Rush Sturges and the North Fork Championship
This is why we love the filmmaker and his latest subject
If you’re wondering why we featured the North Fork Championship in the June issue, and profiled kayaking filmmaker Rush Sturges in the July book, look no further than Sturges’s latest release. This visual love poem to the North Fork Payette captures the iconic river’s history (that’s Rob Lesser in the opening frame, discussing his 1977 first descent) and it’s importance to today’s elite paddlers. And it’s not the least bit stingy with the action.
Here’s what TYLER WILLIAMS has to say about Sturges in his feature profile, The Athlete and the Artist in the July 2014 C&K:
Communicating the essence of the kayaking lifestyle, and the bonds that are formed in life-threatening situations, is central to his music and his movies. Beautiful nature images and creative time-lapse scenes soften the edges of River Roots’ hard-core action scenes. Still, the big drops are the attention grabbers. When I rolled into town, the crew was rallying for a four-hour drive to picture- perfect Toketee Falls, a rarely flowing 70-footer.
It was astounding to see how eager Sturges and his posse were to climb into a truck and make a long drive for a single drop that promised 2.8 seconds of free fall. But it’s about more than just those few seconds of flight. Hardly anyone mentioned Toketee without also talking about the nearby hot springs to enjoy afterward. Paddling is paddling, whether you’re cruising Class II or sending massive falls. Track Number One on The Road is Gold explains the extreme kayaking creed to the outside world: “But honestly we do it ‘cause the feelin’s free. We don’t jeopardize our lives to be on your TVs.”
Writer BEN NICKOL shares an insightful look at North Fork paddlers in his June 2014 C&K feature, The River Pharaohs:
I’m not sure what exactly I expect, beyond that my expectations be exceeded. These are world-class paddlers, after all, and as with world- class anything you expect more. If paddlers are talkative, these paddlers should be outlandishly talkative. If aloof, they should be savagely aloof. And I suppose in certain senses they do achieve such wild magnitudes. In their forearms and hands, for instance. And in their energy, which in the case of elite paddlers is a kind of inward quality, a constitutional zest that’s expressed less in motion than in the general charge of things like posture and gaze. They’re the kind of people who can yawn and stretch like cats and still seem intense.
What really I notice about these paddlers, though, is they’re exceptionally kind. Regan at the registration table has gotten some high traffic, so the Ladybug and I step in to help, taking names and dispensing merchandise. And to a man, each paddler that comes down the line is embarrassingly polite. My job is handing out wristbands. They’re just wristbands, little rubber whatevers, but paddler after paddler accepts them with both hands and a kind of sheepish nod. “Cheers,” some of them say and hold the wristband where I can see it, a toast.