Talk Like A Raft Guide Day, Take Two


Summer’s here! It’s almost a full month into summer, with the smell of sunscreen permeating the air, blackberries ripening on the bushes and screams, groans and applause echoing from the Big Top tent every day from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.Why, you ask? Because that’s where everybody goes to watch their rafting videos and hang with their whitewater rafting river guides.

If you’ve spent some time up at the Big Top and you’ve read my other blog on guide slang, but are still baffled as to what the heck we’re talking about, no worries! Here’s another small bit of the guide dictionary to help everybody out.

Guide Ejector – Any hit on the river that slightly stalls the front of the raft when it goes in, but flings the back of the raft as it goes in, sending the guide flying into the air, landing either close to the front of the raft, or “Superman-ing” over the nose of the boat. My best was probably 12 vertical feet with a landing 3 crosstubes up at Invisible Rock in Miller’s Folly.

Mother Rubber – Synonym for raft. We love our mommas, and it just so happens ours is made out of super-thick rubber. If you fall out of the raft, swim back to “Mother Rubber.”

New/Gauley River Swim Team – An elite group of people (including all your river guides) who have swum part or all of a rapid involuntarily.

Cam Strap – Adjustable strap guides used to keep lunch coolers, water jugs, First-Aid box, etc., firmly and safely attached to the raft.

Flip Strap – Strong webbing worn belt-style around the waist of the guide, held together with a carabiner instead of a buckle. Originally used to help flip the raft right side up when it capsized, but mostly used to secure the boat to a tree at lunchtime.

Chicken Strap – Webbing that runs over the crosstubes in the raft that guests grab onto when nervous in a rapid, rather than paddling through the rapid.

Guide Saver Strap – Webbing that runs over the crosstube in the back of the raft, directly in front of the guide, used by the guide to stay in the raft when scared in a rapid.

Taco – 1. Great Mexican food found nearby at Chico’s in Oak Hill; 2. When the raft buckles in the middle and the nose of the raft touches the tail of the raft. Often happens while surfing, or while hitting the guide ejector rock at Sweet’s Falls.

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