Dear Mountain Mama,

The government shut downs cost my friend a month-long rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. I can barely mention anything west of the Mississippi without him looking a bit teary-eyed. He worked hard all summer to save money and looked forward experiencing a new river with new friends.

Any ideas on how to cheer him up?

Yours,

Caring Friend

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Dear Caring Friend,

Quick, get that man on the river. It sounds like your friend got trapped in to-do lists for too long, a world where external measures of success like paychecks, promotions, first descents, and PRs can define who we are.

Spending time on the river reminds us that we are greater than the sum of our accomplishments. We are creatures of nature, and the river brings us back into the flow of the outdoors. The simplicity of the routine of morning chores, day-long paddles, and communal meal preparation help us become present in the day unfolding in front of us.

Settling into river time means allowing ourselves to drift with the current. When we sit by the side of the river and simply marvel at the light dancing from one wave to the next, we allow our minds to slow down. Giving ourselves permission to do nothing at all stirs our imaginations. The irony is that we live in a world that values an eternally jam-packed calendar, but truly unwinding can we expand ourselves in new directions.

Caring Friend, you don’t have to take your friend to an exotic river to experience the magic of the water. Just get him wet. We’re lucky to live in a place where spending the night riverside is accessible.

Two local options to check out are the Chattooga River’s 19-mile long water trail and the French Broad River Paddle Trail. Camping is allowed anywhere along the Chattooga River as long as campsites are 50 feet from any streams or trails and at least a quarter-mile from any road. The are several designated campsites with fire rings located riverside. The paddle-in campsites along the French Broad River can be reserved online, the campsites clearly marked with signs along the paddle trail.

Caring Friend, plan an overnight river trip. Get you and your friend off the digital treadmill and back to nature.

Paddle On,

Mountain Mama