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Interview with Niki LeClair

Offbeat Interview Series with Niki

Niki ‘Noodle’ LeClair

Hailing from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Niki eventually migrated to McCall, ID after a stretch of time spent living in Alaska. From the boundless whitewater and beautiful elk herds to the limitless hiking and amazing powder skiing, Idaho felt like home. In 1984 she developed her clothing line ‘Niki Sports Wear’ and actively grew this business for 16 years and ultimately ran it for 20.

In the 1990’s Niki worked her way into the Brundage Cat Ski operation, where she continues to work today. For many years (and maybe even still today), she was the ONLY female director of a Cat Ski operation in the USA.

2018 brought the publishing of her first children’s book, written by Niki and illustrated by one of her best friends Janet. The book Critter Story was so well received (with a lot of feet pounding the pavement) that they did a second printing. Niki is currently working on Critter Story 2.

Niki’s world revolves around her greatest companions, her dogs, and her girlfriends. In her free time she enjoys private boating with her friends, gardening, making her famous ‘Scape Oil’, hiking, skiing, elk watching, working on her yurt, traveling, reading and mountain biking.

The Interview

If you could be a river superhero, what would you be?   An Otter   

What is your favorite dress up theme?   Lighted tutus!

What is your ‘go to’ crazy hat night creation?   Rope wrap on my head 

What brought you to Canyons?  Multi-day river trips on the Middle Fork and the Main Salmon, Wilderness, Les Bechdel (the river GOD)      

How many years have you worked here?   Since 1989     

What is your favorite thing about Canyons?   The amazing family of guides and wonderful memories with new and returning clients  

If you could describe Canyons in 3 words?   Love, Life, and Memories 

When you hear the word Idaho, what comes to mind?   The BEST OF THE BEST!

What are your top three favorite camps?   Loon (MF), Otter Bar (MF), Groundhog (Main)

Your favorite hike?   Corey bar to the ridge top overlooking the now submerged Salmon Falls rapid

Top three favorite rapids?   Powerhouse (MF), Elkhorn (Main), Vinegar (Main)

Currently, what is your nemesis rapid?  The Chutes on the Middle Fork at low water  

What river do you want to run that you haven’t yet?   The Rogue River in Oregon  

What do you consider a ‘real’ job?   River Guiding and Powder Ski Guiding   

If you could only have one kayak in your quiver, what would it be and why?   A sea kayak for lakes and oceans   

What is your favorite thing to cook on the river?   Southwest chicken night

If you could take a musician or band down the river today, who would it be?  Carlos Nakai   

What is your most memorable swim in a river?   Bailey rapid on the Main Salmon at 92,000 cfs

What is one of your river rituals or superstitions?   I always wear my river amulets for luck!

What is the most valued non-river-related item that you bring with you on every trip?  Pictures of my dogs in a compact case 

What is your favorite groover spot?  Alder    

About Greg McFadden

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