At first, we guides tried to convince them that this wasn’t the last. After all, when you’re a twenty something you can’t even imagine making that call. At this rate, we’ll never stop.
But, after a day with them, we realized they had come to this decision with a profound sense of peace: this would be their last river trip.
They had boated for decades, most dear to them, the Deschutes River in Oregon. They had seen many more from the Middle Fork of the Salmon to the Grand Canyon. They had created, shared and told many stories. They had survived wraps, flips, bear-ravaged camps, swims, drunken nights, heroic acts and good times.
They fished, marking the big moments on those hand-drawn old-time river maps. They brought friends, family with them, sharing the river whenever they could.
But, as time goes on the body wears out. The spirit doesn’t.
So there they were in August of 2012 on the Rogue River, bringing their river days to an end with us at ROW. This was the last, the bittersweet finale.
And we all in our own time and space stopped for a moment to think. When would our last be?
Would our last be sudden and unexpected? Would it be tragic? Would it be under the pre-tenses of ‘more to come’ only to watch the years and the rivers pass us by from the window of an office, telling ourselves someday I’ll go back to the river. Or would our last be contemplated and methodic like Mike and Faiths?
Regardless, the last trip will come. We don’t think about this when we’re guiding the seventh trip in a row this season, four seasons under our belt and more to come. Some of us are even praying for the end of the season to quench our burn-out.
It’s good to be reminded, especially in the heat and high stress of August that the end will come. It’s good to be reminded that we should enjoy our time on the river now. It’s good to be reminded that our legacy will go on.
I’ll proudly carry on Mike and Faith’s spirit as long as I’m running rivers. Here’s to you two, to blessed endings and to anticipated futures.