River guides don’t get more than a few hours in a raft to get acquainted with the people who join us the majority of the time, but this first weekend in May 2015 Wet Planet staff had the pleasure of getting to know the In White Water Solidarity (IWWS) Sistas over the course of 3 days.
Linda, Lisa, Melody, Kathy, and Woody the Whitewater Cowboy comprise the IWWS Sistas, a group of friends who convene every year for a whitewater adventure. They’ve been traveling the world for the sake of friendship and whitewater for the past 25 years. They’ve vacationed in Chile, Costa Rica, and all across the United States chasing their love for whitewater. Each year one of the Sistas plans a trip and the rest of the Sistas send in their money and buy a plane ticket, often without much knowledge about the trip beyond the destination. Their trips over the years have included the Merced, all three forks of the American River, the Futaleufu (Chile), Rio Azul (Chile), the Tuolumne, the Cal Salmon, the Main Salmon, the Upper Klamath, the Pacuare (Costa Rica), the Grand Canyon, the Yampa, the Owyhee, the Illinois, and the Rogue.
The IWWS began as 3 friends – Lisa, Linda, and Melody – taking a rafting trip on the South Fork of the American River. They enjoyed it so much they returned the following year. After a few years they decided to try the Merced, and after that they decided they would keep trying new rivers each year. Along the way new friends have joined the group: Kathy by marriage, and a hat-less Toy Story Woody doll who was rescued from a casino in Reno many years ago.
Over the course of 3 days David, Tony, and the rest of our staff got to know the IWWS Sistas, while taking a Sit-On-Top trip on the Klickitat, a Full-Day White Salmon River Trip, and a grand finale run on our Half-Day White Salmon trip. Their laughter and positive attitudes were infectious and by day 3 everyone at Wet Planet knew who they were and were glad to see them back.
“These women are certainly some of the most fun and capable guests I’ve ever had the pleasure of guiding down the river. But what is truly inspiring about them is their lust for life, their sense of adventure and their strong appreciation for the river experience.” -Dave Seal, Wet Planet River Operations Manager
When I let them know that they would be our first trip of the season to run the upper and drop Husum Falls their cheers were audible throughout most of base camp. Linda’s initial reaction was that “[Husum Falls] is either going to be one of the coolest or stupidest things I’ve ever done.” Afterward they were not disappointed. They successfully ran the upper/middle and ran a perfect line over Husum Falls, our 12 ft. waterfall.
The IWWS Sistas’ enthusiasm, rapport, and excitement reminded me of the many folks I’ve met on the river and am still friends with. I take comfort knowing that they’re are out there enjoying whitewater wherever they may go. They remind me to give each trip my all, because each boat could be the next group of IWWS Sistas. We are each in charge of our own adventure, but it helps if we have good friends to paddle along with on this splashy river called life.