The sheer excitement and overwhelming pressure of making my first international trip be one that I led can’t be overstated. I honestly didn’t feel It could have come together more perfect. We had assembled a dream team of friends to lead the trip, mixing experience in all the right places while leaving enough of a feeling of “Are we gonna pull this off?” in the equation to keep things anything but boring. Chile was always a dream of mine since hearing stories through my friend Jon back in my NOC days. Unknowingly, I had watched many of these rivers on VHS cassette years before I ever ran them. Those turquoise blue holy waters were finally a dream realized, and it was everything I could have imagined it would be and more. Paraíso.
We have pulled off four amazing years of safe yet challenging trips to over 40 different people! That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but put yourself in our shoes for a moment, and think about the sheer amount of work it takes for you to travel alone for an extended period to a new and unfamiliar place. Now multiply that by 10, plus 2-3 trip leaders, transportation, lodging, equipment, curveballs… you get the point. Hats off to all the great folks that run these amazing trips year after year, safely, and especially to those who have been doing it for the long haul. It really is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs; I love it, and I will also miss it, for now.
The past two years have sucked it right out of me. It has been a waterfall of different events that have led me to make this decision to not return this year. Starting my days with waves of anxiety about trip sales, financing, group dynamic, relationships, and organization have mounted and my well-being is what needs the focus right now. Being away from family and even my wife some years through the holidays and for extended periods of time cannot be masked by the otherworldly Chilean landscape. I think it’s commonly viewed through the lens of onlookers that we are just taking a vacation, but even when you are in paradise, a work day can still be a work day. Having your support group nearby is a comfort many take for granted and one you realize very quickly is an important part of day to day life.
It’s time for a year to work on us. We are going to take some of the craziness out of our lives just for a minute to rebuild a new base so we are ready for an even higher level of craziness. Chile will see us again soon enough, but not in the same way.
The best compliment we have received over the four years is that we “…make good ducks. Calm on the surface, but kicking like hell under the water.”
I am thankful for so many things.
Give us a shout still. We can get you set up with our partners in Chile, Gigo Castillo and LJ Groth.