What an honor it is to be writing this and introducing ourselves to all of our future friends, employees, coworkers, partners and customers. Megan and I are so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do what we love to do, serve our community, as well as educate and find stewards, or build upon existing ones. This truly is a dream come true. First, we must thank Jason Shreder again for this opportunity. We will do everything we can to ensure the continued growth and prosperity of the business you started, my friend. Thank you. I will try to keep this brief, but I am not known for that talent. Here is a bit about us, and our journey to Zoo Town Surfers.
Ever since I was young, I have been fascinated and drawn to water. I have a picture floating around somewhere of me, around 2 years old, standing next to some rafts my parents had rented for a Green River multiday. Since then, water and rafting has been in my blood.
I grew up never being able to get out the ocean, spending much of every summer in Southern California with family. The same was true when I was home in Idaho on it’s rivers and lakes; I was the first one in the water, and the last one out, and that much of me at least, largely remains true to this day.
Megan similarly always loved the water. She grew up snowboarding on the frozen kind, and playing on the wet kind in various river and fishing trips with her family in Alaska. Her love of rivers grew dramatically when she hopped on her first multiday trip with me back in college on the Lower Gorge of the Salmon River. Since then, she’s taken every opportunity to be on the water. The Lochsa is one of her favorite places on the planet, and in her words, where she “truly fell in love with rivers.”
7 years ago, Megan asked me whether or not I would ever want to own an outfitting business. My work in guiding on the Salmon and Hells Canyon led me to work as a rep for the absolutely wonderful folks at Northwest River Supplies (NRS), so the question of owning a river business came up pretty frequently. My answer was invariably; it depends on the business. I would not want to do it for the wrong reasons, and I would want to structure a company that I would be happy to guide at. One that focuses on guide voice, stewardship, individual and professional growth, and sharing our incredible rivers with those that do not get to experience them as often as we do. One example of this type of business came up as a general answer to Megans question; if Jason Shreder ever decided to sell, that would be a business worth purchasing. As luck would have it; 7 years, a few moves, and many river trips later, as well as right place at the right time and some good friends, would lead us to start the process of purchasing Zoo Town Surfers.
We could tell from the get-go that Shreder’s involvement in the community and his passion for his business was incredible. He built this business from the ground up, and we want to continue the traditions, hard work, and community care and involvement that he set the foundations of ZTS on. That seemed a daunting task at first, but it has become much more achievable and exciting as we have seen how much love and support has been built around ZTS. Our promise to you is this: We will continue to grow ZTS into a community minded, inclusive, and safe place where any and all can experience the river.
I am always available via email at email@example.com, and phone at 208-310-2253. I would love the opportunity to introduce myself over a cup of coffee or a beer, please feel free to reach out! Thank you all for taking the time to read this far, and we hope to see you on the river!
-Megan and Ian Fodor-Davis.
River guides love telling stories. We love stories that make us laugh, stories that make us learn, and stories that make us look inward. Exaggerated details, extensive hand gestures, the Dramatic Pause, and a sharp punchline. We love telling good stories and bad ones, and we love listening to them, too.
So, we put together a list of questions to ask (and some questions to avoid) on your next river trip to ensure you share a few good laughs, lessons, and reflective moments with the people, and the place.
QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK EVERY RIVER GUIDE:
- “What inspires you to work out here?”
You should never hear the same answer twice. If you get a generic answer without personal value attached, I suggest you dig a little deeper or request a new guide.
- “What is the most epic true story you’ve ever heard?”
For a guide, re-telling a good story is almost as good as actually being there. Almost.
- “If you could give your childhood self one piece of advice, what would it be?”
This question prompts some killer exchanges between guests and guides. Most of the best advice I’ve ever received comes from these flat-water chats.
- “What’s your favorite river?”
More often than not, the answer will surprise you. Unexpected rivers and unconventional reasoning might convince you that an objectively “best river” does not exist.
QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD NEVER ASK A RIVER GUIDE:
- “So, what do you want to do with your life?”
Or any version of that why-don’t-you-have-a-real-job question. The answer is most likely right in front of you, oars in hand.
- “Has anyone ever died here?”
Usually asked while floating above a big rapid. Do you really want to know?
- “How often do you shower?”
Do you really want to know?
- Any questions about politics, ever.
Take a break and enjoy the scenery.
3 EASY WAYS TO KEEP IT SIMPLE ON THE RIVER:
- Leave your phone at home.
- Leave your phone at home.
- Leave your phone at home.
Name/nickname, where are you from, how long have you been guiding for Zoo Town and what do you do during the offseason?
I do not have any nicknames, my name (Brit Englund) is funny enough. I was born and raised in Missoula. This summer will be my third year guiding at Zoo Town. In my regular job, I am a middle school band teacher!
What are some similarities between teaching and guiding?
In addition to making sure everyone is safe and has a good time, the guide is a teacher. We make every attempt to help customers learn about whitewater and our amazing river and its surrounding area. Teaching, just like guiding, is all about building personal relationships. All our guides agree, when we end a good trip, we feel like we have made some new friends.
Piece of gear you cannot live without?
I could not live without my synthetic nano-puff jacket (that I wear every day during the winter, spring, and fall), or my Duckworth light wool socks (that I anytime I am not wearing dress shoes or sandals).
Do you have any superstitions or lucky charms?
I do not have any lucky charms. As for superstitions, I have a pretty standard routine that I follow each day that could be considered a superstition.
I can play every single concert band instrument.
What do you like most about guiding?
I enjoy all the new people I get to meet, including customers and other guides. I have been lucky to take some really interesting people down the river and the crews I have worked with at Zoo Town have been awesome!
The Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers merge together just five miles east of Missoula and offer some of the finest rafting and scenic river tours Montana has to offer. In the heat of summertime, there is nothing more inviting than spending a day on the river.
Here are three great options for easy float trips here in the Missoula valley. All sections are a great introduction to rafting and are ideal for families with young kids, beginner rafters, or anyone who needs to cool off after a hot day of land-based adventuring!
Hellgate Canyon Float
This is our classic summertime “town float”! You’ll cruise through dramatic Hellgate Canyon and past the University of Montana, and on down through vibrant downtown Missoula. This is the most popular section for inner-tubers and stand-up paddle-boarders, as well. When you pass through Brennan’s Wave, there’s a good chance you’ll see a flock of colorful local kayakers and river surfers – always excellent entertainment!
Milltown to Downtown Float
This float allows you to experience two classic Montana rivers in one day! River users put-in on the Blackfoot above historical Milltown, then cruise through the confluence with the Clark Fork River. Floaters pass the site of the old Milltown Dam, through East Missoula, and on toward the hustle and bustle of downtown Missoula proper.
Kona to Harper’s Float
Just a few miles west, or downstream, of Missoula, this section of the Clark Fork River boasts abundant scenery on a stretch known for its tranquility, swimming holes, and spectacular bird watching.
Etiquette for River Runners
It’s important to know the local code of ethics for enjoying Missoula’s rivers. Let us know if you have any questions, or if you need a little extra guidance on how to respectfully and safely float our rivers.
- No glass. If you bring beverages, bring them in cans. Golden rule of the obvious: NEVER, EVER throw your cans or bottles in the river..
- Pack it in, pack it out. Whatever you bring to the river (or river access) with you must also leave with you.
- Change clothes discreetly. Bring a towel or sarong for an easy quick-change privacy shield!
- Do not play loud music. Please don’t ruin our wilderness experience with your music. Even though you’re in Montana, not everyone wants to hear pop country on their river trip.
- Follow the laws and rules of the area that you are using. Educate yourself about the local regulations and norms for the land and water you’re recreating on,
- Consider taking a few minutes to pick up litter left by others. Taking good care of our rivers is a community effort. Thanks in advance for your help!
Here is a very unbiased assessment of the best Gorge boat out there.
Fast? Check. Surfs well? Yes. Cartwheels any feature? You bet. Spins with the best of them? Like a true ultracentrifuge. Stern squirts? No current needed. These are appropriate yet boring ways of describing the Dagger Ultrafuge’s attributes. The truest gauge of a proper boat is the size of the shit-eating grin lighting up the face of the one paddling it.
An Ultrafugical paradox:
I have been an avid ultrafuger for the better part of a year. The first time I squeezed into this boat I could hardly stand to sit in it, yet alone paddle it. After 20 minutes at Brennan’s wave in Missoula, I was frantically paddling to shore to restore feeling lost to my feet and the majority of the rest of my lower body. While on shore, I knew, I wouldn’t again allow that boat to torture my body.
At the Alberton Gorge the next day something came over me. I forgot the physical pain the boat caused me while remembering the 20-minute grin that spanned my ears. That run in the Ultrafuge changed how I approach river-running. A once straightforward stretch of whitewater transformed into a playground of endless amusement. The size of the feature did not seem to matter, the Ultrafuge made it fantastically fun.
Ultrafuge and the Gorge:
Anyone who has paddled the Gorge knows how playful of a run it is, especially at lower flows. A seal launch to begin the run ensures a smile from the get-go and serves as a beeline to Zero Wave. The Ultrafuge, unlike most modern playboats, will zip across the middle hump of Zero without flushing. Once over on surfer’s left, this boat snaps river-surfer-inspired carves with minimal effort. Like the Price is Right wheel spun by an amped up granny, the Ultrafuge is formidably fast when flat-spinning. This boat is sure to have its paddler sticking their tongue out in amusement.
In between the various surfs on the Gorge stretch, this Dagger will find any excuse to get vertical. Squirting any eddy-line or boil and cartwheeling in flat-water, this boat has not the slightest concern with feature size. Its ability to splat in Rollercoaster and Mermaid Rock makes the Dagger Ultrafuge an all-around playful machine.
Is this kayak for you?
This boat is uncomfortable. After 30 minutes on the water you may feel the need to get out and stretch. But do not stand up too quickly; you may find that your legs have not yet regained feeling. If you find that a little discomfort is just part of kayaking, then this boat will not disappoint. Give this kayak a try for yourself and analyze that discomfort to fun ratio. You may find a central spot for the Dagger Ultrafuge in your armada.
This kayak creates smiling faces on the river. And that’s what paddling is all about.
This is not the first blog I have written about personal lap bags and it will not be the last. The more time I spend on the river, the more my bag evolves. It also changes with the seasons and rivers that I’m working on. I don’t guide on any multi-day trips so this is what I carry for day trips on the local rivers.
I love my personal bag. The go to size is the Watershed Ocoee. You can fit a lot items inside the bag and it’s the most waterproof bag on the market.
Below is a list of the larger items:
- Patagonia R1 fleece
- Fleece hats
- Extra straps
- 8-1 Screwdriver
- ½ Socket
- Zip ties
- Multi tool
- Watershed Ocoee dry bag
- Snack bars
- Sunglass holders
- Energy shots
- Prussix/extra rope
- Sewing kit
- Bug juice
- Extra sunglasses
- Small first aid kit
- Stuff sack to hold items
Pen and paper, matches, cash, batteries, headlamp, lighter, earplugs, gloves, chapstick, and toilet paper (with doggie bag), hydration tablets.
We would love to hear what you carry in your bag! SYOTR!