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Tim Mason Interview

Offbeat Interview Series with Tim

Tim ‘Señor Tim’ Mason

Born in Chile, Tim was raised there by his U.S. parents and is fluent in Spanish. Growing up on an educational farm, he loved the outdoors, riding horses, and fishing and camping. He finished high school in the States and went on to the University of Utah to study architecture. Disillusioned by the prospect of sitting at a drafting desk for who knows how long, Tim took the advice of his college roommate, Mike Hipsher, and headed to North Carolina where he got a job at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), launching his guiding career at the tender age of 28.

Because NOC was growing, Tim became one of several designers and builders for the company’s various construction projects. It was the best of both worlds: pursuing architecture and guiding on rivers in the southeast and around the world, thanks to NOC’s adventure travel program. “While fishing on the banks of the Biobío River as a kid, I never thought that one day that I would be guiding on it!” he said. Tim worked for the Nantahala Outdoor Center for over 20 years as a river guide on Chile’s Bio Bio River, as well as rivers in Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.

While in college, Tim did a lot of backpacking. When he realized the same type of camping, hiking, and cooking was possible on the river — and cold beer to boot! — he became hooked on multi-day river trips. One of the most life-changing trips was with Canyons. For many years, Les and Susan Bechdel (original owners of Canyons and former NOC employees), would gift a Canyons trip to an NOC employee. In 1994, Tim’s name was randomly selected when a kid from the NOC daycare pulled his name out of the hat. After the trip, Susan asked if he would like to guide for Canyons. Before she could finish the sentence, Tim said “YES”! Tim has been with Canyons ever since.

Tim resides in Western North Carolina for most of the year, with his lovely wife Amy. Although he says he’s going to retire from Canyons, no one believes that day will be anytime soon, if ever. He loves the Canyons river life. So many friendships have been made with fellow guides and guests, and there are many more to forge. For most of the year, Tim is still an architect designing and building beautiful custom homes in North Carolina. He can’t seem to retire from that either.

The Interview

If you could be a river superhero, what would you be?   A SUPER OTTER, one that keeps rivers flowing free and clean

What is your favorite dress up theme?   Whatever is simple…

What is your ‘go to’ crazy hat night creation?   I usually place an inflated kayak airbag on my head so I look like a tall conehead.

What brought you to Canyons?   I won a trip that Les and Susan Bechdel (the original owners of Canyons) would give out every year, thru the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

How many years have you worked here?   This year will be my 24th season. 

What is your favorite thing about Canyons?   My fellow guides and the guests that Canyons attracts.

If you could describe Canyons in 3 words?   Unity, Professional, Fun

When you hear the word Idaho, what comes to mind?   Rivers, Peacefulness, Beauty

What are your top three favorite camps?   They are all my favorites.

Your favorite hike?   The hike out of Trail Camp to the “castle rocks”.

Top three favorite rapids?   Not to be repetitive, but all of them.

Currently, what is your nemesis rapid?   Entrance to Hell’s Half Mile (Middle Fork) at low water in the sweep boat.

What river do you want to run that you haven’t yet?   There are so many! Wish we could do them all

What do you consider a ‘real’ job?   All my jobs have been real!

If you could only have one kayak in your quiver, what would it be and why?   Vista Python “super duck“.

What is your favorite thing to cook on the river?   I love to grill.

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

What is your most memorable swim in a river?   Little Falls on the South Fork of the Payette.

What is one of your river rituals or superstitions?   I sleep with my feet downstream.

What is your most valued non-river related item that you bring with you on every trip?   Mentitas, small round Chilean mints.

What is your favorite groover spot?   All of the ones next to the river’s edge.

About Greg McFadden

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