I’m inside the ECHO office. Outside, it’s cold on the streets of downtown Hood River, OR. I’m working in front of a computer screen, but when I look up there are huge pictures on the office walls that highlight some of the spectacular moments in ECHO’s recent history. There’s a shot of a cobble bar camp next to the glowing green waters of the Illinois River in Oregon, a yellow tank like truck on the gravel roads of Siberia’s mountains on the way to the Kaa-Khem River, rafts floating under prayer flags on the Paro Chhu River in Bhutan, and rafts passing below the dramatic granite formations on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho.
Janda sits at a desk across from mine. When I can, I distract her from her work to talk about rivers. She asks me about the Grand Canyon. I tell her that the Grand Canyon is magic, that it’s the place that turned me into a river guide, changing the path of my life, but the Middle Fork of the Salmon is my favorite place in the whole world.
I was never planning on staying working in Idaho forever. I figured I’d work a season or two on the Middle Fork and then move on to another of the world’s rivers. Then I did my first trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, and I’ve been coming back every summer since.
Here is why, with the option to work in lots of amazing places in the summer, I keep coming back:
The weather is how summertime in the mountains is supposed to feel. The scenery is so good that I flip through my pictures and think, Man, I really have a talent for taking beautiful pictures. The hot springs along the river (especially Sunflower) make me feel like the happiest kid in the world. The fly fishing is so superb that after a day of catching tons of trout I think, Man, I have gotten really good at this whole fly fishing thing. The personality of the river is always changing and always engaging that keeps me fully aware and even after dozens of trips there’s not a single boring stretch of water. The 6 day length of the trip is the perfect amount of time to fall in love with the river and leave still wanting more. The guides I work with are some of the most interesting capable people in the world. They could be successful in any endeavor they choose, and they choose to work hard on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River because they love it.
Keep up with the latest ECHO news online or give the office a call and let them know you’re dreaming about summer stars and whitewater days, too.