Raft Guide Boot Camp

Let me start by saying, training to be a raft guide is not for the faint of heart. It snowed, rained, sleeted, and hailed on us. Yet somehow I still got sunburnt. The snow was by far the worst and caused a few tent casualties (don’t worry, my REI half dome is still standing strong). Almost every day of training required 2 to 3 wetsuits #layers. We have all improved quite dramatically from our first run down Browns Canyon when I fell right out of the boat guiding my first rapid and several of my cohorts spent some serious time stuck on sleeper rocks. But we survived! My rookie class rafted just over 300 river miles in 122 hours and we have officially graduated!

Here is what a typical day of training looked like:

7:30am quick yoga session led by our very own yogi, E. Bucks

8:30 on the river

12:30 lunch (if we’re lucky)

1pm back on the river

7:30pm throwing boats off the trailer back at the outpost

8pm stuff my face with PB&J tortillas then pass out

We spent a few days down at our south outpost in Cañon City rafting Big Horn Sheep canyon (and got to run the Royal Gorge!!!). The rest of the time we were learning how to navigate Browns Canyon in BV. Both are incredible sections of river and I can’t wait to guide them commercially after I complete a check out run with an instructor!

Heading into the Gorge
Heading into the Gorge

The most exhausting days of training were the ones where they made us swim. We swam through currents trying to catch eddies and also had to swim a few rapids. If you’re super lucky and get in Levi’s boat, he might just grab you and pull you out of the boat into the middle of a rapid to test the guide’s rescue skills. It’s the worst awesome.

Us rookies still managed to have a blast during training despite the cruel elements. Paddlefest, a whitewater sports event in Buena Vista, landed on a Saturday in the middle of our training and the late night festivities quickly led to a strong rookie bond and some pretty epic stories (and maybe some bodily fluids on the side of Taco’s truck).

Our typical hang out in Taco's truck
Our typical hang out in Taco’s truck

We also spent some quality time brushing up on our jokes for the flat water time with guests…

  • How does a raft guide get to work? Rapid transit
  • What’s the difference between a raft guide and a large pizza? A large pizza can feed a family of four.
  • Why do they bury male raft guides 20 feet under ground instead of 6? Because deep down, they’re actually good people.

Thanks, I’ll be here all summer 🙂

The water is still a balmy 41 degrees but it has reached 2480 CFS near our north outpost. They’re predicting a record high water summer this year with 3 weeks over 4,000 CFS, so if you were on the fence about coming out to take a trip with me think again cuz it’s gonna be CRAY!!!

Oh, and as far as reflecting on quitting my job to make next to nothing, moving across the country, and all that good stuff? Best decision I’ve ever made.

Me on the stick
Me on the stick

3 thoughts on “Raft Guide Boot Camp

  1. Your bravery, eloquence and passion to live life to the fullest continues to inspire me! Congratulations on your raft guide graduation!!


  2. Dearest CC…..good genes, what can I say!!! I have always been immensely proud of you, now I am totally in awe!!! so nice to know you are able to follow your dreams…….Grandma


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