Jake Cammack

Where did you grow up?

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Where do you call home now?

It will be somewhere in the Rocky Mountain cordillera.

Year started at OARS?


What’s the best part of your job?

I love educating people about the river and its active natural history. I also love making great food and having engaging conversations!

Tell us about your favorite rapid, hike or camp and what makes it special

Although it is impossible for me to choose a favorite rapid, one that comes to mind is Elkhorn rapid on the Main Salmon River. Elkhorn at high water is a long, monster of a rapid with large holes strewn throughout. Elkhorn, by the way, is a misnomer – elk have antlers, not horns! Ask me about my first training trip run down Elkhorn rapid at high water!

My favorite hike is ‘The Grotto,’ also known as ‘Parrot Placer’ on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. It is a lovely cool spot on a hot day. At its apex, a waterfall wisps back and forth spreading a light mist that sustains flowers and moss underneath it, and provides air-conditioning for hot humans in mid-summer. The geology of The Grotto includes outcrops displaying metamorphism of shaley limestone. The result of all this pressure, fluid and heat is a skarn which is chalked full of red garnets, green pyroxenes, amphiboles and perhaps even traces of gold. An old hermit, Earl Parrot, called this area home from about 1917 to 1942. He built an elaborate system of vertical ladders and cables to scale his way out of this little creek to his cabin and garden high above The Grotto. I often imagine Earl panning for bits of gold in the stream here, and scrambling up his ladder system back to his cabin. The grotto is a place for reflection and deep thought. I love sharing it!

Do you have a lucky charm or special river tradition?

Rigging to flip and constant vigilance while on the river!

What can you not live without on a trip?

Clothing, water, and food. I would likely become coyote food without these items. I also need my leatherman.

Fun fact, special talent or favorite guiding memory

I have a master’s degree in geology! Ask me questions and I will give you a few billion years to think about. I also love rock climbing… or pretty much anything to do with rocks.