Allegra Jasper “Leggs”
How did you find yourself at Holiday?
When I was just a wee lass, my mom met a strange fellow named Frogg. They partnered up and moved our little family to Idaho where they started Holiday River Expeditions the Idaho version. I started out as a passenger whenever I could go and begged to row anytime the guides would let me. In Idaho, the state thought it was a good idea for kids to get their driver’s license at 14 which I promptly did. I needed gas and insurance money so Frogg gave me a job as his first warehouse person. When I turned 17, I started going on training trips, and the year I turned 18, I started carrying paying customers.
What years did you spend guiding?
I got my license in 1991 and I guided full summers until 2001. That last summer I was pregnant with my daughter. She arrived in February 2002 and I quit guiding to be a mom and go back to school to get a degree in accounting so I could have a “real” job. The pull of the river was strong and in 2007, I came back as a guest guide for a couple of trips a year. I think the last year I ran a Holiday trip was in 2017. I used all my wages those years to get myself fully set up to run all the private trips I can find time for now.
What is something you learned while at Holiday that has stuck with you and has been valuable to life beyond the river?
I know it’s the motto but “Go With the Flow” is the thing that has stuck. While on the river guiding so little of what happens is in your control. The people, the weather, and the river itself are all so unpredictable and uncontrollable that you can save yourself a lot of heartaches if you just prepare well and roll with what is presented. Being open to the experience as it comes can provide the most unexpected and sweet surprises. The river taught me that but life reminds me. When presented with a challenge there is little point in wishing it wasn’t so but much opportunity in acceptance of the problem and a quick move to the solution.
What is your favorite stretch of river that you have been on?
It’s hard to pick a favorite. I love them all for their own reasons. My first love was the main salmon. I love the clear cold rivers, undamned and lush with green forests and lovely sandy beaches. The lower salmon was my second love as I really learned to row well there. If you didn’t row well, you got left behind in the flat water….and the flat water tested my strength and perseverance over and over. Hells canyon taught me about big water and honed my whitewater skills. I now live in Oregon and have fallen in love with my new home rivers the Rogue and the McKenzie, a river my current employer works to protect. Last year I ran my first middle fork of the Salmon trip and this year I ran Desolation with some dear old guide friends in preparation for my first (and hopefully not last) grand canyon trip where I needed all my Holiday skills to get thru the adventure!
Do you still do river trips?
Well, obviously yes. I’ve accumulated a fleet of Maravia’s (two Holiday boats, the Amika Dawn and Babe) and I’ve taught my husband and my daughter to row. My husband has some sort of permit magic in his genes and pulled that Grand permit after only applying a handful of times. My daughter joined us and rowed a bunch of flatwater and cheered me on when I got scared. We probably do a half dozen overnight trips a year and a handful of day trips…as much as our employers will let us off!
What do you miss most from guiding?
I miss the guide camaraderie. Never in my life have I worked another job where we simultaneously worked so hard but spent the day laughing and playing and challenging ourselves until we crashed in exhaustion only to rise the next day to do it again. I also miss the customers. The river brings lovely people together and I have more than a handful of past guests that I consider personal friends to this day.
What was it that pulled you away from guiding?
As noted above, I became a mom and felt I needed to get a real job so I could build a life for my daughter. I feel grateful that I picked well in my career and chose one with enough flexibility to allow me a good income and enough schedule flexibility to be able to get out to play way more than my share.
What advice or sentiment would you share with young guides working today?
Enjoy this time in your life, heck, maybe never give it up. But, if you do, come back. Find a way to keep the river in your life, the escape from the fast pace of life is much needed.
Do you have a favorite memory of Dee? Sue? Frogg?
I didn’t get to spend that much time with Dee and Sue but have endless respect for the company they created. As for Frogg, I’ve got a lifetime of memories and stories. If you’ve spent time with Frogg you know that sometimes what happens on the river must stay on the river. Here’s one that sticks in my mind and is worthy of print. On the first trip I rowed the Main Salmon during training, Frogg sat behind me and gave me pointers. We came to Bailey Falls. After making the initial left-to-right move, I found myself in a position to need to move back left. Unsure of my strength, I wanted to pull away but there was no time. I froze. Frogg was yelling at me to push and when I didn’t he stuck his hand on my back and one more time yelled, “I said push!” I pushed and we cleared the hole.
What’s your most memorable story from a river trip?
One of our longest-tenured guides, affectionately known as Wasso was a fixture in Idaho in all the years I guided and taught me so many things. His sense of humor was and still is unending. He is also a maker of things. One summer he had welded himself a can smasher. A big rod of metal with a flat plate attached and Wasso written on the face. A couple of young boys on the trip asked him about it. Wasso told the fellows it was a coyote brand. Not to let a good opportunity go to waste, he continued telling the boys that we had an annual contest that all the guides participated in with a big prize. Of course, they wondered what the prize was and Frogg jumped in and said it was a new truck! The boys wanted to help Wasso win the truck so after dark, he and the boys blacked out their faces with charcoal dust so the coyotes would not see them and they headed out back of camp with the “brand.” Wasso had a pocket full of rocks and was tossing them out to make noise and claiming the coyotes were all around. He left the boys to go chase one and came back with a tuft of deer hair from a knife sheath another guide had lent him telling the boys he got one. When the boys woke up the next morning with quite a story to tell, their faces were still black with charcoal. The next summer when we arrived to guide, each member of the team had their own personalized coyote brand, handcrafted by Wasso over the winter.
Do you have a story to share about a positive experience with a guest?
This one is a bit silly but on one of my trips back as a guest guide, I had brought my boyfriend (now husband) as the only guests were a family of 4. The first afternoon at camp the mom called me over. She wanted me to take a peek at her daughter’s head to see if I could confirm her suspicion of what was going on. Yeah, her daughter had a bad case of lice on day 1 of a 4-day trip. This was obviously something we were not prepared to treat and I wasn’t sure what the family would want to do. Much to my surprise, they just rolled with it. The 4 of them shared a tent and we had a lovely trip. The kid with lice just scratched her head a lot but took it like a champ. Our end-of-trip ice cream stop also grabbed a bunch of lice shampoo to get their treatment started before their journey home. They came back the following year on a main salmon trip. That sweet family is among the guests who I still consider personal friends.
Are you in touch with any guides you met during your time with Holiday?
Ah, yes indeed. Many have left the river life for good but I see them in other places. Some have become a part of my private rafting crew and we catch up on the rivers of the west with them and their families in tow. Last year was a very special reunion with several guides from the 90s on a new-to-me section, Desolation.
What are you up to these days?
The daughter who changed my path turns 21 this year. In 2017 I married the man with the best private river permit lottery luck and with him came four more young adults to add to my brood. We spend as many days on the river and on the ski mountain as we can squeeze in. He is a firefighter and paramedic and I have managed to land myself a job that combines my career skills (accounting) with my first love, rivers. I work as the Director of Finance and Operations (or my preferred title, Overlord of Finance and Fun) at the McKenzie River Trust. We are a land trust that owns, conserves, and restores properties along the Mckenzie and other rivers in our region. Sometimes they even let me bring my raft to work for staff raft day or to help access properties.
Where do you call home?
Do you think you will ever be a river guide again?
It’s not in my future as a full-time gig but I would definitely consider a guest guide gig, especially in a year the permit givers are stingy. A girl has to get o the river one way or another!