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  Changing Lives
  BQR ~ summer 1996

n the Fall I995 edition of the bqr, I requested stories from people who had rafted the Canyon that demonstrated how the Canyon and/or river guides had made a difference in their lives. I was and am looking for stories from both passengers and river guides. Unfortunately I wasn’t as clear as I could have been, so I beg your indulgence as I re-communicate my request.
If you have been through the Grand Canyon on a river trip, and your life has been changed or influenced by your experience, I would like to hear from you. If you were a passenger, what happened during your trip and how has your life changed as a result? If you are, or were, a river guide, do you recall any passengers who had significant experiences, what happened, and, if you know, how did their lives change after the trip? Also, do you have a name and address I could follow up to get their story? It doesn’t have to be dramatic, just meaningful.
I’m enclosing one of the replies I received from my first request as an example.

 

“I’m a GCRG member and saw your blurb in the latest issue about writing a book on how the Canyon and the guides have changed people’s lives. This may not be what you are looking for, but I think this demonstrates what I have found most Grand Canyon guides are like
“I rafted the Canyon with AzRA for the first time in June 1988. We were hiking up Havasu with a guide named Steve. I’m sorry, but I never knew his last name. After a few miles we came to a beautiful, deep pool of water with a ledge some 35 feet in the air. People were supposed to jump from that ledge into the pool. Yeah, right. I’m not just terrified, but mortified of heights. I have tried all sorts of ways to get over this affliction including sky diving, hiking in the mountains, crossing suspended bridges, and have never succeeded. So, we get to the ledge and I really wanted to jump. I wore glasses so I handed my glasses to Steve and he just kept talking in a low voice, telling me I could do it. I’d go out to the edge, look down and go back This continued for about a lifetime, but was probably 10 minutes at the most. I finally just let Steve’s voice take me over and I jumped. I had enough time to scream, take another breath and scream again before I hit the water. I really did it!!
“To this day, I’m still afraid of heights. And to this day, one of the most exciting events in my lifetime was to have made that jump. Steve made it all possible and took the time to help me achieve something I wanted to do but was afraid to try. I’m forever in his debt, and even though the pool and the ledge were wiped out during a flash flood, I still know where the area is. My subsequent trip down the Canyon three years later brought me to that spot, and I offered a thought of thanks to Steve for his help.”

Many Grand Canyon guides provide the kind of support seen in this letter. And like Steve, we often don’t know the impact we made on our passengers lives There are many ways that people come face-to-face with their own limitations. Many times, because there is no one there to offer support and encouragement, they turn back. That’s part of a river guide’s job description—helping people experience the Canyon as fully as they are willing, so they return to the rest of their lives with a fresh perspective on their unlimited possibilities.

Please send any further replies to:

Charly Heavenrich
2822 3rd Street
Boulder, CO 80304


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