Wednesday, January 21, 2009


California is amazing. Go with the flow....and "flow" happens.

The rest of the US is locked in ice, flood, and freezing wind. This past week California weather has enjoyed high temperatures in the mid-to high sixties and even the Sierra Nevada have seen highs in the 50's. The skiing and snowboarding is great. Rafting trips and kayaking adventures are happening everyday. 2009 rafting season is starting up! We have more rain and snow is coming our way.

california whitewater

In the meantime, we're loving the weather and sipping the lemonade that the planet has produced for our geographic corner of the world. Even the ski resorts have gone with the flow with sundecks and "beach-style" recreation like volleyball added to the lodge activities, skiing and snowboarding.

The whitewater season will be big fun in the " Warm California Sun" (the Ramones version)! Hey Ho, Let's go!

Lyrics:: Ramones - California Sun
Well I'm going out west where I belong
Where the days are short and the nights are long

When I walk and They walk I Twist and They Twist
I Shimmy and They Shimmy I fly and They fly
We're out there having fun in the warm California sun

Well, I'm going out west out on the coast
Where the California girls are really the most

When I walk and They walk I Twist and They Twist
I shimmy and They shimmy I fly and They fly
We're out there having fun in the warm California sun

Well, the girls are frisky in old 'Frisco
A pretty little chick wherever you go

And I walk and They walk i twist and They twist
I shimmy and they shimmy I fly and They fly
We're out there having fun in the warm California sun

We're out there having fun in the warm California sun

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


31 years ago, I became a river guide and I worked for an whitewater outfitter. After finishing my under-graduate degree and getting my first teaching job, I was 22 and had worked no less than full-time for the previous six years. So it was natural to work hard; loading gear, buying food, packing food, driving long distances, unloading, pumping up rafts, rigging rafts, loading gear into rafts, cooking meals for large groups of clients, and rowing 17' rafts with overnight gear and 4-6 clients down class 3 and 4+ whitewater ... it seemed like a vacation. It was. It is.

whitewater rafting

I immersed myself into a dual lifestyle as a professional educator and professional raft guide (soon to be outfitter). Within two short years, the big gear/oar rafts were rarely used and W.E.T. River Trips , along with a small handful of outfitters, started to use small (under 14') paddle rafts and one-day trips became more and more common and in demand.) Not long after, we started to use self-bailing rafts and to commercially run class 3 to 5+ river trips that were never available to the outfitted public. We also started to run bigger trips and rafted as many as five rivers simultaneously. The bar was raised and our clients met the challenge. The whitewater industry has continued to adapt and meet the interests of the clients. All along the route, the guides were there.

spring rafting in California

Today, W.E.T. River Trips has expanded and refined a menu of rivers that fills the range of class 3 to 5 whitewater with new, modern equipment, new vehicles, amazing meals, and the very best guides in California (and that means that they are World-Class!).

white water near san francisco
I'm now in my 32nd year in education and last season, I loaded gear, bought food, packed food, drove long distances, unloaded gear, pumped up rafts, rigged rafts, loaded gear into rafts, cooked meals for large groups of clients, and went down a few rivers. It still feels like a vacation and a privilege to be involved in what WET does. All season long, the guides came through.

picture of rafting

In between 1978 and 2009, I've been lucky ...marriage, fatherhood, punk-rock, rewarding career, skateboarding, kayaking, back-country skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, motorcycle racing, soccer-dad, ballet-dad, swim-dad, health, laughs, love, friends, good health, teaching, school administration, and school restructuring...through it all there has always been whitewater rafting with beauty, thrills, sun, laughs, fear, and the ever-changing cast of guides

I no longer kayak or back-country ski (I was just not that good). My ancient mountain bike is a wreck. My skateboard is now "collectable". I'm now a hipster-dad. I've got fresh snowboard gear and I haven't missed a season since 1984. I don't race motorcycles anymore, but I still ride (the best way to do river shuttles!). The blood pressure is still awesome and Burning Man was big FUN this year!

woot! wet!

What strikes me with a sense of consistent satisfaction through all of the years is my interaction with river guides as co-workers, workers, friends, and family. This last month I had the chance to enjoy the holidays with four river guides that were on my very first river trip, and that I later worked with. Jack, Randy, and Rich still talk big smack!

waterfall on the north fork american

Some guides have been with us for over 20 years, others 15 years, and some others have been with us 10 years and less. Each of them has been special, unique and each of them usually presented a challenging relationship that inevitably was rewarding. I've seen maturity, intelligence, good luck, bad luck, and circumstances affect their respective lives. And our guides continue to evolve and I'm amazed at what incredible adventures continue to unfold for them.

adventure rafting

Just this year, Justin stopped brokering mortgages and went back to guiding full-time and is surfing in Costa Rica having fun. Country Mike is now a father, (last year, Jason, Andrew, and Jonny also joined the ranks of parenthood). Wolf became a substitute teacher. Kyle has finished his credential. Bird graduated from culinary school and moved to Oregon. Booty shreds the Sierras. Mac worked on the Emmy-winning reality show, "The Deadliest Catch" as a videographer. Chris Z. had his photos published in Outside Magazine. Harpo is selling his restaurant to become a firefighter, purely out of boredom for the culinary set. Solly is poised to be a high school principal. K-Dawg is ready to transfer to UC Santa Barbara. Alex H is graduating from UC Berkeley. D-Rex is working in Colorado. Maggie has an office job while she finishes up at UN Reno. Meg is working with special needs kids in Maine. Jon C. graduates this year after winter "study" in Salt Lake City. Heffe is moving to Oregon to follow... LOVE. Some will go and new guides will come into the family.

team building the wet crew

California Whitewater Rafting Blog

Guides come. Guides go. Guides come back ...but, guides are always tied by the bonds of rivers, whitewater, the work, the play ...the life. Life is good and 2009 rafting will be epic!

Monday, January 05, 2009

W.E.T. THROW DOWN : Rafting

I know it's been a lazy winter when I'm ready to quote Bobby Flay from the Food Network: "Are you ready for a Throw-Down?"

North Fork American River chamberlin falls run

Except we're not talking about ribs or apple pie... we're down with white water rafting!

No more talk and no more posing.  Sooner than you know and the Party starts. Plan now for those group trips and and early runs on the Class 4+ North Fork American. With our "Perfect Storm" under our belts and on the upper slopes, we know we'll have run-off from the snowpack and melt will make our spring rivers a gush and foam with whitewater. (Note: check Leon's site for incredible shots of North Fork waterfalls & conservation info)

This is also a time for us to look to our guides and staff to gear-up for the "throw-down" that the Sierras, Cascades, and Siskiyou Mountain ranges have in store for us. Veteran and new guides can't just jump into a raft from the couch (Ok...I do; but, getting off the couch is major work, and I get warmed up that way). 

Rafting guides, drivers, food buyers, managers, and sales staff need to get psyched for the Big Show and 2009 river rafting looks to be awesome. Our Guide School for rafting will take place early in the Spring and will allow even 1st year guides to become seasoned veterans by May and June. Schedule dates are posted and some will start as early as March 13, 2009.

The Guide School allows the veteran staff to share their acquired knowledge and skill sets with new and old guides alike (yes...and have a freakin' awesome time while doing it!). And we also take care of your outdoor gear, too... though, as a guide, you really should have your own, puppies).

By all accounts, our guide school last year was Epic (wasn't it K-Dawg?). 2009 rafting can only be bigger and better (except, Wolf is not allowed to chew open any more glow sticks!). We'll even have plenty of propane (we had a little propane-prank last year...). 

W.E.T. River Trips' date schedules are flexible and reactive to flows and snows (last year we did five rivers in six days). So if you want to gain the skills of a commercial river guide or you are a guide that needs to get to know us, the Guide School is for you!

Bring It! Throw it Down! Less than three months to lift off!

Now, let's see what the Iron Chef is cooking with tonight!