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  GTS
  BQR ~ spring 1998

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the gcrg Guides Training Seminar in Fredonia, Arizona. I was helping my good friend, DeeAnn Tracey, with the challenging task of cooking for the masses. While the snow came down outside the Western River Expeditions warehouse, the kitchen was warm, full of good smells and friendly souls helping out, chopping onions and doing dishes.
Although I have only had the pleasure of being the assistant cook on one commercial river trip thus far, I am a long time river runner and enjoy the thrill of seeing new rivers and making repeated trips down the old favorites. Of course, the Colorado River in Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular places I have ever been in my life and I can honestly say that the first time I journeyed down that chocolate river, my whole life changed in ways that are mostly indescribable. I'm sure that this feeling is not at all unusual among those folks who raft through Grand Canyon. And, from what I saw at the seminar, it is precisely this feeling that bonds a very diverse group of people together.
The gathering in Fredonia was host to a wide variety of people from all walks of life who had at least one thing in common: a tremendous passion for Grand Canyon. I was overwhelmed by the amount of love and responsibility that many of the speakers at the seminar showed for the Canyon. That kind of passion is absolutely contagious and I have been thinking of the Canyon almost constantly since I returned home to Flagstaff from the seminar.
There was a statuesque hydrologist from Oregon who came to the seminar on a date. There was an eager young woman who, in her own words, “shamelessly” worked the crowd to get on her first river trip (and, apparently, it worked!). There was a medicine man, a cowgirl and several elders of the canine world. There were several couples who fell in love while in the Canyon. There was a beautiful herbalist, a filmmaker and a group of young guides from Page. There were people I had seen before on the river but never knew their names. There were people whose names I had heard before but had never met. There was a charming ski patrolman from Colorado who kept me on the dance floor all night. There were husbands, wives, children, friends, lovers, dogs, grandmas and grandpas. All who came to this gathering because of love. Love for that tremendous canyon.
I would just like to say thank you to all of those incredible people. In the course of one weekend, I learned a great deal about Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon, Tusayan, river running, respect, love, and personal fulfillment. All of those people inspired me to see beauty all around me and to take challenges as they come my way. I have not been this inspired in a very long time and I am so grateful to all of the unique people that I met at the seminar who gave me this feeling.
I hope to see all of you again, somewhere down the line, maybe even down on the river.

Gillian Ferris


big horn sheep