The opportunity to run the incredible Green River Gorge at 3200 c.f.s. on a weekend is a rare opportunity. To get to do it with hundreds of other rafters who are there to cleanup the Green River Gorge is probably a once in a life time event. That was the case this last Saturday at the 32nd Annual Green River Cleanup.
My goal on this trip down the river was to photo and video document whitewater boaters on the river during the event. Hence my position as videographer and princess sitting at the back of the boat as my husband guided myself and two friends from Earthcorps down the river.
For me the Green River Gorge has been my conservation focus for twenty years. I've hiked, swam, kayaked, and rafted the river using my camera to document this incredible landscape. I've explored all over the northwest and beyond and I know that the Green River Gorge is an unique and incredible place. The 150-300ft water carved sandstone walls define the gorge. A myriad of springs emerge along the rim and cascade into the river. Otters swim along it's currents. Osprey, eagles, dippers, and mergansers find a home in the currents of water and air space. You would never know that this wild gorge lies just miles from nearly 4 million people.
The purpose of my photo documentary is share the Green River Gorge with others, so together, we can advocate for better protection for the Green River Gorge Greenway and the water that flows into and through the Green River Gorge!
This lazy river in August becomes a furious pulsating beast during winter high flows. In between the river is constantly changing. The level of the river, landslides, fallen trees, beavers, and other elements are constantly in play changing the river's course and dynamics. On Saturday the Green was a different river with new mysteries to discover.
Both my husband and I had never boated the Green River Gorge at this high of a flow. A river is never the same river and that was abundantly clear on Saturday. We arrived at the boat launch and had to navigate around submerged standing trees and bushes to get to the main channel.
Immediately we found the river gave us a different challenge. Instead of dodging rocks at the usual lower flows allocated for the Green River Cleanup weekend we found bigger wave trains and new whitewater that doesn't exist at lower flows. The boulder threading was replaced by forward paddles into bigger holes and down longer runs of whitewater. All absolutely amazing for boating veterans like ourselves. Our new boaters, Su and Alejandra, had grins from ear to ear for most of the day. The Green River Gorge never fails to impress those who venture into it's hidden depths.
The gorge was filled with water and the usual beaches were underwater. The new spring green framed the shorelines between the fir trees and moss covered boulders. Sandstone cliffs tightly held the water in the narrow channel, and we saw fresh slides and new springs cascading over walls of stone and into the river. Breathtaking to look at in between runs of whitewater.
Our connection to the river and the community of people who come every year to pick up trash and give a little bit back to a river energizes our lives and is the reason why we keep coming back year after year.
Thanks to Washington Recreational River Runners for organizing another great Green River Cleanup. For more information about this annual event visit: http://www.greenrivercleanup.org/