As the oarlock turns: a journey into the gritty and glorious grind of a river guide’s season on the water. Starting with the madness of pre-season prep, Kyle “Smitty” Smith’s eight-part series follows the highs, lows and in-betweens of the itinerant river guide lifestyle.
Fumes of acetone, Hypalon rubber and freshly lacquered oars sift through the warehouse. Empty PBR cans tipped on their sides and random tools riddle the workshop’s table. Randy the Handy must be working on the sweep boat floor again. Damn that rock in the left line at Pistol Creek! Aluminum dry boxes are spread across the floor in a strange crop-circle-like cataloging system, and the commissary drama-queen is cursing my name for eating too much cereal the season before: “Now we have to order more!”
A method to the madness.
Forest Woodward, director of The Important Places, shares photos and memories from the Grand Canyon trip that inspired his powerful film.
Upset Rapid || Jeff was one of the more skilled oarsmen in our party, and earned himself the nick name Captain Calm for the ease with which he piloted his craft. About a half second after I snapped this frame was probably the closest Captain Calm came to losing his cool on this trip; to his credit, he still managed to do a high side dance, surf the boat out of the hole, and pickup his somewhat water logged passenger, Dr. Al, a few hundred feet downstream.
The important places, we all have them. They’re the places that awed us, that inspired us, that fed our souls. Sometimes we wander far from them, but the memories remain. Sometimes we have to return there to feel whole again. In this film, a father and son return to one of the father’s important places, the Grand Canyon. There they discover more about each other—and the bond they share. This is an important film, about the important places.
Deep in rural Guatemala, expedition rafter Lacey Anderson employs a whiteboard and the common language of rivers to bridge the communication divide and train a group of indigenous Mayans to be river guides.
With a marker and small whiteboard in hand, I began illustrating hydrology to a group of Mayan Qéqchi´ river guide trainees. Their positive attitude and fun-loving ways felt familiar to me, even though I was deep in the heart of the Guatemalan jungle—these good vibes are common in the guiding industry. Standing on a dirt floor, in the entryway of a primitive plank wood house, I held up a tiny whiteboard to illustrate some river running principles to the young men who didn’t speak English, and whose native tongue was Qéqchi´. Grinning from ear to ear, I could see that these young recruits had many of the same traits as guides I had worked with closer to home.
Whether this is the year to master that one drop, or to move on to the next level, Kyle “Smitty “ Smith has some solid advice: push your limits, not your luck.
Before leaving the house to spend time in the mountains, if one can call the hills near my hometown mountains, my mom would always yell out the door “Make smart choices, Kyle!” in a demanding, yet loving, way that only a mother can master. Did I always heed her words? Too many scars to count and a few fractured bones are evidence for an emphatic no. However, leaving loved ones at home, who I value returning to, and losing a number of friends—travel buddies and close members of the whitewater family—along the way has left me contemplating the decisions I make on the water more often than in the past.
Team NRS Member, Alec Voorhees, recounts the stoke and hard work of a month-long training trip in Uganda. A repeat trip, Alec discusses his strengths, goals, and what he needs to accomplish to secure a spot for the 2015 World Championships.
Uganda Training Agenda: wake up, eat breakfast, paddle; play volleyball, or ultimate frisbee, or disc golf, eat lunch, paddle; eat dinner, go to bed.
Repeat (times 30 days).
Waterfalls, trophy drops, and stellar scenery make California’s Dinkey Creek a kayaking paradise, but can it be run in a raft? When a crew decided to try, Darin McQuoid brought his camera to capture the action.
In 1989, after the first descent of Dinkey Creek, Paul Martzen said, “A high performance inflatable might be good for this run.” Little did he know, it would take twenty-five years for this to happen.
Attention all Idaho river guides, and anyone else who loves Idaho rivers and the river community. The 3rd Annual Idaho River Rendezvous (IRR), presented by The Redside Foundation, is happening Friday-Saturday, May 8–10, in Salmon, Idaho.
Group photo from the 2014 Rendezvous.
The Rendezvous is an annual event dedicated to the health and strength of Idaho River Communities—guides, outfitters, managers, and enthusiasts alike. This year it’s held in conjunction with a local Salmon community event—the Salmon River Fest, adding some great entertainment and social events to the schedule. Continue reading