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Old 08-05-2013   #11
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
Do a swift water course.

Also, consider contacting the local rafting companies. They probably hire weekend warriors, people who guide only on weekends. You'll be a slave to them, but you'll get the experience you need to determine if it's for you.

At least, that's how we found guides; hired and trained them, most of the newbies ran only weekends, and we drove them like $2 mules the first year. If they survived and had any talent at all we'd see if they wanted to run full time. Some could only run weekends because of jobs or family, which was fine.

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Old 08-05-2013   #12
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 30
Thanks for all the responses. I cannot believe I didn't find WRRR in my initial internet searches. This sounds great - I'll be posting on their Facebook site. I will definitely take all the advice to heart: I'll seek to get in lots of miles on the oars, will bring whiskey, beer, and a positive attitude, take a swiftwater rescue course, and hold off on the guide school for now (though the ARTA Salmon River course does look sweet). Thanks guys,


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Old 08-06-2013   #13
Thronton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 665
Originally Posted by Gremlin View Post
If you find that you like to raft, you will find friends that like to raft. Bring your positive and humble attitude, and a few extra beers, and you will be welcomed. We were ready to launch on Westwater today when a group of six showed up with a paddle boat. The Ranger asked if our group would keep them in sight - just in case. They stopped and had lunch with us above the rapids. They asked to follow our groups lines and I ran sweep. They did great! The camaraderie adds to everyone's enjoyment. Another wonderful day on the river!
This is really good advice. If you can get on somewhat populated rivers, just ask others what to expect down river. Ask a few questions about what to watch out for and ask if it's OK to follow them through the more difficult sections. If you see a group stopping to scout a rapid, stop and scout it with them. Ask them what their planned line is, etc.

I've never come across a group that wasn't willing to help a fellow boater out in this way, and most actually go out of their way to help ensure the safety of all on the river.

Definitely take the swiftwater rescue course. You'll learn a lot from that.
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Old 08-07-2013   #14
Steamboat springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 15
I'm in a similar position. I just took a river orientation course with Colorado mountain college. See if the are any community colleges around with outdoor education programs. River Orientation is what they call it at CMC.

It was great. Learned a ton, got lots of time paddle guiding and rowing. Plus, it was super affordable.

I did spend the better portion of a week with a bunch of people significantly younger than me. Have an open mind.

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Old 08-07-2013   #15
montuckyhuck's Avatar
The Bitterroot, Montana
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 451
Too bad you live in such a piss poor spot for whitewater. If your really committed I recommend Florida.
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Old 08-08-2013   #16
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
I am at a transition point with groups. A lot of the group I learned to paddle with is in their 50's, and I am in my 30's. Half of them don't go any more, and a lot of them go without their wives or kids. I love to take my wife and kids, so I am looking for new people to boat with.
I started out as an inflatable kayaker, and now I have a raft only. I have never taken a class, but after 20 plus years of boating a fair amount of water, I might take the guide class that Wet Planet offers in Husum, Washington. Last time I checked, it's about 700 dollars, but you get class time, hands on river time, and the final part is a 3-4 day wilderness trip, typically the Owyhee in Southeast Oregon. You get time in someone else's boat, knowledge, a taste of the lifestyle, and a real overnight trip.
So I am looking for portland area rafters to do day and overnight trips with in the following year. The group you paddle with has a huge impact every aspect of boating. Friendship, safety, your ability to learn, and just plain the fun factor. I am at a point where I am pretty confident in myself, so I look to other group members for support/ safety. For you, I'd be looking at people who have the experience and are willing to teach and stretch your skill level.
It is a lifestyle for most of us on here. Occasionally you'll meet someone who boats once in a while, but I boat 4 seasons. This is a great community on here, and I hope you dive in with both feet!
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Old 08-08-2013   #17
riverjunky's Avatar
Spokane, Washington
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 44
Welcome to a sport that has changed my life. Got into boating a few years ago and never looked back, started as a passenger in a paddle raft, acquired some gear than bought a little cat, acquired more gear, bought a bigger boat and this last year pulled my first permit on the Main Salmon. My advice, jump in head first and learn as much as possible. Also, I live in Washington, but on the right side of the mountains. Being in Spokane we have a class three run in town and are only a half days drive from the Clark Fork, Main Salmon, Lower Salmon, Grande Ronde, North Fork John Day, Main John Day, and Snake River. My dad lives in Seattle and makes all of our trips, he's 66 and just bought his first boat, rowed it down the North Fork John Day, and the Main Salmon, but he boats with good people. Also, that thing about extra beer and a good attitude, it goes a long way.

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