Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Groover

Between guides you will hear debates on how and where to run a rapid, which boats are better Aire vs Marivia, which oars are better wood oars vs. composite, and from time to time a side may relent and agree. But never in my 20 years on the river have I heard two sides agree on the right Groover spot.
What is the Groover you ask? Why its the honey pot, the poop bucket, dookie droop off, where you take the kids to the pool, the loo, the shitter, and it goes by many other names. Years ago when people first started running rivers they would just dig a hole and bury it. Now flash forward 50 years and there would not be a safe place on any sandy beach to stick an umbrella in the ground. Now outfitters and private boaters alike practice a pack it in pack it out policy, including human waste, this allows others to enjoy nature as it should be. An obvious benefit of going with a commercial outfitter would be the fact the the guides have to deal with the Groover and not the paying guests.
The Groover debate is not what type of Groover, ammo can, 5 gallon bucket, River bank toilet, Johnny partner. But where to place to Groover.
You see the first few things that happen when we stop to set up camp after an amazing day of running rapids on the Main Salmon, is to set up the kitchen and the Groover. Now kitchen set up is easy, keep it close to the boats and protected from the wind. Because the stuff is heavy and no one likes sand on their steak. The Groover set up on the other hand is special. That guide has only one job, (he cant touch food after touching the Groover), where that guides sets up the Groover the have to consider many things, like how is the view is there privacy, is it too far away, is it too close, will the wind blow the smell into camp, and many others.
Now personally i believe in learning from my mistakes and other peoples also. I have made the Groover set up mistakes before and I have a few personal rules that I try to abide by.
1. The View, it does not always need to be a view of the river, as not all people take off the river at the same time. Nothing like pooping as a 30 person family reunion floats by taking pictures of you.
2. Stable ground. Do not place the Groover on rocky uneven ground. Not everyone likes pooping outdoors and worrying about falling over should not be a problem.
3. Distance. Keep in mind that usually we take turns setting up the Groover and just because you found an awesome spot 200 yards away doesn't mean you should use it. 20 people could use it from the time its set up and taken down. That is a lot of added weight that has to be carried back to the boat.
Using these simple guide lines will help with set up I have found. But experience is the best teacher by far.
As we travel down the river I will find better spots I am sure. And whether or not you are and early morning or late evening Groover fan may your views be amazing and the wind blow away from camp for you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Unplugging from it all

The irony that I am writing this post from my phone on wifi is not lost on me right now.  We live in a constantly connected society that will make you go into withdrawals if you haven't updated your Facebook every six hours.

Our rafting trips have horrible cell reception and at times it seems the only way to reach people is by smoke signals. And guiding these trips we have learned to watch the stages of withdrawal that guests will go through. 

Step one is the look that the guests give during the safety talk where we remind them that all electronic devices need to be put away in dry bags.  Cameras can be stored in easily accessible places  but cannot be guaranteed.  At this point in time some people will smile others will panic.

After the boats shove off we start our way down you see the occasional slap of the pocket checking for the phone.  Or the random twitching of the thumbs to send a status update.  Videos can still be taken of people coming through the rapids but not until we are safely through the rapids ourselves.

If it is just a day trip we finish up and the guests quickly grab their phones and check for the missed texts and up load any pictures they may have taken.  But for those lucky enough to be on a multi-day trip say 4 days they really get the chance to step away.  Dinner on the first night they might take a picture with their phone at camp, showing the beauty.

But the next morning you might see several people wake grab a cup of coffee and just enjoy the sun rise, with no phone or camera.  For several guest we have been asked if we had pictures from their trip.  Especially days 2,3,4 and 5.  Because a lot of people will move away from the lens or the phone screens and just enjoy the moment.  We try and accommodate as best as we can by inviting everyone to share their pictures.  

Now I have never seen Big Foot, the Lochness monster, or an honest politician.  But on several river trips I can say that I have seen the rare teenager actually smile and believe it or not the teenager's eyes do not always roll back with a disgusted look.  Several trips have produced smiles laughs and even hugs with actual gratitude towards their elders by these teenagers.*

When these multi day trips finally come to and end, hugs are given and even tears are shed.  The guests gather their belongings and head back to the real world, while the guides clean and ready the equipment for their next trip.  Some guests have reported that they made it all the way home before even bothering to check their phones.  

Its been proven that unplugging for 4-5 days is healthy, stop by for a multi-day trip and find out.

*results may vary H2O Idaho can not produce the impossible, you might have a better chance seeing a unicorn.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

New camp stove for the river! My review of the Cook Partner.

It's the off season and what better time to get new gear and figure it out. We needed a new camp stove for next summer and after shopping around we chose the Cook Partner four burner break apart from Partner Steel of Pocatello Idaho. 

This four burner break apart stove is made of stainless steel and looks extremely durable. It folds up into the size of a fat briefcase. The hose that connects the stove to the propane tank can easily store inside of the stove. 

With kids school in full swing and not being able to get to the river for just a meal. So, I took the stove to the toughest meal critics I know. I took it to work at the fire station. If you want the most honest and blunt critics stop by your local station. 

I told the guys that I was making breakfast I didn't say how, they were excited to cook outdoors.  First thing I did was to make the meal plan. I wanted to choose a traditional breakfast we would serve on our overnight trips.Large omelettes with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and pepper jack cheese.  To be served with orange crescent roll bacon wrapped French toast. 

After prepping all of the food, I set up the stove. It was easy to break apart and hook the hose up I had it done in two minuets. A lighter was needed to get the flame going as here is no spark started on the stove. Which was easy and no problem to get going. Bacon was tossed into the large 20" lodge cast iron pan. With the bacon going charcoals were started for the Dutch oven to bake the rolls. A few minuets later the bacon was done and the coals warmed up. The crescent rolls were unrolled and rewarded with bacon on the inside, and placed into the Dutch oven. We then got the eggs broken and omlett ingredients diced up. After 15 minuets we pulled the rolls and got everything ready to cook. 
Sine the large cast iron would be on top of each other we are lucky that the stove can easily be taken apart and make a larger cooking area. The hinges that connect the two sides easily slide out when pulled in opposite directions when the stove is half opened. 

The eggs were dumped in with the rolls dipped in egg and vanilla mix for the French toast. 
Hash browns were added at the last minute. 

Once the cooking was all down everyone grabbed a plate. We had plenty of leftovers as I am in the habit of making sure no one goes hungry on my river trips. Dishes were super easy to clean as we had a dish washer and not the river bucket system. But when it came to cleaning up the stove it was a snap. The burners are attached to the grates the he pots rest on. And once they had cooled (ten minuets) we pulled the out and wiped down the inside of the stove and we were clean. The hose was stored away and everything was put away in just seconds. 

The Cook Partner is a great adition to any river kitchen. And we can't wait to make some amazing meals for our guests next summer on the Salmon river. 

Thanks for reading

Zach Mason 
H2O Idaho

Anything for the river you would like to see reviewed please let me know. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


WOW what a great time of year!  Its the day before thanksgiving, and we have just become official for a rafting company.  My wife and I started this process over one year ago.  There were many ups and downs, and with a strong perseverance we made it.  A conversation that happened up in the mountains of Idaho two summers ago turned into a rafting company.

Right now we are trying to pull together the best guides in Idaho for the 2016 season while putting together some awesome specialty trips, that include a specialty school, a top dutch oven chef, and one of the premier breweries in the north west.

Check us out on the web at www.h2oidaho.com