By: Tyler Jameson

LarkinTyler side by side

Larkin & Tyler Jameson

In the rugged expanse of Green River, Utah, Holiday River Expeditions is nestled, gathering those looking to immerse themselves in the vastness of the desert landscapes. Established in 1969 by Dee and Sue Holladay, this family-owned company has woven a rich tapestry of stories, experiences, and relationships that span over five decades.

For me, Holiday has been a second home for the past eight years. My journey here is deeply entwined with family ties. My father, Bret Jameson, who guided for Holiday from the late 70s to the early 90s, ingrained in me a profound love for the river’s untamed beauty and the camaraderie of the river community. Our family vacations often spent navigating the serene waters of the San Juan or Green River, left a lasting mark, shaping my future and that of my sister, Larkin.

In 2014, Larkin began her guiding career with Holiday, with me close behind, joining in 2016. Our story is not unique within the company’s history. Remarkably, we’re just one of many sibling pairs who have worked here, reflecting the company’s unique appeal and its creation of a tight-knit community as well as its ability to nurture a familial atmosphere. Evidence of this family history is everywhere: from the collages of photos on the walls showcasing various generations of guides, to the stories that our returning passengers share about guides they’ve floated the river with in the past, all interwoven into the fabric of the company’s history, and kept alive by our boss Tim Gaylord. 

Starting as a guide was daunting, but having Larkin already part of the Holiday was a tremendous advantage. Her presence offered a sense of familiarity amidst the new and challenging environment. As I learned the ropes, her experience, and guidance were my anchors, helping me navigate the complexities of river guiding and group dynamics. 

Siblings working together on our river trips can bring a unique vibe. There’s an inherent comfort, a playful banter, and an unspoken trust that can help a group of strangers, set to share a backcountry experience, bond more quickly. The dynamic between crew members shapes the experience, setting the tone for the trip. Working with Larkin, our sibling relationship often surfaces; where I might not pester another trip leader, with her, old habits as a little sister kick in. This, of course, can be frustrating for both her and me (perhaps more so for her) but it also adds to the allure of river trips. It brings a genuine, unscripted quality to the trips. They’re not just well-orchestrated tours; they’re opportunities for each group to evolve into a unique community, learning to live and sometimes survive together.

Josh and Ben Levine side by side

Josh & Ben “LB” Levine

Over the years, my journey with Holiday River Expeditions has been one of continuous growth and learning. Each season on the river brings new challenges and insights, deepening my understanding and respect for this career path, the complexities of environmental stewardship, and the rich history of the river canyons. The progression from a new guide to a trip leader and eventually to a company leader has been as much a personal journey as it has been professional. It’s been marked by never-ending learning, growth, and the forging of unforgettable experiences and friendships. The river, ever-changing and unpredictable, remains a diligent teacher, emphasizing that guiding is a perpetual exploration, not just a skill to be mastered.

This ethos of continual learning and adaptation was starkly illustrated during my very first trip as the lead on a youth expedition through Desolation Canyon. Faced with harsh weather and a group of disheartened, and greatly underprepared students, I found myself in a situation that tested my limits. The challenges escalated when, after days of never ending downpour during the cooler spring season, the students in their cotton hoodies and plastic-y rented rain ponchos, reached a breaking point. They essentially revolted, refusing to leave their soggy shelter chanting “take-out! take-out!” This unexpected turn of events led to our crew to undertake a grueling day of rowing a long 37 miles against 20-40 mph gusts and sideways sleet.

 It was during this time that Larkin’s presence became invaluable. Her calm and experienced perspective that guided me through that challenging scenario taught me the importance of adaptability and resilience that I would come to emulate in my own guiding style. This episode, with its blend of trial, urgency, and ridiculousness, stands out as a defining moment in my development, further cementing the role of mentorship and collaboration in this unique profession. 

At Holiday, I’ve found much more than a rafting job; it’s a community where life long bonds are formed; here, every guide’s story, including mine, weaves into the company’s rich tapestry. The presence of siblings throughout the years has enriched this sense of camaraderie. Their influence has fostered an environment where everyone feels like part of a larger, supportive family, whether we share blood ties or not. This unique dynamic has deeply shaped my experience, making every moment on and off the river meaningful.

 Reflecting on my years with Holiday River Expeditions, I’m struck by the depth of experiences I’ve had. The river has been both teacher and companion, constantly evolving, just like the stories and relationships that have flourished along its banks. From the rush of running a rapid, to the silent morning moments, each experience has been a thread in the fabric of a larger, shared narrative. 

What distinguishes Holiday isn’t merely the wild beauty of the river or the thrill of adventure–it’s the profound sense of connection and belonging we cultivate. It’s in the sibling bonds strengthened on the water, the friendships forged among guides, and the unforgettable encounters with our guests. Each story, each shared laugh or challenge overcome, reinforces the extraordinary nature of our collective experience. 

As I look to the future, I’m excited for the new stories yet to be told, the relationships yet to be formed, and the continued journey of personal and collective evolution. The river’s constant flow is a reminder that in life, just as on the water, the only constant is change, and the beauty of our journey lies in embracing every twist and turn along the way.

Sue and Gary side by side

Founder Sue Holladay  & her brother Gary Roth

Nick and Mike Berich side by side

Nick and Mike Berich

T-bird and Allegra side by side

Tim Burdick “Tburd” & Allegra “Leggs” Burdick (special cameo by Allegra’s daughter)

Sam and Eli Crittenden

Mark, tony, Kim side by side by side

Mark Crumbo O’Neill , Toni Crumbo Kelly & Kim Crumbo

Andrew (peewee) and Nate Vinton side by side

Andrew (PeeWee) & Nate Vinton

Zack and Ty Coleman side by side

Zack & Ty Coleman

Mike & Steve Wassmuth

Mike & Steve Wassmuth

Shelby Rogala and Zack Rogala

Shelby & Zack Rogala

Fred and Matt Jessup

Fred and Matt Jessup

Paul & Peter Huber

Paul & Peter Huber

Mike, Milli & Matt

Mike, Milli & Matt Walker

Terry and Marty Taylor

Terry & Marty Taylor

Meg & Mo FitzMaurice

Meg & Mo FitzMaurice

Molly & Morgan Zeliff

Molly & Morgan Zeliff

 

Tyler JamesonTyler hails from Colorado and is happiest when she is on the river. She also loves dogs, bluegrass music, dressing up in costumes, and being generally very silly.