Idaho River Rafting Guides

“Hunky dory” was the bearded gentleman’s comment when asked how the bottle of wine was that was being served with the group’s meal.  As I sat and enjoyed my own meal, I kept an eye on the group of people who were not only enjoying the bottles of wine and their meals; they were also enjoying each other’s company.  I was probably more interested in the conversation at the other table than I was at my own table.  Who were these people?  It turned out that the group at the other table were guest who just finished a raft trip on the Salmon River, their guides, and a stocky, bearded man named Frogg.

The following winter I stopped by Frogg’s ranch house and let him know that I was interested in river guiding and asked him if he might give me a chance.  That was 1983, and since then I have been on countless river trips, had dinner with fun loving guest, and even enjoyed a bottle or two of wine over the years.

Outfitting and guiding on Idaho’s rivers is only one part of Frogg’s impact on the local community, tourism and sporting industry.  Frogg served several years as the boating section chairman on the board of directors of the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association, served six years on the Idaho Travel Council, and owned – operated Holiday Sports, a local sporting goods store.  Over the years Frogg has mentored countless young men and women who were fortunate to have spent their summers floating Idaho’s rivers and sleeping under the stars.  These guides were more than just employees during the river season.  Frogg made the guides feel more like family by furnishing them a place to stay and get together dinners at his home.  Some of these guides have now become attorneys, doctors, teachers, and even outfitters themselves.

Over the years Frogg has shared with his guides and guest his love of rivers, the outdoors, a good meal, and even a bottle or two of wine.  I feel very blessed to have had the chance to work with Frogg over the years, and if I had to sum up my feelings in two words I’d have to say “Hunky dory.”  ~ Steve Wassmuth, Idaho Guide from 1983 to 2017

 

Baptism by fire is what comes to mind when I recall my training trip with Frogg on the Salmon in 1979.  Dating Dee’s daughter Janet likely gained my admittance to the guides only season end trip and a chance to learn from another one of the Holiday ‘masters’ – Frogg.  Rowing his boat was an exercise in being told I was doing more things wrong than I thought was humanly possible.  Yeah it was hard and at times downright humbling but at the end of 6 days I had learned something and looking back I am forever grateful for the tough love.

Frogg possessed a charisma and razor sharp tongue that could not be duplicated.  Other guides might try to get away with a Frogg persona or tell a story like Frogg or say it  just like Frogg yet it never worked.  It was the twinkle in his eye and the turned up corners of his smile that projected the humor and joy for life that accompanied whatever wild proclamation or uncomfortable truth he made.

For those of us still here rowing the Holiday boats, Frogg’s departure marks another reminder that those legends that started it all and touched our lives will continue on in the stories we tell downstream.  We will miss them in our day to day river lives but they will continue to be with us.  These titans of the canyons are in our River-DNA, a part of the Holiday Way, a piece of our collective river soul.

Go with with the Flow – Frogg, John Wood HRE Owner

 

Sue Holladay & Frogg

RETIREMENT TIME

Frogg Stewart came into Dee and Sue Holladay’s life in 1972, when he decided that he would like to become a boatman and run rivers in Utah, they have been close friends and business partners ever since and until Dee’s passing away, in 2015.

Frogg has been a wonderful business partner with “US” (Dee and Sue), in Idaho.   And, Frogg decided to start the “Idaho business” in Grangeville, Idaho,  which was a wonderful wooded area close to Boise. Frogg found himself a nice home and had a small area to start the “Holiday River of Idaho”, business.  And, like Dee and Sue did (when they first started), he was answering the phone from his kitchen.

As the Idaho business started to grow, Frogg decided he needed a warehouse to work out of.  He found some great property at the cross roads of Grangeville and then built himself a long awaited warehouse where he could keep all of his boats and equipment.  And, Dee and I were thinking also at the time that Frogg must have thought it was like being in Heaven!

Dee, myself (Sue) and Frogg have always enjoyed our boating days together, running rivers in Utah and Colorado and then came the state of Idaho’ run by Frogg.

And now it is the year 2017 and Frogg (our dear friend and river running partner for 45 years) said, it was now time for him also (like Dee and myself-Sue), to hang up his hat and take a vacation doing some things that he would like to do when he did retire one day.

Thank you “Our” dear friend Frogg, and business partner for so many years, and the love and respect we “all” have for each other and thank you so much for the love you have always shown (no matter what), and how much we all DO love you!!  Our daughters especially, have always thought you were the top of their list of the people they were so grateful to know.

Mine and Dee’s love always, and for your very special friendship with us, and as a very special “River Running Partner” – in running the Idaho Rivers, Sue and Dee (in Spirit) HRE Founders  

 

Frogg with Tammy Holladay Jones in the early years

Frogg is just not partners with my parents Dee and Sue, but something much bigger. He is family and always will be. He was like a brother to my dad and they had a unique partnership. They were opposite in personalities yet so similar in knowing what was important. Respect of one another and trust in one another is what makes my parents and Frogg’s partnership special.

Frogg has been a part of our family pretty much my whole life. Frogg has kept me on my toes with great advice and keeping me thinking outside the box. Numerous laughs and crazy stories. I so much enjoyed my time working with Frogg for 27 years via the office. We always got our business taken care of with ease. With Frogg you see the joy and fun in work and friendship, and I feel fortunate I got to witness a little part of his amazing journey running and owning a river company. I love you Frogg. ~ Tammy Holladay Jones

Frogg & Kerry Jones on the Main Salmon River

“Frogg is a people person and makes everyone feel special. He is genuine, honest and someone you love being around. Anyone who has been on a river trip knows what a special experience that is. He even has a bitch’n wave named after him in Cataract Canyon. Frogg is important to me, Tammy and our kids.”

~ Kerry Jones, HRE Guide 1982-2015

Frogg in Grand Canyon. Used in a story by Ed Abbey, “Rocky Mountain Magazine.” Ed’s story appears in his book “Down the River.” Reference below. Abbey, Edward. 1982. “Down the River.” Chapter 14 River Rats, pages 175-187. New York: E.P. Dutton. 242 pages.

I’ve known Frogg since before he was just another pretty face on the river— a very, very long time ago, in other words. I can’t recall for sure, but it may have been Denny Haskew or I who introduced him to Dee, and while the rest is history, or at least myth, I’m not sure Frogg ever forgave me.

Both Frogg and I began rafting in the early 70’s, a time when outfitters were actively, often desperately searching for experienced boatmen, or at least warm bodies with some kind of experience. I was fresh out of the service, a Navy SEAL (aka frogman) with enough river trips (two) to create the illusion I knew what I was doing rowing a boat thorough whitewater. Frogg was a surfer and ski patrolman with a degree in entomology and equally adept at illusion. Our approach to river running back then was an improvised cocktail of Yoda—“Do or do not, there is no ‘try’”— and Indiana Jones’ reaction while stranded in an airplane abandoned by a sinister crew over the Himalayas. When asked by his sole, frantic partner if he could fly —  “No,” Indiana replied, “but how hard can it be?” Anyway, do or do not. Don’t “try.”  Together we rowed Buddha-knows-how-many river trips generating or fabricating enough stories to bore to tears anyone reading this little tribute. No need for that. Besides, Frogg and I made a pact years ago to blame others rather than accept any responsibility for whatever happened back then. What matters is Frogg remains a gentle, sometimes cranky and formidable soul perfectly qualified for traversing the variety of challenging rivers and entertaining the equally challenging clientele he depended upon. Retired, he will happily surf or row into whatever sunrise or sunset attracts him most, and enjoy the many gifts life still offers. Come what may, Frogg is my friend—the best. ~Kim Crumbo, Guide with HRE circa 1970’s

“Thank you Frogg for being a part of the Holladay family’s lives and being such an amazing partner with my parents. We love you!” ~ Shana Holladay Riddle

Allegra & Frogg

I just got off a fall river adventure on the Rogue River in Oregon. This wasn’t one of my usual adventures, my family and regular river friends were otherwise occupied so I set out with a band of characters that I hadn’t met before and that I hoped would be good boaters to expand my river friend group. The need to do this felt urgent as I had just learned that Frogg had finally sold the last of his river permits and was finally going to get to retire. This was bittersweet news to me as I know he’d been ready for several years….but this meant my days of jumping on the Main Salmon to guide a Holiday trip were over. I was going to need to find more opportunities to boat on my own.

On that trip, I had a couple of conversations with my new friends that reminded me of the great appreciation I have for Frogg and the river life he shared with me over the past 39 years of Holiday of Idaho.

The first conversation started when I was talking to a fellow who was a guide in Colorado. He asked me about Holiday and about whether I felt I was held back from guiding opportunities as a female guide. It’s funny, because you hear a lot about that in the guiding community, but I literally never felt that at Holiday. Frogg often spoke of the merits of female guides and we had plenty of great examples of strong women guides as I grew up in the company. Frogg always said ultimately female guides made better boaters because they made better choices on the river as they couldn’t muscle themselves out of trouble. They had to stay out of trouble in the first place. He also believed we girls did a better job of taking care of customers and seeing the big picture of the trip. Holiday in Idaho ran all women’s trips long before it became a trendy thing to do. This was largely driven by my mother, Deanna, as well but was strongly supported by the fact that Frogg knew he had a very capable crew of women running his trips.

The second conversation started when someone asked me how long I’d been running rivers as they noted that I rowed well and was clearly very comfortable behind the oars. Well, thanks to Frogg, the river is my home and my happy place. I’ve been rowing boats for as long as I can remember. Frogg gave me a healthy respect for the river and all the skills to manage the challenges it presents. He gave me a great appreciation of the natural world and quiet places. He taught me how to have a good time, including belching, swearing and telling off color jokes and stories. Those of you who have boated with Frogg know what I mean and those of you who worked for him can probably, to this day, hear his voice in your ear with some of his famous one-liners (none appropriate for print in this post).

Frogg taught us well and he gave us a great gift in the skills he shared with us on the river. Here’s to his next adventure and a rafting career well spent! ~ Allegra Jasper, Idaho Guide & Frogg’s daughter

For 26 years I have been calling the Grangeville, ID office and chatting with Frogg.  In those years he went from the guy named “frogg” to a kindred spirit. He’s taken my children and I down the river, shared adventures, his home and his love of life with us.  So open, honest, funny, wise and generous.   From sunrise to sunset, long walks south and lots of warm sand. There is no goodbye, only more joy and good times ahead.  See you in Baja!  Karen Johnson, HRE Office

 

Shortly after being hired as a young rookie guide, Frogg who was helping Dee with the Utah operation at the time (1978) directed me towards a pile of river bags and told me to pick a couple of bags out. So I grabbed a couple to use and headed out on some more training trips. About three weeks later I was put on a Cataract trip that Frogg was the trip leader on. Along about the third day, as we are unloading the boats I hear Frogg yell “Who the hell is “TLG”.”   As those are my initials – I spoke right up. To which he pointed out that the bag with my initials on it was his. Turns out you could make out “Frogg” very faintly on the bag. He proceeded to let me know in his endearing way that he had been looking for it for the past 3 weeks!  Needless to say he let me keep the bag which I still have to this day!  A great way to begin a very long friendship.
May you find plenty of water, downstream winds and endless sunsets
GWTF,
TLG
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