Monday, March 16, 2020
Mel, as we call her, is one of those guides that every guest remembers. I regularly get e-mails from guests commenting on her incredible kindness, leadership, and un-parralled work ethic. As we look towards the warmer days of July and August we thought it would be fun to hear from one of our Head Guides on the Main and Lower Salmon River trips.
1.How long have you been guiding? The 2020 season will be my 5th year as a guide on the Salmon River and 6th season as an employee for OTT.
2. Why have you stuck with it? Why would I stop? By the end of each winter, I am constantly thinking about the warm sunny beaches of the Salmon River. Not to mention, the people I get to guide and share the river with!
3. What do you do in the off season? This past year, I spent the off season in Bozeman, MT learning to ski and applying for graduate school. Prior to that, I attended Oregon State University for four years and received a degree in Human Development and Family Science in June of 2019. Go Beavs.
4. What is your favorite thing about guiding? My favorite thing about guiding is teaching children to love the river, feel comfortable in the outdoors, and have fun without any of today’s modern conveniences! As river trips are a new experience for most children, it can be accompanied by a lot of hesitancy. Guiding allows me to assist children in overcoming their fears, help them learn to respect the river, and teach them innovative ways to have fun with what the wilderness offers.
5. Do you have a favorite memory or moment from your guiding career? One of my favorite memories from my guiding career happened a couple of seasons ago. At night, we cooked dinner and set up tents, then ate dessert under a canopy. We could see a big storm coming our direction down the canyon. As it began to dump rain, everyone on the trip huddled under the canopy and we laid in sleeping bags under the sky. We watched (in aw) as a lightening storm moved right over the top of us, followed by a calm starry-night sky. It was truly magical.
6. Why do you think river trips are such a great thing for people to choose as a vacation? There is something about disconnecting from reality and being in the wilderness that can be life changing. Experiencing the river by boat is something most people can do, whether in a raft or IK. The unique river trip environment creates a place where people can push the boundaries, conquer fears, bond with family, or find peace. It is a break from the real world and I think everyone could use that sometimes!
7. How has guiding changed you? I started guiding and being around the OTT crew at 17. Guiding has helped make me who I am. It has tested my will power, questioned my strength (physically and mentally) and trained me for life. I feel better prepared to have a professional career because guiding has facilitated opportunities for teaching, leading, and learning. More than that, guiding has made me aware of the impact I can have on other’s experiences with the world.
8. Has your time on the river changed the way you do or look at other things in your life, if so, how? I have said since graduating college that this job provided the refresh that I needed to stay focused during the off season. Being disconnected from internet, focused on my surroundings, and present in my relationships is something I practice during the summer. In the off season, it is easier to implement these ideas when I am forced to be connected for work or school. My time on the river helps me stay grounded and remember what is important.
9. What piece of advice would you give to a new/young river guide?
I would tell a new/young river guide that guiding is about more than just being on the water and rowing a boat. Be prepared to be in a kitchen that cooks for large groups, to entertain and accommodate people of all ages and backgrounds, to pursue additional safety training throughout your time as a guide, and to contribute to a team with a mission of running a smooth and safe trip.
10. What are you most excited for this next season? I am most excited for the days when things don’t go as planned. We try our hardest to bring the gear and equipment needed to facilitate a great time for everyone on our trips but weather, outdoor cooking, and people’s needs can be unexpected. I feel as if I’ve spent the past five seasons learning and practicing the skills needed to make the unexpected a positive experience. I’m excited to contribute to a team that can thrive in chaos when they have to. With a optimistic attitude, a little bit of preparation, and a fun crew of guests and guides, there is never a bad day on the river!