I grew up in Ellis Hollow, a valley east of Ithaca New York, wandering in the woods, playing in the sandbox, careening on the rope swing, annoying the cats, and paddling my small blue plastic boat in circles until I became too heavy to float.
I fled west to Prescott College in Arizona and immediately ended up on a Grand Canyon river trip. That was 1971. Now look what’s happened.
After another college trip in ’72 I went to work as a river guide in ’73. First motor trips, then rowing, then, in 1978, rowing dories for Martin Litton. For several winters I worked internationally running psycho rivers in Chile, Africa, and the Guatemalan borderlands.
Twenty years of rowing dories put the tweak on me. I was doing a lot of repair and rebuilding, and finally began building them from scratch.
I put river running on the back burner for a while around the turn of the millennium and wrote river history books. The research was really a blast, but the writing was way too much like work. I segued back to full-time guiding.
In 2008, after decades of having nowhere to build large objects, I built Fretwater Boatworks. For the last dozen years I’ve spent summers on the river and winters in the boat shop, squeezing in a bit of teaching here and there.