2020 Guide’s Gossip

Our guides lead pretty interesting lives. Read our 2020 guides gossip to learn what our guides have been up to this year.

Update from Ursula Kilbridge

After a busy fall teaching swift water rescue courses I’ve settled into Terrace, BC for the 20-21 winter! Excited to spend the next few months silversmithing, skiing, and finishing up my degree! Hope everyone is doing well and making the most of the winter! Lots of love and all the best for the coming year! -Urs

Ursula Kilbridge
Ursula Kilbridge

Update from Tyler Dinsdale

2020 was a year to relax, to reflect, and to look ahead.  I have been very fortunate that through this year I have had the demands of a young family to keep me on my toes and a lake in the back yard to provide endless entertainment close to home in all seasons.  Enjoying all things outside, we have spent time skating, skiing, fishing, biking, canoeing, swimming, kayaking and rafting.  We found ourselves with a bit of extra free time this rafting season, and so were able to get out with the family and our new dog for a 6-day private rafting expedition which included a mountain bike portage around some of the largest rapids for the kids.  That was something new to me.  Another highlight was a 5-day canoe trip with my two oldest boys in late September.  In late August I had the almost unexpected great pleasure of leading the Taseko-Chilcotin-Fraser 7-day expedition with Canadian River Expeditions. Guides and guests alike commented that this week-long retreat into nature, the rivers, the rapids, the campsites the hikes, the wildlife, and the time spent insulated from intense media bombardment, all culminated into something rejuvenating and almost medicinal.  I feel truly fortunate to have had to opportunity to get onto an expedition this year knowing that so many trips were unable to run.With Summer in the bag and Old Man Winter rapping his cane on the frosty glass door, we have our sights set on a winter outside in the clean mountain air.  We have our season’s ski passes and have moved our converted school bus out to the mountain to be our weekend home.  I wish everyone an amazing 2021, and I hope to see some of you on the water.

Update from Gregg Cormie

2020 has been one of the most impactful years of my life. My partner Laura and I welcomed our first son, River Cormie, into our lives. Since baby River’s arrival, we have rearranged our priorities. Sleep has become a thing of the past and the general pace of our lives has slowed. But with these changes, we are finding a soul-filling purpose. 

But let me back up, when first planning for the arrival of our baby we spoke with other parents who assured us that the baby days are the best for getting out and having adventures. So that’s exactly what we have been up to. We have been packing in the local, socially distanced adventures. Our travels have taken us to new swimming holes, rafting down mellow rivers, hiking a new trail every day, and summiting some of our favorite mountains. All this time outside, together as a family has been wonderful and it has also been great to refocus on local outdoor gems that we have always overlooked. 

As we move into the winter season I am left with a great sense of thankfulness and anticipation. Thankfulness for the many wonderful gifts we have in our lives and anticipation to see what new adventures are just around the corner. 

Update from Ian Guilar

This year had lots of highlights, and plenty of challenges. I hiked the west coast trail with my mother, my favourite adventure partner. I headed to NZ where I explored new rivers, chased waves, and planted an avocado orchard. I went on a three week trip through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado river. 6 of us set off on March 16th, just as the pandemic began to unfold. After a golden trip (no flips!) we retuned to a very different world than the one we left behind. I got back to Canada for the spring tree planting season in the interior of British Columbia. Summer was spent in Canmore, white water rafting on the kananaskis, aswell as surfing on the west coast, and climbing in Squamish. To finish off my summer, I was lucky enough to join the CRE crew on a guide trip down the Babine river near Smithers. I’m now pursuing carpentry, living in Victoria, BC, and enjoying a less mobile lifestyle. At least until spring rolls around!

Update from Rich Swanson

Life on the island has returned to a new normal of work, plan and ever changing COVID precautions. We are very lucky to have very few active new cases on the island but the new ones as of late have been from high schools in Port Alberni and Campbell River, a little too close to home in many ways, but life goes on. Working as a high school Counsellor makes for busy days helping students navigate uncharted waters while fostering resiliency to keep kids safe both physically and mentally. When not with my family on adventures much of my time is spent Mountain Biking the trails in Cumberland and volunteering with the Comox Valley search and rescue. This summer with most people staying and playing close to home due to COVID, has resulted in an above normal Task volume for medical rescues and lost hikers and climbers. As a member of the VI Helicopter Hoist team, I am often called away from family and work to aid in recovery of the injured or lost. The fall west coast rains have now started and we eagerly await the snow and hopefully a great ski touring season!

Update from Bruce Kirkby

During lockdown, I turned my eyes to my home province of BC; in July I paddled a SUP around Vancouver Island’s notorious Cape Scott, and in August went on a 21-day canoe trip down the Columbia river, from Golden to Nakusp, with my family.  In fall, I celebrated the release of my third book, Blue Sky Kingdom, and got a lot of firewood chopping done!

Update from Heather Smith

Due to back to back injuries, I have not been able to guide for a few years.  Having to slow life down, I have been gardening, meditating, reading, doing yoga, making art, and drinking tea with friends.  This fall, I continue to be busy with rehabbing from knee surgery.  The doctors say I can be back out, ski guiding in the snowy mountains again this February!

Update from Jacob Erickson

Long before the world stopped turning, it seemed as though the universe was doing everything it could to make sure I didn’t go rafting this year. For the first time in a decade of summers, I was drawn back to my childhood home on Vancouver Island, to say goodbye to the man who first put me in a wetsuit, taught me how to swim a river, and encouraged me to chase my life long love of being a raft guide. The days I was fortunate enough to cross paths with some of the other CRE Boatmen, brought some much needed light to an otherwise tough summer. I also took the opportunity to spend more time in my kayak than I ever have, getting out on some rivers that until now I have only had the privilege to raft. I am looking forward to next season, like many, I was missing the rhythm of a river expedition this year.

Update from Andy Preto

Hi there!

The Preto family has moved onto their new farm in Whitehorse! Andy and Lisa built the new barn this summer and fenced the property. We are currently living in the rental suite which is above Andy’s new shop. It’s tight for the four of us, but it sure beats renting! Our actual house is framed and its construction will be ongoing throughout the winter. We should be able to move in by late spring.

We went off to the Mayo trapline for an extended Thanksgiving to recharge our souls, build a woodshed and try for a family moose. The girls are already busy with fiddle club and xc ski club, but we will be heading out to the Kluane trapline every weekend this winter in order to get a breather from big city life.
I really missed guiding this summer (first time not guiding in 25 yrs!) but we did sneak in a short family rafting trip in Kluane. Stoked to get back on the oars and back under the kitchen tarp again for next summer with CRE!

Update From Joel Hibbard

2020 has been a wild year as a guide and outfitter. As winter wrapped up in Whitehorse, I enjoyed a spring of intense paddling and exploration. The lack of an expedition season and long days afforded me a chance to kayak some incredible Yukon Rivers. 
While busy in the office, I also worked evenings in the Whitehorse General Hospital screening people for Covid-19. Having never worked in a large institution, I learned a great deal and my respect for the nurses and Doctors on our guide team only deepened, it is an intense environment! 
After gathering the guides together for a team expedition on the Babine River in northern BC, the arrival of autumn had me focused on berry picking and firewood preparation and I was fortunate to harvest a moose as well. I feel thankful to have a full freezer as we settle into the winter months. 
In November I wrapped up the production of a short book about a personal adventure from 2019 into the Nahanni backcountry! It is incredible to finally hold a copy in my hands. If you would like to purchase one we are donating all proceeds from it to CPAWS! 
Heading into 2021 I am so excited to return to the Nahanni, a place that I miss dearly and can’t wait to reconnect with! 

Update From Christopher Rhodes

From March to September my family sequestered in an old cabin on Quadra Island, hiding from the brutish realities of this foul year of Our Lord, two thousand and twenty. Despite the ever-present uncertainty, there is much to be grateful for. My three little kids got to spend all sorts of wonderful time enjoying Nature’s generocity with their grandparents. We fished lots and spent most of our time gathering wild foods from land and sea. Along with fish, clams, oysters and prawns, we gathered many wild berries to fill our freezer for the winter. The year started off well, with three trips to Haida Gwaii for field work for my PhD. I was very lucky to work with Haida knowledge holders on an abalone traditional knowledge project. Thankfully I completed my field work before our world was locked down, and now have reams of data waiting to be analyzed. Since then it’s been all about taking care of family, my studies have taken a back seat. We are now back in Victoria trying to keep our family safe and happy as my kids begin to navigate school and daycare. While two of the Northern expeditions I was slated to guide were cancelled, I was very lucky to find myself on the Dasiqox (Taseko) River in late August with Tyler D, Joel, Urs, Dave Prothero, and Dave Hibbard guiding an 8-day trip. We travelled a magical river, with great whitewater, and outstanding people. For me the trip was like medicine, connecting with the river and friends, old and new. Even the drive from Quadra to Quesnel was inspiring. Such is the rugged nature of BC, I drove 1300kms, and by the time I found myself on the banks of the Dasiqox, I was 150km from our cabin on Quadra as the crow flies. Here is to hoping that 2021 brings us back together, and back to the River. 

Update From Nadine Poirier

This summer was certainly anything but ordinary. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had virtually no expedition season, and geared our plans towards staying close to home, and re-imagining our summers.

Fortunately, with extra time on my hands for the first time in a long time, I was able to get out and explore a few new rivers, including a spectacular 2 weeks on the Wind River, in the Peel Watershed of Northern Yukon with friends. This trip gave me a much needed respite from the world, and lots of time to reconnect with the wilderness! It was such a treat to spend time in my home Territory exploring this scenic watershed and really drove home how lucky my fellow Yukoners and I are to live so close to so much pristine wilderness. We had fantastic weather, and enjoyed tons of hiking right from the river with little to no bushwhacking, and of course good times with friends!

In the fall, I was lucky again to be able to join a group of our guides on the Babine river, which gave me a rare opportunity to get to know some of our guides better in everyone’s favourite setting; the river! We experienced exciting whitewater, bear sightings, tons of eagles as well as got to see the Salmon migrating up river.

We are working away here at the office, planning for the 2021 season, while enjoying winter and looking forward to the holidays. We hope to see you on a river in 2021!

Wind River – Royal Mountain in the Background
Babine River with NRA / CRE
Wind River, Peel Watershed – This watershed is in the traditional Territories of the Na-Cho Nyak Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwitch’in in the Yukon and Tetlit Gwitch’in of the NWT.

Update From Dana Hibbard

2020 started off with an incredible ski season here in northwest BC and lots of travel to connect with our guests across the country.  The spring was a steep learning curve as Joel, Nadine and I navigated the pandemic and its impact on our season.  The loss of our expedition season allowed me the chance to spend a summer at home on Gitxsan territory.  I found great joy in tending my garden, watching the emergence of spring and summer plants and blooms and spending time on our local rivers.  

In August I was fortunate to guide an expedition on the Wind River with my parents, lifelong outfitters.  Time on the river is always restorative but this year it was especially meaningful to all of us and we were grateful for the chance to connect deeply to one another and the incredible landscape of the Peel watershed before returning home to fall and all the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.  

In September I was thrilled to share my backyard with our guide team by hosting a trip on the Babine and Skeena rivers.  We shared a lot of laughs on the river and around the campfire and I’m so grateful for the passion and humanity each of our guides brings to our company.   Alongside harvesting the garden, my partner and I took on some ambitious building projects this fall including a new porch and a new roof on our house which we finished up just as the snow began to fall.  As we settle into a quiet winter I wish everyone a season of rest and good health and hope to see you on a river again soon!

On the Babine River with NRA/CRE guides trip
Porch Construction at home!
Wind River, Yukon Territory

Update From Nils Asfeldt

With the guiding season a no-go this summer, I lucked out and was hired last-minute to fight fires for the province in Calling Lake, AB. Of course, with the record-breaking weather this summer, I ended up fighting more floods than fires (actually). On the upside, I got lots of time on the chainsaw and built my own Alaskan saw mill. After almost four months of wet boots, I finished “firefighting” at the end of August and joined in an AWESOME staff trip on the Babine and Skeena with the whole Nahanni and CRE crew. Next, I set about looking for a place to live in Golden, BC. I’ve spent the last six winters in Camrose, first completing my BSc. Environmental Science, and more recently coaching the XC ski team at the university, and for the Camrose Ski Club. So, it’s time to move on and live the mountain life! I’m currently settling in and doing lots of backcountry skiing while the snow is good. Also coming to the expensive realization that, much like canoes, you can never have too many pairs of skis…

Update From David Prothero

2020, what a year…

As it is coming to a close, I have certainly been taking some time with some quiet reflection.
Healthcare work has been busy with some ups and downs throughout the year.
I was fortunate to get out on a couple of trips kayaking and photographing, most notably the Taskeo- Chilcotin- Fraser with NRA/CRE and then travelling up for a staff trip on the Babine and Skeena rivers. I also managed to sneak in some kayaking days on a few rivers around Terrace, Smithers and Moricetown. 
Back on vancouver island for the fall has been a rhythm of paddling, healthcare work, working on my house, mtn biking and exploring the backyard. Some of my favorite days paddling have been with friends on the Puntledge river in my hometown of Courtenay. 
I have also been enjoying a cargo e-bike which has been an excellent way of getting around town, picking up groceries and doing propane bottle exchanges.
I look forward to more days of kayaking over the winter and to get some time in the mountains on my snowshoes or skis, while we wait for the 2021 season where I can hopefully join some of you on some northern rivers!

Update From Chris McGauley

I will be spending this winter in Terrace, BC where I will be volunteer ski patrolling, occasionally canning pints at the local brewery, and dreaming of getting back onto the water.

This summer I was lucky to be able to head up North and guide an Upper Alsek River trip with NRA/CRE, and in the fall, myself along with many other guides joined Joel on the Babine River for a quick staff trip.

I hope that everyone is doing well, and I look forward to seeing some of you in 2021!

Update From Tyler Garnham

Although not much happened as far as river time for me in 2020, I did enjoy a couple of amazing trips in the summer of 2019 that I hold onto the memories of to get me through. After a long wait for weather in Inuvik, we finally departed on the trusty twin Otter to find the Thomsen River on Banks Island. I was hired as a photographer for Parks Canada to capture the essence of the Park there Called Aulavik National Park on the north side of the island. Travelling with Parks staff in canoes from Green Cabin down. This was another trip for the books. We were lucky with weather and saw heaps of wildlife including Muskox, Wolf, and Peary Caribou. Shortly after returning to Inuvik I was packing for the Firth. This trip also had some Parks Canada staff some of which I had on the Thomsen with me. The Firth never disappoints. One of the highlights was having Joel on the trip who was seeing it for the first time. I also found a treasure on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, a mammoth tusk!! Luckily the Parks staff were there to catalogue the find. I look forward to getting out there next season after a great winter here in the lower mainland skiing with the family and getting out on my local river with the Paddleboard rain or shine. See you on the river, Tyler

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