My first Grand Canyon trip was a 21-day private trip in 1985. I still see half of the participants from that trip and have vivid memories of many of the events and sites that we visited. At a young age, I had the impression that I had seen most of and certainly the best sites that Grand Canyon has to offer! It took another trip to get educated about how much in Grand Canyon I had not seen and how much it has to offer. Ever since, I have been honored to spend the time in Grand Canyon that being a guide has allowed me to. Spending so much time in Grand Canyon and getting to know so many places intimately, has given me the opportunity to relive so many experiences from that first trip.

Swamping was the best years of white water river running in Grand Canyon that I could ever imagine. My formative years of river running took place while I was still a high school and university student. As a result there was a limited time period in which I could work on the river and my experience accumulated slowly. In addition, Hatch had a strong core of experienced guides who loved Grand Canyon and kept the opportunities for guide advancement limited.

After 10 years of swamping and more than 60 trips later, opportunities for guide positions eventually began to materialize. Although I went through an extended apprentice program, the experience that I came out with is invaluable. Swamping allowed me to get out and embrace the people and the place so that when the time came I would have the skills and knowledge necessary to allow people to get the most from there time in Grand Canyon.

Over those 10 years working as a swamper, I also had the fortunate opportunity to do trips as a guide. These experiences were especially enriching because after guiding a trip I could go back and work with the more experienced guides as a swamper. I could then see how the more experienced guides would approach different aspects of the river trip. This continual trial and error followed by the positive reaffirmation from the experienced guides gave me an incomparable set of tools. At this point it seems unimaginable to run the river without that knowledge gained from a group of guides that thankfully encouraged me to be a swamper at Hatch.

Fortunately, after 25 years I still get the opportunity to swamp. It seems that working as a swamper opens up your senses and makes you more aware of everything that is happening around you. In addition to the heightened awareness, swamping gives me the chance to learn from the vast knowledge and experience that other guides have accumulated over their careers.

Aaahhh the dreaded question….. off season. That is the easiest question you asked. In the off season, I am a commercial rafting guide for Hatch River Expeditions in Grand Canyon National Park. I think that you are wondering about the ON season. I take advantage of the off season in Grand Canyon to stay in shape and stay prepared for the ON season.

The off season in Grand Canyon also offers me a unique opportunity to manage my type 1 diabetes in a very structured environment. Having regular meals, exercise, and sleep allows me to manage my diabetes in the best way possible. In addition, being around people who are cognoscente of my medical condition gives me a safety net that is invaluable.

During the ON season I make every effort possible to get out and enjoy every moment possible. Recently, I have been using my skills as a white water rafting guide to help subsidize my travels around the globe. In the last two years I have kayaked on four continents and countless rivers. Having worked as an international adventure travel guide for over ten years, I have had some storybook ON seasons and some experiences that few people would ever have the opportunity to realize.

When not traveling and learning about the world around me I love to practice my many hobbies. On any given day outside or inside of Grand Canyon, I can be found playing hockey, snow skiing, whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, or camping.

Even though I am not yet done searching for that perfect river trip, the Grand Canyon will continue to suffice for many years to come! Having had the opportunity to run great rivers all over the world, there is nothing that quite compares to the overall experiences that the Grand Canyon offers. Not only does the Park have almost 300 river miles of exquisite terrain and scenery it also offers equipment, skills, knowledge, infrastructure, and logistics that make it an incomparable package.

I have spent many years seeking out some of the world’s unique and interesting rivers. Outside of the Americas, I have run rivers in France and India, and have paddled in nine countries between the Arctic Ocean and Patagonia. Frequently, I have sought out white water trips but some of the trips have been to use the river to access the incredible beauty. Most recently, I got to see one of the Colorado River’s tributaries, the Escalate River. Over 11 days we traversed 80 miles of river down to Lake Powell.

One of my favorite stories is the participation by several Hatch guides in National Geographic’s “Grand Canyon – First Journey” Video. Scott Perry, Lars Neimi, Scott Davis (inactive guide) and I played different characters in a reenactment of Powell’s fabled 1869 expedition. We used the exact replica boats build for the IMAX film on Grand Canyon and had the unique opportunity to run the boats that Powell used to first navigate the river in in 1869. During the IMAX filming, the boats were only used for filming and were transported down the river on motor boats. Outside of Jack Sumner, I am the only one that knows how it is to row John Wesley Powell through the Grand Canyon!

To make the film, we did an eight day trip. Each day included filming and making miles through the canyon. Frequently, it would be just the guides in the wooden boats traveling down river. It was pretty amazing to be down there in these totally inadequate boats doing something that took Powell and his men such incredible effort to accomplish.

The opportunity to get to take the exact same boat, built to the same plans, same materials, and same boat builder down the same river as Powell and his men was pretty incredible. It gave me the most realistic comparison of what they were up against as you could get. Fortunately for us, the only cargo that we had was a car battery to run the electronic bilge pump! When Powell left Green River, Wyoming they only had 4″ of free board because they were so loaded down with supplies and equipment.

Once we learned the limitations of the craft, the success of our runs came to be judged by how well we could rescue ourselves! In any long rapid where you have to run through waves for a long distance, the boat would fill with water and eventually want to sink and roll over. It was quite obvious that the boats were inadequate for the white water and their weight made them ridiculous for portaging or lining.

If the opportunity ever comes up again to take the Emma Dean down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon I will jump at the chance.

David and another Hatch guide, Scott Perry, are in a new book about Colorado River – The Colorado River Flowing Through Conflict by Pete McBride and Johnathan Waterman [affiliate link; all earnings are donated to The Whale Foundation]. Also see for book tour information. Pete was a Hatch River guest while taking some of the photos for the book. Check out their Facebook page for a look at the photos. Amazing.

Hatch Colorado River Guide David Kashinski was last modified: July 22nd, 2015 by admin

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