River Blogged: Rafting the Kicking Horse and the Human Experience

The horse has begun to charge. Snow melt has intensified in the in the high alpine, and the Kicking Horse River is now a rowdy herd of big, brown waves. Recent Wild Water guests have experienced this stampede – and are loving it! As guides, we love the high water too, the speed, the unbridled power. We’re not talking pony rides here.

Still, along with the rest of the world, our attention has been captured by the World Cup of Soccer. It’s been fun to watch the boys cheer on their home teams. People travel from the far corners of the Earth to ride the horse, and, accordingly, we have an international crew of guides here at Wild Water. Tarquino sports his blue Ecuador jersey as we shuffle boats in the yard. Juan rolls into work with the Colombian flag flapping from his car window. Carlos is caught up in the Cinderella story of his Costa Rican squad. Poor Andrew, meanwhile, suffers their barbs, let down by an English side failed to show up in Brazil. As a Canadian, I can’t help but wish we were part of the party. Still, I’ve enjoyed the sportsmanship and camaraderie of it all.

As I watch the soccer on television I’m struck by two things. First, the beauty of Brazil, land of the Amazon. Second, the frequent mention of how soccer (football to most) is a kind of international language. I think this concept of an international language applies to running rivers as well. Any place you may visit on this amazing planet – any place humans flourish at least – you’ll find a river; much like the arteries in our bodies, precious life is carried by their flow. When I watch my new South and Central American friends run the Kicking Horse, it becomes apparent just how fundamental rivers are to the human condition.

We don’t need to share a mother tongue to enjoy big rapids together, to realize we rely on one another, to marvel at the power of nature. Sure, the Kicking Horse is way colder than rivers in more equatorial climes, but the physics of water and gravity don’t change. The currents we read are the same. The joy we experience running rivers is reflected in the hearts of our fellows.

At this historical juncture, as our global demand for hydro-electricity increases, as more rivers are threatened by dams, as violence erupts between people who are in fact more neighbors than adversaries, I think it’s increasingly important to share in the human experience of river navigation.

The Kicking Horse is still unbridled. There’s still a feeling of international federation among the guides that run it. Come for a ride with us at Wild Water, and soak yourself in the human condition.

Until next time,
Keep your boats sunny side up!

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