How long have you been a raft guide?
16 years; 14 on the Ocoee.
What led you to become a raft guide?
I was 20 years old, and it seemed like a fun way to spend the summer.
Tell us about the training process.
Every company that I have seen on the Ocoee does a great job with their training, and everyone does it differently … When training new folks, I look for a can-do attitude – someone who can rise to whatever weirdness they’re faced with.
What do you love about whitewater rafting?
When you’re on the water going into a big rapid, your focus narrows and all the “noise” from life – bills, e-mails, deadlines – fades. To be able to share that with 15 to 20 random people per day is amazing.
What’s special about rafting the Ocoee?
It is one of the most consistent rivers in the country. The water is dam-controlled, so the level is the same in March, in July, and in October. That’s rare. And that helps with your confidence, doing multiple trips in a day. I bagged 1,040 commercial river miles in 2022. When you consider that every five miles of that was done with a different crew of random humans, that’s a big deal. That’s what makes the Ocoee so special: the human interaction and being able to show anybody my favorite place on the planet.
What’s your favorite rapid?
Godzilla/Humongous. It’s a roll of the dice. I have had crews that I would have sworn were going to eat it, and they float right through. I have had incredible crews with plenty of experience that have gotten swallowed in that thing.
What advice would you give a first-time rafter?
To a first-time guest, I would say: trust your guide implicitly, especially if you’re worried about falling out. We want everybody to have a great time, and that is what we work toward.
To a first-time guide:
listen. People in general will tell you exactly what they expect, so work with them.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We guides are a grateful bunch. We know how lucky we are to work where we do and with hardcore competent people the way we do.