Friday, November 5, 2010
In an interview he was quoted as having said, "I'm just trying to live nobly in an ignoble culture."
It is the least each of us can attempt to do in our angst-ridden, money-corrupted, ethics-averse society. No matter what, add positively to the fabric of our existence. As I look back on this season, seasons past and those of you who have traipsed through the Orion Commons, that is all I see. People trying to live nobly in our ignoble culture. People trying to contribute. Trying to make a difference. Folks trying to choose the path less traveled and doing good along the way.
I think about this now because, in many respects, I feel as if I have fallen down on the job of living nobly. Sacrificing purpose on the altar of expediency. Sacrificing community for monetary needs. Sacrificing nobility for the quick buck.
I can assure you it was not intentional.
The weight I put on 'community' continues to tip the scales, and my every effort, along with Ally's, is an effort to build and improve on the Orion community. Whether it be the duplicate social networking sites, improvements to the CCC or signing on the dotted line this past spring with Groupon and becoming an "accidental online entrepreneur".
People, purpose, pleasure, profits. The four P's of Orion's Mission Statement, and in their exact prioritized order.
The Season of Groupon seemed to rearrange my alliterative company raison detre. In my defense, more than doubling the number of user days we were expecting for the season in 24 hours tends to focus you on survival matters and obscure whatever higher calling you might think you are pursuing. I have recited the Groupon parable ad infinitum over the past six months and I won't bore you with it now, but, suffice it to say, after all was said and done, it was a valuable and, quite positive, business lesson.
For instance, Orion did not 'lose its shirt' financially, and many of you enjoyed a steady stream of work (albeit with customers who did not know which end of the paddle was the T-grip and some customers whose attitude toward women could be summed up with this personal interaction, "There are five of us, but one of us is a woman.")
My main regret from 2010 was not finding more time in our busy schedule for Play. Not carving out time for a Busman's holiday every now and then. This coming season (the one we will celebrate as the 33rd because 2011 minus 1978 equals 33) we intend to rectify that situation. Reintroduce that fifth, unwritten P --- Play.
Of course, to do that, we need to introduce yet another P --- Planning. Not traditionally my strong suit, which is why, even though we have a Mission Statement and an antiquated Guide Manual, we never had a Business Plan. However, if Planning is what is necessary in order to work in Play, I will get to work on strengthening that part of my resume.
First of all, I have to invoke my usual disclaimer that I am going to overlook someone. Please believe me when I say, I am working off the top of my head and the order in which you appear, if you appear at all, means nothing and, if you are left out, it is not indicative of anything other than a fallible, sieve-like memory. Orion owes its existence to my dogged determination and Ally's unwavering support, but it also could never have lasted over three decades, much less last season, without the sweat equity and good intentions of ALL of you.
The Kook abides...in Sebastopol, California dreaming, while spending another fall interning at a winery and committing himself to living there long enough to become a Golden State resident in order to increase his odds of future employment by gaining a higher ed degree in wine-making. His early season presence assured a stable, orderly start to the rafting season, and a warehouse workbench that you could dine on.
Allen, a casualty of the economy as far as his own career is concerned, was instrumental throughout the season by committing early to Lakeside trips, and the bulk of the July Deschutes trips, thereby taking pressure off the usual staffing dilemma. As it turns out, he has a knack for relating to high school kids. An Oregon highlight from one of Allen's trips was a kid being filmed with a leech the size of a Sasquatch booger crawling about the palm of his hand.
KitKat Katie, who landed on her feet in Germany performing the work with which she earned a degree --- engineering --- also helped relieve staffing pressure by signing up for trips in advance while simultaneously squeezing numerous social commitments, like endless Indian weddings, throughout the summer into her hyper-kinetic schedule. She and Allen were 'joined at the hip', in terms of work schedule, and suffered (while working through) the typical "familiarity breeds contempt" aspect of those sorts of 24/7 buddy pairings (no innuendo implied or intended).
Dallas left his motor home parked on the wet side for 2010, yet found himself care-taking the CCC lawn, dispensing words of wisdom to young guides poaching hot tubs and herding hundreds of new customers down the Wenatchee. We never got him to model a dirndl, despite incessant badgering, but we got a lot of mileage out of the "Dallas in a dirndl!" cha-cha-cha from spring training right on through the Tieton season. (Unsubstantiated rumors abound that Dallas is --- as I type --- gainfully employed in the Bay Area.)
Melissa stepped up to the plate logging dozens of days in a row on the Wenatchee and the Deschutes, including trying on the role of River Master & Commander on a few overnight trips, and (to continue the baseball analogy) hit an inside-the-park home run, in spite of her youth, relative inexperience and Midwestern upbringing. All kidding aside, in spite of her bizarre personal pratfalls (see her stories about dog-walking), she was a rock-solid team member.
Verity's tenacious desire to guide was under-appreciated by me at the beginning of the season. Her tenacity should have been transparent when she nursed a decrepit truck with an aging camper from Portland to the CCC for the duration of the summer. When she wasn't in Portland swapping out bedpans and making patient's lives better, she was deftly handling a raft, wrangling river gear and spearheading the production of classy Chumstick-wear.
Neil, the self-proclaimed 'Real Deal', was a customer favorite in spite, or because, of his hirsuteness, his neoprene dirndl and its plunging neckline. Or maybe it was his 'it's always sunnier in Bavaria' demeanor. Neil was our tenant and host all season at the CCC, and a dependable, as well as reliable, guide and RM. (Because of Neil, the title River Manager morphed into River Master & Commander.)
Charlotte, an internet maven if ever there was one, Tweeting for hire under her Scandinavian moniker, emerged from river guide 'retirement' to become my Gal Friday and Neil's housemate, which was a challenge because the 'internets' have not reached the Chumstick yet, and Neil was the Felix Ungar of this Odd Couple to Charlotte's Oscar Madison. (Google and/or Bing it.)
Crystal continued her white water education guiding a wide variety of rivers, sampling non-traditional rivers like the Similkameen and planning her own Grand Canyon expedition which concludes this week. I continue to be surprised by her river acumen because, of a gallery of unlikely 2009 guide candidates, she seemed to be one of the unlikeliest of all. I wouldn't say she is "all growed up" in regards to white water, but she has been a quick study for the past two seasons.
Blair wasted no time making herself indispensable with a maturity on and off the water that belied her years. She blended readily and naturally with old and new guides alike, mesmerized us with her slack-lining skills and gave Dallas fits playing "king of the inflatable kayak" in an eddy on the Lower Salmon.
Jim (Miss Chumstick 2010!) guided as if his sanity depended on it, wooed many customers to the wonders of rafting and continued fixing everything easily broken...Mace was as dependable as ever and as dependably irascible as ever (and his experience was often sorely needed)...Nina charmed the Groupon masses like a hooded cobra with her funny, informative Meeter/Greeter spiel...
Jonathan made cameos filling in for me, working the Sky and scaring the bejesus out of the recruits...Tricia truly came out of retirement (from the early '90s!) but she quickly demonstrated that rafting might be easier than riding a bike, looking at ease on the Sauk her first trip down...Aaron brushed off his guiding skills and dove head-first into the river rafting scene after a couple of seasons on the shelf...
Gillian's last summer of freedom before entering the realm of legally dispensing pharmaceuticals was spent charming guests of all ages...Nicole successfully avoided the Scout Troops while steadily building her white water resume and lending a modicum of decorum to any gathering...Kyle, a relatively recent out-of-steady-work transplant to Leavenworth, found himself out of commercial rafting retirement and at the stern of an inflatable with guide paddle in hand more often than not this past spring and summer...
Our guide training instructors --- Robert, Dane, Ally, Emily and Nancy --- worked their community-building and white water skill transference magic in the spring as they have done for decades now, and they all even put in some yeoman's work on day trips when push came to shove. The tone set in the spring by their dedication to Orion usually carries right on through September.
As for newcomers to the Tribe:
Shawntel showed a poise and expertise well beyond her actual experience, but quickly became an integral piece to the Orion puzzle...Bagel Ben was called upon to guide prematurely but gave no one reason to doubt his abilities...Emily and Eli were called upon to guide early and often and were dependable, as well as, delightful to work with whether it was for one day or five days...Grace, who will make a terrific guide a couple of summers from now, made a terrific, unflappable Meeter/Greeter in the interim...AJ won the award for scoring the greatest number of guide days without being scheduled, as well as the award for perseverance since she had to work her appearances around numerous obstacles, not the least of which was her full-time residence being in Spokane...Dick's primary contribution was turning our three ancient dry boxes into functional works-of-art and, once again, actually 'dry' boxes...
We did not see enough of Colin, Ari, Kristin, Clyde, Gus, Alyssa, (skinny) Dallas, Kayla, Liam, Mary, Bob, Rachel, Cheri, Leo, Jen G and Orion but they all contributed with their time, effort and skills in making 2010 successful, memorable and as eventfully uneventful for our guests as possible for which Ally and I are exceedingly grateful.
And then there are those of you who lend moral support from a distance due to circumstances either beyond your control or not; and those of you who meant to make it out to the river at least once, but couldn't; and those of you who keep in touch and, even though we may never see you on the river again, your presence 'out there' strengthens and sustains the dream. Orion is grateful to you as well.
A La Nina winter is on its way which ought to mean that we are going to have a fair amount of water come next spring. But, if there is one thing I have learned, it is to never assume the rafting season will be great because the snow pack looks promising.
After all, "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy".
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Perhaps the City of Cashmere did not want to inadvertently promote drinking by calling the rapid a couple of miles upstream of town by the name almost every river rafting guide and river recreationist uses --- Drunkard's Drop --- who knows?
As for Boulder Garden, I am assuming that is in reference to Boulder Bend, aka Hobo Gulch, just downstream of Leavenworth, but, where is the recognition for this stretch of the Wenatchee's climax --- Granny's and the notorious Granny's Wave (and, these days, the occasionally disruptive Suffocator)?
In any event, the stretch of the Wenatchee that begins in Leavenworth and concludes in Cashmere is Class III. Although admittedly, during spring runoff conditions, the high, cold, fast-moving river deserves river rafters' and, in particular, novice kayakers', respect.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Excellent rendition of all the available camping spots along the Mountain Loop Highway and near the Wild and Scenic Sauk River and the Stillaguamish River.
No particular river rafting outfitter is mentioned as offering trips on the Sauk River and so I thought it would be appropriate to list the four commercial outfitters authorized to run the Whitechuck to Darrington stretch of this well-kept whitewater secret.
North Cascades River Runners, Downstream River Runners, Alpine and Orion River Rafting http://orionexp.com
The Sauk River lost some of its cachet over the last decade because of massive flooding that destroyed the bridge at the launch site and graveled in all of the rapids. But it is slowly healing and the punch of the whitewater is coming back.
It's best whitewater shows up during June and July. However, every now and then, due to the glacial melt, it can be very good during the first two weeks of August as well.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Like Mike M, I was on the Wenatchee River the day St. Helens unleashed a cloud of ash that blanketed much of the western half of Washington. Orion River Rafting http://orionexp.com was busy with two large commercial rafting trips headed down the river.
In the morning, as we were prepping rafts at our launch site off U.S. 2, we heard what we assumed was a detonation by a highway crew doing road work, or avalanche control, or a peal of thunder from high in the Stuart Range. The day was cloudless, sunny and warm, and with everything else going on, we thought nothing of the one-shot rumble.
I led the first wave of rafts because I was scheduled to appear on a KIRO radio show that evening in Seattle and needed to get off the river as early as possible. As the rafts approached our take-out in Cashmere, I recall noting thunderclouds massing to the east and seemingly headed up the Valley.
I remember thinking how odd that weather was approaching us from the east. I also remember thinking how strangely ominous and dark this storm front looked. Being on the river all day, we had no way of knowing of the eruption of St. Helens. It wasn't until I was halfway up Stevens Pass that I got the word of the volcanic cataclysm, and then I was fortunate because Stevens was the only pass still open (other than Washington Pass on Highway 20).
Our second float on the Wenatchee River was not so fortunate. They were plagued by lightly falling ash and were forced to float downstream backwards to keep the ash at bay.
My interview on KIRO that Sunday evening was intended to be a 2-hour discussion of whitewater rafting and my company, Orion. But it was a good news/bad news scenario --- the whole Pacific Northwest was tuned into KIRO because they were noted for their news updates --- it was a publicity coup in that regards.
However, the seriousness of the situation precluded folks from focusing on rafting and almost 100% of the phone-in callers wanted to talk about the eruption of St. Helens.
In other words, an inanimate object upstaged me during my brief, ephemeral 15 minutes of fame.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Chumstick Country Club the evening of May 15th. Group Dinner planned. Slideshow from stand-in photographers --- hopefully. Keg. Non-Guidelings (aka Orion Guides) please contact the office if you are planning on attending.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE...
Many launch times will be later this season in order to cater to the Seattle metropolitan crowd that party's hardy on Friday night and wants to dodge the traffic headed east out of town.
What does that mean to you --- our fearful guides? Well, our Noon and 1pm Meeting Times on the Wenatchee do NOT include a meal which means you will need to eat a humongous breakfast or come prepared with a carbohydrate rich snack to get you through to 6pm.
FEAST OR FAMINE
You might have heard that I gave away the farm to this Groupon thing. Maybe so, but the Good News to you is that we are bursting at the seams with guide days on the Wenatchee and some of it is spilling over onto other rivers. Starting after the Memorial Weekend, we are busy, busy, busy --- especially on weekends and especially on Sundays.
OTHER GOOD NEWS
If you want to bring Friends/Family, believe it or not, there are plenty of opportunities on Fridays and Saturdays in June (because I 'blacked out' those dates to coupon users).
It is never-ending. Y'all are supposed to be currently certified in Basic First Aid and CPR. I am supposed to have copies of your certification. Please send them in. I am woefully short of proof of first aid for many of you. I am tired of asking and I know y'all are tired of reading about it. Just do it.
COMMUNITY ZERO CALENDAR
Keep an eye on the Calendar. I am updating it because I have already scheduled about 500 of the 2500 coupon holders who will be rafting with us this season. I will not be updating the Orion Guides FB calendar because I only have 24 hours in each day.
GET YOUR GROUPON
Okay, I gave Groupon users an offer they could not possibly refuse. Now, it is up to all of you --- and me --- to turn these casual rafters into diehard Orion rafters. We are not going to wow them with our healthy lunches, so we need to double-down on our customer service and promotion of the other river trips we offer.
SLOW RIVER EXPEDITIONS
One other thing, we will need a 'merchandiser' for the take-out. Someone who can get down their an hour early to set up our pop-up shade shelter and put out Release Forms, Chums, Belly Timber Bars and whatever else we attempt to sell. This person can also be incredibly helpful by checking off customers, collecting coupons, in advance BECAUSE we will need to be as efficient as we can possibly be to avoid working long into the evening.
SNAKE RIVER TRIP
May 24th to May 27th. Anyone interested?
Thursday, April 22, 2010
I clicked on this article because it just so happens that the subject "Safety Tips for Families Rafting with Small Kids" is a subject that I was considering submitting to an E-zine. I figured I might get some ideas or learn something I had not considered since I do not have any small children of my own.
The second of the promised five tips derailed me. Honestly? A 'life rope' connecting your child to the raft while on moving water? This is dumbest idea imaginable --- and I am being kind.
NEVER attach yourself, your child, your dog or your worst enemy to a boat in moving water. You are setting yourself up for disaster. Lines and moving water do not mix well. Entanglement issues are the first thing that comes to mind. And, if the child has a line attached to them, and they are tethered to the raft, it isn't only the child who is at risk of an errant line in the event the raft capsizes, or if the child falls overboard on the side of the raft opposite where they are 'tethered'.
The idea is to minimize lines on a raft and to complicate the issue by leashing your kid is ludicrous and dangerous.
A PFD with a crotch strap is advisable, a grab loop just large enough for a hand is advisable on one of the thwarts, walking the child around hazardous rapids is advisable, having them just ride and not paddle is advisable, making sure they are in a raft rowed by a competent guide is advisable. . . but connecting them in any way to the craft is negligence. Pure and simple. http://orionexp.com
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Our seven day spring river trip serves multiple purposes. Newcomers to river rafting are immersed in the trappings of what it means to be 'messing about in boats.' Instead of merely getting repetitions on one stretch of river, they are getting exposed to a new stretch of water every day. They are introduced to the whole wide realm of river rafting: rigging, camp craft, a diverse set of knots, rowing an oar boat, environmental stewardship, expedition travel, gear management, cooking for groups and cooking with Dutch Ovens and wilderness ethics.
At the same time, since the nature of our company's culture is so intrinsic to our ultimate success, and the creation of a fostering community is paramount, a week long river rafting trip provides the student with a chance to evaluate who we are and gives our instructors ample opportunity to assess the students strengths and weaknesses. On Orion's River Rafting Guide Training course, besides the students and the instructors, there are a dozen or so returning guides who are there to lend support, add encouragement and reinforce the training of the veteran staff. In fact, most of Orion's guide training students are referrals from veteran staff --- family, friends, guests, significant others.
Our instructors bring not only dozens and dozens of years of white water experience to the program, they bring a depth and breadth of river running experience having plied their trade the world over --- New Zealand, Peru, Bali, Costa Rica, Turkey, Chile and Belize to name a few --- guiding rafts and even managing and building foreign rafting companies. Orion River Rafting's trainers not only contribute their vast white water knowledge to the careful instruction of new guides, they bring decades of experience of this particular week of skill-building.
In short, Orion's students get to take part in a program dripping with tradition while being spontaneous and fun. They get to learn the 'big picture' of river rafting and decide for themselves if their romantic notions of guiding coincide with the reality.
Or, are maybe even better than they imagined.
Friday, March 26, 2010
The President of the Kashmir Rafting Operators Association oversteps his bounds by pronouncing --- in the press no less --- that tourists can enjoy a river trip in Kashmir "without any fear of injury". Basically, he is guaranteeing tourists who visit Kashmir and choose to go rafting with one of the KROA outfitters that there is no chance they will come to harm.
Even if they were only rafting Class I rivers, he would be misrepresenting the industry he is working to promote. I can appreciate that he is working hard to assure readers of the Daily Kashmir that the imported Nepalese guides are well-trained and safety precautions are being emphasized, but he would be better advised to refrain from making public promises he has no way of keeping.
"“We provide life jacket and helmet to the tourists and they enjoy it without any fear of any injury."
- Rising Kashmir, Daily Newspaper, Srinagar Jammu and Kashmir - Kashmir’s rafting industry prepares for big leap (view on Google Sidewiki)
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
"Regular rafter" Charlie Walbridge does not come close to describing who Charlie Walbridge is. Charlie Walbridge is the author of River Safety Anthology, a compendium of nationwide river running (kayaking, rafting and canoeing) incidents and fatalities and a recitation of choices boaters make that ultimately leads to their difficulties on the river.
Mr. Walbridge has been recreating on rivers for decades and is one of the river industry's preeminent experts on river safety. You would think that he would deserve, at the very least, a descriptive term like "professional safety expert" preceding his name in this new story.
"Regular rafter Charles Walbridge"
- Pa. man drowns on Cheat River rafting trip - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio - (view on Google Sidewiki)
Friday, March 19, 2010
Mr. Dvorak may have been the first commercially permitted river rafter in the state of Colorado, but I am confident he is not the inventor of river rafting, since Georgie White http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
It is equally ludicrous to attribute Mr. Dvorak with the being the one to first conceive of the idea of having guides lead raft trips. Bill Dvorak has been rafting for a very long time but 1969 still makes him a 'pup' among some river rafting outfitters. http://orionexp.com
"The person generally credited with inventing river rafting is Bill Dvorak"
- River Rafting An Overview (view on Google Sidewiki)
The blog post about "Ten outdoor destinations with everything" did not include "Leavenworth, Washington" --- which is now accessible by rail and Amtrak right out of Seattle! In fact, Leavenworth is a mere 113 miles from metropolitan Seattle, so you can easily visit for the day, plan for an extended stay and contact one of the dozens of lodges, rentals, inns or retreats.
Leavenworth has the ideal weather conditions throughout the year for all kinds of outdoor adventures --- river rafting on the Wenatchee River, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, road-biking, innertubing, paragliding, kayaking and trail running. You are able to be outdoor active all year long in Leavenworth. http://orionexp.com
"Ten outdoor destinations with everything!"
- Ten outdoor destinations with everything! | Gadling.com (view on Google Sidewiki)
Virginia Outdoor Center should be applauded for their patience, common sense and white water safety first attitude. They should be rewarded for their attention to public safety and their willingness to "Just Say No" to those who are hankering to get out on the high water and are no doubt needling them to break their own good sense.
High, cold, flooding rivers are not to be taken lightly. Only the best-equipped professionals or professional paddlers should contemplate heading out in those types of conditions. News reports are coming in from various parts of the country where novice boaters are risking their lives --- and the lives of rescuers --- by venturing out onto swollen rivers that are beyond their capabilities.
VOC's reward should be an even more loyal customer base. http://orionexp.com
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Another article patching together what appear to be complete sentences about "The Top Ten Places to Go White Water Rafting" but --- in reality --- its just promoting some company in Maine and a home-based water filter company.
And white water rafting, contrary to the first sentence of this article's second paragraph, has absolutely nothing to do with 'navigating a lake'. But I suspect most people know that already.
I would add the rivers of Maine --- Penobscot, Kennebec and the Dead --- as well as the historic stretches of the Green and Colorado Rivers in Utah to this list of the top ten rivers.
And, the Skykomish River in Washington is one of Washington's white water gems, but the Wild & Scenic Sauk River should certainly not be overlooked. http://orionexp.com/sauk_
For other rivers in Washington, check out Orion River Rafting's website. http://orionexp.com
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
If you want to raft with Outward Bound (hover the mouse over every link), or an outfitter in Maine, or be directed toward two of the least commercially rafted rivers in Washington, and one, the Skagit, that is more mild than wild, than this is the article you are looking for.
If you want a Washington outfitter, go here: http://orionexp.com
If you want to actually read something useful about river rafting in Washington, go here: http://www.onlinesports.com/1/
Visit here for an honest blog about river rafting in Washington. That IS the title of the blog after all: http://orionexp.blogspot.com/
"River Rafting In Washington State"
- River Rafting In Washington State (view on Google Sidewiki)
Commercial river rafting is at the forefront of a Colorado Senator's bill to guarantee rights of river users; however, what is at the core of this engagement is the centuries old dilemma of who should hold the rights to ephemeral, transitory resources and access to those resources?
Water, it would seem to me, is one of the most 'public' of all resources. If a body of water is navigable, land owners should have no rights to restrict the public --- the ultimate 'owners' --- the use of that water. It appears the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee wisely amended the bill to read that "all' users were protected and not just commercial rafters.
This is a small, but critical step to ensure that the trend is toward more openness and more access and away from exclusivity and privatization of a public resource.
"rafters over property owners"
- River Rafting bill floats forward at Capitol - KDVR (view on Google Sidewiki)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Which, for a river rafting guide, was the equivalent of Dante's ninth circle of hell.
I was on the bank of a river deep in the bowels of the earth. Upstream and downstream of me were imposing swaths of white water. The white water upstream threatened like it was going to spill over the banks and wash me and all the gear and my boat partner downstream into the hungry turbulence below.
It was formidable white water and I had no recollection as to how I had made it as far as I had.
My raft was old and listless with no kick in the bow or the stern. In my nightmare, it was empty, tethered to something on shore, bobbing slightly in the only calm water that could be seen.
The rapid surging below us reminded me of Ram's Horn on the Wind River, but the terrain --- dark, foreboding, precipitous cliffs blocking out the sunlight --- conjured images of Skull Rapid in Westwater Canyon.
My boat buddy, Steve Laboff, seemed unperturbed by our predicament which I was just beginning to grasp.
"That sofa is going to make for a sweet ride," he said. He plopped down on it and bounced up and down a little.
I looked about the beach and realized that everyone had launched and left us with not just the sofa, but the entire living room set. Loveseat, Ottoman, coffee table. . .
And the bedroom set.
And the dining room table and chairs.
"How in the hell am I going to get all of this on that boat?"
And, in my dream, THAT was my biggest concern. NOT --- "How are we going to make it through those rapids with all this stuff?"
Or, "Why do I have a household of furniture on a river trip?"
And then it got worse.
I realized we didn't have any means to rig any of it onto the flaccid, old boat. We had no webbing, no straps, not even any bungie cords.
As I stood on the bank taking it all in, the pounding of the water on the rocks gnawing at the back of my mind, the thought of balancing sofas and mattresses on each end of the raft and then negotiating boat-dwarfing waves, I could feel my anxiety rising.
That was when my dog, Daisy, jumped up onto the bow of the raft as if announcing that she was ready to go.
And I awoke incomprehensibly relieved I was not where I had dreamed I was. And there was Daisy at the foot of the bed, giving me the stinkeye, making a couple of turns before curling up into a ball of snoring fur.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Excellent, thorough, well-written article for novices planning to take a raft trip with a commercial outfitter. The author covers A to Z about white water rafting.
The strength of the article are the questions listed beneath "What makes a good outfitter?" But going over the website with a fine-tooth comb is not going to guarantee a first-class outfitter. Websites, after all, are little more than glossy, slick online brochures that the owner --- in some cases --- has spent advertising money to polish and stuff with hyperbolic statements and flat out falsehoods.
Beware the outfitter that claims to be #1 in anything, or rated the Best of anything, or claims to have more than 40 years of experience (since commercial rafting was not even in its infancy in most states in 1970).
The one thing I would add is that a website surely speaks volumes about the quality of the company, and paying attention to the content of the website, whether or not employees are displayed, and checking for mentions of certifications and permits, are all observations the customer should take into consideration, but, without speaking personally with the office staff of the outfitter, you are not covering all of your bases.
Use this list of questions in a phone call, or a list of your own concerns about whitewater rafting, and you will come away with a much better profile of the business than just depending on information off of a stunning website. http://orionexp.com
"Introduction to Whitewater Rafting"
- http://www.whitewater.com/whitewaterrafting.html (view on Google Sidewiki)
Sunday, March 14, 2010
More from the internet echo chamber and recycled info, but this article is right on in regards to river rafting being one of the ultimate vacations for relaxation and pleasure. Sign on for a multi-day river rafting trip of almost any length, though the longer, the better, and what you get is an unadulterated period of time where you don't need to reach for your wallet. (This is not to say you haven't shelled out quite a bit in advance.)
Your accommodations, your meals, your itinerary, your transportation and, in many cases, your cocktails and hors douvres are taken care of by a staff of guides and their assistants. Your only job is to let your hair down, cast away your worries and, depending on the river, unwind in a hot spring, or concentrate on your next cast.
Leave your electronics behind because the last thing you want to have happen, in the event cellphone coverage reaches into whatever portion of wilderness you might be floating through, is to hear the tinny or melodic sound of somebody from work trying to reach you. There is no better way to spoil a vacation.
River trips are an excellent way to get away from it all and, if only for a moment, get back to basics. http://orionexp.com
"What better way to do that than by trying out whitewater rafting?"
- Utah Whitewater’s And The Things You Must Know About It | Island Trend (view on Google Sidewiki)
Not all river trips are "perfect for the whole family". In some cases, it is caveat emptor for the purchaser of any river trip. But there is also an onus on the river trip organizer to be be forthcoming about the group they are signing on to a raft adventure.
The buyer needs to provide the details of the make-up of their group or family when talking to a river outfitter about the best river rafting option available. An organizer of a river trip needs to be completely honest about the ages, abilities and physical condition of their group in order to be matched with the most suitable white water river trip.
Asking the right questions is also key to selecting a river your family or group will enjoy, because if a provider only rafts one river they might be less inclined to dissuade a potential client from making the purchase. A familiarity with the classification of rivers would be helpful, as well as an understanding of when your region experiences high water, when rivers are sucked dry or whether certain rivers are dam-controlled.
In the Pacific Northwest, a day trip suitable for almost any age is the Skagit River in North Cascades National Park. An overnight river trip perfect for the whole family is the Deschutes River in north central Oregon. http://orionexp.com
"Whitewater Rafting Tours: Perfect for the Whole Family!"
- Whitewater Rafting Tours: Perfect for the Whole Family! | artbydarran.com (view on Google Sidewiki)
Saturday, March 13, 2010
In the early 90s a team of paddlers from Orion River Rafting http://orionexp.com traveled to Turkey to participate in Project RAFT's white water competition and river symposium. We arrived in Istanbul, convened and mingled with the organizers and the dozens of other teams from every continent, and then traveled overland to the Black Sea region.
The white water competition centered on various stretches of the Coruh River. Class II, III and IV rapids, though some of the rapids might have been viewed as Class V considering the remoteness of the river canyon. The Coruh was a pretty, large volume river with turquoise color. The surrounding countryside was stark, very mountainous and devoid of vegetation.
We rafted more than 20 miles of the Coruh over the course of the competition, passing several mountainside villages, but the river ran for hundreds of miles upstream and donwstream --- it emptied into the Black Sea.
For river trips in Turkey, contact Alternatif http://www.alternatifraft.com/
"River Rafting may not sound an immediate attraction for a holiday in Turkey"
- The Best Activities in Turkey | Just Scuba Diving (view on Google Sidewiki)
Since this is another automated regurgitation of barely coherent keywords and keyword phrases, I will attempt to supply some content to the gibberish.
The best white water rafting companies in the West by reputation, resilience and respect around the industry are: O.A.R.S., Whitewater Voyages, Noahs Rafting, Echo, Ouzel, ROW Adventures, AZRA, ARTA, Canyons, Inc, Grand Canyon Dories and Rocky Mountain River Tours.
Legendary stretches of white water in the West, every river aficionado should want to check off their 'bucket' list include: Westwater Canyon, Cataract Canyon, Grand Canyon, Middle Fork Salmon, Yampa, Royal Gorge of the Arkansas, Taos Box of the Rio Grande, Forks of the Kern, Rogue, Tuolomne, Selway and the Illinois. http://orionexp.com
The best week long river rafting trip in the world is the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho. The best 14 day+ river trip in the world is the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park. But, it is always true that the best river trip is the one you are currently on.
"Whitewater rafting trips"
- The Best Whitewater Rafting Trip Around Colorado | girlmusic (view on Google Sidewiki)
Friday, March 12, 2010
The description of Tumwater Canyon --- a seven-mile stretch of white water on the Wenatchee River above the town of Leavenworth --- appears to be somewhat understated.
The author of this section glosses over Tumwater's tumultuous rapids and ends the brief paragraph with, "If you want excitement, this is the section for you."
My suggestion would be, if you are an expert river runner with top-of-the-line equipment and you have a partner similarly geared and experienced AND you are unfazed by incredibly powerful waves and hydraulics, you might want the personal challenge of Tumwater Canyon at high water.
It is NOT commonly rafted by commercial rafting companies --- at least, not the stretch from the foot of Exit Drop Rapid and upstream. With the advent of Creature Craft, perhaps some rafting entrepreneur will believe it is commercially viable. Even so, I would not suggest the Tumwater Canyon section of the Wenatchee for anyone other than very experienced river runners. http://orionexp.com/
"If you want excitement, this is the section for you."
- Rafting the Wenatchee River (view on Google Sidewiki)
The stretch of the federally-designated Wild & Scenic Sauk River rafted commercially is between Whitechuck Creek and Bachman County Park. The mileage on this portion of the river is closer to 9 miles, although if you continued all the way to the confluence of the Suiattle River it might be 16 miles.
Even though the white water is predominantly Class III, I would be hesitant to describe the Sauk "ideal for families and beginners". Even the stretch from Darrington to the Suiattle confluence can be congested with logjams and sweepers.
Competent kayakers and rafters can tackle the Whitechuck to Bachman run, but they should be aware of the possibility of wood in the channel and, if possible, contact outfitters or other boaters who have been on the river after spring flooding.
The Sauk River is a four-star white water river adventure close to metropolitan Seattle and suitable for beginners if they are with a professional or experienced guide. The four companies that provide river rafting trips on the Sauk from May through early August are: Orion River Rafting http://orionexp.com, North Cascades River Expeditions, Downstream River Runners and Wild & Scenic River Tours.
"Most popular river trip in the western half of Washington", "rambunctious white water", "ideal beginning rafter and kayaker river", "great family trip in the summer", "best weather you will find river rafting in Washington", "great inner tubing river once the snow melt is gone and the sun high" --- all of these are excellent descriptors of the Wenatchee River out of the tourist destination and Bavarian Village of Leavenworth, Washington.
What makes the Wenatchee River the perfect mini-vacation getaway is the plethora of other activities and amenities available in the Wenatchee Valley. Hiking, wine-tasting. fishing, rock-climbing, mountain biking, shopping, beer gardens, amusement centers, etc
Commercial rafting companies include: Orion River Rafting http://orionexp.com, Wildwater River Tours www.wildwater-river.com, North Cascades River Expeditions http://www.riverexpeditions.
"Commercial rafting companies operate on the river in the spring and summer."
- Leavenworth WA | Wenatchee River (view on Google Sidewiki)
The massive snowfall back East --- even as recently as a few weeks ago --- augur a spectacular run-off in the rivers around the region and a very long, prosperous river rafting season for commercial outfitters. However, inexpensive trips coupled with rivers exploding out of their banks may also lead to numerous white water safety scenarios if thousands of newcomers jump on the deals and go rafting while the rivers are flooding and frigid.
Eastern outfitters should provide wetsuits for the icebreaker Weekend, but private boaters should definitely wear neoprene in the sort of hypothermic conditions they are certain to encounter. Washington State outfitters have been providing and requiring neoprene on their river trips ever since a company called Whitewater Tuxedo was established in the early 1980s. Whitewater Tuxedo rented wetsuits and boots to the guests of every rafting company operating out of Seattle.
"Prices for this weekend's day trips are discounted"
- Eastern Blizzards Bring Spectacular Spring Whitewater Rafting Trips (view on Google Sidewiki)
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Nice blog entry on paddling the Wenatchee River and a couple of tributaries but aimed specifically at kayakers. The description of the Wenatchee River from Leavenworth to Cashmere is thorough and informative, and would be a useful reference for novice boaters.
The author seems to take a slightly cavalier attitude about the two more challenging stretches of river mentioned in the posting --- Tumwater and Icicle Creek --- though I am completely aware that not being a kayaker and coming from a more conservative attitude about river running, I might be mis-reading this.
I think I would use a more cautionary framing when suggesting either stretch of white water since anyone who isn't an expert should not come anywhere near those two runs.
Other river rafting outfitters on the Wenatchee, besides Osprey are: Orion River Rafting http://orionexp.com, Wildwater River Tours http://www.wildwater-river.
"Wenatchee River from Leavenworth to Cashmere"
- » our rivers Paddle the Wenatchee (view on Google Sidewiki)
I always come back to what Jim Fielder, owner of Zig Zag River Runners, told me years ago during the first recession my whitewater rafting company, Orion River Rafting http://orionexp.com, weathered. He said (and I am paraphrasing), "I read during the Great Depression, when most Americans didn't have two dimes to rub together, rollercoaster rides at state fairs continued to do a booming business. Rafting will have the same resiliency."
And, he was right. Through that recession and the next one. We didn't have to add paintball and donkey rides and perform a musical, or bring in a dance troupe, during lunch.
But, over the decades, Orion River Rafting has had to stay small enough and nimble enough to remain afloat during the tighter economic times. Reinvention, such as adding other kinds of adventure activities, has been an aspect of the business plan, but the economy has never been the driving force behind a desire to change.
Changing just for the sake of maximizing profit or looking toward profitability would seem to cheapen the experience. From my point of view, the value-added needs to be both tangible and intangible. It needs to fit within our Mission statement.
So, I doubt Orion River Rafting will be adding any ziplines any time soon, but I wish those West Virginia operators the best of luck with their new operations.
"Rafting companies are reinventing themselves"
- Rafting companies are reinventing themselves » Today's Front Page » The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia (view on Google Sidewiki)
You would think that WordPress.org might have some means of 'catching' these faux blog entries, but until they do, I intend to co-opt them for my own purposes. At least this one jumbles together keyword phrases that actually relate to white water river rafting.
However, I love the comment about "wildest estuaries". It has been a long time since my last geography class, but I am thinking that unless we are talking about the St. Lawrence seaway, estuaries can never be described as 'wild', like in wildwater, or whitewater rafting http://orionexp.com
In any event, when the day comes that the internet implodes, or becomes so clogged it dies an electronic myocardial infarction, remember the billions of web pages generated for no other purpose than to get search engines to pick them up.
"Whitewater rafting trips require to be carried out within the wildest estuaries"
- The Best Whitewater Rafting Excursion Experience In Colorado | horsemusic (view on Google Sidewiki)
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The Deschutes (French for 'cascades') River http://orionexp.com winds through Bend, Oregon, and after miles of swiftwater melds with Pacific bound Columbia River near Biggs, Oregon. Between Bend and the confluence, the Deschutes River slices through mountain ranges and carves channels through ragged basalt bedrock creating dozens of fun Class III - IV white water rapids.
One of the pleasures of the Deschutes River, rarely mentioned, is it is always 'on the move'. Even during its mild stretches, the current is strong and relentlessly headed downstream.
The absolute BEST time to enjoy this unsung multi-day river rafting trip, only hours from Seattle, Portland and Boise, is during the spring months when the grasses are green, the campsites are fresh and no one but the random fisherman is on the river.
The other big positive for the Deschutes River is that it has sufficient flows throughout the year. So, whether your vacation time can be manipulated to enjoy the quiet, high water spring months or you can only make time for leisure during the popular summer months, you will find water in the Deschutes.
Orion River Rafting offers trips year-round on the Deschutes River in Oregon. http://orionexp.com/upper_
"Deschutes Whitewater River Rafting"
- Upper Deschutes Whitewater River Rafting Trips (view on Google Sidewiki)
The author, apparently a novice river rafter, makes a salient point regarding just how much influence guides and rafters have in the midst of crashing waves.
Some of the finest routes taken through the turbulence of Lava Falls Rapids in the Grand Canyon have come from less experienced river runners who did not fight the river's strength so much as just 'going with the flow'.
Occasionally during Orion's http://orionexp.com river rafting guide training, the instructors take over one raft and proceed to have some fun on the water by either 1) floating through a rapid with everyone's eyes closed EXCEPT for the captain, 2) 'intuitive' guiding where everyone in the raft steers, or 3) after setting up, just allowing the raft go wherever it is going to go.
Granted, these are Class III, maybe Class IV, rapids, and the raft's participants are well-versed in anticipating what the river and the raft will do, but, my point is, the inflatable raft muddles on through --- and as the author observes --- often with much less 'tension'.
These observations sometimes cause river rafting guides to wonder whether or not there is a need for their expertise and reading whitewater and steering a raft.
Well, there is an 'on the other hand'.
Going with the flow generally works and is much less work; however, setting up in a favorable position prior to entering a rapid can be key to success. In addition, being trained to know how to avoid certain hazards and employing techniques like ferrying can also make the difference between people paddle-high-fiving at the rapid's conclusion and tragedy.
After all, how do you think logjams form?
The Methow River meanders more than 30 miles through orchards and sandstone bluffs in north central Washington and is another exceptional multi-day river rafting trip. Float trips launch from Winthrop, Twisp, Carlton and MacFarland Creek.
The best whitewater on the Methow River is downstream of the one-horse community of Methow and would be day 2 or 3 of an overnight river trip. For a 3-day trip, launch in Winthrop, and for a single overnight raft adventure, put-in outside Twisp. The white water rapids early in the trip are easy Class I-II, while the powerful waves and more technical whitewater can be found in the last 8 miles of the trip.
Orion River Rafting http://orionexp.com offers one-day and overnight river rafting trips on the Methow River.
"The outfitters usually arrange for accommodations on tours lasting multiple days"
- River Rafting in Washington State | Hiking, Camping, Rafting Gear - Air Matteres Air Beds and More (view on Google Sidewiki)
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The 8-mile stretch of the Upper Skagit River http://orionexp.com/skagit_
in the North Cascades National Park is the perfect family river rafting trip. The Magic Skagit has Class I-II riffles and one Class III wave train that everyone from your first-grader to your grandmother will enjoy. It is nicknamed 'Magic' due to crystal clear water, fairyland Doug Fir forests and snowy ridges in the background.
Another great river rafting trip in Washington suitable for families is the Wenatchee River out of Leavenworth. If not everyone wants to go rafting, Leavenworth has numerous shops, activities and cultural events to entertain anyone in the family.
For a raft trip on the Skagit or the Wenatchee, contact: http://orionexp.com
"5 Rafting Trips For Families And Beginners"
- 5 Rafting Trips For Families And Beginners (view on Google Sidewiki)
The ideal time to river raft the Wenatchee River is between May and July.
May is peak, snow-melt runoff, so the water will be cold, the air temperature in the 70s and the water level can be moderate to high.
June is nice because the ambient temperature has risen considerably, while the river levels usually are still good enough to provide some exciting white water.
July is typically low and slow, but the weather is reaching the high 90s, so rafting continues to be fun, but more memorable due to water-fighting and voluntary swims.
Orion River Rafting provides daily, unhurried river trips out of Leavenworth, Washington. Established 1978. http://orionexp.com
"Spring mountain snowmelt creates excellent rafting conditions in the Wenatchee River."
- Leavenworth, Washington - A Great Place to Visit (view on Google Sidewiki)
One of the most popular river trips in Washington is the Wenatchee River flowing between the tourist destination of Leavenworth, Washington, and the home of aplets and cotlets candies, Cashmere, Washington.
The Wenatchee River is the quintessential trip for novices, as well as, avid rafters because it has large, frothy waves that are challenging to paddle, but very 'forgiving'. Sunshine and warm weather in eastern Washington also contribute to the Wenatchee's draw.
Another excellent river trip in the state of Washington is the Wild & Scenic Sauk River outside Darrington, Washington. The Sauk River is an emerald-green, glacier-fed river coming out of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The whitewater on the Sauk is invigorating and the scenery, on a clear day, is breath-taking.
For reservations contact: http://orionexp.com
"Popular River Rafting Trips"
- A Review Of Popular River Rafting Trips And Services (view on Google Sidewiki)
First of all, I'd like to say, follow the money.
These issues always comes down to who stands to lose value or money --- usually only hypothetically speaking, and rarely in reality.
But what are we to expect from the state that brought us The Sagebrush Rebellion during the Reagan Years? A Western state where water is like gold and everyone jockeys to claim the right to a resource that even a small child could tell you ought to belong to "the people" and not individuals on a willy-nilly, first-come/first-served basis.
Note that no one wants to consider some kind of compromise. Landowners claim inalienable rights and claim the moral high ground, even though, in a moral universe, that water would belong to the citizens of the entire country --- as a public resource --- and could not be restricted by one individual or entity.
After all, you can not step into the same river twice, so, technically, claiming the water as their "property", is impossible.
"Because HB 1188 is a fundamental attack on private property rights that, if passed, would “take” a landowners' ability to restrict access to their private property."
- Shawn Martini: Rafting bill attacks private property rights | SummitDaily.com (view on Google Sidewiki)
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Lois Friedland does a fantastic job writing about Adventure Travel for About.com, but, every now and then, Washington State gets overlooked when it comes to white water rafting trips and its outfitters.
The Columbia Gorge offers several scintillating river rafting trips within an easy drive of Portland and three of them are in Washington --- the White Salmon, the Wind and the Klickitat. Contact Wet Planet for trips on these rivers.
The Olympic Peninsula offers some of the most scenic river trips in Washington through gorgeous, moss laden rain forests. In the Olympics, you may encounter an elk herd and you will certainly be floating on a crystal clear, emerald green river. Contact Olympic Raft & Kayak .
The North Cascades from I-90 north has a half-dozen dynamic and adventurous river trips suitable for novices to experts. The best family river rafting trip is the Skagit River along the North Cascades Highway. The most scenic 'wilderness' whitewater can be found on the Sauk River. While the Wenatchee River offers enormous raft-drenching waves in the spring, and leisurely, water fighting opportunities later in the summer. Contact Orion River Rafting for daily, unhurried river rafting trips on any of these Washington rivers.
"Best River Rafting Destinations - Where to Find the Best Whitewater Raft Trips"
- Whitewater River Rafting Destinations - Find Whitewater River Rafting Destinations (view on Google Sidewiki)
Strange, awkward title, Even for keyword reasons. Ought to be "White Water River Rafting Rivers in the state of Washington".
The information, however, is excellent, and certainly not automated gobbledygook.
Green River Gorge
Three Doors Rapid just below the Nozzle can be a big surprise when the river is cruising above 2,500 cfs. It is highly unlikely the Green will run in 2010.
Watch for sweepers and logjams on the Cispus. Contact someone who rafts the river on a somewhat regular basis before attempting it. Or hire an outfitter.
Actually, Snohomish County is the managing agency that requires helmets, and the Wind River in the Columbia Gorge is much more challenging.
Boulder Drop Rapids, though much easier than it once was with non-self-bailing rafts, is sometimes considered to be Class V. The main reason being that rescue at Boulder Drop can be very difficult at higher water levels.
Sauk and Suiattle Rivers
I have no idea why the Sauk River gets such short shrift here because of these two rivers the Sauk River is ten times more enjoyable, even for novices. If there is Class IV on the Sauk, it is only a couple of Class IV 'moves'.
The Sauk River is also fed by glaciers and is often navigable late into the summer. Orion River Rafting rafted it one year on the 22nd of August.
All in all this is a nice compendium of the commercially rafted rivers in the state of Washington.
"Water Rafting Rivers"
- Water Rafting Rivers (view on Google Sidewiki)
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Terrific, informative article about the "hidden gem of the Cascades" --- the Methow River Valley. The re-invention of the town of Winthrop, the strong sense of community throughout the valley and the rise of sustainable businesses up and down the North Cascades Highway have made the Methow Valley a stellar destination whether during the summer or winter seasons.
As for river rafting on the Methow River, there was a time when hundreds if not thousands of white water enthusiasts from the Puget Sound region would make the 4 hour trek to revel in the monstrous breaking waves the spring run-off would create on the Methow River between Carlton and Pateros.
Rapids like Black Canyon, Staircase, Zero Hour, Shoshone Hole, Another Roadside Attraction and Jolly Green Giant would drench rafting participants and, literally, leave them aching for more. Other than the notable rapids named above, the Methow River, when blessed with water from bank to bank, also boasts numerous standalone boat-soaking curling waves like Cape Canaveral, Fat Lip, Mike's Face and Dumptruck.
Unfortunately, for the past decade or more, the Methow River has been ignored and virtually abandoned as far as river rafting goes. The combination of the long drive, questionable, quixotic May weather and quick runoffs that would sometimes catch rafters off guard when they would arrive at the put-in and discover the river limp and rocky might have contributed to the Methow's waning popularity.
However, a positive season appears to be brewing in 2010. Interest is up for river trips on the Methow. Hopefully, this hidden gem will treat us to a bunch of memorable white water rides during the period of time it is running full bore.
"river-rafting down the Methow River"
- » Methow Valley – Washington’s Hidden Gem (view on Google Sidewiki)
More gibberish posted online apparently as a means to draw attention to casinos or bingo? Hard to tell.
But whitewater rafting "is an exterior activity most people try at least once in their chronicle", say what? Word bot got confused.
Here are three REAL white water rafting safety tips: 1) always wear a life jacket in conditions where you are likely or could possibly take a swim, and ALWAYS wear a life jacket if you are a novice on moving water 2) do not challenge whitewater under the influence of recreational drugs, and 3) dress for success. Cotton clothing is anathema to cold water rafting. (The use of the word "anathema" proves this is not a bot-generated response!)
Another tip? Boat with pros, like Orion River Rafting http://orionexp.com/
- Whitewater Rafting – Safety Tips | Senam Online Bingo (view on Google Sidewiki)
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Please note that the this article never gets around to telling the reader which are the "5 Must Knows for the Best the Utah White Water Rafting Adventure".
This is because this 'blog' was generated by a computer and its purpose is merely to increase the visibility of "rafting in U-T-A-H" and, more specifically, drive traffic to the rafting company that paid the bot to spew this drivel and choke the internet with useless, nonsensical blather.
Even so, the 5 Must Knows for rafting in the Southwest is that the water is likely to be muddy, there tends to be a fair amount of floating, sunscreen is key, bring bottled water and prepare yourself for some gorgeous canyon scenes.
The river rafting in Washington State is delightful from May through September. See you there! http://orionexp.com/
"5 Must Knows For The Best The Utah White Water Rafting Adventure"
- 5 Must Knows For The Best The Utah White Water Rafting Adventure | neweventticket (view on Google Sidewiki)
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I have been organizing, leading and rafting rivers in the state of Washington since 1975. I have seen every imaginable description of the snowpack. I have been rafting for so long in the Pacific Northwest, I remember when they changed (read: downgraded) the definition of 'average' snowpack in the Cascades because the snowpack was no longer accumulating to the extent it once did in earlier part of the 20th century.
I have also been guiding and rafting for long enough in the Northwest to report that, no matter what the snowpack is in February, or March, you would be presumptuous to state that the white water rafting season is doomed to bad water level conditions. This is because the spring could be colder than normal, drier than normal, wetter than normal or the snowpack could increase due to late snows, or the water content might increase due to cold spring rains, etcetera.
But, I am also aware that, as the recreational white water rafting industry in the state of Washington has matured, river rafting clients, who are averse to donning tight-fitting neoprene suits and layers upon layers of synthetic fabrics, continue to choose to raft when they are nearly guaranteed warmer weather and, hopefully, sunshine. Thus, the great majority of river rafting users journey over the mountains late in the spring, or early in the summer, sometime around the end of June, and what they are likely to find is low water.
That will definitely be the case in 2010.
If you are planning a river rafting trip in the state of Washington this season, and you are hoping for a memorable white water trip, I urge you to reserve your trip for May or early June. Beyond June, the best white water rafting trip will be the Wild & Scenic Sauk River which flows faithfully off the glaciers of Glacier Peak and should be navigable throughout the month of July. Which is another observation I have made over the decades.
A Seattle Times article today states that the snowpack on the western side of the Cascades is appreciably better than the easter side of the mountains.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Perhaps this river rafting rescue in the Grand Canyon required the use of helicopters, motorized Zodiacs and 14 Park Rangers, but there is a chance it did not.
The best place to learn how to deal with river rescue scenarios is by taking a white water river rafting rescue course with one of the dozens of commercial outfitters who offer training courses. (http://orionexp.com/river_
Our company, Orion Expeditions, offers an outstanding course each spring but I would also recommend Whitewater Voyages (http://www.whitewatervoyages.
Accidents, like the one related in this post, happen. Much of the time, however, with the right training, a simple rescue, without the technology, will suffice.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
When I am promoting my river rafting business, I prefer to avoid the use of hyberbole like referring to my employees as "the most experienced guides." I prefer something a little more understated as in "friendly, personable and professional" http://orionexp.com/
Or as Leavenworth Outfitters describes their employees on this same page, as "enthusiastic and licensed".
Hyperbole is for selling soft drinks and useless products no one really needs. I would be wary of anyone in the river rafting adventure travel industry making unsupportable claims and utilizing qualifiers such as 'best', 'most' and "rated #1".
"Raft the best rivers around with the most experienced guides."
- Allred Escape Vacation Rental Condo (view on Google Sidewiki)
Monday, February 8, 2010
It is remarkable Washington's white water outfitters and guides have as good of track record as they do. The state's records of water-related fatalities show that nearly one hundred per cent of the victims were either a) not wearing a lifejacket b) improperly wearing a lifejacket c) inebriated or had alcohol in their system or d) both. The fact that commercial outfitters in the state have their customers wear life jackets all of the time and do not encourage on river drinking and provide neoprene goes a very long way toward stacking the odds in our favor.
Not wearing a lifejacket on moving water, especially in moving water where there is the opportunity for an unscheduled swim, is insanity. And even more so, with frigid moving water where the ambient air temperature is not conducive to rapid heat recovery.
On Washington's glacial and snow field fed streams and rivers, if you are, at minimum, dressed in neoprene and wearing a personal flotation device, you have increased your odds of survival immensely.
In addition to your neoprene wetsuit and boots, it is essential to add a 'splash' jacket, a layer or several layers of varying thicknesses of synthetic, wicking fibres, and a warm, synthetic or wool ski cap. Guides will be seen quite often with 'splash' pants as well. If worse comes to worse, and you arrive at the launch site on an overcast day on one of the Northwest's vaunted snow-fed whitewater runs, with nothing but the clothes on your back, it has been proven to be better to wear nothing but the neoprene with the life jacket than to count on cotton clothing --- of any kind --- to retain any heat.
The fun increases however, the better you are prepared.
Friday, January 8, 2010
In the state of Colorado, the issue of whether a landowner who owns the land adjacent to a river can prevent boaters from floating a river continues to be a flash point. Apparently, in Colorado, property owners believe they hold the rights all the way out to midstream. This, in spite of a Colorado law, clearly stating that river users have the right to navigate a stream as long as they don't trespass by stepping on the bank. Even so, some landowners have erected fences across waterways or strung neck-high wires, hired lawyers and, in some extreme cases, brandished weapons threatening river users who ignore the 'boundaries'.
A Colorado representative has introduced legislation that would amend the existing law to allow boaters to not only navigate waterways without fear of reprisal but step on the bank if necessary for safety reasons or utilitarian reasons. River runners everywhere should be interested in the development of this story because, it is conceivable, if Colorado landowners maintain their 18th century rights to a public resource, we are all losers.
A Washington woman drowned on the North Fork of the Payette this past summer due to what was surely a string of regrettable decisions. According to the news article, the 47-year old woman and her party of friends, launched on a section of the Payette that only highly skilled kayakers attempt and few or no commercial rafting companies. The article regarding the accident I found to be particularly educational unlike many new stories that typically accompany stories such as this one.
Here are some of the suggestions:
• Don't go alone. It's best to have two or three rafts or kayaks in a group. Outfitters run safety kayakers along with rafts on Class IV (advanced) sections of the South Fork of the Payette River.
• If you are still unsure of the river, ask for advice and information from other boaters at the launch site.
• Always wear a life jacket, even on non-whitewater rivers like the Boise River through Downtown Boise.
• Wear helmets when paddling whitewater and have good footwear that will take bumping on the rocks if you end up in the water.
• Don't overload your raft and make it difficult to maneuver.
• Make sure the raft is properly inflated. A soft raft is difficult to control.
• Don't drink. Rivers and alcohol don't mix.
• If you want to run a river that looks more difficult than your ability, go with an outfitter or other experts the first few times.
• Know how to swim rapids. Guides on outfitted trips give safety talks before they launch.
• Getting thrown from a raft is always a possibility on any moving water, even the Boise River. Immediately look for the raft and try to get to it. Don't get downstream of the raft because you can get caught between it and a rock or log.
• When swimming, lay on your back with your feet pointed downstream and do a backstroke. Your feet can be used to push off rocks or away from logs.
• To get out of the water quickly, do a backstroke at an angle against the current toward the bank. The angling action will move you faster toward the bank.
• Stay away from brushy banks where you can get trapped in overhanging limbs or logs.
• Never try to stand up in a fast-moving river. Your feet can be caught in rocks and you could be knocked down and the current could hold your body face-down under water.
I was relieved to see that the author of the news article included the safety precaution of always going boating with someone else if you are a kayaker, and to have a second raft, if you are a rafter. In the '80s, during the deposition-phase of the Methow River accident where the guide and a guest died, the defense attorneys for the outfitter, much to my astonishment, managed to find an Idaho Outfitters and Guide Association member who defended the one-boat trip from a safety standpoint. Apparently, Idaho boaters have come to their senses.
FOUR RIVERS LOTTERY
Speaking of Idaho rivers, everything is online these days. Go here to sign up for the premier week-long Western river trips on the Salmon and Selway.