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Yeah I'm regretting bringing it up. It put a dark cloud over my day. Maybe sometime I'll share about the time my buddy and I decided to jump on a highwater Middle Owyhee. It's a three day trip. Took us seven. Mistakes were made, boats were had, and an amazing encounter with a group of paddlers from Latvia who turned out to be some of the most decent human beings I've ever met. We were way outclassed, but that's where adventure begins!
Now THAT sounds epic!!
 

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Yeah I'm regretting bringing it up. It put a dark cloud over my day. Maybe sometime I'll share about the time my buddy and I decided to jump on a highwater Middle Owyhee. It's a three day trip. Took us seven. Mistakes were made, boats were had, and an amazing encounter with a group of paddlers from Latvia who turned out to be some of the most decent human beings I've ever met. We were way outclassed, but that's where adventure begins!
I hear ya too... we had a bad time with a dude, that I've mentioned already and which you can see some discussion on Facebook about here... Facebook - Thoroughly Vet your trip Participants...

I wrote that shortly after getting home...but have since grown tired of hearing the story. A few other people on the trip really enjoy telling the story still (2.5 years later) but it has gotten pretty old now. I don't think it sounds nearly as bad as yours...so totally understand not wanting to bring it up. Justin is a really good friend of mine too and I know it has ruined going with people he doesn't know very well...but it also sounds like it was a bonding experience for some of you. Still...I'd rather not go through that. Probably a long way of saying I support you not wanting to talk about it more...but out of understanding since I've been there too.
 

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My best Guide story.
A number of years ago I had a June launch on the MF. Water levels were looking great at about 5' when we left home but the next day driving in we hit about 16" of water on the road in the meadows above Boundary. Oh, looks likes it's been raining. Get down to the launch and the river is up to a little under 8' with full trees with root balls merrily crashing downstream. The boards at the end of the ramp are ripped off and the eddy below the ramp is a swirling log jam and there are boats down there. I presume they put in before the water came up. We don't even unload and go set up camp thinking maybe tomorrow our launch day, will somehow improve. Next day down at the ramp if anything looks worse. More debris in the water, a boat in the eddy has broken its bow line and has spent the night rotating in the eddy with the logs. We help get the boat retied and a quick captains meeting we decide to put tail firmly between legs and slink away. About then a vehicle arrives and a few guys start rigging what looks like about a 16' raft. Being the nosey guy that I am, I sidled up and suggested there was a lot wood in the river and it was a tad high, to which they agreed. I then asked how many boats in your group which they replied just the one. When I suggested that might possibly be a little risky I was met with rather astonished looks, But we're Guides! Technically two were guides and one was the brother of one. Well they put me in my place. I have been a guide but I am no longer in that esteemed group of superior beings. Time to pack up camp and retreat with what was left of my ego. A couple of hours later one of said guides comes running into camp requesting emergency help. I asked who is missing ( thinking this will be a hell of a rescue or worse ) He says no one, the boat flipped but we all made it to shore. Is someone hurt? No we're all fine but the boat and all our gear is gone and we need help. Well what do you say to that but good luck. By his description, they flipped in Murph's Hole or before and were very lucky to make it to shore. I'm sure they had very nasty swims. I was told somewhat later that the what was left of the boat was recovered somewhere on the Main
 

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Whole bunch of no were in Owyhee country. I've launched on Deep Ck to drop into MF Owyhee where cow pies made dams that helped float your boat.
 

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Not once did my wife, a former guide, claim to be superior than the private groups we boat with. At this point in time she also acknowledges that we are well prepared and that I'm now the better boater.
 

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My best Guide story.
A number of years ago I had a June launch on the MF. Water levels were looking great at about 5' when we left home but the next day driving in we hit about 16" of water on the road in the meadows above Boundary. Oh, looks likes it's been raining. Get down to the launch and the river is up to a little under 8' with full trees with root balls merrily crashing downstream. The boards at the end of the ramp are ripped off and the eddy below the ramp is a swirling log jam and there are boats down there. I presume they put in before the water came up. We don't even unload and go set up camp thinking maybe tomorrow our launch day, will somehow improve. Next day down at the ramp if anything looks worse. More debris in the water, a boat in the eddy has broken its bow line and has spent the night rotating in the eddy with the logs. We help get the boat retied and a quick captains meeting we decide to put tail firmly between legs and slink away. About then a vehicle arrives and a few guys start rigging what looks like about a 16' raft. Being the nosey guy that I am, I sidled up and suggested there was a lot wood in the river and it was a tad high, to which they agreed. I then asked how many boats in your group which they replied just the one. When I suggested that might possibly be a little risky I was met with rather astonished looks, But we're Guides! Technically two were guides and one was the brother of one. Well they put me in my place. I have been a guide but I am no longer in that esteemed group of superior beings. Time to pack up camp and retreat with what was left of my ego. A couple of hours later one of said guides comes running into camp requesting emergency help. I asked who is missing ( thinking this will be a hell of a rescue or worse ) He says no one, the boat flipped but we all made it to shore. Is someone hurt? No we're all fine but the boat and all our gear is gone and we need help. Well what do you say to that but good luck. By his description, they flipped in Murph's Hole or before and were very lucky to make it to shore. I'm sure they had very nasty swims. I was told somewhat later that the what was left of the boat was recovered somewhere on the Main
The likely good news was that their trucks were still in the parking lot. The likely bad news was that their keys ended up on the main.

I have to know, what did the guy ask or expect you to do to help him?
 

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I have only interacted with Helfrich twice. Once on Rogue and since I was paying them, I was treated great of course. We were nearly alone on the river so did not experience them interacting with privates on that trip. A year later I was rigged at the top of the MF ramp doing a private trip when a guide from my rogue trip recognized me. He had the rest of his crew take my boat "with me in it" down the ramp. From what some of you have said, I was lucky to be treated so nice on the MF by them.
 

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I did private boating for five years before I started commercial guiding. When I was a private boater, I thought commercial companies sucked. They thought they were better than everyone else. After having done commercial work, I see a different side. There's good and bad boaters everywhere. I know a lot of cool commercial guides, and some w/terrible egos. Same is true for the private boating community.
I second this. In my opinion this shouldn't be a private vs. commercial thing, but rather a good person/boater vs. bad person/boater thing.
 

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The likely good news was that their trucks were still in the parking lot. The likely bad news was that their keys ended up on the main.

I have to know, what did the guy ask or expect you to do to help him?
I think he expected someone to put in and try to chase down their boat. But to be realistic, I think he was dealing with a little trauma from his ordeal and was not thinking too clearly.
 

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Discussion Starter #71
Whole bunch of no were in Owyhee country. I've launched on Deep Ck to drop into MF Owyhee where cow pies made dams that helped float your boat.
It's actually the most remote country in the lower 48, and the only place on the map where you can be 20 miles in any direction from the nearest lightbulb, doorknob, paved road, or however you define the outermost bounds of civilization.
 

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Discussion Starter #72
My best Guide story.
A number of years ago I had a June launch on the MF. Water levels were looking great at about 5' when we left home but the next day driving in we hit about 16" of water on the road in the meadows above Boundary. Oh, looks likes it's been raining. Get down to the launch and the river is up to a little under 8' with full trees with root balls merrily crashing downstream. The boards at the end of the ramp are ripped off and the eddy below the ramp is a swirling log jam and there are boats down there. I presume they put in before the water came up. We don't even unload and go set up camp thinking maybe tomorrow our launch day, will somehow improve. Next day down at the ramp if anything looks worse. More debris in the water, a boat in the eddy has broken its bow line and has spent the night rotating in the eddy with the logs. We help get the boat retied and a quick captains meeting we decide to put tail firmly between legs and slink away. About then a vehicle arrives and a few guys start rigging what looks like about a 16' raft. Being the nosey guy that I am, I sidled up and suggested there was a lot wood in the river and it was a tad high, to which they agreed. I then asked how many boats in your group which they replied just the one. When I suggested that might possibly be a little risky I was met with rather astonished looks, But we're Guides! Technically two were guides and one was the brother of one. Well they put me in my place. I have been a guide but I am no longer in that esteemed group of superior beings. Time to pack up camp and retreat with what was left of my ego. A couple of hours later one of said guides comes running into camp requesting emergency help. I asked who is missing ( thinking this will be a hell of a rescue or worse ) He says no one, the boat flipped but we all made it to shore. Is someone hurt? No we're all fine but the boat and all our gear is gone and we need help. Well what do you say to that but good luck. By his description, they flipped in Murph's Hole or before and were very lucky to make it to shore. I'm sure they had very nasty swims. I was told somewhat later that the what was left of the boat was recovered somewhere on the Main
I guess if we are sharing MF stories, I had a single boat party inquire what I was running so I pulled up next to them on shore. It was late August, low water. I was running a 9' hypalon dinghy with a hard deck and homemade rowing frame. It immediately became clear they were not interested in friendly chatter, but rather to ridicule me and my boat. It was such an immature display that I had a hard time being offended. They were drunk on whiskey, hunting chukar birds, and every time they heard one would pull over and empty their shotguns. I left them and continued downriver. We leapfrogged a couple of days and they continued their obnoxious behavior. Then they flipped in Tappan and lost their kitchen box. It was much quieter from there.

Sometimes the river has its own form of justice and I'm okay with that.
 

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I've only run the MFS one time, and it was a spicy 6', it felt a lot like everyone was making an effort to help each other out where they could... seemed like everyone was chasing their own shitshows down the rio... @Electric-Mayhem made an impressive boat save on a rmr that had a rough go in our group... a group (dont remember if they were a private or a commercial) took an older river legend into their group and made sure he made it down, He had trouble just downstream from the put in.

99% of my interactions on rivers have been great, only a few bad situations... been around people who were shitshows both Commercial and private...

As for the original post here, per user day it would seem that commercials would have an advantage on being safer... ramp to ramp and well used lunch beaches...paddle rafts vs oar frames... grand canyon may be one of the few exceptions to this due to being extended wilderness trip.... definitely interesting...
 

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Hey, sorry about your psycopath experience. That would be hard to handle in any situation. That said, this is more what I take issue with Rightoarleft:

"That is very insightful and honestly, makes me feel sorry for commercial guys. They don't get to experience the magic of intimacy that comes from, not knowing a river, but understanding water. I mean, a lot of guys learn how to read water but they don't cross the threshold into understanding why it does what it does, of being able to visualize the 3-dimensional fluid dynamics and how it exerts force on oars and boats. It's quite similar to aviation.

It's one of things I love about running river. Nobody truly understands, there is always room to grow. I remember when I learned that boats always capsize upstream. Most are not aware of that basic fact. I've even had some argue saying they see boats flip downstream all the time. Nope, never. Perceptions are funny things."

There is an awful lot of judgement and a huge lack of understanding going on with these words. How are you so omnipotent as to know what anyone else's experience with water may be? Do you think all guides work on one river and have no other experience? What kind of rivers do you run and in what craft? Hands down professional guides get more time on the water than private boaters excluding those with an open schedule and unlimited funds. Not all guides are egomaniacs just as all private boaters aren't beaters, simple. If you were as experienced and enlightened as you want to appear, none of these words would need to be spoken. Just sayin
 

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I've only run the MFS one time, and it was a spicy 6', it felt a lot like everyone was making an effort to help each other out where they could... seemed like everyone was chasing their own shitshows down the rio... @Electric-Mayhem made an impressive boat save on a rmr that had a rough go in our group... a group (dont remember if they were a private or a commercial) took an older river legend into their group and made sure he made it down, He had trouble just downstream from the put in.

99% of my interactions on rivers have been great, only a few bad situations... been around people who were shitshows both Commercial and private...

As for the original post here, per user day it would seem that commercials would have an advantage on being safer... ramp to ramp and well used lunch beaches...paddle rafts vs oar frames... grand canyon may be one of the few exceptions to this due to being extended wilderness trip.... definitely interesting...
Yeah.... 8 miles of chasing a flipped boat all the way from Hells Half Mile (log jams and boats don't mix well)... through Velvet and a few other juicy rapids I barely remember... almost got it in an eddy like 4 or 5 times but didn't have any help so couldn't get it to shore before it got pushed back out again. Ended up grabbing one of the many ropes in the water from the bow, stern, and flip lines and tied it to my boat (with a knife ready and waiting to cut it). I went around one side of a stand of willows and the flipped boat went around the other. Dudes drybox was smashed in a foot from hitting rocks and stuff. Oar tower was kind of pretzel shaped too.

I feel like the MFS ramp bottle neck (well...most boat ramps really) is always a fiasco during prime season. People are mostly helpful...but you definitely get some grumpy sweep boat guys when they have to wait around...and then they just plop it on the ramp and mess around for an hour before pushing it down the ramp. I've also had groups be like "If you let us go first and get our boats down the ramp first....we'll come help load yours after"...and then 3/4 of the group disappear as soon as their boats are down the ramp.

Cache Bar can be pretty hectic if you hit at the right time of day. I've had some really bad interactions there with people always complaining about where you park and for taking too long and a bunch of other BS. I had a near stranger try to get in my truck and move it without asking me once... the only time I yelled that day full of grumpy people.

I've had a few unpleasant run ins with guides on wide range of rivers, but those are few and far between. Guides have to deal with a lot of BS... so I try to put myself in their shoes and give them the benefit of the doubt. You can't always control how people in your group interact with them and some private boaters feel the need to gripe at guides. I'll try to deflect and distract, but I always go talk to someone from the trip and apologize if that happens.

Most guides I've boated with on private trips are great. Maybe its instinct, training, or just their nature...but they often are the first to hop in and help with stuff. Sometimes it is to a degree that I feel the need to tell them to turn "guide mode" off and just enjoy it for themselves this time.

Maybe its just me... but it seems like, as a guide or employee of a company, every interaction you have with private boaters is basically a sales opportunity and if you treat people well they may consider you for future services. Treating people like crap guarantees they will never use nor recommend your services. I guess same goes with private trips... you never know when or from who you might get an invite.

For what its worth... the average commercial rafter has a lot going against them from an experience, fitness and mentality standpoint. Rivers like the Arkansas have back boards and AED's spread out throughout for a reason. Perhaps it is less reported or I don't pay attention to the right places...but I feel like a lot of major injuries happen with commercial trips. It could be a numbers thing, since there are WAY more commercial boats and people on the river... but at least in my experience the "injury per capita" rate is similar or a bit higher for commercials. I'm no statistician though...so I guess its could just be my perception.
 

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There are private a-holes and guide a-holes. I truly can’t understand why. One is getting paid to float, and the other is on the vacation of a lifetime. But if someone’s behavior is as egregious as my examples, it’s intentional for sure. Confronting it is guaranteed to backfire.
Very true. On my Grand trip a couple of years ago I had one encounter with an a-hole motor guide. It was getting late and I'd been counting trips and a favorite camp was going to be open unless another private was doing a layover from the day before. Long story but the guide was an arrogant jack off who didn't want to bothered by some 'clueless' private. Little did he know I worked down there for 6 years in the 90's and knew the owner of the company. Good lessen in watch who you shit on because you never know who they are.

Every other encounter, both private & commercial, was exceedingly positive.

Rightoarleft - I've seen some ugly personal dynamics on trips but this guy truly sounds like a psychopath.
 

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Commercial or private, it all boils down to how many days you've spent on the river and the variety of conditions you've been exposed to. There are plenty of useless and dangerous commercial guides, and plenty of useless and dangerous private boaters. I think the Dunning Kruger effect describes the learning curve vs confidence for both groups fairly accurately.
62986


Here is one of the most hilarious videos I've ever seen with regards to the taxonomy of commercial guides.
 

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What I recall, from Colorado statistics, is that most years, the fatalities are with amateur trips. However, in high water years, the commercial fatalities are higher, perhaps because the real amateurs stay home; the pros keep running, hell or high water. I think that most folks would agree that the objective hazard of the trip is increased in high water.

The following reference takes a long view, and suggests that the fatalities are much higher in high water years.

From 1998 to 2018, a total of 135 people died while recreating on Colorado’s rivers. (from article below)


Richard
 

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We had a party member cancel last minute and was somehow replaced by a commercial paddle guide. Obviously I wasn't TL but whatever, we needed an oarsman.

So this dude shows up with a perception that private boaters are a soup sandwich destined to come out the other end wrapped in Tear Aid and gauze cloth.

Picture the scene: a guy who has run some overnighters on a little river in CA steps in with highly experienced experienced boatmen, and straight away tries to take lead... on a river he has never seen before... in a boat he has never run before... in water that is way bigger than anything he has seen (this was a GC trip).

Of course we all ignore him, which he takes as sign of weakness and opportunity to appoint himself the health and safety officer to which he demands strict obedience all the while complaining that we should be paying him for his service. It wasn't funny at the time. It was a nightmare.

His daily lectures evolved into heated verbal assaults. He was making people cry. Others were afraid to leave boats at camp. He became so determined to prove private boaters are inferior that he began sabotaging gear and procedure. We cast him off to finish the canyon alone... which I guess pissed him off because he drove back to Flagstaff and sabotaged member cars.
 
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