by Gary Stott
Whether you are on your first river trip, or enjoying a river journey as a seasoned traveler, you can delight in the full range of conditions that nature presents on the river if you pack for two environmentswarm and sunny and cool and wet.
When youre on the river, absorbing incredible scenery and friendly conversation, nothing should bother you. Your “on river” clothing is critical to an enjoyable day, whether its sunny and warm or cool and wet. Plan ahead. Be prepared. Keep them close.
Anatomy of a warm day on the river:
When youre on the river and the sun is shining kindly, maybe even a little aggressively on you, youre the luckiest person in the world. Warm and sunny is easy: you wear river shorts that are quick-drying, sandals or river shoes that attach securely to your feet and provide traction on wet surfaces, and a sun hat with a brim to keep the sun off your face and neck. To keep the chill of whitewater spray to a minimum on heavy rapid stretches, throw on a waterproof splash top or light rain jacket. Warm days on the river bring much splashing and for smart boaters, sunscreen. They also bring out the animals that may head down a little closer than usual to the water, for a drink or two. Keep your eyes peeled. You never know what sunshine may have to show you on a warm day.
Anatomy of a cool day on the river:
A cool day on the river is one of the most spectacular experiences you can have. It may be a different feeling than youre used to. Theres no running for cover if its raining. Youre in it. For cooler conditions, you need insulation and exterior waterproofing. A layered approach to insulation ensures youll be comfortable in all conditions. Layer one goes next to your skin (synthetic underwear made of capilene); layer two is extra insulation (expedition weight capilene or pile); and layer three is the protective wind and water barrier (paddle jacket and pants, or rain gear). For even colder weather, or if cold feet are your nemesis, you can opt for ultimate comfort with fleece socks under waterproof socks with sandals or shoes. With enough warm, waterproof gear, you wont feel cold. You will feel alive.
River water is magical. Taste a little and youll feel a million miles away from the water cooler to which youre accustomed. It tastes cold and full of power. Its a day on the river and its like nothing else!
Gary began running rivers in 1978 and started his guiding career in 1981– leading trips in Oregon, Idaho, California, and South Carolina.