The Great Falls of the Potomac. This is my homegrounds, my playground, the place I can always go to get away from anything or anybody if I want to.

It is not like 1984 when I first ran it with my cousin Kirk, who is now in a wheelchair due to a biking accident and Rich Weiss who died in 1997 on the White Salmon. In those days only a few ran the falls, and rarely explored any lines other than the standard ones at low water. Since then the lines have expanded across most water levels, and the number of people who have run the falls has increased dramatically. Still, however, when you go to put-in and look around, you are alone in your little group of two or three and you rarely see another soul. This is what I like about that spot. I can just get in and enjoy one of the most quality rapids I know with no distractions from anywhere. This particular run was unlike any before. Joining me was Dane for his first taste of the falls. Also, Bill McNight (remember him? Now World C-1 Champion!), and Jason Beakes. I put Jason on the task of extra safety for Dane. I wanted to assure that Dane didn’t get lost and accidentally run the wrong slots, which mean you will the beat down of your life if you are prepared for them. I didn’t let Dane run “Grace Under Pressure” a line I named a long time ago, but decided to start him off at the Fingers where he was certainly qualified and safe. Dane got in his boat and waited while we ran Grace. I lead him down the second slot over the two boofs into the launching eddy.

There are four lines to run from there. Two are good to go, two are not. I made Dane point to the slot he would run about five times to make sure he would not get confused, and then ran it myself to give him a visual. Dane was to go next with Jason pointing the way as well. He lined it up like it was class 2 and had the best line of the day. He melted down deep and came up upside down. He rolled it up and gave out a yell of excitement. You should have seen how excited he was. This was his first true waterfall and a place that he has known since he was able to walk and talk. Great Falls will have a lasting place in his heart and this day will be remembered forever by both of us.

We played our way down to the Fish Ladder and walked up from Sandy Beach back to the car. The put-in for the Fish Ladder comes before the car, so I asked Dane if he wanted to check out some more fun whitewater. He was into it, so I introduced him to the Fish Ladder. We only ran the first slide as a teaser, but did it twice. I wanted to see how he handled the holes. I will take him down the whole thing the next time we are there. He could ferry in the super fast boily water, as well as keep under control in the holes.

We drove to North Carolina the next day to bring the RV back to Wavesport and give my two weeks notice. From there we went straight back home and hit the Brave Wave and hole at Rock Island. Oh Yea!!!

Great Falls and Great Dane


Dane and Jason above falls


Dane getting psyched


Lining up the drop