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#MY RIVER STORY
Akira Hagiwara link

Louie Hena

(Teseque Pueblo, New Mexico)

When I look at the river, I’m seeing life. I’m seeing my partner, who helps me make a living, who helps me water my crops so I can feed myself and my community. I see my ancestors using the water, like I do now. And I am seeing my grandkids running the river, like I’m doing now.

In these communities, we say Earth Mom is sacred. Everything out here to us, has a spirit. Our communities are connected to springs, which are connected to a river, and those rivers are connected to lakes up in the high mountains. We are all part of that system and this river gives life to us here.

More people around the world need to start listening to indigenous peoples, because what we do, we do it for Earth Mom, and if you look at Earth Mom, it is one big basket, and we are all corn kernels in that one basket. So whatever happens to Earth Mom, we are all impacted.

Everything who I am, is here. My way of life, is here. Clean air, clean water. The cactus, the willows, the piñon, sage, the bighorn sheep, the birds that you see flying around, the fishing. This is what we use within our communities. This is home.

My greatest hope for the future, is that the river does not run dry. For not just my kids, but for everybody’s kids. This is the lifeblood of New Mexico. This is the greenbelt. So if this goes, everybody’s gone.

Water and I, we’re one. We are always together. You start the day by saying prayers, then you end the day by saying prayers. It’s to leave the land saturated – wet.

The value of Wild & Scenic is that my grandkids’ grandkids’ grandkids will enjoy what we are enjoying today.

Akira Hagiwara link

Crystal

(Teseque Pueblo, New Mexico)

When I started doing these rafting trips I was 14 years old. Now I am 27 so I am been on the boats for over a decade. Hopefully we keep doing these trips cause my daughter’s 7, so in 7 more years, she might be sitting at the head of a boat, telling stories.

Akira Hagiwara link

Amy Martin

(Flagstaff, Arizona)

In my Mom’s spirit, I want to keep fighting for the preservation of these fragile ecosystems. With the loss of these places, we will lose that which enables us to break through struggles, that which gives us a clarity of mind, and that which reveals to us the line to follow.

Akira Hagiwara link

Kevin Fedarko

(Flagstaff, Arizona)

There is no place that I know of like the Grand Canyon. It exposes larger truths about who we are, and who we need to become, if we are to develop a more harmonious and balanced relationship with the places we live, and the places we call home.

Beauty means something. It’s more than just an abstract idea, it strikes at the core of who we are. It’s bedrock. Its one of those things that can sustain us.

Akira Hagiwara link

President Jimmy Carter

(Atlanta, Georgia)

In church we used to have one Sunday a year devoted to what we called stewardship, we would emphasize caring for God’s world the way it was made. And so from a religious point of view and from my childhood influenced by my father… I became deeply interested in fishing and water and streams.

Some of the most vivid memories of my childhood is going fishing with my father who was also an excellent fisherman. Back then it was all warm water because we lived in South Georgia. And it wasn’t until I became Governor in the 1970’s… that I began to learn about flyfishing on the Chattahoochee River here, and it goes right through Atlanta.

I think that the Chattooga was the first time I ever risked my life, I’d say, in going down a wild river. And I think it gave me an element of both satisfaction and a sense of, you might say heroism, in confronting the awe inspiring power of the Chattooga River when I had a major responsibility as a Governor of a state… it kind of opened my eyes to a relationship between a human being and a wild river that I had never contemplated before that.

I vetoed I think 16 different dam projects all over the United States which aroused a great deal of animosity and also condemnation among members of Congress and Chambers of Commerce and so forth. But I tried to maintain as close as I could my commitment that these dams were unnecessary and counterproductive for the future and well-being of American citizens.

I think it’s very important for all Americans to take a stand, a positive stand, in protecting wild rivers… I hope that all Americans will join together with me and others who love the outdoors to protect this for our children and our grandchildren.

Akira Hagiwara link

Amy Kober

(Portland, Oregon)

Our family has spent more time on the Wild and Scenic North Umpqua than any other river. I have the best memories of swimming in the river on hot summer days when I was pregnant, of walking the trail with a baby in the carrier on my chest, of my boys learning to catch crawdads and climb trees, splashing in Steamboat Creek, finding all kinds of bugs and snakes and other treasures along the riverbanks. The river is our touchstone and we’ll keep going back as much as we can. There’s no better way to spend time as a family.

Akira Hagiwara link

Erik Wardell

(Boulder, Colorado)

I got invited on a trip to the Grand, and I had to quit my job and say, “I’m doing it.” Being able to step out of your life for a second and just live and exist in nature, for me that’s what it’s all about. Because you’re not worried about who’s blowing up your social feed or those emails in your inbox. You’re just in it. It’s all about being present… and that’s something that’s really lacking in this day and age, especially with all of the technology we’re constantly on. That serves a purpose, but being out there in the middle of it, and just being present, is such an amazing opportunity and something I’m completely grateful for.

Akira Hagiwara link

Sage Sauerbrey

(Hailey, Idaho)

Sweepboating is about fight. You can read the river, but the river is going to try to throw you into a total shit storm. A lot of it is technicality, but in the end it’s fight – who fights the hardest to stay off that wall, who fights the hardest not to T-bone that rock and break the boat, who fights the hardest to hang on to those sweep arms.

There’s nothing in my opinion, no lifestyle more pure. Being able to work your ass off in the middle of the wilderness, in such a beautiful place, it’s how I view what men and women were supposed to do. Y’know, it’s what we’re made for.

Akira Hagiwara link

August Kober

(Portland, Oregon)

Rivers are fun. I caught my first fish on the John Day. I caught tons of fish, way more than my papa. When can we go back there?

Akira Hagiwara link

Shawn and Alta Crawford

(Cisco, Utah)

Everyday, I work toward preserving these spaces. Everyday. As a teacher, I share the wild with my students. As as guide and naturalist, I share the wild with my clients. As a Father, my daughter and I dwell in these spaces, the wild. Everyday.

Akira Hagiwara link

Steve Welch

(Groveland, California)

My grandfather introduced me to rivers when I was five by buying me a pair of LL Bean boots and letting me explore the magical, muddy floodplain adjoining his cattle ranch along the Sacramento.

My father deepened that connection by standing side-by-side and chest deep with me while teaching me to fly-fish on the Trinity, Morice and Gallatin.

There is no way my wife would have married me if I hadn’t been able to woo (and fool) her for 22 days on the Colorado in the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

I’ve been fortunate to be able to share wild rivers and timeless moments with my two sons during annual float trips on the Rogue, Salmon, and Green.

Whenever I can, I go alone to the Tuolumne to look for fish and to find myself (and peace).

Without rivers, I’d be a pale, lonely, single internet troll with no boots, no children, and no connection to our planet.

I imagine that my grandfather’s grandfather introduced him to rivers.

I can’t imagine my grandchildren’s grandchildren not having that opportunity.

Akira Hagiwara link

Mike Curran

(Big Wood River Valley, Idaho)

The rivers that I have visited, and the draw of the ones still to know, underline my being. My experiences interacting with them have shaped my personality and my outlook on life. My desire to keep them wild drives my career.

As a teacher, I strive to give my students a sense of place in the watershed that we inhabit, to spark their curiosity for the natural world, and hope that, based on their own connections, they will one day consider and approach the threats that our waterways face in their own ways.

Akira Hagiwara link

Russel Greene

(Washington, DC)

The Potomac river is not the biggest river, its not the cleanest river. Millions of people live within minutes of the Potomac. Potomac is a source of water for metropolitan Washington DC. What people might not know is it has a long history. It was a major factor in the Civil War. Another landmarks that sits on the Potomac river the Watergate hotel. Other landmarks include Mount Vernon and the Pentagon. This River is very diverse . The Potomac has flat water, has small rapids and of course the wild rapids of Great Falls.

The Potomac when it hits Washington DC is actually tidal and runs into the Chesapeake Bay. The Potomac offers a lot of recreation options. The Potomac is home to lots of canoe clubs, college crew teams, Stand up paddlers. Up the river many olympians and others enjoy challenging rapids. The potomac also offers flat water areas that attract fisherman. I personally enjoy all the different zones. Its amazing that you can be so close to a city and have such solitude. Maybe I should be happy its Hidden in full sight.

Akira Hagiwara link

Douglas Argyle

(Desolation Canyon of the Green River, Utah)

There’s a certain moment on a youth river trip when it happens: it’s usually around 8:30 on night two. The canyon walls are alight with alpenglow, the fire is just starting to crackle in the pan, and you sink in to your camp chair to take it all in. The guides are busy with the kitchen crew breaking down dinner, girls are chattering and giggling and boys are following stonefly nymph tracks in squiggles along the beach. There’s an occasional splash and clink as the last bits of gear move between boat and beach and infrequent bird calls sound from the acid green cottonwoods. You exhale audibly and make eye contact with an adult peer and exchange exhausted grins. The river is starting to fold you into it’s flow and the default world is beginning to drift away.

It’s now been over 24 hours since you last checked your email. Over 24 hours since you spoke about deadlines or stock options or politics. You’re starting to let go of your pet problems, the little worries and the nagging trivialities. You notice you don’t miss your smartphone. There is no urge to broadcast what you had for dinner to all 57 of your followers – even though it was the best meal you’ve had in recent memory. Right now you realize you are content to digest that meal on your own and to have the sights, smells and feels of the canyon for dessert.

The spectacle of kids finding adventure and delight in this wilderness begins to sting your eyes a bit. As the sun descends below the canyon walls in a glorious display of reds, oranges, purples and blues, the camp chairs around you start to fill up. Conversations shift from Taylor Swift to the swifts that skim the water and from World of Warcraft to actual WOW about the world around. The children’s countenances are noticeably lighter as if great weights have been sloughed off into the sand.

Ed Abbey said that wilderness is a necessity of the human spirit, and Terry Tempest Williams said that if you know wilderness as you know love, you’d be unwilling to let it go. Here on the river with these kids you realize you are witnessing first hand the beginning of a life long love affair, spurred by total immersion in the ebbs and flows of a mighty river ecosystem. In this moment you are thankful to be here with these young ones, and heartbroken that you can’t be here with all of the rest.

Akira Hagiwara link

Greg Shute

(Alna, Maine)

My love of rivers began on Maine’s Allagash and since my first experience on moving water four decades ago I’ve been fortunate to regularly guide people on the rivers of Maine, Quebec and in the eastern Arctic. Rivers are part of the fabric of our family. Tonight as a write these words, a mid-February warm spell has begun to unlock the ice on the Sheepscot River that flows a short walk down the hill from my home in midcoast Maine. Soon I will be able to launch my canoe on the Sheepscot, my home river, for the first Spring run downstream. This annual ritual connects me deeply to the landscape through which the Sheepscot flows and for a short time, while I paddle the river the pace of the world slows to one that makes sense.

Akira Hagiwara link

Rebecca Long

(Alexandria, VA)

Growing up my family spent many vacations along rivers on the east coast – not to mention the Potomac in our backyard. I found my love of rivers on the flat water of the Chesapeake Bay, but it wasn’t until a rafting trip along the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Flathead River that I truly came to understand rivers and how they can suck you in, figuratively and literally. I now long to get back west and experience more of what wild rivers have to offer.

Akira Hagiwara link

Jeffrey M Tuttle

(Florida)

I first saw Grand Canyon from 31,000 feet flying back to Florida from Vegas. The pilot pointed out that those on the left side of the plane would have a great view. And he was right. I told the wife that we should go check it out one day. End of conversation.

6 or 8 months later, while cruising through the channels I paused on a video of some whitewater rafting. That quickly ended but not before I realized it was the Colorado River in Grand Canyon.

The program went from rafting to telling about the Grand Canyon Lodge on North Rim. It was stated that only 10% of all visitors to Grand Canyon make it to the North rim. I decided then and there… IF I ever go to Grand Canyon, I will go to BOTH rims. Then I will know the reason people go to each!!

While on North Rim we rode mules down to Supi Tunnel. Ron Clayton, world renowned mule wrangler noticed in me that the canyon had quite an affect. In deed it HAS an affect on me. A great one at that. He told me to get down on The Colorado River and see Grand canyon the best way there is.

Memorial Day 2015 at about 10:50 AM local time we met out guides and after a brief meeting and load up, I was cruising down the Colorado.

By the 2nd day all my expectations were blown “out of the water” if you will. Truly a life changing experience. Something everyone should see and feel and smell and touch. Something we all should experience if not for ourselves, for our souls.

Akira Hagiwara link

Barbara Hinkey

(Wild and Scenic Kern River)

I love the Wild and Scenic Kern River on the Sequoia National Forest in the Southern Sierra Nevada because it runs through me. It is my life river! I have learned to flow with it through life whether at flood stage or peacefully finding its way along the banks. Its water brings life to all that its currents and eddies touch. I never tire of being on the river; smelling it, touching it, hearing it and seeing the grandness it projects.
It begins as a trickle on the slopes of Mt. Whitney and traverses 165 miles of scenic canyons as it becomes a forceful water way. The Kern is home to the Golden Trout and the Kern River Rainbow Trout. It’s bio-diversity is unchallenged by any other river, flowing from alpine slopes to the floor of the Southern San Joaquin Valley. This mighty waterway offers the best of experiences for those who visit and enjoy its bounty and beauty.

I have spent a lifetime on in, by it and in it. My great grandchildren are the sixth generation of family who have the river in their souls. It is the life blood of the Kern River Valley and has become my purpose in my later years. The river and I are connected. I hear it, it hears me. I am co-founder of Keepers of the Kern, Inc., a grass roots, nonprofit organization based in Kernville, California. Keepers mission is to clean, restore and protect its unique qualities.

The actions which are taken today on the Wild and Scenic Kern River will insure it is protected for generations to come. “One Person Can Make A Difference, Together We Can Make It Right”!

The Kern is my life and as long as I have a breath left, I will love it and take care of it.

Akira Hagiwara link

Adele Stewart

(Saluda River, Columbia, South Carolina)

In Columbia, SC, we are so lucky to have a great river that flows through our downtown. When I lived there, I would sometimes wake up early before work and go paddle with friends for “Dawn Patrol.” There is nothing like the river in the morning when the mist is rising and the birds are just waking up, but the river is just as strong and playful as she always is. I love it and am so thankful for those memories that are full of joy, peace and anticipation, looking forward to what each day can bring.

Akira Hagiwara link

Marni Edmiston

(McDonald Creek, Glacier Park, MT)

I almost drowned as a young person – an event that made me understandably terrified of water. However, as a young adult, long after finally learning how to swim, I became fascinated with kayaking. It seemed the closest thing to being a water creature and I was hooked. I bought my first kayak – wide with lots of stability – and proceeded to connect with the water and with the peace and happiness being on the water brings. Though I learned to swim years before, I had learned to swim to survive, not really to enjoy. Through spending time in my kayak, I learned to be on the water, to go with the water. Kayaking allowed me to be in the still places; to shed little water, to glide silently by wildlife, to see fish swimming below, to watch water skippers gliding alongside – to be part of something bigger, something incredibly restorative. I’m not a whitewater runner. I still sometimes get scared. I always wear my safety equipment and never kayak alone. My respect for, and love of, the water is steadfast. Rivers, creeks, streams, lakes, the ocean – they are of us and we are of them. They are the blood of this earth and integral to the cycle of life that keeps us all alive.

Akira Hagiwara link

Lyndsey Anderson

(Confluence of the Green and Colorado River)

Rivers are magical. Rivers inspire adventure, strengthen a community, create lasting friendship and inspire love. It was a connection and admiration of rivers that sparked a friendship, a river trip that inspired a relationship and five years later the planning of the most wonderful trip of them all – a wedding. My husband and I were recently married during a week longer Stillwater/Cataract Canyon trip in which we were able to share our most special day with the people and the rivers that have shaped our souls. The ‘W’ was roaring as we pulled up to the beach, we unpacked in a sand storm and began the the most exfoliating game of bocce ever played. As the sunset, the air calmed as if the canyon approved of our union and we said I do. We like to think of the day as a reminder that we can weather any storm as long as we have each other and our amazing community by our side. Rivers truly are love.

Akira Hagiwara link

W. Stacy Vereen

(Harpeth River - near the Narrows, Cheatham County, TN)

Growing up on the Gulf Coast I learned at an early age to love the water. As I got older my love deepened to also include the flora and fauna in and around the creeks, rivers and bays just before their freshwater currents rushed out to meet a salty sea. Longleaf pine, live oak, swamp chestnut, bald cypress, pitcher plants, palmetto … all common around the swamps and tea-colored blackwater rivers of home. All things I missed when relocating to landlocked Tennessee.

As an adult, I began to discover, almost by accident, the rivers and streams of Tennessee, and began missing home just a little less. From the North Carolina mountains and the clear, clean headwaters of the Tennessee River, the streams off the western slopes of Pine Mountain, Kentucky which form the Cumberland River, to the smaller but equally alluring rivers of the Highland Rim and limestone glades of Middle Tennessee, I became entranced with river birch, hemlock, cottonwood, red cedar, Virginia pine, chestnut and chinquapin oaks. Like when I was a boy, I wanted to intimately know all of these “new” rivers and the creatures who call them home.

Finally, I became certain that Tennessee, as well as any single point on this great continent, is far from being landlocked. There is water everywhere, if you stop to look.

Through the stream which flows through my backyard, and which I gaze upon as I write this, to the Harpeth River, north to the Cumberland, and further north to the Ohio, southwest to the Mississippi where is joins water that has flowed from as far north as Alberta, Canada before turning due south, I can go home, back to the Gulf Coast, back to my roots. There’s a comfort in knowing that. There’s a comfort in knowing we’re all connected.

Rivers are fascinating—each having its own personality. And I find unshakable peace in knowing that where there’s a river, there’s boundless opportunity for discovery, and for me that is pure, unfiltered joy.

Akira Hagiwara link

Ruby Seaton

(Gros Ventre River, Wyoming)

I was staying in the Gros Ventre campground outside of Jackson, WY, taking part in a wilderness program put on by the Animas Valley Institute. On the last day, we were given an assignment to create and enact a ceremony in the wilderness. I knew immediately that I was to cross the Gros Ventre river, on the other side of a wood with moose in it, some few hundred yards from our campsite. In the previous few days, I had watched a few of the larger, strong men of our group wade into this river.

So I went to the river’s edge. I tied my boots to my backpack, took off my pants, tucked the rest of my clothing into my underpants, and stepped in. I didn’t stop to think about it. This was early autumn, and the river was running swift and strong. I just stepped into it, barefoot. It was like stepping off the edge of the world, because immediately I had only two choices: either to step back onto the bank, which I wasn’t going to do, or to rapidly figure out how to stay upright on extremely slippery stones. My body figured it out for me, literally step by step. Soon, the water was half way up my calves, and the little slippery stones near the bank had become an endless mass of large, round, even more slippery rocks, with no gaps between them. I learned how to balance with my arms spread wide. I learned to pace each movement so that I could withstand the strong pull of the water and stay upright. My feet learned how to slowly, carefully create footholds in the gravel between the next two large round rocks. By the middle of the river, the water was near the top of my thighs. I’m a short, older woman. In reasonable heath, but nothing like the big guys from our group whom I’d seen in the river in the previous few days!

I felt more alive than at any other time in my life. Nothing else existed than each careful, careful movement, creating another foothold in the gravel between the rocks, easing onto it bringing my weight from my left hip to my right, from my right hip to my left again. Slowly, carefully. There was no time to be afraid, because I needed all of my attention and energy for keeping moving, though about two thirds of the way across, I did let out one huge yell.

Once on the other side, I discovered that my knees were shaking like crazy. I sat and massaged them on a lovely, white-sand, rock-strewn beach, with the time-bleached limbs of a huge old dead tree nearby.
The packed lunch I had brought with me tasted so good! …I spent an hour or two there on the other side of the river in a state of deep, joyful at-oneness, with self, with the wild world, with the river tumbling by.

I had somehow known that I would not need to go back across the river in the way I’d come across it. Sure enough, when it was time to return, a friend showed up on the other bank, a young strong one who waded out to the middle holding an old pair of Birkenstocks, and said “You can wear these; I don’t care if the current sweeps them away.” She took my hand and together we stumbled safely back across, then through the moose-wood back to our camp.

It may sound as though the river itself was merely the backdrop to this story, but it wasn’t like that in reality. This fast flowing mountain river was a magnificent Being that I will never forget. I had a direct encounter with the awesome power of Wildness that day that I still carry within me years later. In fact crossing that river changed my life. I step out into far more tricky situations these days, not looking back, not second-guessing, just figuring it all out as I go.

Akira Hagiwara link

Leslie Scopes Anderson

(Southern Utah)

There is still a long un-dammed portion of the Colorado River flowing through Utah. In 1983, when a river was running down Main Street in Salt Lake City because of heavy rains and sudden snow melt, I ran Cataract Canyon during the highest water in 100 years! The river’s average high is 60,000 cfs, but this year it was at 116,000! A way thrilling ride for all who experienced it! Long live wild & scenic rivers!!

Akira Hagiwara link

Clyde Creason

(Pantano Wash, AZ)

When my wife and I retired in 2014 and moved to a 55+ mobile home community situated next to the Pantano Wash, a large wash (a river during Tucson’s monsoon season), I was delighted to find a bicycle path (called The Loop) that bordered the wash. The wash, when not flowing, has trees, shrubs and even cactus from bank to bank and serves as a wildlife corridor for our native javelina, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits mountain lions (cougars) , birds including large ravens, hummingbirds, hawks of various kinds, finches, and numerous other species.

Under both the Broadway bridge and the Speedway bridge are a large population of Mexican Free Tailed Bats, a migrating bat which flies out at sunset to catch its evening meal ( a sight worth seeing as the population under the Broadway bridge numbers in the thousands).

What I was not prepared to see was the incredible amount of trash in the bottom of the wash which included shopping carts, abandoned homeless encampments with the usual sleeping bags, apparel, plastic bags and bottles and incredible numbers of tin and aluminum cans.

I was shocked. And also extremely embarrassed to think that visitors from all over the US and Canada who came to spend the winter at the RV resort next door would be bicycling along this path. This became the start of a group that I named “Friends of the Pantano”, dedicated to the cleaning of this waterway.

I immediately posted a flyer asking for volunteers in both the offices of our mobile home park and the RV resort next door. Our first group consisted of about 15 senior citizens and after 4 hours of digging up shopping carts and piling up trash we began to realize what a massive undertaking we had started.
The next day our group had dwindled to 6 or 7 due to muscle aches and joint dysfunctions. At this point I came to the realization that we might need more help than the die hard senior citizens provided so I contacted Tucson Clean and Beautiful, a non-profit group that works close with both the city and Pima County. They were excited to work with us and provided gloves, trash bags and other items. More importantly they arranged for all the trash we had collected to be picked up by Pima County backhoes, and dump trucks. They also provided for a legal Right-of-Entry permit and put me in touch with another hard working group called the Arizona Conservation Corp. This group of about 15 summer-help twenty somethings helped us tremendously. Through a personal friend at a nearby church (Christ Community) we utilized the hard work of their youth group for 2 days. We also garnered supplies such as water and ropes from the local Home Depot which also borders the wash.

All in all, over a period of about a year and a half, and down the length of a mile and and half, we removed approximately 75 shopping carts, and 6 to 8 large truckloads of trash. Unfortunately Pima County Regional Flood Control District has rescinded our Right of Entry into the wash and we are currently unable to continue to maintain the wash. However, those who worked on this project have been left with new friendships and a sense of satisfaction when they think of their accomplishment.

Akira Hagiwara link

Andrew McGlenn

(Pratt River, WA)

In 1989, on one sunny Saturday morning in July, we set out for a fly fishing trip on the Pratt River. It’s located on the west slope of the Cascade Mountains and flows into the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River.

We had to wade across the Middle Fork and proceeded to hike up along an old, faint trail that paralleled the Pratt. The whole family was on board, along with Charlie, our black lab.

After hiking upstream about 2 or 3 miles, we dropped down to the river and got our fly rods out. I don’t remember much about how the fishing was, maybe due to what proceeded to unfold…

We worked our way downstream, fishing the holes that we encountered. As we went along, I slowly noticed that much of the stream bank was hard to access due to small landslides that often made the riverbank inaccessible. This was not a big deal as we were wading the river as we went down. But it seemed to become more extreme the further downstream we went.

Then the light started to fade as dusk crept in upon us, and we found ourselves in a really gnarly stretch of the river. The plan had been to walk, wade and fish our way down until we hit the confluence, where we had started.

But, this was rapidly becoming an impossibility. So, we made the decision to climb up and try to intercept the trail we’d hiked in on. By now, the sun had set and darkness was upon us. I remember seeing a few stars through the forest canopy as we clambered along.

We fumbled our way up the hill over downed trees in search of the trail, but could not find it. My brother Bruce and I forged ahead and eventually stumbled upon the trail. There was a moment of rejoice and relief. But that was soon dashed as we realized it was so dark that we couldn’t even follow the trail.

So, after a fatal attempt at fashioning some torches with fern fronds tied to sticks, we decided that we’d have to hunker down and wait it out until it got light. Fortunately, Bruce, the youngest had a box of matches in his pocket…and this also allowed us to build a fire as we rode out the night, huddled together with Charlie trying to keep warm in our shorts and t-shirts…

At last, dawn broke and we started out again. About an hour later, we came to the confluence, crossed the river, and got back to the suburban. What had started out as a day trip had turned into a minor overnight family survival trip.

It didn’t prove to be a matter of life and death, but it was a good lesson in being prepared for the unforeseen and unexpected.

Just one of many McGlenn family adventures. However, we vowed not to repeat that one…

Akira Hagiwara link

Shaina Maytum

(Green River, Split Mountain, Moonshine Rapid, 15,600 CFS)

My father taught me to love the river. By the time I was born, his river days were largely over, but small family trips combined with epic and wild stories ultimately led me to start rowing my own boats as both a river guide and on my own adventures. Some of my happiest memories of the last 10 years center around floating the rivers of the Southwest with the best people I know.

This photo was taken last June right above Moonshine rapid where the Green River cuts through Split Mountain. The last time my dad was on this stretch of river was circa 1980. This time, though, my friend Anna and I were in charge. We rowed, dad paddled, and I saw in his face a glimmer of the young river rat he once was. His pride in Anna and me was palpable. Those 9 river miles were some of the most special I have ever shared with my father.

I was the lucky winner of a Gates of Lodore permit for this coming summer, and dad will be tagging along again. He gave me the gift of the river, and it is my turn to give it back.

Akira Hagiwara link

Dorian Atchison

(Suwannee River, North Florida)

There’s nothing that can describe raising children immersed in the natural environment, especially the wild rivers. The Suwannee River in North Florida has more fresh water springs than any other river, providing swimming & diving holes for humans, but also fresh water for manatees to drink as well as all kinds of wildlife. My boys & I loved living along the Suwannee River. Now just miles from where I raised them, and slated to go right through the Suwannee River State Park is the Sabal Pipeline. It is shameful this can be allowed to happen. The Suwannee is an old river, with huge cypress and all varieties of wildlife depend upon it.

Akira Hagiwara link

Matt MacConnell

(Palmerton, Pennsylvania)

The Lehigh Gorge is a PA Scenic river way that should in my view be added to the National Wild and Scenic program. The river runs north south and covers many miles of terrific trout habitat. I lead a group that stocks trout in the Lehigh River and leads many conservation projects to help clean up the coal legacy that has impacts on the river while also monitoring water quality. Trout stocking in the spring is a joy for me as well as for the trout we are releasing.

Akira Hagiwara link

Julia Klema

(Dolores River, Colorado)

I seem best able to define my life by rivers. This is true across my family: we know ourselves best within the landscape of water moving downstream, traversing varied ecosystems, crashing through rocks, and pooling between cliff walls. Rivers make everything make sense. They are like a story line: moving clearly from one place to another, shifting in tone and personality throughout. One river must be given credit for this place of importance that rivers hold: the Dolores. The River of Sorrows. Flowing over two hundred miles from the Colorado San Juan Mountains to its confluence with the Colorado River north of Moab, the Dolores is a gentle, curving cut across the landscape, a transition from high alpine to redrock desert. Driving many of the roads through the region, like Highway 491 from Cortez to Monticello, you cannot tell there is an imposing canyon dropping down in the middle of the visible sage brush expanse. This small corner of Colorado remains surprisingly unvisited and unknown, but these canyons are in part where I grew up. The Dolores is where my father began his river outfitting company in the 70’s, offering multi-day trips across this remote landscape. As children in the summers, my brothers and I were sent out with our dad on the river. We were at ease in the sand, the wind, learning to row boats, read water, traverse slickrock streams, and pack up all the gear at the end of each trip. More than that, we learned to love rivers.

There is one wind filled afternoon that always comes to mind when I think of my childhood summers. The water seemed to be working its way back upstream in small piled waves. The red sandstone cliffs appeared distant, beyond the haze of rain falling between us and them. There was that sense of portent that always accompanies storms gathering in the desert, as they slowly pick up momentum, holding everything in suspense and pulling the wind into their idea of what the day should be. The river felt wide. The grasses on shore began slowly to rustle and scratch at each other, drawing circles in the sand as they swung back and forth on their stalks. The wind strengthened and clouds pushed across the sky. Birds cast their black silhouettes into the river’s reflection.

This was in the mid 90’s and I was eight years old. My older brother, ten only, had been given his own raft to row. I remember him looking so small at the oars, as the headwind intensified. He was wearing a red and yellow striped life jacket, and from my position I could see his slight body against the backdrop of the imposing sandstone cliff that rose at the next bend in the river. I had burrowed down into the footwell of the boat out of the wind. The desert felt vast and imposing, the distance to our destination, far. The wind was powerful and unpredictable. My brother fought to find purchase with his oars in the current. Within the intensity of the storm, despite worrying how we would make it to the take out, I was filled with wonder at the beauty, the adversity, and the wildness of the river corridor.

It is this moment, and a hundred others, that makes up my relationship to the Dolores River.

Until the unreliability of in-stream flow below McPhee Reservoir made commercially running the Dolores unfeasible, my family and I took clients and friends through its varied canyons, and shared our love of it with them. It was the best place to grow and learn to be a person. That time spent with rivers has seeped into the core of who I am and who all of my family members are.

Today, two decades after the windy day on the lower Dolores, the life of my family still revolves around rivers. My brothers continue to guide in the Grand Canyon, and explore rivers worldwide through kayaking. One is pursuing a PhD in hydraulic engineering, while the other has been working as a salmon fisherman and recently finished working as on-river support for a remote BBC first descent in New Guinea. I am currently in a Masters of Fine Art program focusing on advocacy for rivers through creative work, running rivers across various continents to bring attention to the importance of water and rivers in various environmental, social, and political contexts. My parents still run rivers for the pure love of it. Everything, for us, comes back to water.

Rivers, I find, make me feel the most alive of anything. This is in seeing the intensity of the life they gather around them and in the way the Dolores built me to be the person that I am. My love for wild places is reflected in the vibrancy water carries within itself, within its movement, and through the stories it spreads across landscapes.

Akira Hagiwara link

Maija Wade

(Upper Deschutes River, Oregon)

My husband and I received a 14’ NRS whitewater raft as a wedding present. The gift was perfect for us. Our love story began in a raft on a fast flowing Wild & Scenic river.

My husband was a raft guide for Oregon State University, although a stranger to me at the time. I was an outdoor girl looking to ditch the college parties and restore myself through adventure.

I signed up for a Halloween Day raft trip. He was the trip captain. (Spark, not spook!) It poured rain but we didn’t care. A romance was born and eventually a family–a river family.

Fast-forward 20 years and dozens of North American rivers trips later, now we prepare to take our two river-loving sons, ages 5 and 8 down the Wild & Scenic Upper Deschutes River for four days with my dad–the one who gave us the raft.

It’ll be a family full circle moment. One we’ve had before.

My husband grew up rafting this section with his family. I was on it as a young person, too. We’ve rafted it more than a dozen times as adults and several of those times with our kids, my dad and other family. So we have traditions, like cooking paella in camp, water gun fights, the fake rubber rattlesnake, and jumping off of jump off rock. While those are all fun, it’s the time to just be together for days on the river without modern distractions that nurtures relationships in new and surprising ways.

Rivers transport us to a place where meaningful connection is more possible.

There are boisterous group conversations in camp chairs and quiet pondering as one group member strums his guitar. At night, kids wear headlamps and map stars in the sand with sticks.

There is the collective manual work of camp, which puts us together as we connect with the kinetic basics of life.

Of course, there’s the time in the raft to yip and yaw through the rapids.

Osprey sightings, fish jumps, the many colors of river rock, the scene changes every year. In fact, every moment is new on the river as the next quantity of water rushes in to replace the amount that just flowed by. As generations together on the river, we are active participants in taking that all in.

In addition to being with family, I get excited to ditch the modern stuff of life like I ditched bad parties in college. Rafting the Deschutes gives me time to reconnect with myself.

Of course I connect with the cute trip captain, too!

These reasons and more are why we repeat the trip again and again.

Thanks to the Upper Deschutes and its designation as a Wild & Scenic river, we board our raft like a spaceship and blast off to the constellation of river rock, flowing water and human connection.

To boldly go where no man…(just kidding, obviously that’s taking the metaphor too far).

Rivers connect families.

Akira Hagiwara link

Nick Dalrymple

(Confluence of the Wabash and White, Mt. Carmel, IL)

The Wabash River by Nick Dalrymple

The mussels were big and plentiful. The button factory was busy. Mussel men were making a living. In the early 1900’s a large pearl was found at the confluence of the Wabash and the White rivers. A poor mussel man became rich that day and the pearl ended up in the collection of the Queen of England.

In the late 50’s and early 60’s Dave and I would wade in the river feeling for mussels with our bare feet. When we found one we would duck under the water, collect the mussel and drop it in a bucket. Later Dave’s dad would check them for pearls. The meat was used as trotline bait, the shells use used to make cultured pearls or ground up and feed to chickens. By 1991 pollution and over fishing had put the mussels on the endangered list.

At that time water sports of all kinds were popular. Swimming, fishing, water skiing, boating, and canoeing were all great fun for us. There were boat races and ski shows. A houseboat restaurant provided food for people on the river.

A group of us took a few days canoe trip from Vincennes to New Harmony. We camped on sandbars and Islands. At the Natural Dam near New Harmony we tried to shoot the rapids and folded two capsized aluminum canoes in half. We divided our gear into the other three canoes, pounded the canoes back in shape and, taking turns bailing, we completed the trip.

Camp Pahoka had a 16 man canoe. On summer days we would pile into the camp’s canoe and paddle up river to the Natural Dam singing “Dip, dip and swing them back, flashing with silver. Swift as the wild goose flies, Dip, dip and swing.” And then back to camp. Maybe they still do.

My older brother and a friend cut our ping pong table in half and attached inner tubes to the underside for a float trip from Mt. Carmel to Grayville. I was angry at the loss of the table, but my brother paid dearly for his transgression, and I forgave him. By the time they got to Grayville he was sun burnt to a crisp.

A favorite activity in our teen years was parking by the river at night with our girl friends and watching the submarine races.

Recently my family joined in on a community canoe trip. They report it was lots of fun except for the Asian carp jumping in the canoes and whacking them in the head. The carp also limit water skiing now!

Whenever I go home to Mt. Carmel I have breakfast at the Twin Rivers restaurant. It overlooks the confluence of the White and Wabash where the famous pearl was found. The anchor points of the old ferry are still there. An eagle high in a tree reminds me there are still plenty of fish in the river. A boat or two go by and I dream about growing upon the Wabash.

Link to water quality of the Wabash River basin:
http://www.tribstar.com/opinion/columns/mark-bennett-perception-of-wabash-river-s-water-quality-doesn/article_86ffe8ae-6fae-542e-81ae-bef5fb875692.html

Link to the pearl story:
http://lawrencelore.blogspot.com/2016/01/queen-marys-wabash-river-pearl.html

Akira Hagiwara link

Sarah Vardaro

(South Fork American River, California)

I was born in the Riverland in South Australia. But the river there is a tamed place, controlled and conquered. Last time I visited home I was excited to visit the mouth of the Murray River that wanders through my state. I spoke to a woman at the tourist center who seeing my excitement discouraged me from going out there. The mouth of the Murray she said, is crawling with excavators that are desperately trying to keep the river mouth open to the ocean.

I went rafting for the first time in Queensland Australia but it wasn’t until I visited California in 2010 that I fell in love with the river, after living on the banks of the South Fork of the American for three months. Even this river, with houses, campgrounds and rafting companies, offered a portal to the wildness of Californian waterways.

Seven years later I am still looking downstream, am still hypnotized by the currents and the beauty of riparian forests. I am still living on the banks of the South Fork of the American River and I now run a rafting company here.

And really that was never that likely! The river has been one of my greatest teachers, its wildness is infectious.

Akira Hagiwara link

Kathy Etling

(Grand Canyon below Glen Canyon Dam)

My husband and I have floated and fished many rivers, small Missouri streams like the Huzzah, Courtois and Meramec, all of which we fought to keep free-flowing back in the 1970s, and also wild western rivers like the upper reaches of the North Platte in Wyoming. All of these rivers and streams — and many more, like the magnificent Current in the National Scenic Riverways Park — have their own innate beauty and charm and each is a treasure in its own right. But the river that has most affected us is the mighty Colorado below Glen Canyon Dam.

We booked a flat water float because we didn’t have the time to do a raft trip through the downstream rapids but in no way did we feel slighted or think we had missed anything. The canyon walls soar high above you on both sides of the river, overwhelming you with their magnificence. Etched into their faces are petroglyphs left by the Ancient Ones — many more of which, our Navajo guide explained, have been inundated by the clear, rushing waters which carry us ever onward. One is humbled by the power and might of this magnificent stream, harnessed as it may be in its upstream reaches. When you look around you, it is like glimpsing the face of God.

We feel blessed to have shared so many days on so many of our country’s wonderful rivers and streams. We wish nothing more than for all Americans to be motivated to get out and see the beauty that is ours right now and will be forever. That is, if we continue to do right by our rivers and protect them from mining, poorly planned development, non-point pollution and other threats. For together we can do great things . . . and keep our rivers clean, wild and free.

Akira Hagiwara link

Sarah Moray

(Grand Canyon)

When I was six years old my Dad took me on my first river rafting trip. I had no idea what to expect, but those few days on the Green River changed my life. Most of the 30 summers since then I’ve taken a river trip. A bad day on a river is better than a good day of doing something else. Whether a day trip on the Deschutes or a 14 day trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, rivers are where I feel most myself, most at peace and most happy.

Akira Hagiwara link

Chuck Peven

(Salmon River, ID)

Rivers have been part of my soul for as long as I can remember. Whether I am fishing, rafting, or trying to restore habitat, rivers are my strength.

I am the best possible me when on a river.

Rafting has been ingrained in me since the middle 1970s, learning the ropes on the Olympic Peninsula, graduating to the Class III water of the Wenatchee and doing the granddaddy of them all, The Canyon (Grand) about 12 years ago.

Rafting trips were our family vacations and our kids grew up learning how to paddle and row, set up and breakdown camp, and enjoy the ever-changing scenery.

Fishing is a major part of my being, with clear moving water my preference. I rarely keep a trout for dinner, but relish the pursuit in mostly amazingly beautiful places that sometimes allow us to learn their secrets.

The following sums up my deep feelings of rivers:

“There is a river that flows through a church
It’s a holy place where one’s soul can be searched
Not a place of Sundays, nor steeples,
But of hallowed waters for certain peoples.”

Patrick Harris in The Drake, fall 2013

Akira Hagiwara link

Marty Pool

(The Gates of Lodore)

When I float down a river, especially a river in canyon country, the timelessness is visceral. Time takes on entirely new dimensions. I look up and the walls I see could easily be those of 100 years ago, or 100 years from now. Or they could be entirely different tomorrow, changed entirely by a flash flood or rockfall. As I look at the scene around me as a float, ever frame of every second is different. The perspective constantly shifting as my boat glides along, the splashes of droplets and the sun’s glint on the water constantly dancing, never still. But this feeling only exists on rivers that are protected and run free. When a river is dammed, or built upon, or diverted, it becomes just another part of our structured, human world. And time on the river feels plain

Akira Hagiwara link

Mark Leisher

(Potomac River Shutes near Great Falls)

Akira Hagiwara link

Steven Quarles

(Missouri River Breaks, Montana)

When I worked on the Senate Natural Resources Committee in the 1970’s, there was talk of erecting a dam that would have flooded the Missouri River Breaks in Montana. The committee held a hearing on the river’s future in Montana and, following the hearing, I and two other committee staffers floated the Missouri Breaks with a Montana Fish and Wildlife employee who was an expert on the river.

For several days and nights, the river champion said nothing about the potential impoundment. Then on the last night around the campfire at sunset, he asked us to look up at the alpenglow near the top of a cliff face across the river and quietly said, “That’s where the water’ll be.”

I have never encountered a more powerful, truly heartfelt, and extraordinarily efficient and effective lobbying moment. Just five words in two seconds were enough. My colleagues and I returned to DC and wrote the bill that designated the Missouri Breaks as a Wild and Scenic River, forever protecting it from new dams.

Akira Hagiwara link

Wyatt Ellison

(Salmon River, ID)

Driving back from the Salmon River gave me a lot of time to reflect on my time there, from thinking about the sound of roaring whitewater to the twinkling constellations untarnished by the pollution of mankind. And as I pass more gas stations and billboards on the side of the road, I realize that the world needs more places like the Frank Church Wilderness. Places where young men and young women can experience wonders away from technology, where older adults can let go of the world for a while, to slow down and smell the roses. Because life’s too short to go full speed without taking a minute to look at the world around you. So, just take a minute and live life on the wild side. You’ll be amazed by what you can find there.

Akira Hagiwara link

Katherine Sessel

(Salmon River, ID)

The Salmon River has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Not only is the trip a vacation and place to relax, but it’s also an adventure in the great outdoors like no other. Whether it’s floating the Main, Lower, or Middle Fork, a trip on the salmon is a trip to look forward to for months. On the river there aren’t any distractions of the outside world. Life moves more slowly there, and it’s nice to take a break now and then.

I’ve floated this river a couple times with my family and now with NOLS, and although the trips were set up completely different, the feeling from being on this river in a totally wild place stayed the same. That feeling can only happen in a completely wild place, which is why the Salmon is such a special place for me.

In the future I hope that people are as lucky as I am to float this river, and that more places become completely wild to bring that feeling that only comes with spaces like this.

Akira Hagiwara link

Asa Turok

(Salmon River, ID)

This summer I spent nine days on the wild and beautiful Salmon River. The experience was like no other. Seeing the beauty of the valley and the crashing of waves on rapids like Whiplash and Vinegar reminded me of nature. On the river I saw families on vacation having a great time and I couldn’t help but think about how great it would be to go down this river with a family of my own someday. But, at the rate that the beautiful rivers of America are being dammed and polluted I may not be able to. The Salmon River is the largest in-state wild and scenic river in the lower 48 and you can still see the effects of damming and pollution. In the late 1800’s there were 30,000 Coho Salmon and over one million Sockeye returning to the Salmon River each year. Now? The Coho Salmon is extinct on the river, and only ten sockeye Salmon return each year in a population sustained mostly by fish hatcheries. 2018 is the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and this anniversary is a chance to bring awareness to its issues and work to change them. And if you’re like me and want your children and your children’s children to see these beautiful and wild rivers of America like I have been so fortunate to have experienced, then we as Americans need to get to work.

Akira Hagiwara link

Akira Hagiwara

(Salmon River, ID)

I am alive
I am a human
I am short
I am Asian
I am adventurous
I am in Idaho
I am short tempered
I am excited
I am hard-working
I am Akira
The Salmon River is moving
The Salmon River is free-flowing
The Salmon River is beautiful
The Salmon River is inviting
The Salmon River is changing
The Salmon River is large
The Salmon River is wild
The Salmon River is important
The Salmon river is full of wildlife
The Salmon river is a home
On the Salmon, I am more aware
On the Salmon, I am prepared
On the Salmon, I am wet
On the Salmon, I am having fun
On the Salmon, I am alive
On the Salmon, I am excited
On the Salmon, I am free
On the Salmon, I am curious
On the Salmon, I am Myself
On the Salmon, I am intentional

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