Zach is one of the owners of the Northwest Rafting Company, which is a leader in the Pacific Northwest for epic, well planned, safe and one of a kind trips. NWRC enjoys pushing the limits in both training and just for fun trips. Check out their website here: www.nwrafting.com
Below read about Zach’s adventures with his Watershed bags over the years:
My Watershed Moment
When I began my illustrious career as a river guide I noticed all of the legendary guides used Watershed bags to store their personal gear. Obviously, I had to order one. When it arrived, I was officially in the club of the select few whose dry bags looked different from the dry bags we provided our guests. Beyond looking cool, it opened easily and I didn’t have to dump out the entire bag to find what I needed.
A few seasons later, I had my Watershed bag while teaching a guide school on Oregon’s Rogue River. The weather was terrible, and we had done two major raft repairs which put us behind schedule. On day 3, we had successfully rafted through Mule Creek Canyon and were coming around the corner to the infamous Blossom Bar Rapid. On our approach, we were overcome by an ominous hail storm that set the tone for our run through rapid known as “the most expensive in the West.” Oars, paddles, dry bags, coolers, sunglasses and anything else you can lose on the river routinely finds a resting place at the bottom of Blossom Bar.
We pulled over to scout, discussed our routes, and sent one boat at a time through the roaring whitewater. The second boat through had a student rowing with one of our instructors on board to provide support. Unfortunately, it also had my trusty Watershed bag.
As I’m sure you can guess, this fully loaded 18 foot gear boat pinned in the entrance move. The flow was 5,000 cfs and rising, and it was late in the day. We quickly came up with a plan, set safety, and got to work freeing the raft.
Just as we had set up our anchors, I saw my beloved Watershed bag come loose from the boat and watched her bob gently downstream. I knew my friend Jim Toney was out in the world somewhere shaking his head in disappointment that I was separated from my kit. But I had work to do.
We spent the next hour setting up a rope system that would make any engineer proud and finally pulled the boat off of the rock, sadly flipping it upside down in the struggle. We paddled the boat to the bottom of the rapid where it took the entire group, in a Herculeaneffort of pulling on ropes, to flip it rightside up.
Seeing that all was well, I pushed ahead on what I assumed would be a fruitless search. Much to my surprise, I caught up with my trusty Watershed bag only a few miles downstream. She was enjoying a nice float through Huggins Canyon as I hauled her back into my raft. I immediately opened her up to assess the damages but found everything was intact and bone dry.
15 years later, I’m still using the same bag. We’ve had quite a few adventures together, and I’m now a river outfitter myself. When it came time to decide what kind of dry bags to provide for my guests, I made the easy decision that they will all be using Watershed bags!
Some photos from Zach:
1. A trip we did in Siberia a few years ago with my trusty Watershed bag in it.
2. The wrap photo is from the wrap in the story. My bag had already come off at this point.
3. A boat full of Watershed bags on the Illinois River.
4. The repair photos is from boat repair first day of the school.