Ask A River God: Back Support

Aug 3, 2012

Ask A River God: Back Support
Got a burning question about rafting trips? A catalog can only cover so much, then it’s time to Ask A River God. Send us your questions, and we’ll put our guides and staff to the test!

 

Soon I will embark on the 10-day trip down the Grand Canyon, a dream of a lifetime.

My question is this about back support: I’ve been whitewater rafting in the past and and, in the excitement, I never gave a second thought to back support. But those were 1-, 2-, and 3-day trips. Ten days will be a new experience. Is there any way to strap on something like an adjustable canoe seat? Or is there room enough on the bottom of the boat, in calm waters, to sit my fanny down and lean on the raft seat if my back needs a rest? I don’t have a back “condition” of any sort, just the groans of 55 years of gravity and bipedal locomotion.

Looking forward to your response.

— All the best, Martha Turner

Jeffe Aronson

Dear Martha,

My back also sucks, after 58 years of rowing and paddling and lifting. Pilates and keeping toned has saved my behind … so far.

Assuming from your question you’re on a raft and not a dory, I’d say this one is easy-peezy. Get yourself a Crazy Creek chair. It’ll pack light, clip on or slip under the frame pad for whitewater, provides an adjustable backrest, and because its small and easy to deal with, won’t tick off your guides. I had a client on my last trip that used one, but I forgot to steal it at the end of the trip. You can also take it to your camp for evening and morning use.

You won’t be comfortable sitting in the bilge. It’s wet, jiggles a lot, and probably harbors 24 people’s worth of foot fungus. As for your fanny, I married an Australian gal, and no longer use that term. It doesn’t mean the same thing Down Under!

I’m so glad you’re finally getting around to your dream. It was mine, too, 37 years ago. Only I just never woke up from that first magical time. A hundred and twenty-something times later, I’m still dreaming!

— River God

Jeffe Aronson
Jeffe Aronson rows dories in the Grand Canyon, and rafts in Alaska, Idaho, and other far-flung rivers. He loves nature at her wildest, when she is most beautiful. His evocative descriptions of untamed places and the constant tension and nearness of death has gripped travelers and readers alike for the duration of Jeffe's 37 years as a river guide and story teller. Jeffe has published several stories on Amazon, each a chapter of: “Onwards Wayward Boatmen”—a riveting collection of adventure narratives and personal stories. You may subscribe to his blog: “I Can’t Make This Shit Up” at his website: River-God.com.