By: Easton Smith and Lauren Wood
Most of us have come across an image on Instagram or Facebook that shows some friend of ours living the good life. Perhaps the picture showed them jumping into a pool of crystal clear water, their hair looking impossibly shiny, the sky a perfect hue of blue.
Most of us have also probably imagined what was really happening behind the camera. Maybe it was your friend’s seventh time jumping into that pool, and their partner was getting sick of holding the camera and the water was cold. Maybe the hotel food was bland and overpriced. Maybe they hated their whole trip.
We can imagine these scenarios because we, too, have been there, and we know that behind every snapshot of life, there is a whole other infrastructure that’s often much less pretty. We may present our life as if it’s a feature film, but the day-to-day is actually the credit roll at the end, full of mundane tasks and boring titles like “assistant to the assistant of the production assistant”.
If we’re being honest, it’s the same with Holiday trips.
We often post rather romantic pictures of the rivers and trails online because that’s what you, the guests, get to see and experience. But countless hours of training lie underneath every intuitive decision made by a guide. Our beautiful, wholesome meals are a result of decades of backcountry cooking and warehouse food-prep teams washing pounds of lettuce. Not to mention the landscapes we travel through, which have gone through billions of years of steady, silent uplift and erosion to get where they are.
Every river has its headwaters in hundreds of tiny springs and thousands of stormy clouds. So it is with every Holiday trip.
Our Headquarters in Green River and Vernal contain a buzzing colony of warehouse workers (or warehouse “rats” or “monkeys”, depending on the day) who are hard at work patching boats, cleaning out bags, repairing tents, fixing up the vehicles, and doing literally anything else you can think of to keep us afloat! We also have a team of top-notch drivers that not only get everyone from our bases of operations to the magic places where Instagramable pictures begin but also take care of our van & trailer fleet like champs! These folks are the real heroes of the whole operation.
So why do they do it? Well, it’s probably not for the money. Or for the glamour. Anyone who’s worked in the outdoor industry knows that those things tend to come in short supply.
When asked why he chose to join up with Holiday’s warehouse team, Joey said, “Because I just love scrubbing bags in the 100-degree afternoons.”
A slightly less sarcastic member of the team, Syd, added, “Because I’m really interested in the way Holiday runs rivers, and it’s been a dream of mine to run these rivers for a long time. I’m interested in getting in at the ground level and working my way up!” and they did!
Tanner; a former warehouse worker from the ‘class’ of 2012 added, “I tie the work I’m doing with the company I now work for back to my time as a warehouse person and the lessons I learned. It’s underappreciated work because if you’re doing your job right, nobody realizes what you’re doing because everything is just going smoothly. Both why it’s thankless and why it’s incredibly important.”
All the warehouse workers get a few chances to hop on a boat each season. There, they can learn a bit about guiding, a bit about the guests, and, of course, they get to experience all of the mud, water, and glory that they’ve been in charge of cleaning up for the past few months. Signing on as a warehouse worker tends to be a great first step for anyone looking to be a guide in the future. Maybe you’re too young to guide, or maybe your school didn’t let out in time to make the guide training trips; whatever the reason, these folks are the glue of the operation. In fact, you can ask almost any trip leader who the best rookie guides tend to be and almost every time the answer is: the guides who have spent a year behind the scenes seeing how the ‘sausage is made’.
It’s not glorious and perhaps not Instagramable but it’s honest work and it is the secret ingredient behind each and every trip we get out on the water or trail.
So here’s three cheers for the warehouse rats
and another round for the drivers
without you critters our trips would waiver
in the excellence we strive for
P.S. This love letter wouldn’t be complete without a tip-of-the-hat to our intrepid Operations Manager Tim Gaylord and our Area Managers.