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Best trip ever?  I just got off a 6-day Owyhee River trip that I like to refer to as the Estrogen Express on Little Grand Canyon North. Being the only male in a party with three females, has its challenges. But fun!  In fact, so much fun, that one guest (I won’t mention your name here Terri) told me it was her best trip ever.  This is always a welcome but troubling thing for me to hear after the completion of any river trip that people have enjoyed so much.

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It is a bit embarrassing and I am tempted to fudge the truth a little and agree, but then what about all those other super trips in the past I have been on? Like the trip where I proposed marriage to my wife by scribbling with a stick on a magnificent sandbar in an outrageous canyonscape.  Once someone in my profession  gets nearly 40 years worth of trips behind them, that adds up to a lot of trips and happy times.  I would not like to discount any of those other great experiences, or rank them in any kind of order.  Minus a trip or two from hell, most of my experiences have been highly pleasurable. And I certainly would put this past one up their in the high level redline of the fun meter.

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In fact, despite getting occasionally ganged up on,  almost all female trips I have led have been a real hoot. That is, at least gaged by the soreness of my guts during the trip of belly laughs that almost took me rolling to the sand. Good humor adds so much to an adventure that it is easy to send them to the top ranking positions of how much fun one journey can be.  It almost makes me think perhaps all female (or mostly female) trips might be a good niche market to consider.  Although, it might lead to early insanity and is always a risk for potential  male ill-mind health.

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In essence, what is really  fun for me is to see the transformation that takes place between launch and take out, especially for those whom are on their first time on a river or a new one.   These ladies had all  been on other river trips, and two of them, on the Owyhee before. But each water level is never exactly the same,  so essentially a new river. Of course, the group dynamics were different, and fortunately a great mix of compatible personalities, so that adds significantly to the pleasure principle.

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And of course, for Misty, who was rowing the other raft and guides for us here at the Wapiti Clan, had not been on this waterway before. The low water conditions were a far different experience than the big water of the Salmon River that she is used to.  But, being good on the oars and reading water helped her to successfully make good runs.  The technical aspect of bony boulder garden rapids actually makes one  better on the sticks when they get back to larger volume rivers.  I’m sure she will soon appreciate it once the dust has settled and her memory kicks-in to help finesse a good route through the challenging rapids of the Salmon River.

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The entire experience of this trip reminded me of a passage in a book I had once read: “The Gulf Stream will flow through a straw provided the straw is aligned to the Gulf Stream, and not a cross purposes with it.”  …  “So now I always tell my students about the Gulf Stream: that what it means for us, for writers, is that we need to align ourselves with the river of the story, the river of the unconscious, of memory and sensibility, of our characters’ lives, which can then pour through us, the straw.”

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And so it is with a river experience. When we align ourselves with all the current, not only of the river, but everything else that flows between the canyon walls, we become the vessel through which it all pours. We can absorb all the juices that leaves a stain forever on our inner walls…and add that much more to the next time we dip that same straw into the flowing waters.  Fortunately, there are a lot of best trips ever,  soon to be, laying there in wait for another vessel to appreciate it once again. It is the way of the river and waters magic.

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