I was in the middle of shipping an order for CKS when Lisa (my wife and fellow co-worker) handed me the phone, “it’s Woody,” she said with a mischievous smile. I grabbed the phone and instantly heard Woody’s booming southern voice, “Dave! Book the flight. I’ll pick you guys up in Greenville, you can use my Jeep for the week, and I got all the kayaks you need.” After a slight pause, I replied, “O.K., Sounds good to me!”
When the snowmelt Rivers and Creeks of Colorado has subdued, it leaves a “mid-west” kayaking addict little option but to book a flight to the 'good old' South East. Even in the midst of one of the worst droughts in decades, the South East still offers the opportunity for a hungry kayaker to get one last bite before the winter consumes.
After a full day of traveling we were relieved as we finally drove down the hair pin switchbacks on our way to the take-out of the Green River, in North Carolina (also the location of Woody’s new house). We had no problems falling asleep that night on Woody’s giant deck. We both woke up early the next morning, ready and excited for Lisa’s virgin trip down the Green River Narrows.
Woody was one of the first kayaker's to run the Green River narrows in the 1980’s, and Lisa was lucky to have him as her personal river guide that day. We met up with Bryan Owen (previous CKS employee and current customer service Guru at Atral Buoyancy) at the put-in.
Before we launched, Woody made sure Bryan and I would NOT be visible to Lisa (the virgin) on the river. “We don’t even want to know you guys are on the river today,” he said sternly. If you have ever paddled challenging runs with your "significant other," you understand the increased stress that can result from running class V. Needless to say, I was relieved to have Woody escorting Lisa down the Green for her inaugural run.
It was awesome to paddle with Bryan again, and it was great to be back on the Green River; it is truly one of the the most quality class V runs in the U.S. I was so impressed with the new Liquidlogic Jefe Grande; it was maneuverable and on-line all day. Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures that day (sometimes it’s better to remember your experiences without them).
We were relieved and psyched when we saw Lisa come around the corner as she styled Hammerfactor in her Jefe Chico! She had such a good time on the run, and she said Woody was the best guide she could ask for; he had her catching every eddy in sight.
The next day we ran the Green again, and then it was off to West Virginia to paddle the Gauley River. After breakfast at the World Famous Biscuit world we were off to the Upper Gauley for a first time low water run (900cfs).
Lisa and I have never paddled the Upper Gauley at any flow below 2500 cfs, so it was interesting to see all the boulders (and undercuts) that create the rapids we love so much. I would rate the Upper Gauley class IV at 900 cfs, it is very similar to the Numbers of the Arkansas at typical summer flow. Woody got us hooked up with the new Remix's, and they were a lot of fun to paddle (fast, stable, and easy to turn). Iron Ring (pictured above) was the most challenging rapid of the Upper Gauley (at low flow) due to the powerful hole at the entrance and some sive consequences below. After paddling in Colorado all summer it was amazing to feel the warm “bath-like” water of the South East.
Now we're back in Colorado and looking forward to the ski season. It was great to get a little extra paddling in before the snow flies. It was awesome to see old friends, and it was great to try the new Liquidlogic Line! Thanks Woody.