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Old 04-30-2014   #1
McHenry, Maryland
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 18
Holy Crap! (thats a big rapid)

So I came here a few months ago to ask advice about clothing for river guide training/1st year guide trips and I got a lot of advice, and I'm back for more.

My dilemma is this - I have completed 3 weekends of raft guide training, and I love parts, but I've got a bit of a secret. I'm still kind of freaked out when I'm hitting some of the bigger rapids during training. I've mostly been training on an intermediate class 3 river and some of the bigger rapids freak me out. My raft class started with around 20 people and now were under 10, and I haven't been performing miserably (I think I'm in the middle of the pack performance wise) but I just can't get over the fact that I'm still kind of scared of the rapids. During one of the weekends we traveled to the Cheat (at 12 feet, I think we subtracted 10 to get a measurement of 2 because of the gauge we used) and I swam three times, including Big Nasty and Upper Coliseum.

I didn't have much whitewater experience before the raft guide training started (two commercial trips as a boy scout and a recreation canoe training day with a company I used to work for where we played around in a class II rapid), and I'm wondering, will I ever get used to the rapids? My fears stem from getting thrown out of the boat/flipping and getting recirculated/going for bad swims/worse case scenario drowning.

Should I begin looking for a new job? Am I not cut out for the industry? Should I have maybe attempted to find a job on a class 2 river my first year?

Any and all advice is appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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Old 04-30-2014   #2
flyfishing's Avatar
I.F., Idaho
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 9
Fear and fun go side by side. If you have no fear you will end up dead. On the other hand if you are constantly scared sh!tless you may choke at the wrong time and really end up regretting it (hurt someone else). Fear is healthy.

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Old 04-30-2014   #3
Stiff N' Wett's Avatar
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 446
Being scared and keeping your wits is what its all about. If your scared shitless during the run but then smiling and feeling alive afterwords then that's great. If your always scared and don't want more than maybe a new career is in line. Everytime i flip or go for along swim yeah its really scary but when its over and you get back to camp beers, cocktails, and life are way better.
Pool and a pond... Pond be good for you.
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Old 04-30-2014   #4
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 152
Go to work at The Home Depot. Try to stay as long as you can. You will then want to be a river guide.
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Old 04-30-2014   #5
GJ, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 478
Get in a small boat (kayak, IK, whatever) and run the same rapids a few times. Your current perch will seem umpteen times safer afterwards.
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Old 04-30-2014   #6
McHenry, Maryland
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 18
Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
Get in a small boat (kayak, IK, whatever) and run the same rapids a few times. Your current perch will seem umpteen times safer afterwards.
It's funny you say this. I was duckying the same river that I train on a majority of the time, and I actually felt safer. Something about falling in vs falling out. Of course, I was following a experienced guide in a raft so choosing a line was easy as pie.
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Old 04-30-2014   #7
Renaissance Redneck
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Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 988
If youre not just a little bit scared youre not really having fun.
"You're gonna be doin a lot of doobie rolling when youre LIVIN IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER"
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Old 04-30-2014   #8
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
Are you having fun along with the fear? If it's not enjoyable at all you need to find something else. It's a lot of abuse for your body and wallet if you aren't loving it. Being scared is normal and healthy and will definitely mellow out as you get used to the runs, the water drops to summer flows and you get some more time under your belt.
The sunshine walked beside her
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Old 04-30-2014   #9
The Fort, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 94
i was a raft guide for 10-ish years. There are a few rapids that scared me every time i ran them, and i ran those rapids litterally over 1000 times. They still scare me.

That's what makes it fun. It will take 2-3 seasons before it really starts to slow down for you.

Learn from your mistakes, and figure out a way to focus the fear.
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Old 04-30-2014   #10
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 505
They're not going to stick you on the big runs as a first year raft guide. Stick with it and get your practice on the mellow Class III runs, build your skills and confidence, and then see if you get any more comfortable.

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