Game Changer


After many years, a lifelong dream was fulfilled last weekend on the Trinity River in Northern California.

As a kid, I took float trips with my uncle Jim in the mountain rivers of West Virginia. We would spend all day floating for smallmouth bass. Maybe it only happened a few times, but the memories were among my best as a child. As soon as I got my driver’s license, West Virginia reemerged as a go-to for escaping to a place that in many ways seemed like “almost heaven.”

In those years, I concluded that a raft or boat that would allow float trips and such escape would be a life goal. In July I purchased an NRS raft and frame, and a few weeks ago, the trailer was finally ready. The only thing left was some instruction.

Justin Miller (of Kamchatka Steelhead Project fame) generously offered to show me the ropes, and last weekend, we floated and camped on the Trinity River for two days. I am still in awe of the fact that this dream has finally come into fruition.


In between rowing sessions, Justin and I swung for steelhead, and in one remarkable moment, I rowed up to a 300-or-so-pound black bear hanging out on a rock along the river. (Over my left shoulder in the picture above.)

Getting a raft is a game changer. Having lived in Colorado for nine years and now living in California, I’ve learned the hard way that access to rivers is a challenge in the Western United States. Colorado was tough. Accessible sections of rivers were often crowded. Uncrowded rivers were still difficult to navigate because of private land restrictions. Now everything is different. And while some states have restrictions for access that are still problematic, this raft will allow me to explore places I’d only dreamed of. It’s go time!

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