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Rafting Camp at Sunrise

Offbeat Interview Series with Anneke

Anneke is playful and adventurous, and brings her whole heart to all she does! She grew up car camping near any water her family could find in the surprisingly diverse landscapes of Arizona, but didn’t experience whitewater until a family summer vacation in Idaho brought her down the Salmon River through Riggins. She immediately knew, that deep gut knowing, that she wanted the job of those fun, competent, earthy guides who laughed freely and fully. After a college career at UC Berkeley studying Geography and Social Welfare, and much travel – to Ghana, Italy, Honduras, the Caribbean – Anneke returned home to Phoenix to work for a therapeutic arts non-profit. There, attempting to embark on a career path where her desire to serve might be fulfilled, Anneke grew itchy in front of a computer screen. She remembered her teenage dream of becoming a raft guide, and that deep gut knowing returned. Six years and several rivers later, Anneke delightedly joined the Canyons team. Her adult life has meandered and explored many fields, including outdoor education, adaptive rafting, youth leadership, yoga teaching, construction, yurt cookin’, ski bumming, and much more! She greets each day newly and enthusiastically, for life is like the river, with a new adventure around every bend.

The Interview

In your guiding career (on or off river ), what has been your favorite “woohoo!” moment?

When I was guiding on Hells Canyon in 2017, some members of my adventurous family came as guests on a trip with me. My 8, 12, and 14 year old cousins and their dad were in my boat, and above Granite Creek Rapid (IV, high water), I was nervous! The GoPro was running. We entered the rapid perfectly though, and after a stomach-tingling 20 foot drop, we found ourselves in the infamous”Green Room,” with smooth green water on all sides and a huge wave train to ride the rest of the way, hooting and cheering!

In your guiding career (on or off river), what has been your most memorable “uhoh!” moment?

Instructing a leadership course for teens, the night before we were to launch on the Wild and Scenic Rogue River, my co-instructor and I passed the students the reigns to the kitchen to cook up a special pupusa birthday meal for one of the teens. Thirty minutes after the delicious meal was finished, and while a massive dish session was underway, all the cooks threw up! It turns out that eating raw masa dough can give you food poisoning. Uh-oh! Luckily our crew recovered enough for an early morning launch!

What is your favorite dress-up theme?

I like goading the shy people on a trip into dressing up by tossing them something just barely outside their comfort zone – a wonky hat or sparkly accessory – just enough to crack their shell and bring out their feisty side! I think this sort of “start with one piece and then keep putting on more and more things” theme is my favorite. How weird can your layers get?

What intrigues you about working for Canyons?

I love that there’s a queer-friendly company on the river! The culture of acceptance and familial support seems pretty special to me and I’m eager to be a part of it and see what kind of magic it can create for guests and guides alike!

What are three words that describe you?

Childlike, compassionate, bold

What is your favorite thing about the Middle Fork or Main Salmon?

That they are free-flowing. There are great teachings and magic in an undammed river.

If you could be a river creature, which one and why?

A river otter. See poem below to answer why!


Almost a Conversation – By Mary Oliver
I have not really, not yet, talked with otter about his life.
He has so many teeth, he has trouble
with vowels.
Wherefore our understanding 
is all body expression –
He swims like the sleekest fish,
he dives and exhales and lifts a trail of bubbles.
Little by little he trusts my eyes
and my curious body sitting on the shore.
Sometimes he comes close.
I admire his whiskers 
and his dark fur which I would rather die than
He has no words, still what he tells about his life 
is clear.
He does not own a computer.
He imagines the river will last forever.
He does not envy the dry house I live in.
He does not wonder who or what it is that I worship.
He wonders, morning and morning, that the river 
is so cold and fresh and alive, and still
I don’t jump in.

If you could bring anyone on a river trip, who would it be and why?

My mama. She is so present and so full of wonder in each moment. I think it would be beautiful to experience this magical place with this superpower of hers along for the ride. Also, I just love her so much.

What is one of your river rituals or superstitions?

I wash my face with river water every morning – it helps me feel connected and grounded to another day together.

What are your personal top 3 MUST HAVES on a river trip?

coconut oil chapstick – sarong – a journal

Where is your favorite groover spot?

I like a spot with a view where I can wave at boats going by.

What is the most important lesson the river has taught you so far?

Like a river, life is always changing, but the patterns of how it moves and flows can be learned if you pay close enough attention.

About Guides

The written word by Team Canyons. Guides, Guests and Friends alike, share their creative writings with us, to share with you, here on the RIVERBEAT BLOG.

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