A Love Note From Your River Guide

A Love Note From Your River Guide

Dear Rafter,

I know we only met once, and it was brief, but I have something to tell you—I love you. Your adventurous spirit and wild heart still bring a smile to my face. You weren’t just a random person in a silly orange life jacket. You were a fellow rafter, a friend. And I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Here’s why…

Without you my job wouldn’t exist. The only reason I am able to call the river my office is because you chose to spend your vacation on a rafting trip. It was likely your one big trip of the year, and the cost probably sent a shiver down your spine, but you committed and I can’t thank you enough. The river is my home, my sanctuary, my life and folks like you let me continuously bask in its beauty.

A love note from your river guide | Photo: Dennis Coello

You make it all worth it. Being a river guide sounds glorious, I know. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Eighty percent of our job is spent off the water. Tasks like cleaning the groover, setting up a tarp in 40 mph wind and waking up before the sun are not exactly what rafting dreams are made of. But serving breakfast to smiling faces like yours every morning warms my little mermaid heart. And the five or so hours that I actually get to spend on the water with you each day are MAGICAL. Your excitement about nature and adventure is contagious and I can’t help but grin as you hoot and holler through the wave trains.

And let me tell you, your transformation on the river was inspiring. You might have been a little nervous about the tumultuous rapids or camping for four nights with your youngsters, but you were a rockstar. I saw you face your fears; you jumped from towering rocks, you slept out under the stars, and you even self-rescued when your ducky flipped. Your hair was a mess, you had a funny sandal tan and you dreamt of conquering big rapids. It was beautiful. You unplugged from life back home and you changed. And that is what keeps me coming back year after year—that look in your eyes after you finally let the river into your soul.

A love note from your river guide | Photo: James Kaiser

You taught me about life.  I want you to know that I absorbed every single thing you said. And I’m wiser because of it.

You were the 70-year-old man who took me under your trembling arm to give me advice on living with intention. You were the 45-year-old woman who told me I could call you mom. You were the 16-year-old girl who decided that you wanted to be a guide instead of a super model. You were the 7-year-old boy who said, “this is real happiness” when burying yourself in the sunbaked sand.

You were open, honest and authentic…how could I not fall in love?

With utmost gratitude and love,

Your River Guide

 

  • Lisa Leach

    Love this!!!

  • Emerald LaFortune

    Well written Carly, way to capture that special river guest/guide relationship!

  • Jon Richardson

    In 1973, my dad took me down the Grand Canyon on an ARTA raft trip as a high school graduation present. We had both backpacked several times down in the canyon, but this was something special. My boat had two guides, a woman named Marilyn, and a man named Allen, also known as Crazy Allen. They both kind of changed my life. They were knowledgeable, fun, and the kind of people that I wanted to be. I will always remember them fondly, and I hope they are doing great!

  • educator4kids

    Thank you for writing this heartfelt letter to our rafters. I often wondered your perspective on your terrific career and you answered elegantly.

  • Marianne Porter

    Love OARS and spending time both on the river and sandy beaches. My daughter Kelsey is an OARS guide as well. We’ve heard familiar sentiments. Easy forward!

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