Wasatch Woman, July 2010

July 13, 2010

According to Greek mythology, Amphitrite, a beautiful water nymph, made a big splash of a first impression on the sea god Poseidon. He immediately fell in love with her. After she spurned his personal request for marriage, he had a dolphin successfully plead his case. Tho’ they be gods, it is hard to imagine their wedding could have been in a more beautiful setting than the impromptu nuptials of Jessica Gardner to her husband, Phil.

“There were 16 of us on a river trip through the Grand Canyon, just a bunch of friends,” Jessica relates. One night on the run, “Phil asked me to marry him. We got married the next day.” Vows, and wows, were exchanged simultaneously at the famously scenic Red Wall Canyon. “There’s a giant eddy there which creates a big area,” she says.

They are a real water family. Jessica’s a river guide. Phil, a hydrologist.

Jessica, who works for Holiday Expeditions, has been running rivers in Utah for ten years. What’s her favorite run? Yampa Run at Dinosaur National Monument in Eastern Utah. “It has everything — wide open flood plain to veil of tears. Then you enter the canyon, with big splashy waters. Sometimes when you go down there will be a tree following!”

The roughest rivers she navigates with clients is Class Four. But that can be pretty wild. ‘One is a flat river. Six (the highest) is a waterfall,” explains Jessica.

She’s not joking. When she’s by herself or with experienced pros, Jessica prefers Class Three plus runs. But the invigoration is just part of the lure of running rivers to her. “I love camping out; the whole thing,” she explains.

Jessica’s primary concern is that her clients enjoy the trip and appreciate the pristine beauty of Utah’s waterways that she loves so much. She proclaims, “they [the riders] are going to help me save these waters, which are always in danger in the West. Preservation is our best option.”

Her outdoor vocational choice allows Jessica to “avoid the real world, sleep under the stars, and meet as many people as possible.”

Including a modern Poseidon who is brave enough to ask her hand in marriage without a dolphin’s help.


Jessica Gardner paddles up male-dominated rapids in her world as a river guide

“There’s always someone brand new to river rafting,”- she shares.

It gives me a chance to show them how it works,” something she especially emphasizes with her female rafters.

“I try to spark a fire to become a guide. There aren’t a lot of female guides. It’s very male dominated.”

Get wet and wild like Jessica-

with 44 years of experience, Holiday Expeditions is a premier provider of Colorado River white water rafting fun. Don’t forget to check out the other rivers they run, such as veteran river guide Jessica Gardner’s personal favorite, the Yampa in Eastern Utah. The Yampa, in her words, “has everything.”

Check them out at www.bikeraft.com, or phone 800-624-6323