birchbark oldie     Green River

How nice it would be if I told you I had found a river of tranquility, solitude and harmony on the Green River in New Brunswick ... a river of soaring vistas, sporty yet not death-defying rapids, with lush, quiet meadows to pitch a tent in.

My buddy Pete MacLean, Green River
My buddy Pete MacLean, Green River

Not this time, unfortunately. If you are looking for any of the above, Green River, near Edmundston, is not the river for you.

Hey, it has its nice points. The gentleman outfitter who let us stay in his cottage, and drove us to the top of the river the next morning, was kind, helpful, and an extremely pleasant individual. His father, too, they both went out of their way to please us. I am extremely grateful to them for their gentility toward us two strangers.

Green River
Me, Green River

The river itself is dam controlled. When we woke up and walked to the river's edge in the morning, we could have walked across and not gotten our ankles wet. But M'sieu Clavette re-assured me that the city of Edmundston would be opening the turbines by ten o'clock, and there would be lots of water.

That's another plus for the Green, there is water to run every day until mid-August most years, and later yet in wet summers. The river is greatly appreciated by the locals.

Green River
This image shows William Francis Ganong portaging a fall on the Green River many years ago. This rapid is now under a headpond.

M'sieu Clavette dropped us off at the Winding Eddy around ten-thirty the next morning. The water was a tad low, but deep enough to slide over the sandbars. Almost immediately after we pushed off, a huge truck pulled in and dropped off three more canoes, and then another truck disgorged several more. It was apparent we would not be alone on this weekend run.

For most of the morning, we played leapfrog with at least seven other boats, including motorboats full of fisherfolk. The sound of a two-stroke motor and the fumes of poorly-combusted gas accompanied us for the first hour. Finally, we pulled over and gave everyone a half-hour headstart, then we enjoyed a greater measure of peace and quiet.

The Green River is small, and runs with a steady, slow current from trout pool to trout pool. There are no rapids. Well, there are a few small rocks to wind around, but this is a river you could run sitting backwards. We did see trout in the depths of some of the pools, and on two occasions, bald eagles flew across the river before us.

Our outfitter had told us to look out for a CAUTION sign on a tree on the left bank, and to push up a side stream just past the sign. This was the Little Forks Branch of the Green River. There was a level pebbly shore by a beaver pond, where we set up our tent.

Green River campsite
Our campsite was peaceful and picturesque. Unfortunately, it was on a major all-terrain vehicle trail, as we found out around midnight.

Unfortunately, the skies burst as we were setting up, and before we got our fly up, the inside of the tent was fairly soggy and full of mosquitoes. The rain didn't let up that evening. After a half-hour of searching and squishing, we were skeeter-free at last. Fortunately, we had chairs, so we were able to sit in our tent in relative comfort and read our books by the light of an overhead lamp tied to the ceiling of the tent.

I found out what the CAUTION sign referred to later on, after we gave up on cooking a meal and enjoying a campfire, and retreated to our beds. A tremendous roar startled us from our sleeping bags, as a horde of four-wheeler all-terrain vehicles roared into our campsite.

I don't know why they had to stop and gun their motors for several minutes, whoop and holler, and spray our tent with the sand and gravel from their wheels as they spun off again into the night. Part of me wanted to burst from the tent and confront them with balled fists, but I wasn't sure if I could overcome a crowd bare-handed. Maybe it would have been worth it.

A quick check of their tire tracks in the morning showed they had spared nearly no room between their tires and our sleeping quarters. What is it about these noisy, dangerous tractors that turns people into such oafs? What is the fun in crashing through the woods at breakneck speed, trampling the earth and scaring whatever wildlife yet remains?

We reached the still waters of the headpond of the Second Falls - Deuxième Sault - dam early the next morning. There were two more campsites in this area, one at the beginning of the still water, and another on the far shore just before the lake turned toward the dam. Luckily we had not relied on them, for they were occupied. The headpond itself took about an hour to paddle down, and the shores and waters were littered with fallen trees and decaying vegetation. Ideally, dam builders cut the trees in areas to be impounded, but this was not the case here.

The settled section of the Green began here at the dam, and there were houses, farmer's fields, and roads all along the river to the mouth from here on in. The carry by the dam is easy, just slide your loaded boat over the clover beside the fence to the base of the dam itself.

The current below the dam is a bit stronger, but the depth is not great, just enough so you can maneuver around the rocks and sand bars without too much scraping. As we passed the first stretch of road below the dam, there were flotillas of canoes being loaded for launch, and crowds of people awaiting departure.

Hey, you think I'm a snob, but this was too much. We had to thread our way between packs of boats all the rest of the way down to the outfitter's base camp. They were tied together in rafts of four and five, streaming by in a constant parade, numbering in the 100s. And everyone asked us where we were from. I understand we stuck out like a sore thumb, the only Anglos in a sea of Francos, and the only boaters on the river wearing PFDs, but after a while we just said we were from a different town each time. Fort Kent, Presque Isle, Grand Falls, Vancouver, anything to stop the unrelenting interrogation.

Every sandy inside turn was lined with boats, and barbecues teetered beside coolers and easy chairs. We had to thread our way past swimmers and fisherfolk in the deep pool at every bend.

Yes, there was one rapid on this section, a short class I on a turn that stood out just because it was the only fast section on the stretch.

There is a covered bridge spanning the stream about a mile above the takeout. It is best viewed from the road as you drive up to the put-in, it's not really visible from the stream until you come right up to it.

We reached the outfitter's base camp around 4:00 that afternoon. After we asked him about the Troisième Sault (Third Falls), he offered to drive our car to the base of the drop so we could run it. It's a series of three Class I ledges that might rate Class II in spring freshet. After slipping through with no trouble, we thanked our gracious and friendly M'sieu Clavette, and headed back down the highway to home.

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