Gator – River Guide

Posted June 12, 2023 by Reily Schultz

Name: Gator
Hometown: Park City, Utah
Guiding Since: 2019

Community is at the heart of all things All-Outdoors. We say that a lot, but where else would you find someone to drive a bus with you from Missouri to California in a snowstorm? Where else would you make friends that will talk to you through walkie-talkies for the whole drive? Gator found those connections here, and has immersed himself in the AO family since 2018.

Growing up in Utah, whitewater river guiding was not something Gator ever considered. His interest in the sport grew during his high school years, but despite loving stories of his dad kayaking the Class V Futaleufu River in Patagonia, Gator really only had access to calmer variants of the sport. Before his interest in whitewater changed his life, Gator was studying to be a commercial pilot. After two years, he realized that he did not love aviation as much as he wanted to; not enough to continue on this career path. And while we are sure Gator would have been a great pilot, we’re glad he chose rafts over planes.

Read a river, read a room

Visiting his friends Rowan and Jack in Lotus gave Gator a better look at whitewater, and a taste of the community he would soon become part of. He took his friend’s suggestion and came back the following spring to attend AO’s guide school. Training in the high-water year of 2019 allowed Gator to learn his strengths, his weaknesses, and a solid dose of humility very quickly. Any fears or reservations about trying something more challenging were overshadowed by the support of senior guides and the desire to accomplish something new. He has since developed a visible confidence in whitewater and is taking on leadership roles that he would never have expected for himself. 

Becoming a guide has also taught Gator how to read a crowd; knowing who will enjoy bad jokes, history and ecology facts, and who you can convince that the telephone wires above the river are actually a bridge for the squirrels.

Gator celebrating a clean line in Tunnel Chute

When asked about his favorite river, Gator’s indecision makes it clear how much he enjoys what he does. The Tuolumne is a favorite for action, but so is the Merced at higher flows. The Middle Fork American has the best scenery and camping, and Tunnel Chute is the best rapid. Cherry Creek is amazing just because of what a unique challenge it is. Every river offers such a different experience, and Gator takes full advantage of the range of opportunities AO provides.

Winters are for playing

During the off season after the finale of fall rafting, Gator still finds his way to water (specifically the frozen kind), crediting these seasonal opportunities as another reason why he loves being a raft guide. He spends most of his winters and spring climbing in Utah, or buried in snow in the mountains at Snowbird. With his background in competitive skiing, getting to play on a mountain all winter is a dream come true for Gator. He has worked a variety of jobs on the mountain, including coaching a ski team for 10-14 year olds. He loves to work with kids in outdoor sports- ‘It’s incredible how they bounce back. They’re like rubber bands!’

Rafting with Gator will always make for a good day. He is constantly smiling and his ability to connect with others makes conversation a breeze. If you find yourself at a loss for words, ask him how he discovered his love of Korean barbeque, or why you shouldn’t kiteboard on alpine lakes. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

Words to live by: “Don’t be a lug nut, be a wheel.” -Scott Armstrong

Author Bio

Reily Schultz

Reily is a Gold Country native. She graduated from Willamette University with a degree in Studio Art and a minor in Gender Studies and Psychology. She joined the All-Outdoors family in the spring of 2022, working as a California Rafting Consultant and a member of the marketing team. Her favorite All-Outdoors itinerary is the multi-day Tuolumne rafting trip. Reily is an avid artist, outdoors-woman, and purr-fessional cat snuggler.


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