Joe Daly Video and Interview
The ECHO media team has put together a short video about co-owner Joe Daly and we're excited to share it with you. We wanted to take this opportunity to interview him as well - to learn more about ECHO beginnings and to see where he is these days.
What initially caught your attention about rafting?
Joe: I was born and raised less than 100 feet from the Susquehanna River in rural upstate New York. If there was ever a modern-day version of a Huck Finn upbringing, I had it. I was always splashing around on the river’s edge. Then when I grew to be 12 or 13 years old and started rowing my own flat bottom, wooden boat, that was like being in heaven. Rowing is such a part of my life that I am as comfortable handling an oar as I am picking up a fork.
The rafting part of being on rivers happened when I was 27 and had just moved to California, where I met Dick Linford. (See below). The slope of the Sierra Nevada foothill rivers was significantly steeper than the Susquehanna, so that was very exciting.
What is your favorite river and why?
Joe: I am a mountain person as opposed to a desert person, so while the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is grand, I like being on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. When I push off from Boundary Creek put-in, there is such a sense of freedom and excitement. For the next six days I will be on a free flowing river. What adventures await?
Also, the Middle Fork is the kind of summer-time river where I can take a wide range of friends with different athletic abilities. Other rivers I like might be a little too steep for some in my age group now.
How did you meet Dick Linford?
Joe: Dick and I met teaching in the same high school in San Leandro, CA (east side of San Francisco Bay). He got into rafting first and I followed soon there after—California foothills, Oregon, and Idaho. In short order, we looked at each other and asked ourselves, “Could we make a living from having this much fun?” Neither of us had ever had a business class in our lives. We were wildly naïve, but 43 years later here we are.
How did ECHO come to be?
Joe: As is true for much in life, it was serendipity. We were in the right place, at the right time. Right place—meaning California and the right time was the early 1970s. The Wild West was still in existence. Rafting was just getting started in a big way, and we were crazy enough to jump into the water with both feet (or four feet, since there were two of us). Remember the scene in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, where Paul Newman and Robert Redford jump off the high cliff into the water? That was really Dick and Joe starting ECHO.
What’s your craziest rafting experience?
Joe: Well, crazy and scary go together in my case. I would need a campfire and a good supply of cold beer so I could tell you the story about my almost going over a waterfall on the Adams River in British Columbia, before there was any such thing as a throw bag. In short, it took me about two years before I got back to sleeping normally.
Where does the name ECHO: The Wilderness Company come from?
Joe: We wanted a clear, simple name that would be easy to remember. Plus, shouting out a name in a river canyon was always fun to do. Thus, ECHO. But we also wanted to give a sense of adventure, so we threw the name “the Wilderness Company” into the hat for consideration. We ended up using both for the corporate name, but for every day life, we just say ECHO. The funny part is that about twenty years ago, Dick and I asked ourselves who favored which name? Neither of us could remember.
How do you occupy your time these days?
Joe: At the moment, I am knee deep in helping the Tuolumne River Trust with their annual fundraiser. Defending rivers is a never-ending project. I enjoy working with the younger staff. I also go to sporting events at Cal (I live in Berkeley), but do not ask me about the football season, right now. Still, it is fun living in a university community. My wife, Sue, is way into the arts, so I get quite a bit of culture this time of year—theatre, symphonies, concerts, drama!
What does ECHO mean to you?
Joe: There is no way I can give a one sentence or a one paragraph answer to that question. It would have to be a major book because I have met so many great people, been to so many wonderful places, and had so many special experiences. The editor would have to understand the book would be 800 to 900 pages long.