What makes an outdoor trip memorable?

By: Hilary Wickes, America Outdoors

I’ve been thinking about this question since I returned from the America Outdoors Fundraiser Trip on the Lower Salmon River. When I remember those five days, I can’t help but smile. For me, there were a few moments that certainly stick out:

  • One evening, after we hit the beach and set up camp, I came back to the river’s edge to see where everyone was. The scene was beautiful; the dory captained by our trip leader Caroline had turned into the Malibooze, a riverside bar with an excellent selection and a view that can’t be beat. PLUS, the music at this spot was extra special. Led by the strings and keys trio of Michael Cohen, John Dillon, and Dean Knuth we had a Malibooze sing-along on the river. It was unforgettable to say the least.


  • On night 3 of the trip I was ready to turn in for the night. I had been sitting in the chair circle, aka “living room,” chatting with some of the guys. As I turned to make the short trek along the sandy beach back to my tent, I heard a song. It was not like a campfire sing-along. Rather, a dance party had begun, and it was all the rage. We made it through a few different playlists before we all decided to call it a night. Dancing under the stars without a clue what time it was and with new and old friends will always stay with me.


  • On day four of the trip, I decided to take the plunge (foreshadowing much?) to give the inflatable kayak a try. I did some paddling on the 2018 trip in the Cataract Canyon, but that was a two-person kayak; this would be a little different. While, I had enjoyed the fun of the previous days on the paddle rafts with guides Sabrina and Rachael, kayaking on day four was especially exciting. I made my way smoothly through the inconsequential class II wave trains. I was soon tested and took my first “involuntary swim” on a class III doozy. When you are unexpectedly in the water, that definitely counts as memorable.


  • During our time on the Lower Salmon, we made our way through four canyons: Green, Cougar, Snow Hole, and Blue. Each was beautiful and unique, but when we entered Blue Canyon, I could feel the sense of awe wash over all of us. It wasn’t long before we were pointing excitedly at a group of bighorn sheep as we navigated the bouncy rapids. I can still remember the sense of ease I felt, enveloped by the canyon walls.


Between all these stories are a thousand little moments: heated games of KUUB and bocce ball on the beach, waves that made us say “WOW”, inflatable watermelon floating, yoga on the SUP, fishing from the shore, and conversations about life, family and travel with friends.

As I muse about the fun we had on the river, it’s easy to answer my question. What makes a trip memorable? It’s everything; it’s a combination of the magic of the place, the silliness, the entertaining guides, the departure from regular life, the amazing food, and more than anything- it’s the people. 


A Special Thank You

America Outdoors would like to thank the Wendt Family and OARS for donating this trip for the fifth year in a row! This trip would not be possible without their generosity.

AO would also like to thank the following member companies who participated in the trip: Santa Barbara Adventure Company, ACE Adventure Resort, Wildwater LTD, Grand Canyon Whitewater, Arizona River Runners, Adirondack River Outfitters, Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association, and Ocooe Inn Rafting.


A few more photos, just for fun






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