Jule Harle talks packraft instruction
In this third episode of A Beginner’s Guide to Packrafting, Four Corners Guides owner Lizzy Scully talks with owner of Alaska Packrafting School Jule Harle. A long-time paddler and renowned instructor, Jule has guided for nearly two decades. She’s also been instrumental in legitimizing packrafting as a sport through her work as a guide and her work with others to get the American Canoe Association packrafting curriculum in place to accredit packrafting guides across the country. She volunteers with the Alaska Chapter of the American Packrafting Association, and she was this year’s Golden Paddle winner. Jule is coming to the Four Corners June 15-17 to teach a women’s packrafting clinic for beginner/intermediate boaters.
What's in this episode?
In this episode, Jule and Lizzy take about a variety of things, including:
- How Jule got into teaching and why she started the Alaska Packraft School
- What she loves about teaching
- How she teaches women and men differently
- And did you know that women have a significantly bigger part of the brain that processes things through talking? Unsurprising!
- How when Jule started, her boat was too big for her and she couldn’t get back in, and how she’s come up with some hacks to help women with that particular skill and other skills.
- Jule doesn’t think men have an advantage because of their strength or willingness to take bigger risks. Rather, she says women and men just learn differently, and she has techniques that make some of the things that seem easy for men easier for women.
- Different ways to deal with PTSD and stress if you’ve had a bad boating or other traumatic experience
- Finally we discussed what we’ll do in our first annual women’s beginner/intermediate course this June, including running scenarios where we “practice controlled chaos,” wet exits and re-entries, and boat fittings to optimize your performance on the water.
What I love about packraft teaching is it’s this magical way to access land travel and river travel. I think it’s the optimal tool to do that.
Lizzy Scully [00:00:30]
Hey y’all. This is Lizzy Scully, co-owner of Four Corners Guides and Co-author of The Bikeraft Guide with Steve Fast Binder, AKA Doom. We run a Multisport Adventure Guide service out of Mancos, Colorado. So we’re not going to get all fancy with this podcast. We’re just going to record some Learn to packraft and learn to Bikeraft Q&A’s with our guides and other experts in the industry, and we’ll throw in some fun adventure storytelling and maybe even some fireside chats that we capture out in the field or at Scullbinder Ranch. It’s a catchall podcast, so if you have questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to make them in the comments or ping [email protected]. We hope you enjoy this casual connection to our world.
Episode #3 (01:17)
In this third episode of our podcast, I talk with renowned packraft instructor Jule Harle, a longtime paddler and owner of Alaska Packraft School. Jule has been instrumental in legitimizing packrafting as a sport through her work as a guide and her work with others to get the American Canoe Association packrafting curriculum in place to accredit packraft instructors across the country. She volunteers with the Alaska chapter of the American Packrafting Association and she was the 2023 Golden Paddle winner. Jule is coming to the four corners June 14th through 16th to teach a women’s packrafting clinic for beginner/intermediate boaters through Four Corners Guides. There are only four spots left on this course. I hope you learn a lot from this interview. I sure did. Thanks so much to Jule for both taking the time to chat with me and also for coming down to boat with us and teach some of our locals.
Lizzy: NIce To Meet You (02:13)
I’m really excited you’re coming down as are a bunch of folks I chatted with. Yeah, really cool because I’m looking forward to learning from you. I just started packrafting five or six years ago. I was a climber for my whole adult life, but then I had an accident and I quit, so then I needed something to do, so I started mountain biking and packrafting. I’m not bold when I was a climber. I’m not bold at all, so I rely on skills. I don’t want to progress unless I’m really skilled. I’m looking forward to, and I learned from Steve a lot, but it’s kind of difficult sometimes to learn from your partner.
Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about your career and how you got into pedaling?
Jule on the Early Days (02:50)
I started as a whitewater kayaker at 19 or 20 years old. When I started boating. I was very aggressive and young and my partner at the time had just written a whitewater guidebook for Alaska. And so I had a really great Class V mentor to help me. And I didn’t have the idea of fear in my head. But I started getting really scared my second or third year into kayaking. Once I started paddling Class IV, I was like, this shit is dangerous actually. And I took a step back and I started packrafting right around that same time, 2007 when it was just starting to blow up in Alaska still. We had those rubber ducky boats. We didn’t have spray skirts. But I was doing a lot of backpacking. And so I feel I came to packrafting with an advantage from a hard shell kayaker. Because the nuances from learning in a hard boat that they do apply to packrafting. But they’re hard to learn I think if you haven’t had a lot of time in a hard shell.
Jule on Primarily Packrafting (03:49)
And so I think it’s been a really neat learning curve for me to come into packrafting as a hard shell kayaker these days. Now I primarily packraft. I like the multisport aspect, such as using them as an access tool for remote whitewater. But I think the learning, gosh, a lot of folks that haven’t spent any time in a kayak, I think it’s interesting to learn packrafting. There’s some things about hydrology and body mechanics that you miss. The initial stability on a kayak is really narrow, but the secondary stability, once you start to fall over or tip, you have a lot of recovery time, but the initial stability to packraft, they’re so freaking stable. Once you start to tip over, you have no skills in your wheelhouse to help you recover, if that makes sense.
It does make sense. Have you figured out a way to teach people some of those skills?
Jule: How to Teach Kayaking Skills to Packrafters (04:50)
Yeah, I have. And a lot of people didn’t know these skills because they’re hard to learn once you’re on that kind of edge of no return. I think with bracing and a lot of it with the super nerdy terminology, American Canoe Association has all these teaching criteria for learning and progressing in lots of river crafts, rafting, sea kayaking, river kayaking. But you do it a little bit differently than in a kayak with throwing your weight around and when you apply a paddle stroke. I’m being real nerdy right now. But it was really, really fun. The ACA kept saying packrafts weren’t real boats. And so me and a dozen people advocated. Then two years ago we got packrafting approved as a curriculum. It’s like an endorsement. So it’s been fun to create that teaching criteria for the lower 40 years.
You were part of that whole process of getting the criteria?
Jule on (05:53)
Oh yeah, I’m on the board. Someone that likes being on boards. I was like, damn it, I’m really, really passionate about pursuing this. But yeah, we got voted in. And in 2021 folks started taking the first ACA packrafting courses.
Lizzy on FCG Guides (06:10)
Yeah, we just got two our, well, Steve obviously, and then we just got one other of our guides to take. And I’m not an instructor generally, it’s not really my thing. I just run the business and do the hosting. But I’m going to take it anyway just because I want to have a lot of the same skills that the rest of our guides have just because it makes sense.
Jule on Guide Service Owners (06:28)
No, definitely. And I think too, as you develop your own company, I don’t know if you want to call it protocol or criteria for teaching progression. I think it’s yet great as a business owner to kind of know what the heck’s going on.
Lizzy on Learning from Different Experts in the Industry (06:40)
Exactly. Yeah. We are actually working with Seon Crawford-Laserer from Packraft Europe right now to sort of figure out a new curriculum for our company. And I think we’ll implement it not this year but next year. But this year I want to implement some of the things. And I expect we’ll probably learn from you as well, which is kind of exciting. But yeah, we have a general curriculum; these are the things you’re going to learn. And then we do a lot of tailoring courses to people’s needs. But we’re going to try to create a more systematic way of teaching people so they can go through the different levels with us or with someone else. We definitely encourage people go take from other people too.
Jule-Certified Packrafters (07:17)
Cool. That’s awesome. I started teaching, I call it Jule certified. That’s all there was for a long time, but I’ve been playing around involving my own Packraft curriculum. Gosh, I first started teaching 15 years ago. It’s been real fun to tweak and refine mine and yeah, I hope you guys get something from my teaching progressions. Do you want me to chit chatt about how I start or what? Do you want to unpack a little bit more?
Lizzy: How & Why Jule Got Into Teaching? (07:53)
Yeah, actually I’m interested in how and why you got into teaching, what it is about teaching that inspires you [00:08:00] or
Jule: The Beginner’s Mind (08:01)
I think that there’s a lot of beauty in the beginner’s mind. And it’s really fun to help somebody evolve with a process in a process like that. Gosh, I started guiding and teaching when I was 19 years old, mostly like backpacking. I think I just like being outside and being in river environments. But what I love about Packraft teaching is it’s this magical way to access land travel and river travel. I think it’s the optimal tool to do that, and I think I really like teaching.
There’s some of me that likes figuring out the algorithm where I’ve got these outlines and itineraries, but everyone learns a little bit different. So finding whether someone’s like a kinesthetic, a visual, or an audio learner, being able to deliver something to them that helps them get it or progress a little bit. My goal isn’t to make anyone and everyone like, oh, I need you to be an awesome boater. But I think any sort of outdoor exploration is really fun.
I’m pretty immersed in the spiritual world of yoga and Ayurveda in that connection to nature. We find in a lot of that in our outdoor activities. And also a lot of healing.
A lot of good stuff that comes from being on the water. So if I can teach someone to go packrafting for whatever their reasons are and help them feel more confident or feel safer on the water, for me that’s a win. As I get older, all I’m trying to do is do more boating and get more people out safely on boats
Jule: Culture or Safety (09:41)
And too, I tell folks I like teaching packrafting. I think the culture of safety’s blown up and watching packraft kind of start watching folks start using packrafts in Alaska without much boat control. Or, I call it situational awareness in these remote river environments in seeing people get hurt or rescues happen. It’s like when you go back and you read the incident report, wow, that was a hundred percent avoidable. Most fatalities incidences are on Class II. I don’t know. For me on a personal level, there’s a lot of reward I think in teaching people, giving them what they need to know, especially in the early stages of packrafting so they can go out and run with it and not just become better boaters but [00:10:30] have more fun doing the sport.
Lizzy: How does Your Teaching Affect People? (10:33)
You recall a specific experience with and maybe pick a female, somebody who had an amazing experience with you and called you afterwards to tell you about how your teaching affected them?
Jule on Testimonials & Others’ Experiences(10:44)
I have a couple testimonials on my website. I was really flattered that folks wrote for me, I value connecting with that person where they’re at. I think a really good teacher doesn’t just say stuff but tries to attune the students and teach something to them specifically. But I’ve gotten a lot of feedback and reports that people can learn a lot in three days where they feel a lot more confident and practicing. I call it whitewater coaching or any sort of coaching. It’s having a mentor look at you, offering you individualized feedback.
And two, I think doing it in a group learning environment, I call it friend farms. There are a lot of newer packrafters or folks getting into it. And they’re all about their friend group is in a similar level. And it’s hard to level up unless there’s someone I think in the group with a little bit more experience. So I think paddling in the group courses is an opportunity for everyone to level up a little bit with the guidance and mentorship of one or two instructors.
Lizzy: Do You Have a Story about a Specific Person You Could Share? (11:48)
I guess I’m looking for a specific story or even something that you had in a course with someone just I like the aha moments because I’ve had a lot of them myself and they’re always sort of fun.
Jule: A Special Experience (12:01)
Yeah, there’s this woman two years ago. She had never ever packrafted before she took the level one. It’s like intro to packrafting. We actually paddled on a Class I section of river. Then a week later she took the level two course. She had no idea she loved packrafting so much! Her ability to progress and find out that she loved rivers… that was super cool where that wasn’t the sport she was into two months prior. And she was starting to plan and execute her own wilderness packraft trips. She tried to learn with her husband and her husband got scared and decided he didn’t like packrafting. She was pretty gung ho and really into it. And that felt really cool turning, just turning her on to the potential of the sport, not just the multi-sport part, but how to paddle rivers.
Lizzy: How the Alaska Packraft School Came About? (12:54)
I am interested in hearing about your progression in teaching and how the school came about. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Jule: On Her Teaching History (13:01)
Yeah, I’d love to. So I started teaching for Alaska Kayak Academy. I’m really bad with years. I’m 36 years old, so I started teaching with them when I was 21. I was kind of an early entry whitewater kayaker. But I was teaching a lot of youth groups introductions to kayaking in the Alaska Kayak Academy. They became Alaska Packrafting, and so I worked on and off with this guy Jim Gosky for 12 years. But also that was very part-time. In the summer I was also working for a lot of different outfitters. I really liked going on longer expedition style trips. So I was teaching lots of remote raft trips or guiding a lot of remote raft trips in the Brooks Range for two weeks. And we started integrating packrafting into the company. And so I was mainly working for those two companies for 12 years. And then being an independent contractor in the guiding world, picking up other random trip opportunities that sounded really fun.
Jule: A Niche Opportunity (14:07)
I guess I saw kind of a niche for starting the Alaska Packraft School. And I was like, man, good luck you guys. But I think if I’m this passionate about what I think is a good idea, starting my own business is probably the move into having guided and taught for so long. I think for about 13, 14 years before I started my own business, [00:14:30] I always said I’d never own a business because, well, there’s so many ins and outs, the running a business behind the scenes, but I guess I saw that there was such a demand in Alaska for more and more quality pack rat instruction and there is this need that wasn’t being met. So this will be the third summer we’re operating. There is such a need, I think, for quality instruction and a lot of folk were going through the outfitter I was working for because there wasn’t much else going [00:15:00] on in Alaska.
Jule Continued (15:01)
Turnagain Kayak teaches a bit of packrafting in Hope. And Kennicott Wilderness Guides does a little bit in McCarthy. But it’s a seven hour drive away from Anchorage and the owner of another packraft outfit in Hope. He’s kind of steering away and trying to do more Airbnbs. So I saw the potential for a lot of work. And I really am passionate about teaching packrafting and getting folks on the water. It also just happened to be, at the time that I was writing the guidebook. That was a Covid project.
Lizzy: Yeah, I wrote a book too! I wrote The Bikeraft Guide during Covid.
Jule: Seriously? Seriously. And I meditate a lot in meditation. I got this download, I was like, you’re going to write a book. And I was like, that’s weird.
Jule: Her Covid Project, The Alaska Packraft Guidebook (15:44)
Awesome. No, but Covid summer, I wasn’t working that much. I, like a lot of people, and so I turned going onto trips and documenting them into a job. And there’s 70 runs in there. I had done most of them already, especially with the background kayaking and as a packrafter. My friends who were not guiding, they also had tons of free time. So it was just kind of like summer camp. It was nice for three months. And so that’s how the book evolved and the light bulb went off. Well, if I’m the author of the Packraft guidebook, it’ll be really, really easy to start a business with Packrafting, and that’s been such a positive, I think positive thing for me. So with a lot of my friends as Packrafters running through the first year, the Alaska Packraft School, it was just me because I didn’t hire any independent contractors.
However, I did have friends that wanted to learn more and practice a lot of these safety skills. So my friends would assist with courses for free.
Jule on How Friends Helped Her Get Started (16:45)
Oh, nice. Oh, it was so cool. Most of my background friends, they don’t have a background in hard shell kayaking. But it was really, really cool opportunity to help them progress as boaters. And also have some safety or have folks help me out teaching the courses on the water.
So I turned so many people away the first season with the Alaska Packraft school, it was just me teaching. I couldn’t do it all. I was like, all right, I guess we’ve got to train more instructors. That feels really cool. Everyone on the staff team are friends of mine. So it’s been this growing business where my friends are, they’re all my personal trip partners for packrafting. And they are also guides and whatnot.
It’s been cool getting their feedback and co-creating teaching objectives and curriculums with them. What a really fun process! I think turning my passion into a job and then being able to do it with my friends that I packraft with personally… after me and half a dozen people or so at the packrafting curriculum approved by the ACA. My friends and I joined up together and took the first ever packraft course offered. Patrick Higgins taught it in Alaska in. Gosh. That’s kind of the packraft story in a nutshell.
Lizzy: How Do Women Learn Differently from Men? (18:11)
Can you talk a little bit now about how you teach women and how you sort of figured out how to teach women? In what ways is it different?
Jule: On Teaching Yoga & How Women’s Brains Are Different From Men’s Brains (18:18)
I used to run this business, Alaska Yoga Adventures, doing yoga retreats, but in the wilderness. So not super bougie, but backcountry travel in addition to yoga. And those were primarily women groups. So that’s when I got my first exposure teaching to women specific. That’s when the light bulb went off. There is sometimes a different learning environment that happens I think, and that, I don’t know if you want to call it like girl power or feminine energy. But there’s this slightly different atmosphere I think for women’s courses than learning a little bit about learning styles.
There’s a part of the brain that’s twice as big in a female that processes new experiences or manages fear through talking. So a learning style with literally me teaching something and asking questions and talking it through, I didn’t see that as much in a male learning environment, but I saw a lot in women’s learning environments.
Jule: Personal Enjoyment of Women’s Courses (19:20)
On a personal level, I love hanging out with women. So they’re fun courses for me to teach. But two, there’s a lot I think of ladies that have come into packrafting. And trying to learn from their boyfriends or partners that don’t, I think have as much experience in the fear game or two. There are, I think some physical differences… And everybody is different. But for smaller people that don’t have more muscle mass or a bigger skeletal structure, it’s not a disadvantage. However, there are things that are, I think, harder than getting back into the boat or accessing some of these paddle strokes. I think as myself being a petite person, I’m like five two. And I have figured out some life hacks for those.
Lizzy: How Do You Teach Differently? (20:03)
Cool. I can’t wait to learn them. Do you have a specific different type of curriculum or is it just that you intuitively, because you’ve learned over the years, teach women’s courses and co courses or men’s courses differently?
Jule: On Teaching Her Curriculum and Situational Awareness (20:17)
Yeah, the actual curriculum is the same. We’re learning the same set of paddling skills and I call it situational awareness. That’s like reading whitewater, what to think about, what to look for and into. I think I offer lots of stories, too. They’re a little bit relatable, like: “Hey, I’ve made every mistake you can possibly make as I was figuring out how to learn the sport.”
But also, I think creating that safe judgment-free learning environment is important. The first thing I mention to folks is there’s no such thing as a dumb question. There’s a reason why we’re all here together trying to learn. And if they’ve got a dumb question, well, someone else probably has it, too. If it’s going through your head, it’s going through someone else’s. And I probably messed that up. So I’d love to share with you what I found out. These are generalizations and not always true. But I think when you start a learning environment like that, people think don’t have the need to preserve their egos or feel embarrassed or inferior.
Lizzy: Do you think that’s something that happens with women more often?
Jules: Yes and No (21:19)
I think it can be. I think anyone can feel embarrassed or inferior, but I think if you’re coming into a sport that is challenging and you’re learning with a male group that doesn’t feel as scared or they have physical advantages. Well then I think there’s lots of things you can tell yourself, whether it’s I’m not big enough, I’m not strong enough, or I don’t know why I’m scared. The self-talk when you’re looking a new sport, I think I do a really good job. My life mantra, I had two of ’em when I was starting the Packraft School. One of them was, lower the bar. Don’t think you have to get as good as you think really [00:22:00] quickly and then keep it fun
Optimal Arousal Theory [00:22:25]
It’s called the optimal arousal theory. If you’re always in that place where you’re scared when you’re learning, you’ll experience the fight or flight response. And that kind of gives you tunnel vision, and you’re actually not learning newer things. The optimal arousal is slowly gaining skills along with being in a place where we’re having fun, but we feel like our limits are tested. And so it’s different for everybody. And a lot of the things I teach are challenged by choice. I’m not forcing anyone to do anything. And I think that gives people a lot of confidence or a lot of power in their own progression. And when folks I think are scared to do something, we’ll talk about why and assess the reality of the perceived risk. I think there’s a lot of misconceived risk assessment when folks are learning whitewater. And so I think, too, getting that explained or unpacking that is something I do more in women’s courses.
Lizzy: On Overcoming Fear of the Grand Canyon (23:03)
Interesting. I am wondering to reflect with you on some experience I had. I’ve done the Grand twice, but I am so afraid of it. And the second time I did it with Steve and it was overwhelming. I didn’t even want to boat for six months after that. But I love the Grand. It’s so beautiful. I really want to do it again. But right now I’m like, I am so scared, even though it’s not actually that dangerous. I’ve swam a ton in the Grand Canyon, probably 15 times between my two trips. I swam lava, I swam everything! But I am so afraid that I haven’t done it in a few years, even though I’ve had opportunities because of this fear. And it’s almost unreasonable because I’ve done it already twice. But now I am like, will I ever do it again? I’m not sure I’d want to get over the fear, but I don’t know how. Have you ever confronted anything like that? I mean, it seems unreasonable
Jule’s Full-Time Gig Off Season, Mental Health Counselor (23:56)
So my full-time gig in the off season is I’m a mental health counselor. I work mostly with PTSD survivors with anxiety and depression. And it’s really interesting what I’ve learned about PTSD. It’s hard to break through PTSD through the intellect. Traumatic memories are not stored in that part of the brain. So you can rationalize all you want: “OK, this isn’t dangerous, or it’s not my fault, or I am safe.” But you don’t believe it, even though all of this logic and reason is pointing you in that direction. So even, too, when folks have had a bad swim or they’ve almost drowned or they’re just scared being in that fight or flight response, it’s hard to talk someone out of that. But somatically, it’s like bilateral stimulation, right, left, right, left, right, left. You can work through it. I don’t know if you know about EMDR.
Lizzy (25:01): I have heard of it and I’ve actually thought about doing it, but I haven’t yet.
Jule EMDR & Overcoming Trauma from Boating & Life (25:05)
You should explore that. It’s really a therapy where you’re doing a lot of bilateral stimulation because. So PTSD is stored in the limbic system, like the lower structures of a brain, but the higher cortical functionings, like up here within the prefrontal cortex. When we’re in that relaxed state or we’re experiencing joy, and you can automatically induce that. So when I say bilateral stimulation, right, left, right, left, I mean walking, biking, paddling… Doing movement while you think about that traumatic thing is one way to slowly rewire the brain and create different neural networks. And so I think it’s really interesting if someone is real scared paddling, if you make it easier or give them a little bit of confidence or show them that they can do it while they’re boating, that’s that bilateral stimulation. You can slowly, I think, work with somebody’s interpretation of fear or their PTSD around it.
LIzzy: Stepping Back (26:07)
Well, I stepped back a lot since the last time I did the Grand, and that was two years ago. And I haven’t really, I’ve just been doing really mellow, pushing a little bit, maybe Class III+. But I still can’t quite bring myself to do the Grand. Maybe it’s just going to take me a few more years, I dunno. Or maybe I need some concentrated focus working with someone?
Jule: How to Heal (26:27)
And too, don’t rush the process, right? Imagine if you went out and paddled Class III 50 times and you had tons of fun. That’s the different neural networks you make, or you have a different relationship with boating. And then two, I think really getting better with the self rescue game. There was years when I was boating when I actually had a giant packraft and I couldn’t get in my boat. It was like a medium classic, which is way, way too much boat for me. I’m too small for that and I couldn’t get back in. And so I think too, really helping folks with the wet exit and wet reentry is key. And so I think anything that you have a lot of fear over, once you have a little bit of skill mastery that fear loses its power. Then you’re able to have more fun. And for me, it was just getting back into my boat.
Jule: Creating Scenarios to Build Confidence (27:26)
And so the courses are great because we’ll kind of create these scenarios, too. And I think when you go boating and everyone’s scared, it’s like, oh wow, I don’t know that you’d be able to help me if I needed it. So I think really spending time, not just on skill development, but we had a practice control. I call it controlled chaos. I like to paddle rivers. I like for venues that are relatively safe, but really practicing when your plan A doesn’t work out. So presenting kind of hairball scenarios for some plan, plan Bs because everything we can have the theory, but paddling is 1% theory, 99% practice. It’s just practicing, I think a lot of these skills. But I try to make the environment really fun.
Lizzy: Last Questions… (28:09)
Cool. Oh, I’m so looking forward to you being here. I don’t want to take up too much more of your time. It’s been 45 minutes, but is there anything I’m not asking you that you want to share with me about packrafting teaching the upcoming course? Anything?
Jule: Are folks pretty familiar with their gear when they show up?
Lizzy: Oh, it totally depends. For this course, I am saying no beginners, so they have to have taken one of our courses or they basically have to have a basic understanding of packrafting in the river. But so just for us, it just depends. But the course that you’re teaching is beginner, intermediate, so people might be on the spectrum, but they will all know how to use their boats and blow them up and get on the water and use their PFDs and paddle at least. So that’s a requirement.
Cool. That’s great. I used to teach Intro to Whitewater, but folks were showing up with no experience putting their PFDs on backwards. And none of that’s wrong or bad. Everyone’s got to learn somewhere. But having, I think that difference in skills, it was hard. I mean, everyone’s learning objectives with I think such a variety of paddling backgrounds. Being familiar with their gear is I think pretty essential for this type of course.
Also something I do is, “boat fitting.” Everyone blows up their boats, puts on their gear, and I do a quick hash one-on-one about the best gear for what we’re doing. I especially do this with out rigging and with how people sit in their boats. There are a lot of advantages like, oh, if you sat an inch further forward, you can do this. Or if you adjusted your thigh straps, you’ll have better edge control. So that’s something we do right off at the Get-go, but it really takes forever. It takes a whole lot, I think, out of our time together if you’re teaching them from square one.
Yeah. Well, what my goal would be is I hope that I can, if it works out, bring you down every year, which would be anybody who can’t take the course this year because they are just very beginner. I would encourage them to take one of our courses, one of your courses, somebody’s course, and then come back and do something with you next year, if that works out. That would be my dream for my company.
Jule on High Water in Alaska (30:28)
I’d Love that. I think I was telling you, the water gets so high up here in the last two years. This year, I actually canceled my first course ever right around Solstice weekend. Well, we had such a unique event where we had our snow hold on really late. So we had tons of snow high in the Alpine in June that had usually melted off. But we had a high snow year, a really cold, cold spring. Then we got two days of rain. And so the rain, all the snow in the mountains melted. And then it got really hot, and some glaciers turned on, so a lot of rivers doubled in volume hours. And I was like, holy shit, we cannot teach in this environment. There’s just wood moving and super fast. And that’s not quite to last year’s severity, but that is… I’ve been living in Alaska for 17 years, and that’s a pretty reliable time of year for water to get too high, too fast. And so I swore off teaching around Solstice last year at least taking this 10-day window.
Lizzy on the Animas River (31:36)
Well, perfect. Well, generally, the good thing about this area is Animas always runs. So we can always do stuff in the Animas. And the cool thing about the Animas is if it’s really low, you can send even beginners through the play park. If it’s really high, then you go to a different part of the river. But then also if it’s low, you can go and do Rockwood or you can go up and do the upper Animas, not with clients, but for you coming down to have fun with us.
So that 10-day window is really awesome for the Animas. And then if we have a big snow year, then we have the Dolores, which is just brilliantly fun and beautiful. I mean, it’s our wilderness classic run. We don’t have a whole lot of long runs with lots of Class III has, I think a class, well, it’s not really a class V, it’s like a IV+ plus. But we don’t have much of that. But when we have a big snow year, we did in 2023, we got on that river, I think six times. And Steve did it 10 because so many of our clients wanted to do it. So that’s a good time of be here to come here too.
Jule: I love exploring new areas and checking out new runs.
Lizzy on Southwest Colorado (32:37)
And you’ll love our place too. And if the Mancos River is running, it ran all this year. It’s like 35 miles into the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park, and it’s Class III, but it’s the creek. We are the only people who boat it because you can’t boat it. It’s illegal. But we own property on the river, and then we get permission from the tribal park. Nobody else can Boat this river except us and our friends. It’s crazy. So Mesa Verde National Park is over there (Lizzy pointing west), and then the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park is there (pointing south). And then we have Weber Canyon here (pointing east). So there’s two canyons that come together and they go into another canyon, to the Ute Mountain, Ute Tribal Park. And the main, it only runs every once in a while, but when it runs, it’s super fun.
Oh, that’s great. Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Lizzy, for reaching out. Yeah. I’m stuck to spend some time with you guys down there and go boating and Yeah, teach it a little bit in your community.
Lizzy: Yay. All right. Well, have a wonderful day. [00:33:30]
Jule: All right. You too. Bye Lizzie.
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