Since the spring of 1977, I have been a whitewater rafting professional (guide, outfitter, shuttle-driver, food-buyer, shuttle-vehicle mechanic, equipment manager, and camp chef... and most of the time, the tasks have been assigned simultaneously). The past few years have seen me rarely on the river; but, this year has been different.
A first personal descent (river, snow slope, mountain bike trail, ocean wave, skate ramp, or twisty mountain road) is always a notch up on the fun meter. The added bonus of a first-personal descent is the heightened awareness of your surroundings: colors, vegetation, rock formations, and those amazing whitewater rapids!
This rafting season started early with a first personal descent of the Smith River with clear sunny weather in February. The Smith is a crystal clear stream running through the redwoods along the California Oregon border and is a sister river to the Klamath, Salmon, and Trinity. I've run over 17 rivers in California and the Smith is on the top of the heap and not for whitewater... the rapids were great; however, the water, the rocks, and the surrounding old-growth redwoods made the trip (also Vladimir's, another old fart, mid-night escapades!).
After a wild early season filled with a full menu of South Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork American River trips and the ensuing milieu of shuttles, food-buys, trip logistics, and guides in need of parenting, I was able to run off to Idaho and work as a guide on a 6-day trip followed by an amazing 800-mile motorcycle ride back to Sacramento, California on a KLR 650 with fresh knobbies... huge fun at 80 mph across Nevada!
The season continued on with a hectic Middle Fork American and South Fork American River season that ended the first week of October. But, the season didn't end until Country Mike rallied us up for a first personal (for all of us) first-descent on Silver Creek that helps to form the headwaters of the South Fork American.
The trip was a constant surprise of sights and rapids at every bend and through every log-jam portage. It didn't matter that I was approaching retirement age and 30 pounds heavier than I was in '77.
I shared the day with 10 of W.E.T. River Trips guides that ranged in age from 20 to 42 years old (not counting myself). We ran the same rapids, we saw the same sights, we were all cold. At the end of the day, we all smiled and no one had regrets. We all knew the same things: It was a great day.
Let it snow! I'll be back for more.
Note from W.E.T. River Trips: Posted by an Old Fart! Just kidding... Big Poppa rocks! The ol' man hit the whitewater with us... he did good! Hehehehehe...