When I rejoined the community in 1973 (school got in the way) I met a lot of very nice, but somewhat "unusual" people. They were consistently hairy, easy going until they got to the important part (usually dealing with safety or booze), and as open, genuine and honest a bunch as I had ever met.
We ran rivers, laughed, drank, pissed each other off, and helped each other out as needed. I'm sure we played a big role in setting the standards for the commercial rafting industry and for rafting in general.
We became a band of brothers you might say.
We were Rocky Mountain River Expeditions.
I drifted off (moved) in 1981 and contact became somewhat spotty, but those years remain a big part of my happy place.
And now, some 35 years later we are having a reunion. I'll get reacquainted with People I haven't seen since 1980 and meet their spouses, kids and (really?) grand kids (!). And sadly, we'll raise our sierra cups to a few who have fallen along the way (RIP Chicken Raper).
Indeed; there's something unique about a river rat. And something special about being one. Your life is forever changed once you've been exposed.