Thanks guys, your replies help a lot. Our guides for Saturday's Northgate trip opted for more water down south. Friday we did hike up the Encampment about 2 miles. I gotta get me one of those kayak backpacks, it looked like a fun little run for our skill levels if I could carry my boat that far, or further. The weather was nasty, snowing and windy, so WE opted for Saratoga Inn and hot springs.
Tomorrow our friends are taking us on Bridges for the first time. It seems like a good level and our friend has a WW Rescue cert. They also know it very well, so it sounds like optimal conditions for the first time. (She nervously phyches herself up