Ode To Powerful Women

Motherhood is a special designation. Much more than a role or mere label, it is an undertaking that requires vigilance, care, and unwavering fortitude. So, too, could the term ‘river guide’ be defined. It takes a special type of personality and character to guide a raft downstream. A ‘lady rafter’, in my eyes, is that much more special; that much more unique than being known as just a river guide. On this Mother’s Day, we here at Wild Water Adventures would like to pay tribute to both the remarkable women who are mothers and to the powerful and magnificent ladies of the river.

The Original Lady Rafters

Georgie White ClarkWithout doubt, the first lady of rafting was Georgie White, queen of the Colorado. Back in 1945, her first descent of this famous river involved not rafting, but swimming!  60 miles, with a backpack, life jacket, and a friend. Seven years later, in 1952, her life as river guide began. She strapped three rafts together and took paying clients downstream.

Since that time, a continuous flow of undaunted and determined women have set the standard for future generations to follow: Liz Hymans, with over 100 runs down the Colorado alone, plus other rivers around the world; Ote Dale, in both rafts and dories, rowed guests through the Grand Canyon for 40 years; and Marilyn Sayre happily walked away from a career in computer programming to take up the oars full time.  These ladies were trailblazers, confidently and competently stepping into the rafting arena, during the 1970s and ’80s, when the adventure tourism industry was in its infancy.

Today’s Lady Rafters

Fast forward to the 21st century, with more and more lady guides sitting at the helm, issuing commands and ensuring the safety of thousands and thousands of rafters every year. For my part, as a former owner/operator of a rafting outfit on the coast of British Columbia, many ladies guided my rafts over the years. Dynamic, energetic, intuitive and with a good dose of twinkle in the eye, all brought an easy-to-like charm (and lots of laughter) to the riverbank. Heck, even my own daughter guided rafts at one time.

Wild Water Adventure’s Lady Rafters

Wild Water Adventures is proud of its lady rafters. Kendall, Olivia, Kanami, Natalie, Julie, Lindsay, Vero, Monique and Pascale graced our rafts in previous seasons. This year, our 28th season, we will have three women at the oars: Marcie (coming back for her 6th season), and newcomers Michelle and Lisa.

Ode To Powerful WomenAlthough I, myself, am not a raft guide, I have lived and worked within the rafting industry for more than 30 years. My skill lay not in the oars (I’d be a useless guide!), but on the telephone. Getting people to the river was what I did, and continue to do, best. There is nothing finer than chatting about the fun of river rafting to enthusiastic guests! A lot of organization goes on behind-the-scenes before anyone climbs aboard a raft. Dauntless lady operators, such as Wild Water Adventure’s very own Liz Webber, work incredibly hard, season after season (did we mention this is our 28th year on the river?), ensuring guests have smiles on their faces the entire time, from ‘hello to good-bye’.


Whether you are a lady rafter guiding fun-seeking guests down the river, or a lady owner/operator chatting in person, or on the telephone, about an upcoming raft adventure, we wholeheartedly salute you! The rafting industry is what it is today because of the influential contributions made by such powerful lady rafters.


Looking for a last minute Mother’s Day Gift? Give the gift of whitewater rafting!


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Author: Deborah Wade

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