I moved in with Mary and Billy on Nov. 1st into Wilson’s Cabin off a dirt road in the exceptionally beautiful mountains of Fairview, NC. Mary and Billy are both Kayakers and Upon finding out I was a photographer Mary immediately invited me to join them at 15th Annual Green River Race to take pictures. All I knew were the basics, I’m going to hike down to a river with strangers, watch more strangers kayak, watch my first ever kayak race, take pictures and then party with said strangers. Sounds interesting yes but I had no idea it would be life changing.
The first obstacle was exhaustion. I had gone out to see The Enemy Lovers the night before at Stella Blue got home late, stayed up til about 6am trying to figure out what it was I wanted to do with my life. You know, one of those existential crisisy sorta nights. Mary and Billy had friends staying over in town for the race and the whole cabin woke up with excitement around 6:30am. I was up by 7am and it’s fuzzy but I think out the door around 8:30am. I bundled up to go hike down to a river in freezing temperatures. Mary was paddling so her and Billy left the house separately and I was assigned to follow and hike in with their friend Janna.
The second obstacle will call ‘oh shit’. Mary and Billy are sorta super outdoor people and there was no emphasis put on the ‘hike’ into the river. This hike was about an hour and was pretty much straight down. Janna is also an outdoor wonder woman which put me somewhat at ease thinking well if I fall she’ll rescue me so that’s cool. Most of the thought process though was I’m tired ... what the hell am I doing … and please don’t let me fall on my ass in front of all these people. Please, pretty please I don’t want to eat shit this early in the morning. There was a solid line of people hiking through these woods and at times the trail was at a stand still because it’s so precarious. I saw plenty of people eat shit, I did not When you finally make it down to the river and think there’s a sigh of relief you then realize that you have to leap over sections while saying small prayers not to fall into the water. So, I kinda felt like a super trooper just making down there. Kudos to the other 1000 that made it down there too, you ROCK!
Once you get down to the river it’s absolutely GORGEOUS and worth every step. Janna gave me the lowdown on the race, the rapids and most importantly on how to be careful and not fall in the river. There were so many people down there that it was hard to get a good view and a clear shot of the big rapids and after Janna’s pep talk I really wasn’t trying to get anywhere near the edge of the river. It was such an interesting and fun crowd just to be around. All these people who just absolutely love and are in awe of nature, felt like meeting my lost tribe. The people there freezing their asses off just to rescue the racers was impressive. I was grateful for the opportunity to be there and be a part of it all.
After a few hours down on the river there were a few realizations that painfully set in. One, I was dead tired and knew that straight down hike was going to be one hell of a straight up to get out. Second, at this point in my life my cold weather clothes were more fashionable then functional and I was freezing my ass off! I decided to bail and headed back to the trail but as I got closer there was sun down there. Sun on this beautiful section of river where the other 1000 people were not. Enough sun to keep me happily seated in a majestic place for a couple more hours just listening to the water and relishing in the fact that I was even there. A week prior I had never even heard of the Green River. The hike up was actually way more fun then down. It was warmer and although intense you’re less likely to fall on your ass going up.
The after party, oh the party was good … really good! If you ever have the option to go and maybe aren’t up for the whole race thing at least go to the after party! Kayakers are fun and know how to party! I got there right as the band was going off and the dj was coming on. Where was there? There was down a super windy road at a huge private house on a big piece of land. There was a band, bonfires, dj and super huge buffet of free food put on by Liquid Logic Kayaks. I met up with Mary and Billy who were exhausted and frozen from the day and were actually on their way out. They introduced me to a few more people including one very fun dancing girl named Alexis. I made my way with Alexis up to the deck were the dj was just going on and her and I and a couple of people started to dance.
A few dancing girls with a mainly male crowd and it didn’t take long … the entire deck then filled with people in less then 20 minutes. The DJ Jeremy Miller from Greenville spun a crazy mix of shit from breaks to LMFAO to alternative which at times set off mini mosh pits. Now, for those of you who know me from way back I use to dance a lot but along the road somewhere back in Vegas I pretty much stopped dancing in public. I don’t know what even happened a combination of the destruction of my life the previous month mixed with a bunch of strangers who I’d probably never see again, bonfires, starlight, good beats, recent inspiration from David Boyd of New Politics and I danced ALL NIGHT! Probably about 9 years since I danced that much in public, I don’t even know what word to use to describe how it felt or just how much fun I had. I suppose being re-born is a strong term but in that moment my life looked exactly like the life I’ve been dreaming about in my head my entire life.
The other change has been the dance catapulting in a strange turn of events. I put the pics I took of the race on facebook which lead to a frenzy of kayakers tagging themselves and friends. I took a picture of one kayaker (Chase) who just so happens to spin drum n bass in Asheville. I LOVE Drum n Bass, LOVE dancing to Drum n Bass and had no idea it existed in Asheville. So, a couple of weeks ago I went to my first Drum n Bass party where Chase was spinning and danced all night. This lead to meeting a super amazing group of new music and dance loving friends. The type of people I haven’t known since 9 years ago in Vegas except these people live in Asheville so they are exponentially awesome. A few nights ago I went to my second DnB party and danced all night again. This time though all the nervous energy was out. This time I didn’t even care when I was the only one dancing with a room full of people staring. This time I did exactly what I’ve been wanting to do for years. There is no way I would have thought hiking down into a river would have lead me back to dancing at sick drum n bass parties. Go life!