The beautiful rivers in the Pacific Northwest with their towering basalt cliffs and subterranean features can be pretty hard on gear. Look closely, and you’ll see carefully placed patches and spots of glue adorning your guide’s shoes and river layers.
Whether it is from daily use or a close encounter with a rough object, even the cherished drysuit is bound to find a way to tear at some point in its life. Wetsuits and booties are no exception, and from time to time a broken zipper or unseemly tear appear. These items are typically promptly returned to our amazing guide staff upon discovery, and replaced with a fully intact piece of neoprene clothing. After you got your replacement you went and had the best time ever on the river, what happened to the bootie? Did it get trashed? Hidden to be given out to someone else who wouldn’t notice? Did it get banished to the repair room?… maybe yes on that last one.
Here at Wet Planet we can’t stand the idea of throwing things away when what is wrong with them is fixable. The idea of something rotting away in a landfill when it could still be used seems wrong. So all the gear our guests return to us gets put in the repair room for the gear fairy to sort and repair. As it turns out, things can break faster than they can get repaired and over time the gear seems to pile up. This winter though, we have taken the fight to the repair room and thinned the ranks of wetsuits needing patches and booties needing zippers, turning them to the side of functional and ready for rafting.
We have just finished all the booties that will be going back into circulation and are excited that 64 pairs of booties will be going back out onto the river instead of into our landfills. Wetsuits are still being repaired but the current tally is 75 fully repaired.
So when you come out rafting with us you may get a piece of gear that has some extra stitching on it, a patch, or some amazing looking glue. If you do get that piece of gear or are part of a group where someone else does, you have been welcomed to be a part of our efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
-The Gear Fairy
Author Nicole Leen can be found playing the ‘Gear Fairy’ when not guiding rafts on the White Salmon River. Her dog, Pebbles, is a diligent apprentice, barring the booties from running away.