A Note of Gratitude to Our “Wonderful Little River Family”

3 Min. Read

Transition periods are nothing out of the ordinary for river guides. Each year, as the river season comes to a close, we go through a complete transformation in our day-to-day routines. I like to use these transition periods to take some time to tune into myself and reflect on the past season.

Grand Canyon River Trip - Dune Camp

During my recent contemplations, I realized that this was one of my favorite river seasons—and many other guides I had worked with seemed to share that same sentiment—but it took me some time to figure out why. This year was marked by low water, which often correlates with long days of hard rowing and can lead to low energy levels amongst the crew. We were also still dealing with some changes in our standard operating procedures due to COVID-19, which made guide life a little more difficult than usual. It seemed that the odds were stacked against us for keeping morale high throughout the season, but somehow it happened.

I think we have one driving force to thank for this: you all, our river family, who were more stoked than ever to be on the water this year.

Over the past two years, the pandemic shook up everyone’s day-to-day routines. This was a frequent topic of conversation on the river throughout the season, and though the pandemic affected everyone differently, there were some common themes in what people experienced. Most people took advantage of time spent at home to reconsider what is important in life and to reprioritize. On the water and in the wild together, it feels like this perspective shift allowed more people than ever to realize how special river trips really are.

Group in costumes on a Cataract Canyon rafting trip

The river has a magical way of allowing people to live in the moment – no distractions from phones constantly buzzing, screens to stare at, or a constant influx of news. River life allows us to move our attention away from what is happening in the outside world and focus on nothing but the present. We get to wake up slowly and sip coffee while we watch the sun rise. We get to float through beautiful canyons and admire the power that forces of nature and time have over a place. We get to feel small and insignificant as we camp under expansive night skies and stare at towering cliff walls that represent millions of years of history and transformation. On the water, we have the ability to live in an accepting and appreciative environment, a space where everyone is allowed to be the truest version of themselves and they are loved for it.

Being able to experience a river trip with people you love is an amazing gift. And this year, after living with ongoing pandemic stress and uncertainty, river life felt even more glorious. Us guides could tell that people were more excited than ever to be on the water this year. We could feel how appreciative everyone was to spend time outdoors with loved ones. We felt that more people than ever truly valued their river experience, and would continue to prioritize going on these types of adventures in the future.

If you were one of those folks who joined us on the water this year, thank you. Thank you for sharing your excitement and love for the river. Thank you for placing a priority on getting outside and truly valuing your time spent in the canyons with us. Your happiness and excitement for being on the river was contagious, and that made this season my favorite to date. Thank you for being a part of our wonderful little river family. We appreciate you immensely.

Photos: Heart-shaped chair circle in camp on a Grand Canyon rafting trip – Blythe Austin; Costume night in Cataract Canyon – Ally Klaes

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