Keeping Love Afloat

By Peta Owens-Liston

Falling in Love and Renewing Love While Keeping Your Head Above WaterFalling in Love and Renewing Love While Keeping Your Head Above Water. “A lot of the superficiality falls away, and you get to see the ‘real’ person and get to know each other much more quickly,” explains river trip guide Jen Davison, in regards to why people seem to fall in love, or absolutely not, on the river. She speaks from experience, having fallen in love and tied the marital knot last spring with fellow river trip guide, Zach Crumbo.

Guides see the core character of whom they are working with because they must function as a team, sometimes when they are exhausted, dehydrated, and constantly “on.”  When guests become enamored with another guest, it’s head over heels for what they see—someone who has bathed in the river, worn a hat, and slept on the ground for three or four days.  No cosmetics or high heels; no designer jeans and freshly shaven faces. What you see is what you get.

This might explain Holiday River Expeditions (known) track record over the years of two dozen engagements, marriages, and romances among guides and among guests. Some of these love stories continue to flow, while others are as passionate and rapid as a Class III or IV whitewater run.

“It is a fast track to intimacy in a very real way,” says Crumbo. Guests are surrounded by beauty and novelty and excitement, an abundance of time, and the commonality of the river; it is a perfect storm for romantic impulses. “I’ve seen plenty of sparks fly that don’t last when you get off the river.”

On the other hand, it’s a place to bring renewal to love. Couples get to let go of the distractions and stresses of life back home and spend time together, relaxing and playing as if they were dating once again.

“It is a fast track to intimacy in a very real way”

On the river, guides are trained to give 110 percent of effort so if anyone on the team is coming up short; the team is still able to provide a 100-percent quality experience for their guests. “We try to keep that in our marriage as well,” says Davison, whose wedding with Crumbo was immersed in the river’s ways—with a guest list of guides, bail bucket and carabineer decorations, readings related to the river, and the view of the Colorado River far below the edge of the Grand Canyon Rim.

Even her vows promised to keep the current of the river moving through their marriage: “I promise you, Zach, to be your sand stake [the anchor that secures the boat on shore] and your downstream wind [to move the boat down the river].”

A reminder of the support that we should be giving, and receiving, in our relationships to provide a healthy, steady flow of…love.

Who else has a story about falling in love on the river or celebrating their love for one another while on a river trip?


Peta Owens-Liston is a writer and editor with extensive experience in magazine writing and marketing communications writing.  Publications she has written for: TIME Magazine, Sports Illustrated for Women, Organic Style, Paddler, Redbook, Via, KUER/NPR affiliate (radio essays), Park City Magazine, Salt Lake City Magazine, The Salt Lake Tribune to mention a few.