I scanned these notes after Chris Bell asked me if I had anything I wanted to add to his Green, Narrows Asheville Area Boating Beta Page.
Ten years after the writing, I still get excited remembering some of the smooth moves that inspired these lines.
The title and the tone focus heavily on the boof, a technique which was well-known to many creekers in '91, but which was not widely practiced or taught among paddlers unfamiliar with the pivot turn.
I suffered pains of guilt after working through the tragedy of Slim Ray's back injury and subsequent paralysis. One way that I managed to come to terms with the pain so many of us felt was to write a guide to the Green River with complete photographic documentation.
I could not rely upon the then-standard use of illustration, because John Barbour would not contact William Nealy for me, saying he didn't want him to get hurt.
Because Slim's accident was the result of a piton, I felt very strongly that everyone who runs steep creeks must understand and master the boof. This is the reason for the emphasis on boofing.
After I handed Slim my first draft, which I hope did not offend him, I grew to appreciate the impact cushioning provided by landings that were not boofs. My notes remained a first draft as I explored the full range of landings and discovered the appropriateness of each.
I use the handle Spineless Invertigrate on whitewater forums as an indication of the damage that boofing can cause to the spine. Every compression you take, even the little ones, is recorded in the wear on your spinal cartilage and bone. Boof judiciously if you hope to live a healthy and mobile lifestyle beyond your twenties.
The notes did see daylight years later, when Philip Curry requested material related to the Green for one of the early Lotus Designs catalogs. Photos from that day of PFD modeling are now posted with these notes.
So here they are, the unfinished piece, Boofin The Green. Actually, it's finished. Whew, that was tough! I am amused by the confused tradition of rapid names on the Green. I hope it helps every paddler new to the river to connect on a deeper level, and find their own meanings in the waters.
Having rowed the Green River in Utah, I favor a system of naming the rapids numerically, and letting friends decide on their own names for favorite places.
Reject the conquistador presumption that we must dominate and label wilderness, especially in claiming first descents. It is all bombast and hype, used for the perpetuation of false supremacy, and generally leads to egomaniacal, senseless destruction, and serves to glorify the past, hindering us from understanding history and appreciating the present.
Stop reading this old pile of reconstituted once-was, go outside, and wade in the water!
-- Tom Visnius, 2001
* I wrote the "Air, Land, Water, Tree" poem onto paper early on, basically a day or two
after concocting it in the eddy. Over time, in practice, I preferred the rhythm of saying
"guide my boating" instead of "guide my precision." I realize that the mantra has been
out in the wild for a long time, but the lack of correction was just my laziness over
changing a scanned document that got filed away. TV20130930
I am not sure about the location for these two pictures. I think they may be at the Sneeze, sneak of Squeeze.
Tight run through the middle slot of upper Nutcracker. I love this shot of the Rio T.
Refer to this map for river details. Thanks to jp_heinous for the link on BoaterTalk
The Tale of The Taming of the Flume
In the everlasting game of telephone, my early, quick version of my first run over the Gnarrs has mutated the run into a lucky goof. While I may be exactly that, in the interest of honoring the skills of John Kennedy, I posted a clarification to BoaterTalk. Here it is, for the record. Note that the two paddlers who I admire in the piece both spent considerable portions of their youth engaged in canoe slalom, so this is also respect for those with precise boat control and the dedication required to achieve it:
I don't like to claim first descents, because the whole idea of it can lead to people mindlessly scraping down hillsides, or some other mindless damage, in hot pursuit of the absurd goal of being first. There are always earlier tribes to consider, some of whom may have swum a river, for some reason, you never know. A soggy sloth taught me that in Costa Rica. Then you have the trout and the moss who have been there for a long, long time, and who really cares about our brief journeys into their realm, considering someone else could come along and claim first descent in a body armor suit at night, or whatever is the latest form of real descent.
In regards to the days that Kennedy and I ran the Green, we did paddle everything, on purpose, except for a rock jam above Groove Tube, which we walked our boats through. As you know now, it really wasn't that big of a deal. At Gorilla (Zoom Flume), we saw a rapid similar to one on the West Fork of the Pigeon, so it wasn't as much of an issue as Go Left (Orange Juice Squeezer), or Zwick's, which had a couple of big logs jammed at the bottom. They were all pretty comparable, in level of excitement. John and I were going to run into the right eddy at the notch, peel out, run way right onto the right shelf, and boof the drop. I was not too concerned about hitting rocks in the normal line, given what we had run on the WF Pigeon, so I didn't emotionally commit to John's line. He ran first, and eddied out. When I ran the notch, I shouted to him that I was going down, and had a nice run. John smiled as I went by. John nailed his boof, as he seemingly always does. John was leading the descent, and mentoring, so I deferred to him as an apprentice. He named it Zoom Flume, we hooted and paddled down.
I gave a similar version of this story in a phone interview a few years ago, and I don't even remember the author or book now. I realize that my earlier quick tellings of the tale made it sound like we goofed up and blazed it blue angel. My intent in the early tellings was to defer to John as the leader of the descent, a man with whom I felt more confidence and ease paddling with than any other. I felt similar confidence and ease paddling with a woman in Becky Weis.
Happy descents, and be smart out there!
Classic Super 8 footage, recently transferred to vimeo! It's 1989 by my calculation.
Additional Resources (7/11/2012):
After checking stats on this page recently, I ran an ego search and found a few documents related to the Tale of the Taming of the Flume.
Chris Bell developed The Asheville Area Boating Beta Page in the late 90s. I scanned and posted Boofin the Green as a result of his request for my input on the Green.
Hairball Heaven, North Carolina's Narrows of the Green, By Tyler Williams, December 24, 2004, excerpt from the book Whitewater Classics, Fifty North American Rivers Picked by the Continent's Leading Paddlers
Whitewater's Greatest First Descents and How They Changed Paddling Forever, Rapid the Whitewater Magazine, Spring 2007
Going Vertical: The Life of an Extreme Kayaker, by Tao Berman, Pam Withers, Menasha Ridge Press, Jun 28, 2008
1973 run by Weatherby, Begun, and Caldwell:
A History of Whitewater Paddling in Western North Carolina: Water Wise, Will Leverette, June 27,2008
Slim Ray in the litter. He was carried from below Sunshine, up to the pool above Nutcracker, then ferried to the flat shelf at Groove Tube, where the Mama team landed the rescue helicopter. I had run out with John Woolard and his friend, to a car, and was dropped off at the Shell gas station off of I-26. I called 911 and waited for local rescue to pick me up, while John fetched a team from Camp Mondamin, who were ready for a night of extraction up the trail. In this picture, I am in front, on the middle Jeti. John Woolard is near Slim's head, and Gordon Grant is near Slim's feet, behind the litter. I think Bunny Johns is barely visible next to Gordo and Cat Potts is at the left side of the raft, in the cap. The picture is from Swiftwater Rescue, by Slim Ray (album).