Guide-Speak – The language of a river guide


Orange Torpedo Trips has been running guided rafting trips down the Rogue River since 1969, and other rivers of the west—namely, the North Umpqua, Klamath, and Salmon rivers—for nearly as long (guide legend even holds that my fellow blog contributor, The Great One, Mike Slagle, himself watched as the Rogue was carved from the mountains of Southern Oregon). 

Over the years, there has developed a sort of Orange Torpedo guide culture, including an Orange Torpedo Guide vernacular, or guide-speak. For guests, guide-speak can be confusing, and even unintelligible–at least at first. And so, in the interest of giving future and returnee guests of Orange Torpedo a leg up, I thought I’d explain some of the most frequently used guide-speak terms.

·      Gooder (adj.):
This term is used to affirm and/or confirm. If “all is well,” a guide says it is gooder. When asked if something is ready, prepared, executed (as in completed, not killed), accomplished, the affirmative or confirmative response in guide-speak is gooder. Say, for example, that I ask a fellow guide while driving to check if I’m clear on one side of the rig or the other. Assuming I am (clear, that is), the standard response would be, “’gooder.” Note: Gooder can also function in certain contexts as a noun in guide-speak. Common usages include, as in:
-Guide-Gooder– Scraps, leftovers, and foods that falls in the sand).
-Gatorgooder– A Large Gatorade bottle.
-Tunagooder– (Tuna salad).
-Eye of the Gooder– Eye of the Needle, on the Lower Salmon River.
·      Fukari (n.), [guides-speak synonyms: F’kiz’t; see also, Clustercuss, Yardsale]
This term takes its name from a particularly thorny rapid on the Lower Salmon River called Fukari S-Curves (A.K.A, Flynn Creek Rapids), and describes a state-of-affairs gone more or less wrong—from snafu to debacle. Take this dialogue for illustration:
“How’d Snowhole rapid go?” asked Erik.
“It was a Fukari,” Josh replied.
·      Wapshilla (adj.), also Wapshilla-hot
This qualifying term takes its name from Wapshilla Beach—and Wapshilla beach from Wapshilla rapid, and Wapshilla rapid from Wapshilla Creek, etc.—on the Lower Salmon River, and is used to describe gradations of heat. Specifically, it is used to describe particularly scorching heat (e.g., ‘it’s Wapshilla hot in here!’).  
·      [The] Johnny
This is arguably the most important guide-speak term for a guest to know. The Johnny refers to the portable camp toilet used on multiday camp trips, such as the Lower Salmon River, the Klamath River, and on North Umpqua River and Main Salmon Rivernon-lodge trips. For guests, the Johnny—as a term—often represents something initially unfamiliar and unpleasant, but for guides, Johnny is akin to the name of an old friend.