allows a very skilled paddler but one who may not yet be comfortable with very steep and large rapids to experience the awesome Green River Gorge.

What is the right crew size?  It is very important to have not only the right crew skills but also the right crew size. Crew size should ideally be no more than 6 and no less than 3 that way safety is covered but everyone can fit in most eddies together to plan the next move.  Communication is key. The crew should be made up of paddlers who know the riverbed well including all the eddies and trails around rapids.

Remember it is Green Feather Light so there will be a lot of walking involved, which takes time. You need to know the right places to get out before rapids to ensure that you are not caught in an eddy trying to figure how to get back upstream because you accidentally blew past the correct eddy. The crew should be prepared to take their time. This is not a race-training lap; be ready to spend a few hours in the gorge. Know that ahead of time and be stoked because it is an awesome place. Plan your day accordingly no one should feel rushed!

No one on the crew should pass judgment on whether someone else decides to walk or run. Besides when a rapid is walked it presents an opportunity for one of the crew members to walk back up and paddle the boat down the rapid which means more kayaking with out having to walk a boat back up which is a sweet deal in my mind, everyone wins!

Green Feather light takes out Frankenstein, everything from Boof or Consequence to below Rapid Transit, Groove Tube, Sunshine, Toilet bowl and Hammer factor. Many a Narrows paddler may be tempted to ask the question: What’s the point if you’re going to do so much walking? I would be lying if I said that it never crossed my mind, however after tagging along and helping to shuttle boats down the walked rapids and taking the time to slow down and have a really good look at the river bed and seeing the huge smiles and apparent stoke, I am inclined to wonder why I always try to move so swiftly through the gorge. It is an amazing place with killer scenery and all sorts of neat moves to make and loads of nuances that only become apparent as you slow the pace.

See you on the river.

-Sam Ovett

Green River Games Silverback Race

Sam and Max the evening after the Silverback Race


Yesterday Max Ovett and I had the awesome opportunity to enjoy some type II fun by competing in the Green River Games Silverback Race. The race consists of three separate components. 8 miles of paddling, a portion of which goes through the infamous Green River Narrows. 8 miles of mountain biking in the heart of the Green River Gamelands with an elevation change of 1600 feet throughout the course. 8 miles of running to finish off the race on the same trails as the mountain biking. Lessons learned from this years race: Buy long boats. Short boats are far to slow and do more training on the mountain bike. Also big thanks to Wave Sport for the support. Next year if you are up to the task come out and try your hand at the Silverback Race it is a great race against yourself and the clock.
-Sam Ovett