Not everyone can guide for AW. Of course there are the high standards of guiding, the long hours, and the close proximity to other staff through the duration of the summer. Because of this, we have developed a team of misfits, who all share on goal- to bring you on the best rafting trips, ever.
Our most senior guide, and without doubt the most experienced guide in the company, is Eric Creech. My first experience with this fine example of a guide was during my guide training- five years ago. I clearly remember a man who was harsh, abrasive even, towards his students. I only took three days of training with Creech, but to this day I credit him as the guide that taught me how it was done.
My most vivid memory of training with Creech was not from when I was being trained by him. I was with another guide, struggling to learn to maneuver a boat on the Arkansas river at low water, when I look over and see Creech's training boat being pulled over by none other than Creech himself. Apparently, the trainees failed to follow his directions, hit a rock sideways, didn't highside, and their trainer did what we call "closed the coffin"- pulled the boat over sideways by hand.
Fast forward three years to 2016- my partner Justin and I were hanging around the boathouse in Kremmling, when none other than Creech walked in, mentioning that due to a medical concern he could no longer guide class IV like he has been doing for likely 75 years, and was going to have to switch to a more beginner friendly river. So, we hired him on to guide the Upper Colorado River- one of our most popular trips- and now he is one of the main trip leaders out of our Kremmling location.
I remember one day last year I rode along one of his trips on the Upper C, and let me tell you, I have honestly not had that much fun on a beginner raft trip in my life. So come check out a raft trip guided by a true professional, and ask for Creech as your guide!
Every year during the first weekend in June, the Friends of the Yampa in Steamboat Springs, Colorado hosts a river festival. During this, there is a downriver raft race. Last year, in 2016, we went up there with almost all our staff, and entered two boats into this race. With hard work, and some solid guiding by Justin, we managed to clinch a time good enough to score first place.
This year, we decided we needed to go back for more. We put a crew together, but the day before the race we had one of the biggest trips in AW history. So, come Saturday morning, everyone was so tired they didn't have it in them to race. The only two that were feeling up to it were myself and one of our trainers, Johnny. We used an idea that the group came up with the previous night to try to allow a group of two to be competitive in the race.
Basically, we attached two stern mount oarframes to one of our 13' boats facing each other. This would allow one guide to pull, while the other pushed and steered the boat. With registration closing at 12:30, we left Kremmling at 11:48 for a one hour drive to Steamboat. We arrived at the festival a little after 1:00PM, and were told at the registration tent that registration had closed, and we would have to try to drive up to the put-in at Fletchers pond, and ask if we would be able to get on there.
We parked at the put-in, and hurried up to talk to the race coordinator, Ken, who remembered us from last year, and told us we would definitely be able to race. We paid our entry fees ($20! Friends of the Yampa Rock!!), and went about putting air in the boat. We drew numbers out of a hat to determine the race's start order. We got #6, and selected our team name- "The Bowless Boyz"- a pun on our boat not having a real bow and stern (front and back).
As the race had a sprint start, we lined up 6th in a long line of 17 boats that were participating, and waited for our turn to launch. The referee started us, and we sprinted carrying our boat 200 feet towards the Yampa River. We shoved the boat into the water, and got in, finding ourselves already in the bushes because we gave the boat too big of a shove starting off. We got to our seats, found the current, and began pulling the boat down river. During the briefing for the race, we were told multiple times to make sure we went to the right when the river forked,as there was a bridge that was not passable at the current water level. We were moving at a full sprint, making sure to veer right at all of the islands, when I heard Johnny tell me there was a bridge coming up. I looked over my shoulder to see a bridge that didn't look quite tall enough for our boat to make it under. We looked each other in the eyes, and decided we were going to try for it anyways.
We pulled under the bridge, and the oars had maybe an inch of spare room above them, but we made it! We continued downriver, starting to feel the effects on our muscles of nearly 20 minutes of full steam rowing. Then I hear Johnny tell me he can see the finish line. We put as much muscle as we could into the oars, and pulled in strong to Charlie's Hole- sending the boat almost vertical as we slammed into it!
After the race, we heard them announce the results- First place went to our main competition, with us finishing about 40 seconds behind them. We went over to congratulate the winners, and pick up our second place trophy(nothing), and headed back to Kremmling!
We will be back next year to try again for first place!
Within the last week, Adventures in Whitewater launched it's first commercial overnight of the 2017 season. This also happened to be our first ever commercial overnight on one of my favorite stretches of river- the mighty North Platte!
As one of the staff of this overnight, I got the opportunity to guide a boat down this stretch, and take part in the festivities that are included in the overnight trips.
We all met at the put-in at 11:30, and got everyone outfitted. We set each guest up with a wetsuit, PFD, and helmet, and got on the river. Now, due to snow on the road to our normal takeout, we had to cut the normal trip duration in half- we did a 10.5 mile stretch instead of an 18 mile stretch. This allowed us to take our time- we camped right by the river at a campsite I've started calling "forest". We unloaded the gear boat