Rivers may cut deeply and sharply into the earth, they may slowly make modest impressions in the ground, or, like some Great Plains rivers, they may ﬂow only a couple of feet below the surface of the surrounding land in a shallow channel. Further, a single river may have a wide variety of gradients. Whatever the depth of the channel or the slope of the bed, most rivers are framed by banks that separate the ﬂow of their water from the surrounding ﬂoodplain. High bank is a relative term used to distinguish a river’s farther banks—which sometimes mark the boundary of the river’s ﬂoodplain—from a parallel set of low banks closer to the river. Riverbanks may be more—or less—apparent, depending on the degree of downcutting and the frequency and pattern of ﬂooding. A river in ﬂood may spread past its low banks to create minor ﬂooding, or breach its high banks in a major ﬂood.
Sometime midmorning, I was awakened by the staccato cry of a shafted ﬂicker. I got up, dressed quickly, and walked a hundred yards through the trees to the high bank overlooking the river. The grass was sopping from the previous night’s thunderstorm, and low clouds hung just at the crest of the higher hills.
— Doug Peacock, Grizzly Years