May 21, 2015
By Kris Parfitt
Photo at right: Kris Parfitt on California’s Tuolumne River, circa 1993. Photo by Diane Livoti Perlman
“Dig in or die!”
Those exact words were my initiation into a life-long love affair with white water river rafting.
I was 21 years old and on a college class outing with my outdoor leadership schoolmates. Our guide was bad-boy handsome and a wanderlust hippy dude for which we girls developed a mad crush.
For me, however, the attraction wasn’t necessarily for him, it was for the river.
We were in the last waves of a Class IV rapid and a good guide always stirs the drama by increasing adrenaline so paddlers have a good story to tell their friends.
With a raft-wrapping rock looming on our left, boulders and thick blackberry brambles on our right, and huge crashing waves immediately in front of us, we had no choice but to dig our paddles into the frothy rapid or “die” in the frigid snow melt of the Trinity River near Mount Shasta in northern California.
Even before we arrived at take-out that day, I was hooked. Two weeks later my girlfriends and I embarked on a 10-day river guide school through Chico State’s Adventure Outings program. It is still the best $150 I have ever spent.
That was spring break 1989 and since then I have guided passenger boats and rowed gear boats on more than 10 different rivers in northern California and Idaho.
I’m a proud water dog and river rat and am most happy to be in, on or near water.
Even as a kid, I would spend hours in the neighborhood pool often returning home with a wrinkled Yoda-like resemblance. In the summers my white-blonde hair turned an alien green from the chlorine and I would also spend countless hours skipping rocks into any river eddy I encountered.
This edition of OutdoorsNW is dedicated to water—you’ll find exciting stories about rafting in Idaho and Oregon, fishing on the beaches of the Salish Sea, and a moving update on Lolita, the last living orca whale in captivity who was taken from Puget Sound waters over 40 years ago.
While it’s not water, it’s still liquid; be sure to read about Bend, Oregon becoming the new basecamp for award-winning craft breweries.
There are also great hiking, running and biking stories and resources for those of you who prefer land-based adventures.
Dive into our pages and become inspired to explore our rivers, lakes and seas this summer. Take pictures and send them to us. We always love to hear about your adventures.