Why Rivers Are A Paradise For The Curious


Have you ever been curious about curiosity? Where it came from?  Why some people have it and some don’t?   Why some people get bored easy?  Ever wonder why some people ask so many questions? Wanting to know something to learn more about the world, is a trait that starts in childhood.  Curiosity is the engine that drives the desire to discover new things. Sadly, some people lose this trait along their life path and end up in a box canyon of the mind.

Luckily, all undammed rivers lead to the ocean and are not boxed in. So when us humans who choose to get in a boat and explore what lies ahead, the scene changes around every bend. Something new is just out of sight, but ready to soon be discovered.

One time, I came around a corner on the Grande Ronde River and saw about 20 elk walking along the shore. As my raft approached, they jumped in the river and swam across it, only a few yards in front of us.  Another time I rounded a bend on the same river, and a  bald eagle swooped down to grab a steelhead, only to  drop it on a sandbar not far from us.  We attempted to get the steelhead, as we were fishing at the time, before it flopped its way back into the water. We had spooked the eagle to save the fish, thinking we would get it for ourselves. But  we were too late. It made its escape, so we really did  save it, despite ourselves.

Another time on the Owyhee River while on a hike, I discovered an unusual cave within a cave. Not only was it a cave in the earth, but it also lead to a hole in the sky.  Features such as this abound in this high desert country.  A big draw to this river is that it has so many fascinating and unusual geologic features, that it is always eye candy to a never-ending source to entice exploration.

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not include some Salmon River curiosities, like the time we camped out under a giant overhanging ledge and were treated to a light show of magnificence grandeur. The thunder bouncing off vertical walls on both sides of the river that climbed over 500 feet above us, and the lightning flashing  the black sky into a quick glimpse of a canyon fantasy land, will never be forgotten.

 Or the time a water ouzel landed on the bow of my driftboat and entranced guests with an eye to eye stare before departing to the river to find a shoreline rock to teeter on its legs like they always do, while  searching for aquatic insects.

To me, one of the biggest values that any river trip has, is that it is a journey through the watery window into the soul of nature.  New horizons at the brink of the unseen, always reveal unknown worlds, once transcended.   Excitement and enthusiasm bound high for those who still hold high levels of  curiosity in their heart.

Rivers are a great place for those who have lost the feeling of curiosity, to find it again. In today’s world, it is too easy for people to work themselves into a dull routine. Complacency with mostly those things that are  familiar and align up with  the  status quo,  destroy the value of uncertainty and change that are at the heart of curiosity.

When it comes to rivers, the old saying; ” it is hard to discover new islands, if you are afraid to lose sight of the shore, ” certainly fits here. Going on a river trip is a great chance to experience life changing events.  I have seen the phenomenal power of a river to drastic effect people’s behavior, too many times, not to appreciate this  innate value to trip participants.  More often than not, the people who started on a river trip were never the same ones who finished it.  The journey allowed for the right amount of  time and was a wonderful  place for such metamorphosis to have its effect.

Butterflies best describe what river rats soon get morphed into. They begin to flit around on an air of lightness and into a carefree direction. Their new wings carry them yet higher into an atmosphere of intoxicating euphoria. Curiosity builds awareness, appreciation, and understanding.  It allows us to have better levels of tolerance for things different from ourselves, be it cultural or natural, and helps facilitate new perspectives to enhance our joy in the world.

To make your world more interesting, you first have to be interested. Curiosity doesn’t just make the world more interesting, it also will make you more interesting.  Your conversations with friends will soon improve, as each new revelation inspired by curiosity will add more spice to what you can share with them.

Curiosity is fueled by mystery. Wanting to know. Wanting to learn. Wanting to discover.  There is no ceiling bounding how much knowledge we can attain, so mystery in the world will always prevail.  It is always one step ahead of knowing. There is no better place to chase that mystery than to embark on a river journey. The more you see, the more you will be able to see.

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     – Alan Cohen

Indeed, rivers are a paradise for the curious. What are you waiting for?

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.

For more river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.com

or (more pics)  Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun            


Invisible Doesn’t Mean Unreal

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If you gaze up at the night sky with the naked eye and catch a glimpse of Jupiter, it would appear simply to be a  solitary bright object high above. But if you were to take an amateur back yard telescope and train it on the same planet, you would discover four moons on a parallel plain surrounding the planet. If you had access to a professional large-scale observatory you would enlarge that view to include twelve moons.

The conclusions we reach about the measure of reality thus becomes changed by depth and scope of additional aids to our vision, and it would soon become evident that things are not always as they seem. In fact, just because something is invisible at first, does not mean that it does not exist.

Nietzsche once said: ” the strongest ties are the invisible ones.”  This is typically true of many things in nature, especially that long-established recognitions by native people’s and ecologists, that all things in the world are interconnected. We might not see how all things are tied together,  but invisible threads do unite everything in natures web. Thus, when something happens to something else, everything is affected by the ripple. Nothing stands alone and can totally escape an impact,  no matter how small it might be.

Many things in nature can be correlated with other things. That is, anything can be correlated to some degree with any other thing. Why? Because everything is connected, rather we can see by how or what those ties might be, they are still there in some form.

A maternal instinct that ties mother to child is held together  by the bond of love. What is love? It is a thread, though perhaps not visible by any man-made means, but very real, all the same.  The thread is invisible to the eye, but can be felt by the heart.  The same can be said of romantic relationships, and many other emotional ties that humans experience during their life time. Human nature is just a part of natural nature.

In my world, this time of year is when I spend time steelhead guiding. When fishing, getting a line in front of fish for a potential bite, is the name of the game. While those lines may be hard to see, sometimes even invisible, they are still real. In fact, to a fish it  can mean the difference between life or death.

Why are unseen connections such an important principle of natural law?  Because it means that what we do as an individual or community, does matter.  It is the foundation for taking personal responsibility for our own actions. The significance of this might best have been described by  Chief Seattle: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

So it becomes relevant that we might also take a lesson from Zen: “the frog does not drink up all the water in the pond in which it lives.” This might be a more  philosophic way of applying one of the most basic laws of science:  Conservation of Energy. It says that  energy  cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one state to another. Fundamentally, the idea of paying attention to how man impacts (potential change) natural resources became the basis for the concept of “Conservation” and “Environmentalism.” It is the “change” part that we must pay close attention to.  Converting winter grounds for deer and elk to subdivisions for trophy homes, to  draining wetlands for farming, or shopping centers, everything we do matters. Our actions cause change.  However, nature cares not, as good or bad is always a human value judgement. The problem is  that  often  the good for a few , is bad for the  many.

Oil spills in the Gulf is a good example of this, yet some politicians and social pressures continue to fight for still more drilling there, as well as more  pipeline plans  to accommodate yet more extraction of the same energy sources that lead to climate change in a man-made negative way. All this ignorance of collective history,  rather  than to search for cleaner, safer alternative energy resources to invest in for the future, comes at a perilous cost.

Why does this matter to me, a simple river guide? I use wooden boats, and motor vehicles to escape into the river world to leave all my cares behind.  I still depend on extraction of natural resources to get me into areas left in their natural state. So,  escapism is a relative term. We can’t really escape from ourselves, no matter where we go. But we can find places to enjoy enough solitude to allow ourselves time enough to slow down and examine more closely our inner workings and who we are.

When we travel to the river to get away, we are still tied to the outside world by those invisible threads that binds all things together in one way or another. One web, but many strands. When people come to the river, they soon get connected to all kinds of invisible ties. They don’t leave them at home or get disconnected.

Often people on trips ask me what I do for a living in the real world?  As if my job is happening in an unreal world, I ask them to explain what they mean by real. It is easy for people to lose sight of these minute connections that bonds everything together in the one world we all share.  But it also brings home to me, how important it is to maintain the integrity of the ever shrinking wild places, because they allow us a crucial  place to temporarily escape and have a chance to  smell the flowers.  With enough time for  slowing  down,  we might catch up to our run-away selves,  so we can  ponder the question of rather we should leave the flowers alone, or pick them  all for a slow death in a vase. A conservationist would say leave a few flowers for a seed source.  A native elder might remind us about the importance of doing things during our life time with respect to how it will impact the “Seventh Generation.”

We might not see the invisible hand of nature, but it is very real, all the same. If we don’t want to get spanked, then we better  pay close attention to our own actions.

For more river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.com

or (more pics)  Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun            


Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.

Why Is Movement So Important?

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Nothing happens until something moves.  Action is process. From cradle to grave, no matter the species, doing is living. Done is dead. Movement from point to point, rather place or time, is being, and nature’s way. In fact, in the natural scheme of things the difference between life and death is often defined only by movement. Boiled down, the essence of all life processes on earth are all about predator prey relationships. Everything is food for something else. Eat or be eaten is the basic law of the jungle.

Movement is one of the biggest mechanisms of detection that animals live or die by. It  is why deer or elk stand motionless at the wisp of a foreign sound, or approaching danger. It is what cougars look for as they employ stealth to cruise the woods with, or why herons appear to be like a statue, waiting for a fish to swim by unsuspectingly.

So too are humans influenced by movement. From massive demonstrations caused by giant social movements, to a single experience conjured up at an  individual level, change only happens when something moves. As a river guide and enthusiastic observer of nature, change is the name of the game on every adventure. The sage advice  by a greek philosopher named Heraclitus about never stepping twice into the same river, certainly seems true. After all, the same river is never the same, it is always changing. So too are the experiences that those who choose to float earth’s arteries, appreciate each time they step into a boat.

At so many levels, the world and all life in it is all about movement and change.  For me, the beauty of stepping into rivers and landscapes allow me to experience a vastness of new horizons every time. Each approach to the event horizon that the  lip of a rapids entry, or a precipice at the edge of a cliff provides, allows me to stare directly into the abyss.  What stares back is a reflection of the back of my mind and the curiosity of what lies ahead for every movement of forward progress I will soon make.

Based on past history and survival of each new experience, I know that most likely I will survive to yet another exciting adventure in learning, being, and doing. I can only hope that along the way I might better understand the world around me and that is all engulfing. That is the ultimate challenge and why I appreciate the value of movement.

Even a rainbow will not materialize until storm clouds move to allow the sun to shine through the water falling and also moving from through the  sky.

For more river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.com

or (more pics)  Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun


Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.

Can You Hear It?

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The call of the wild is not a sound. It is a force and pull. It comes in many forms from nature and is heard by many, though no ears are required to hear it.  An old Indian saying is that silence is the voice of the Great Mystery.  Perhaps it is all a matter of “spirit talk.” The human spirit communicates to all other forms of spirit.

Ever notice how humans are drawn to the flames of a campfire, like a moth is to the light? Could it be that the fire is a release of the woods spirit?  Could a giant wave crashing against the shore be a release of the ocean’s spirit?  Like a soul, a spirit is formless and invisible. But like the unseen force of electricity, it has a current like the river, and can generate power to light up man-made contraptions to enable energy for various aspects of the  human world.

Before the microscope was invented the unseen world of germs, viruses and bacteria carried on their business of spreading infections and disease. We couldn’t see them, but they existed for thousands of years unbeknownst to us.  They too are a part of the wild and powerful forces in nature. Their job is to break things down when plants and animals die, and to control numbers when populations of organisms stretch beyond their carrying capacity.

From the most smallest of forms to the very largest, all dance together to the melodies of vast cosmic fores inspired by nature’s music.  Each dance shapes the world we see, hear, and experience.  All of these events contribute to the call of the wild. Can you feel it?

Every time I step into a boat that is ready to launch on another river trip, this inherent call of all things wild excite my senses. As seasons change, so do the different calls that attract my attention. Each natural cycle eventually completes a circle, yet every time a loop is completed, enough experience has elapsed to alter perceptions of the next loop, So the circle really becomes an upward spiral as levels of learning earn compound interest at every additional full spin.  Such is the beauty of nature’s wisdom.