Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Rafting Guides

The American River team is getting grouchy. I think everyone is really tired especially after that last heatwave. Our crew has been working since mid-March nonstop through very high water, all kinds of weather and tough rapids. Everyone is tired. So it isn't surprising that the team is picking on each other. What did the fight start over? G. made a silly comment and then J. got upset. Soon the two guys were in each other's face comparing work ethic and execution... it escalated until J. shoved G. and then big daddy S. stepped-in to break it up. "That's enough! Both of you...knock it off!" yelled S. "Get back to work." and then it was over. Hugs and handshakes and it was soon forgotten.

The guides work really hard. They work through bad (cold, wet or heat) weather, with paddlers who have very limited skills, and raft in conditions that could test even the most diligent soldier. They are a team. Unlike a sports team, they never know who is coming aboard their "court." It could be a rabid group of young dudes amping on paddling with the bravado of a class 5 veteran. Or it could be young kids and grandma with no paddling skills at all. The guides are taking care of people as if they were their own children. Corraling them and signing them in at the meeting site and then quickly placing them onto the bus and then dressing them into their lifejackets ...they are like substitute parents sending the kids off to the school of whitewater!

W.E.T. had the guide party last week at Poor Red's. Everyone came except for G. who got sick from the overwhelming heat wave. He forgot to drink plenty of water that day. Even the vets forget sometimes. Poor Red's was basically deserted since it was a Sunday night and the crew arrived rather late after a long day of rafting. This restaurant is famous for its ambiance and ribs and its incredible Golden Cadillacs. S. drove and was the designated driver which allowed the entire crew a free pass to an unbridled drinking fest. Golden Cadillacs for everyone! Soon cheers and toasts brought everyone to their feet as silliness reigned over the night. Toast for the best guide paddler. Toast for the most improved rookie. Toast for the best flip during high water. Toast to the company. On and on it went and soon guides were hugging each other and swearing their undying love for the company and each other... it's a lovefest... it's a team...

Only 2 more months to go and the guides are planning their exits soon. Some will be going back to school, some will be going on to the Gauley River in West Virginia and some will be back up at the ski resorts for winter fun. Some will be joining international trips throughout the world on to Costa Rica, South America, New Zealand and other exotic locales. Ahhh, what a life. A guide's life is full of dreams, of rivers and adventure... go on... you know you're jealous.

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