I joined Canadian River Expeditions in 2008 and have guided expeditions on the Firth, Alsek, Tatshenshini, Horton, Hart and Nahanni Rivers. I began my rafting ‘career’ in 2006 with REO Rafting in Southern British Columbia, learning how not to raft on the Nahatlatch, Thompson, Stein, Nicola and Coquihalla rivers. Prior to rafting, I worked as a sea kayak guide, leading trips in British Columbia and New Zealand. I like to travel and have rafted and kayaked rivers in Iceland, Nepal, New Zealand, Wales and hope to make it down to Chile sometime soon. I am a certified BCROA Senior Raft Guide, and a SKGABC level 2 certified sea kayak guide. In 2010 I co-made a film called ‘Uncomfortably Numb’ about ecological issues that threaten the BC coast . The film followed my (and a buddy’s) 40 day, 700 km sea kayak expedition from Alert Bay to Kitimat. I also know how to go to school and went all the way to Sweden to earn an MSc in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability. My favourite Northern rivers have got to be the Firth and Alsek, and my favourite thing about guiding is getting to travel through truly wild places while helping our guests have profound wilderness experiences. When I’m not rafting, I like to read, surf, kayak and collect old bikes.
For the first time in the last decade, I didn’t make it to the Arctic to guide a river expedition. As feared, raising twin babies and a 3 year old is not conducive to abandoning one’s family and spending a month in the wilderness. I did manage an 8 day trip with Tyler Dinsdale on the remarkable and under-appreciated Taseko River, a trip we call the Best of BC. Outstanding whitewater, rich Tŝilhqot’in history and hospitality, incredible guides, amazing clients/friends, good fishing, and great weather all combined to provide the river experience I’d been craving. This winter I will again be pondering how continue raft guiding, raising a family, and completing a PhD. I’m hoping summer I’ll be heading back to the Arctic for a trip or two.
Something happened this summer. I can’t really recall what exactly. Oh yeah, that’s right, I had two mind blowing trips down the Alsek. How could I possibly forget that?? Well we also had two mind blowing children this fall. Our yet to be named twin boy and girl were born November 1st, lovely and healthy. So we are now a family of 5! Sleep is for sissies.
I think I’ll spend the Winter and Spring thinking of baby names, stressing about my PhD, and trying to find a way to continue being a raft guide.
Had yet another great summer guiding in the Arctic with plenty of high water. On our Firth expedition we got all four seasons in one trip, but had fantastic hiking and wildlife. On our Alsek trip, the river came up due to the unusual dynamics of a receding glacier and rain. Despite the challenges, both ended up being rewarding and memorable trips. Credit for that goes to the wonderful people and outstanding guides – as always. And of course, the magical landscapes we travelled through. Come Fall, I’ve migrated south, to overwinter in the land of the computer screen. University. Still working on a PhD in marine ethnoecology, studying how people know about and understand their ecosystem…which mostly involves me looking at a computer. Trying to change that: hopefully the Spring will bring some field work. I’ve been getting my nature fix by surfing lots, and it’s looking like Christmas will be in spent surfing in Encinitas. But I can’t help but thinking about Summer, glorious Summer. Hope to be in the North again, dealing with simple problems like travelling down remote wilderness rivers in flood.
Had the tremendous good fortune to pass June and July on the ineffable Firth River guiding with Whitey, Ty Garnham and Neville. I finished off the summer with family fishing, gathering food and spending time in the forest and ocean around Quadra Island. From cold, damp November, getting a sun tan in the Arctic seems like an impossible memory. Did that really happen? I now find myself standing in stunned silence, staring at a screen at UVic, trying to conjure a PhD out of the aether. I spent last year on parental leave away from school taking care of my son Ryo, who’s now 1, and gorgeous (says his biased father). I’ve turned into a parent, I say ‘soooo cute’ about 40 times per day. I no longer care that everything is filthy. Waking up at 6am on a river expedition feels like I’m sleeping-in now. This winter I’m looking forward to getting lost in my ethnoecological studies…and of course spending next summer on a river somewhere in the Arctic. I hope to teach river rafting guide school again with Ty Dinsdale on the Nahatlatch River, which I’ve greatly enjoyed the past few summers. Gosh I sure talk about summer a lot; it can’t come soon enough!
2014 has been an eventful and wonderful year so far. I finished off my course work and the first year of grad school at UVic in May, and headed up to Hakai Beach Institute for a superb Archeology and Ecology field course on the Central Coast. In June I helped Tyler Dinsdale teach a river guides school on the Nahatlatch, Nicola, Coquihalla, Chilkotin and Quesnel rivers. I really enjoyed the experience and learned so much from Ty, the rivers we ran, and the eager students. Come July I headed North for another memorable summer spent on the outstanding Alsek and Tatshenshini rivers. I love this corner of our planet and cherish the opportunity to travel down such wild rivers with good friends, both old and new. So through my studies, I’ve been working with Neil to find historical photographs of the Alsek to try and add some context to the rapid ecological change we see in this dynamic landscape. By late August I returned home and BECAME A FLIPPiN FATHER!!! Ryo Chilko Fred Suzuki Rhodes was born on September 28th! Seeing Sarika give birth blew my mind! She was absolutely unbelievable! Since then I’ve been stumbling along as a new father. Cook, clean, feel tired, stare at Ryo. That’s the routine these days. Word from the other guides is that this gets easier. I sense they are lying to me. I’ve taken the semester off for parental leave and am loving the time at home in Victoria with Ryo and Sari. Definitely has me dreaming of future outdoor adventures…
Like most people who know me well, I am continually bemused and happily surprised to find myself working on a PhD in Ethnoecology at UVic. First semester was a success and this Spring I will help teach a field course aboard the schooner “Passing Cloud” in the Southern Gulf Islands. So all is well for the time being, yet still I find myself pining for the north, when weeks of river travel and wilderness lie ahead.
Summer was the best ever on the Tatshenshini and Alsek. Life is good at the University of Victoria so far. Starting a Phd. Studying to become an Ethnoecologist. I’m as surprised as anyone about that.
After the outlandish good fortune of getting the privilege guide trips down the Firth, Alsek and Tatshenshini rivers this summer – no doubt some of the most amazing rivers on Earth – I rendezvoused with Tyler, Tyler and 12 of my closest friends in Quesnel. We piled into Ty D’s Prison Bus and commenced a super-stag down the Babine river. The trip was relentless fun and Tyler Dinsdale organized the entire thing with considerable aplomb. I made it back to Quadra Island six days before my wedding where Sarika and I married on a beach at her cabin in front of 150 lovely family and friends. Everything was perfect, beyond perfect really. I can say without a shred of hyperbole that it was the greatest day I have yet to be a part of. We’ve been honeymooning ever since and have a trip planned to Mo’orea in January. Fall and winter bring more application and grant writing misery and hopefully a trip to Patagonia to run the Futaleufu.