Guide’s Corner with Michelle Postma
My favorite campsite in Lodore Canyon currently is Rippling Brook Two! The hike up to the waterfall is magical and I usually read the Vaughn Short Elves Chasm poem there. The beach is wonderful with a good swimming eddy. Just up from the beach, there are plenty of trees for shade. It’s easy to hike an inflatable kayak up a bit and lap the small riffles by the camp. It’s pretty okay I guess 😉
My favorite rapid in Lodore Canyon is Hell Half Mile. You can get such an exciting ride and hit on Lucifer (the huge rock in the middle). It’s the splashiest rapid in Lodore and usually everyone is yelling and the energy is great. The rapid doesn’t end after those big moves at the top – it continues on through a series of quick waves and maneuvers down the left then center. We all pull over at the lower left beach and cheer as our friends appear on the horizon.
I also love the salad shooter. It’s a slot you can take between Rip I and II. It’s tight enough for those 18 ft rafts that you usually need to ship your oars by sliding them in to fit between the rocks!
Favorite River Game?
Pirates – when you water fight with buckets and stream machine water guns and also the guests are stealing the buckets and guns back and forth every time we land for hikes or food.
Pranks – such as hiding pancakes all over your fellow guides boats and gear or swiping their oar blades when they’re not looking or strapping the oars in so when your friend tries to paddle away they can’t move. But of course I would never do any of that.
Something I try to do on every trip?
Something I try to do every trip is read bedtime poems with fellow guides. Usually we read from The Gift, a collection of poems from Hafiz.
Hafiz is a 13th c Sufi poet who writes ecstatic poetry mostly about oneness with the universe, nature, god, existence, everything, the source, whatever you want to call it. His poems can be funny, serious, pensive, mysterious, sexy, absurd, esoteric, simple….usually we just pick a random page number and read it – you never know what you’re going to get.
Every trip I also try to read some Vaughn Short poems with guests. It’s pretty cool that Vaughn Short made these poems up in his head just to share with friends while on personal river trips. After a while of this people finally got him to write them out and they are collected in the book Raging River Lonely Trail. Some of my favorites are: A Boatman’s Prayer, The Spirit of the Trail, and The Ballad of Belle Zabor.
Pre/Post Trip Ritual?
Pre trip – making a PBnJ the morning we set out
Post trip – During the trip I like to write down funny things guides and guests have said and illustrate them with little stick figure drawings. At the end of the trip I usually have some funny quotes that still need drawings. So I finish those up and then the best part! – Reading them aloud and while posting them on the refrigerator. Comics!
Check em out
Favorite River Outfit?
JL Racing compression rowing shorts. No chafing! Supportive sports bra. Luna sandals, sunglasses, sunscreen, ball cap, and my pfd aka portable hug. This outfit means the sun is out, it’s hot, and I’m ready to swim a ton!
In the winter?
Currently I am in Tucson with my true love. Gross! Mostly reading, hot yogaing, and biking. In past winters I’ve taught skiing and been in grad school. We just got engaged and are plotting our futures. We both work for Holiday in the summers but winter could be anything. Stay tuned haha I am considering doing a yoga teaching certification, actually trying to sell art (oo scary), or barista work. I also think it would be wonderful to do some river guiding or bicycle touring in the off season.
Favorite River Character?
Shorty the boatman. Just kidding! Probably John Wesley Powell – I love telling his sensational stories of how he lost his arm in the civil war, proceeded to lead seven more battles and then after teaching for a while got bored and decided to lead an exploratory mission down the entire length of Green and Colorado rivers. Even though he had zero information about what the water was like or if there were waterfalls they might suddenly encounter. He recruited some rough mountain men with promises of treasure and hunting opportunities. Instead they ended up rowing the boats while Powell pointed the way downriver with one arm. The boats were not ideal for rapids and the men ended up swimming so much that after a while they were basically just wearing loincloths. They climbed trees to gather pine pitch to repair holes in the wooden boats. They accidentally poisoned themselves by eating potato greens and were probably hallucinating when they entered Desolation Canyon. By the time they were boating through the Grand Canyon, which they were sure would never end, all they had left to eat was some unleavened flour and seventy pounds of coffee. Two men said we’re done and hiked out. The party emerged from the Grand Canyon the very next day. The two hikers were never seen again. Some say the natives got em, some say the Mormons got em and some say the desert got em. John Wesley Powell returned two years later to do the whole thing again.
How did I become a guide?
Luck and the grace of Tim Gaylord. (our Boss aka Summer Dad)
I lucked into a private San Juan trip in 2017. It was my first overnight river trip and I floated in the river 80% of the time and hung out with a seven year old girl. We told dad jokes and pried teeth from a skull while the adults had cocktails. We made the teeth into friendship necklaces. I let Sarah keep the skulls which I am confident her parents appreciated. I had no idea people just put all their stuff on boats and floated down a river for ten days. What?! A couple years later I lucked into another trip on the Middle Salmon. We hiked all over the hills and enjoyed wildflowers and a hot spring waterfall shower. So when I graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts, did I want to teach art or stay inside all day painting? No! I taught skiing and then looked for a summer gig. I applied to trail and pack crews and a few rafting companies. Holiday was my top choice but I wasn’t sure if I’d be accepted. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. We work hard, play hard, and sleep hard. It’s a river people family. Everyone wants to be here and it seems like we do a pretty good job taking care of one another. Don’t tell Tim but I’d probably do this job even if they didn’t pay me.
Hi I’m Michelle Postma. I grew up in Columbus, GA and lived for summer camp every year in Brevard, NC – mountains of waterfalls, moss, and afternoon sunshowers. I love rowing, reading fantasy/scif-i, biking, doodling, and being a lizard in the sun. My favorite beverage is water or bean water. My favorite food group is salt. If you know any dad jokes, please tell them to me. Thank you!