Interviews and Photos by John Webster
- Years kayaking: 16
- Years kayaking in Banks: 16
- Favorite section and flow: Definitely Lower 5's and as high as it gets. I think the highest I've paddled it was at 9,500 CFS or whatever.
- Favorite feature: The Crunch boof is super sick.
- Favorite place to camp: Secret Spot.
What would you change about the river? I would move Juicer and Crunch and put them up in " The Desert" on the Upper 5.
What has Banks given you? It's given me a place to come hang out and meet with my friends. It has been like a second home to me.
What has kayaking brought you? It has brought me community. It's brought me good zen and good times.
What has kayaking taught you? It has taught me to not take life too seriously and that there are a lot more important things, like running Lower 5's.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? Hanging out with my friends and paddling the North Fork and finding good zen and good times.
What's an important lesson you've learned in Banks? Be patient, don't push yourself too fast, there's lot of time, especially around here. The river is running all summer long so you don't have to push yourself too fast. Take it easy and enjoy the ride, as it goes.
- Years kayaking: Coming up on 4 years.
- Years kayaking in Banks: Same amount of time.
- Favorite section and flow: The whole North Fork, anything above 1,800 CFS.
- Favorite feature: Tombstone (Screaming Left)… when it goes.
- Favorite place to camp: My house
What would you change about the river? The Cabarton would be a clean, steep creek with a 30 footer at Howard's Plunge, with a nice pool.
What has Banks taught you? How to functionally operate (a kayak) on a heavy amount of booze and sun.
What has kayaking brought you? Not much (laughs)… A lot of adrenaline.
What has kayaking taught you? Stay in your boat!
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? Well my last name is not Stoenner but I do got the same first name so maybe I'll end up like him. Shredding hard at 65.
- Years kayaking: Little over 2.
- Years kayaking in Banks: Two and some change.
- Favorite section and flow: I really enjoy The Canyon at the June flow,
- Favorite feature: Any feature where I get to the bottom and I am a little scared but also so stoked that I can't stop smiling. Usually the boofs… all the boofs!
- Favorite place to camp: I can't tell you, it's a secret…
What would you change about the river? Probably if the river just never dropped, if it would just be constant (flows) all year.
Why do you come to Banks? To surf on the water I got to ski on the year before.
What is a good lesson you've learned from Banks? That the après kayak beer maybe the best beer in the world.
What has kayaking brought you? Some debt (laughs), friends, and just all the memories.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? Still being on the river and still laughing my face off and giggling for no reason. Just going over anything with friends… just a laugh fest bonanza.
- Years kayaking: This is year 10.
- Years kayaking in Banks: This is year 5 of being full-time here.
- Favorite section and flow: North Fork, the more water, the better except for when it gets 'shit your pants' terrifying.
- Favorite feature: The Bladder Wave.
- Favorite place to camp: I'm not going to tell anybody that…
- What would you change about the river? I'd take the confluence put-in, on the South Fork, out of the picture.
Why do you come to Banks? It's the people, the water, the lifestyle, the greasy food, and an endless supply of beer
What is a good lesson you've learned from Banks? Don't take yourself too seriously out there
What’s a lesson have you have learned from Kayaking? Again, don't take yourself too seriously. But also trust your buddies, because you know they have your back.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? Being able to continue traveling, seeing unique and isolated places of the world. Enjoying paddling for what it is at the core: being on the water, the lifeblood of the world.
- Years kayaking: This will be my 8th year.
- Years kayaking in Banks: This is my 2nd season on the Payette.
- Favorite section and flow: The Warm Up at 1950 CFS, it's just the greatest thing ever.
- Favorite feature: I'm torn between two; the boof at the top of Juicer and I have to say Rodeo Hole is pretty fun too.
Why do you come to Banks? To get right with The Lord.
What is a good lesson you've learned from Banks? If you're really, really good about buying the bartenders at Banks a beer, you'll make a good return on that.
What has kayaking brought you? I guess I have a lot better ability having fun with things, even if it's just random stuff. Like the fun and goofy-ness in kayaking gives you that outlet with having fun with stupid things.
What has kayaking taught you? I think the most important thing kayaking has taught me is how to focus, especially when there's all sorts of shenanigans going on around you… especially kayaking around this area.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? I think I look forward to, as time goes on, getting more opportunities to go to different places. I'm super stoked to see, as I get older and keep on kayaking, the new people I meet and new places I go, what crazy little adventures that will open up. It keeps evolving, it's pretty cool.
What is one of your worst lines? Coming into Jaws, I was boating with Weaver Froelicher, he was hanging pretty loose and did that boof move at the top. And I thought that I was good for that. I went to boof, was too scared, missed a boof stroke, and just went nose first into that top Jaws hole and surfed it for a good 30-45 seconds. It was pretty bad (laughing). Penny for your thoughts? The feeling or the idea that I attach to Banks is just the fact that it's just this big mess of just all sorts of people passing through, rafters, kayakers, dirt-bags, professional folks. Everyone is there with the single thing in mind of having good summer fun. Whenever I think about going back to Idaho, I always think about going back to Banks.
- Years kayaking: I think 9 years.
- Years kayaking in Banks: 9 years. I moved to Salt Lake City, but I feel like I never left Banks because I would come here every weekend.
- Favorite section and flow: North Fork at 2,200 CFS… the whole 15 miles.
- Favorite feature: Slide boof at 1,800 CFS
- Favorite camp: Secret Spot
What would you change about the river? The 'Fuck You' rock in Steepness.
What has kayaking brought you? My girlfriend and happiness.
Why do you like Banks? Because it's the center of the universe.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? I want to be able to kayak the North Fork, but my goal is to paddle Staircase when I'm 65.
What have you learned from Banks? If you just wait long enough in Banks, you will meet your friends. You will never get lost here.
Anne "Smiley" Long
- Years kayaking: About 30 years.
- Years kayaking in Banks: 20 years.
- Favorite section and flow: Lower South Fork at 3,500 CFS.
- Favorite feature: Little Falls
- Favorite place to camp: The only place I ever camped was here (Cascade Raft and Kayak HQ).
What would you change about the river? I really can't think of anything to change. Everything is very close; the sections are very pure as far as the level. No class 3 sections with a big class 4 rapid or anything like that so I wouldn't change anything.
What has kayaking brought you? Kayaking has brought me into touch with a great community of people.
What has kayaking taught you? I remember teaching kayaking to people early when I was first here and they had this enthusiasm and excitement that I had forgotten. I sort of reconnected with that through teaching people. It's something that I had remembered from learning how to kayak, because I learned so young.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? I look forward to still being able to share kayaking with other people, whether it's through instruction, teaching, or my kids. Definitely getting to go kayak with the kids is a big focus of where my kayaking is right now, cause that's the only time I get to go kayaking. Seeing them learn and enjoying it is awesome.
When you started kayaking around Banks, who was a mentor of yours? Tom [Long] I guess. When I first got here, learning the runs, I paddled with Tom a lot.
Are you comfortable kayaking with your husband, Kenneth Long, on the North Fork? Ya, if he does silly things that leads me to the wrong spot he'll be sorry. He knows he'll be sorry.
- Years kayaking: 10
- Years kayaking in Banks: 6
- Favorite section and flow: Canyon at about 6000-7000 CFS.
- Favorite feature: The eddy line at Chief Parrish (Main Payette) with my squirt boat. It scares the shit out of me.
What would you do if you could change a river around Banks? I would change the Middle Fork of the Payette so it was more of an exciting run. There are a couple sections on there that have some goods, but I would like to see 20 miles of whitewater on the Middle.
What has kayaking brought to you? A super hot chick, abs of steel, and a really poor work ethic.
What's your favorite thing about Banks? The people. You can always roll up to Banks parking lot at any time of day and pick up somebody to go boating with, or throw your chair out and just sit there and drink beer.
What's a big lesson you've learned in Banks? Probably not to tie my cat, whose name is Banks, to the back of my truck while parked at Banks. Because when you drink beer, he jumps off and he's just swinging in the air when you're driving back home.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? I look forward to having my buddies help me in and out of my boat before I scare the shit out of myself on the Main.
- Years kayaking: 10 years
- Years kayaking in Banks: All ten of those.
- Favorite section and flow: It is hard to beat a high-water Lower 5 with some buds.
- Favorite feature: The Jaws flake boofs.
- Favorite place to camp: Easy, Otters Slide.
What would you change about the river? I would fill in lake Slalom (above Slalom rapid on the South Fork Payette) with some waterfalls.
Why do you like Banks? I like Banks because it kind of stands for freedom in my eyes. You got the freedom to do whatever the hell you want.
What has kayaking brought you? A lot of anger and disappointment followed by joy and excitement.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? Being old as fuck and kayaking still.
What's a big lesson you have learned in Banks? Don't shit where you eat.
- Years kayaking: 29 years
- Years kayaking in Banks: 21 years
- Favorite section and flow: North Fork at 2000 CFS.
- Favorite section to run with your whole family (wife and three kids): The Lower 5.
- Favorite feature: The warm water of the North Fork.
- Favorite place to camp: Secret Spot.
What has Banks taught you? It has taught me to enjoy my family on the river.
Why do you come to Banks? Because I know I get to go kayaking. That's why I love Banks so much is because I know I'm going to kayak.
What has kayaking taught you? Probably to be a dirtbag paddler (laughs).
Who would you consider to be your mentor learning to paddle on the Payette's? Rob Lesser.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? Staying on the North Fork, like Craig Stoenner. Everybody's goal is to be Craig Stoenner.
How do you cure post Idaho kayaking season depression? For me there is no post season, I just keep going.
What has kayaking brought you? An enthusiasm for life.
- Years kayaking: I started kayaking probably 10 years ago.
- Years kayaking in Banks: 10 years
- Favorite section and flow: The Canyon, at really any flow. I really like it when it's higher water, because the waves are really big. I really like once the water drops and it's really low, cause it almost feels like it's a creek and you can do Big Falls.
- Favorite feature: The wave in Constriction. It's the only wave I can surf well.
- Favorite place to camp: The Slide.
What would you change about the river? I would make the North Fork less shallow and sharp.
What has Banks brought you? More independence. Not relying necessarily on other people all the time. If I want to go do something, I'll just go do it.
What is a good lesson you've learned from Banks? You can trust most people on the river, but not all of them off the river.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? More refined technique that I will practice enough and have good paddling skills that I'm not really thinking about whatever section of river I'm going on. As I paddle more, which I intend to, I want to just be more confident in myself and not worry about what I'm doing because it doesn't matter. As long as I can control my boat and control myself.
What has kayaking taught you? I think kayaking has taught me to just not think about things and just go for it. That's the only time I can do something that's challenging for me and I don't mess it up. If I go into a rapid and I'm really nervous and shaky at the top I stay that way. But if I just think 'Ok, now it's time to go, it'll be fine' and I go, then I can do it.
What has kayaking brought you? It's brought me friends and the realization that I don't have to live a certain way. If I don't want to do certain things, like have a certain job, etc. then maybe I don't have to.
- Years kayaking: Mmm bout 15 years.
- Years kayaking in Banks: Mmm bout 15 years.
- Favorite section and flow: North Fork at 2300 CFS.
- Favorite place to camp: Next to the river.
What would you change about the river? I wouldn't change anything about it.
Why do you come to Banks? Banks has it all: whitewater, beer, smiles, good vibes.
What is a good lesson you've learned from Banks? BYOB.
What has kayaking brought you? Happiness and passion.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? I don't know, never thought about it. Maybe still be paddling here in 15 years.
Biggest lesson you have learned in kayaking? The river is always listening. She'll teach you a lesson or two if she has to.
- Years kayaking: 30 years
- Years kayaking in Banks: Since 1992.
- Favorite section and flow: Day in and day out, Lower 5, high flows or the Mighty Main Payette because it always delivers for everybody.
- Favorite feature: My most recent favorite is trying to boof Rock Drop and make it into the left eddy on 'Jake's Race' practice, cause I am not good at it (laughs). Favorite place to camp: Well I mean, I don't camp here… I live down the road.
What would you change about the river? (With no hesitation) I would have a gondola so I didn't have to do shuttle.
What has Banks taught you? I think Banks has taught me that there's a little something for everybody and you can mix and match a lot of different people really easily and gain a lot from those different people.
What has kayaking taught you? Probably the most notable things is processing data and making quick decisions and hopefully good decisions. If they are not good decisions just leaving them alone and start making new decisions as new things come at you (new rapids, new waves, new holes). Don't dwell on the past, just keep moving forward.
What has kayaking brought you? It's brought me profession, I met my wife kayaking, I got to travel the world kayaking doing slalom racing… uh everything (large smile).
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? Right now, paddling with my kids. Watching them grow and develop and discover all the things that I've enjoyed so much.
Who's you're favorite local legend? I think the person that I probably learned some of the most from was Charlie Munsey… we all looked up to him a lot as sort of our contemporary, but also somebody that was leading the way. I got a lot of great push from Tony Brennan, Craig Stoenner, Jim Ciardelli; would always go paddling and be willing to knock me out of holes and give me good lines. Those guys were all a good basis to lean on.
What has Banks brought you? The Payette's brought me everything: Livelihood, fun paddling with my family, endless entertainment… I owe everything to this river.
Michael "Georgia" Thurmond
- Years kayaking: Bout 8 years I believe.
- Years kayaking in Banks: 5 or 6 I believe.
- Favorite section and flow: That changes throughout the year. When the South Fork is high (spring flow) I think that's super fun. When that drops out then the North Fork (at summer flows). Favorite feature: Depends on the flow again, but there's some really sick waves on the South Fork at high water. But then when the North Fork comes in the tombstone boof (Screaming Left) or the Jaws 2 flakes are pretty sweet.
- Favorite place to camp: Craig's (Roark) house.
What would you change about the river? This is a long list: I would have some sort of steep creek run into the North Fork, like just get rid of the Cabarton all together. Then I would maybe try to pack in the South Salmon into the North Fork, so it's just awesome, natural big water. This is getting ridiculous… and then at the takeout you'd have the bladder wave and it would run all summer long. That would be in a perfect world, I think.
Why do you come to Banks? So I can drink beer outside the Banks Café. That's half the fun, you kayak and then you go drink beer.
What is a good lesson you've learned from Banks? Never come out of your boat and if that happens never give up.
What has kayaking brought you? Besides money and bitches? It brought me out here (Banks), which is kinda cool.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? Drinking more beer and becoming more scared. I don't know maybe paddling like some of the old guys around here: Craig Stoenner, Simo, Dave Cummins, Shane Trapp… like the guys who took me down the North Fork for the first time. They keep paddling and that is really cool to me.
What has kayaking taught you? The river is always more powerful than you are. You can't fight it, it will beat you down.
- Years kayaking: I think it's 7 or 8 now.
- Years kayaking in Banks: All of the those years.
- Favorite section and flow: I have to say the Warm Up (North Fork) at 2,000 CFS. It's just an outrageous amount of fun.
- Favorite feature: I'm a big fan of the boof in Houndstooth into that just monster wave train.
- Favorite place to camp: The Slide, probably.
What has Banks taught you? Banks, I would say has taught me a lot about what it means to have a paddling community and just a bunch of people who are passionate about the same thing. We care about the river and each other and how powerful that can be.
What has kayaking taught you? It has taught me how important it is to respect something like the power of the river. But also to enjoy it and to be able to just have a rowdy time out on the water, but be scared shitless at the same time and how those can work together to have a pretty rad experience.
Who was a big mentor of yours while you were learning how to paddle? The Long's for sure, Chad and Tom for teaching me pretty much everything I know. A ton of people at Cascade (Raft and Kayak) throughout the years, like Alex Tanabe. I remember she was huge for me when I was like 12 or 13. Just seeing all these rad ladies out paddling is also super influential and cool.It seems like there is an ever-growing female presence in the Banks area.
In your opinion, what does that bring to paddling around Banks? As a lady it's pretty empowering to see people like Kira (Tenny)… she's firing up the gnarliest stuff. We have more and more role models in paddling. Growing up, I always saw my brothers like 'ah they can go do the big stuff, I'll just figure it out eventually'. But to see more and more girls firing it up, it lights a fire under your ass in the best kind of way.
What is unique about kayaking to any other extreme sport? I would say the connection you have with the river. The kind of mix of just pure awe and appreciation and respect that you get where you’re out in the middle of nowhere… That H2O, man.
- Years kayaking: I'm trying to remember how old I am first (laughs)… 14 years.
- Years kayaking in Banks: I have kayaked in Banks twice.
- Favorite section and flow: Lower 5.
- Favorite feature: I really like the boat ramp on the South Fork.
What has Banks taught you? When in Banks you don't need to dress as warm as you think you do for the river.
What has Banks brought you? A healthy breakfast… I think Banks showed me that kayaking and the river scene is still alive and healthy in some areas.
What has kayaking brought you? Kayaking has brought me to a really minimal income (laughs) and a lot of good memories.
Would you change anything about modern day kayaking? I think kayaking in general could use a lot less selfies and self-promotion. Kayaking in my opinion has transitioned to becoming about accomplishments. What drew me to kayaking were the places and kayaking being a sport that was more about places, people, and relationships with both of those things, not just personal accomplishments. It's nice to see that in Idaho it's a little less about that.
What has kayaking taught you? Kayaking has taught me some of the most rewarding things are things like kayaking; just real, tangible things. And that there's a lot more to life than chasing other people’s expectations.
How do you fight post-kayak season depression? The best way to fight post-kayaking season depression is to go kayaking somewhere else if you have enough money.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? I guess it's what I've always looked forward to when kayaking: seeing more places. I've learned it doesn't have to be the hardest river to have the best experiences. It's more about who you kayak with than necessarily what you kayak.
- Years kayaking: 13 years
- Years kayaking in Banks: 19 years… even when I was really little I was always in a duo or inflatable on the Main.
- Favorite section and flow: Top to Bottom (North Fork) at/over 2,800 CFS.
- Favorite feature: Probably the Alien Wave in Juicer at 9,000 CFS.
- Favorite place to camp: Secret Spot
What has Banks taught you? That no matter what, with kayaking, you can always find people to boat with especially in Banks.
What has Banks brought you? Banks has brought me a good way to progress my kayaking going from the Main to the South Fork, then to the North Fork.
What has kayaking brought you? It's brought me a lot of my best friends that I get to see and hang out, and paddle with. Also just a lot of different experiences that a lot of normal people don't get to have.
Who has been a mentor in Banks? The biggest mentor is going to be my dad, cause he's the one that would take me kayaking all the time on the Main and South Fork… one of the original Banks lurkers.
What do you look forward to when you age with kayaking? I want to be like Craig Stoenner and be paddling the North Fork when I'm like 65 years old. Paddling with him a lot when I was growing up, that's definitely what I inspire to be.
What's your cure to the low-water Idaho blues? I basically just overload on kayaking videos. When I get sick of it and decide that I want to go somewhere, I go somewhere that it's kayaking season. I seem to be going to Mexico as my go to spot.
What separates Kayaking from other extreme sports? My favorite thing about kayaking is when you crash it usually doesn't hurt as bad as like mountain biking. Obviously there are different kinds of dangers… It's nice that kayaking… it's small group, so everyone is good friends. Even for people who are competing, you are going to go out and paddle with those guys the next day after a competition.