"E.T.", aka Elizabeth Traver, was featured in Episode 48 of the podcast telling her story about formative experiences fishing in Wyoming. This week's podcast features more storytellers from the Laramie event, so we feel like it's a great opportunity to share this great little adventure story by E.T. - one of the craziest job interviews we've heard of. A scientist, ultra runner, world traveler, mountain biker, ski instructor and more, she is just the type of remarkable (but unassuming) character that we love discovering, and introducing to the world.
While white water rafting tends to get lumped in as a low key family vacation type adventure, E.T.'s story isn't about any laid back float trip. Straightforward and almost Melville-esque, I love it as 1) an illustration of ET's amazing spirit and 2) a brief window into the harrowing life of a rafting guide, lived when the rest of us aren't in the boat. It's also an evocative picture of adventure life in Wyoming - with the Tetons, Yellowstone, the Wind River Range, the Snake and Kern Rivers, it's one of the world's great mountain adventure locations that I personally haven't explored enough.
I was invited on a "hiring" run on a raft trip. The folks running the trip always want to be the first on the river, as in, the day the ice breaks free. So, never having rafted before, I said, "sure, this should be fun".
They outfitted me with a farmer john wet suit, and I added a few other layers, then we headed down river with the ice flows. It was pretty awesome, and not always the good kind of awesome!
I was in the front with another inexperienced paddler and an oarsman, Bill, yelling the commands. I was still clueless when he shouted to bail, and I replied that so much water was flowing out of the boat, it should be fine. Then there was the scream to paddle even harder, I looked over the side and realized that there was no point in trying to paddle as I could not actually reach the water, the wave we were on was too big. Of course, I started to think, when we dropped down the nearly vertically wave, that maybe things were a bit more dramatic than I had considered. The next wave, as we started up out of the trough, was so big it did not even break on me--but rather completely washed over me and broke on the Bill's chest. I was impressed he kept his seat!
The adventure continued as pieces of the second boat started to drift past us: 3/4" marine plywood that had snapped in half, an oar, a completely shredded ammo can. So, we pulled over, post-holed through the snow back up river to where the other boat was stuck in a hole. One guy, Ray, was on the near shore from that boat, the other two were on the far shore. It seemed that folks were fine, if rather chilled from their swim. So, Bill started throwing a throw bag at the boat, mostly hoping for a miracle, I think, but, seriously, on the 6th throw, the rope dropped through a carabiner gate and stuck!! We were all impress, I think Bill was the most impressed. In any case, the two 220 pounds guys, plus me, just hanging on the rope like a monkey, finally managed to time our pull correctly and get the boat out of the hole--another miracle as I have come to learn.
After that, things were more about picking up the pieces and people and simply getting to the take-out. Of course, back in town, drying, returning the wetsuit, Bill, tentatively, I swear with a grimace as to what I was going to say, asked if I wanted to be a raft guide that coming summer.
I replied, with gusto, "Oh, yeah, that was a blast," to which he replied, "you're hired!" It was a more than memorable adventure.
Podcasts to listen to: Episode 48 features E.T.'s story about that time she was a kid and went fishing with her dad and realized she had a piece of wilderness all to herself.
If you're into Wyoming, next week we'll be posting another story in this blog based taking place in the WInd River Range, by one of Oregon's Best Emerging Poets, Gracetopher Kirk. If you want to visit, we love Laramie, Yellowstone, and Buffalo near the Big Horns. Wyoming is as Wild West as it gets.
In the meantime, if you like what we're doing, consider joining our amazing cadre of supporters on Patreon.
Tim and Angel
The goat in the picture lives in Silverton, CO, and tried to kill us. We survived to bring you this dirtbag wisdom for the ages.