Friday, April 11, 2014

Guide Training

I have been helping a friend out with his raft guide training for the season. It has been really fun, i've always shied away from pushing rubber. Its nothing personal i just have always liked the solitude that comes from running ones own boat, also there's something to be said for only being responsible for one's self. To be honest that's not a great attitude. Rafts are fun and a fantastic way to get people on the river. I've been having a blast, anyway.

During this time i also wrote an article for our local news paper. The shop i work in does a monthly blurb called Adventures. As it was my turn to write and i was doing guide training i wrote about that. Here is what came of it.

It’s cold outside and early. It takes more than I would like to admit to pull myself out from underneath the covers and get dressed. The fog uptown is heavy, blocking the pre-dawn light. The wind and rain last night convinced me to load the car in the dark. Otherwise, I would be colder and wetter than I care to be so early in the morning. 

I am repeating a ritual I have known all my life, bringing me friends and adventures over the years. It’s the ritual of river running. Like all good rituals there is challenge and mystery, ugliness and beauty, awe, self-discovery and fun. I'm particularly looking forward to today; I will be training a new raft guide for a friend of mine. It’s always a great joy to introduce someone to the world of rivers.

Turning onto highway 101, heading for Port Angeles, I can’t help but think how living on the Quimper Peninsula makes rivers seem so far away. The Olympic Mountains at the heart or our peninsula produce a huge variety of waterways. You can enjoy a leisurely family canoe trip in the glacial valleys of the Hoh or Quinault Rivers, a kayak trip into a dark waterfall-filled gorge along the Hood canal, or anything in between. Information on these rivers is sparse, the guidebook has been out of print for years, and on many of the more remote stretches, you’re not likely to see anyone else.
I'm thinking about these remote canyons while pulling into the parking lot west of Port Angeles where I'm greeted with all the trappings of guide training. Boats piled haphazardly waiting for their annual inspection. Trailers, paddles, oars and equipment are everywhere. I don't see anyone but by the looks of the raft tied down to the trailer, I'm expected. Soon enough the company van pulls up and out piles my friend and the guide-to-be.
With a couple of handshakes, introductory smiles and hugs, the trailer is securely hitched and we begin the windy drive to the Sol Duc River west of Lake Crescent. I can see the newbie sponging up river stories and river lies. I love the thought that by the end of the summer many of these stories and lies will come out of his mouth, as though he had actually been there. By then I suppose, he will have.
At the put-in I don my river garb, snug up my life jacket and climb up onto the trailer to push the raft into the water. One sound push and a simple rubber air bladder with a little bit of aluminum tubing becomes a spaceship, time machine, and dream machine all at once. I give my brief safety spiel, explain to the neophyte where to sit and take my place at the oars. A kingfisher cruises low over the emerald water as I take my first stroke and pull us into the current. The learning starts, the two of us are gone.

Being so close to the Strait of Juan de la Fuca and the Pacific Ocean makes the rivers easy to forget, but they are still there for all of us to explore.

It was fun to write. All the photos are from that day on the water.And just to show it made it into the paper here it is.

Page three ain't bad eh? Also i share the page with a lovely article about two stupid kids sticking up our local grocery store for one lousy bottle of cheep vodka. One wore a fencing mask the other a ski mask with a Port Townsend High School basket ball warm up jacket. Lets just say that i doubt these two were hard to catch.
Cheers boys hope the Popov was worth it.

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