Joe E. – River ManagerPosted May 5, 2023 by Reily Schultz
Name: Joe E. (Shady, Younger Joe, Other Joe)
Hometown: Cartersville, GA
Guiding Since: 2005
Some folks like to start a new career advancement with a bang. Joe started his career as a Tuolumne guide with a rattle.
Follow the leader
In 2012 Joe set off to guide his first commercial rafting trip down the Tuolumne River. The water was higher than average for the time of year but any nerves were quieted by the fact that he was rafting with the owner of All-Outdoors, Scott Armstrong, as the trip leader. Joe was excited by the opportunity to work with the “fearless leader” of the company and soak up some knowledge. What he didn’t expect was his fearless leader calling for him to “Come here! Come closer, you have to see this!” Following the call, Joe found himself face to face with a rattlesnake that was choking down a large rat! He turned tail to get back to the boats as the snake regurgitated the rat and aimed to strike. Scott followed, still excited about how cool and interesting it was to see a feeding rattlesnake. Today, Joe manages all of our Tuolumne trips and firmly states that he will “follow Scott almost ALMOST anywhere.”
Joe of all trades
Joe was sold on whitewater long before he joined the All-Outdoors family. He took advantage of the outdoor opportunities at his university, majoring in outdoor recreation leadership at Feather River College. His peers in the program encouraged Joe to check out a tiny town along the South Fork American River to look for work as he left school. After befriending guides at another outfitter while looking for work, Joe was pointed time and time again to All-Outdoors as an esteemed and established company to reach out to. He applied for a guide position and was welcomed to the family. After taking some time to find his footing and learn the rules, Joe immersed himself in the community. Learning more about AO’s history and the history of whitewater rafting solidified Joe’s decision to stay and train as a guide. He has been invaluable ever since. Joe is not only our Tuolumne river manager but also a driver, skilled Cherry Creek guide, and year-round go-to man. Need a car fixed? Oar frame? Have some paddles that need some love? Joe is the guy to call.
Feeling at home
When asked to pick his favorite California river trip, Joe hesitates – It’s an impossible choice! The North Fork of the Stanislaus is amazing because of its remoteness, breathtaking scenery, and because we only get to raft it every few years when there is enough snowmelt. The Tuolumne River is like home for Joe, some seasons he spends more time on the river side than not, enjoying the variety of guests and conditions that change throughout the summer. Cherry Creek has been one of Joe’s most rewarding whitewater challenges. Working your way up to guide on Cherry Creek is an accomplishment to be proud of, and the reward of it is worth the hard work.
Echoing the sentiment from other All-Outdoors guides, Joe says that this community feels like family. He took this sentiment to heart, even meeting his wife through the broad reach of the AO community.
This sense of community extends far beyond the company’s staff, including guests and friends-of-a-friend in its breadth. Joe keeps this feeling alive on every rafting trip he guides. Many guides note specific rapids as their favorite part of a rafting trip, but Joe’s favorite part is empowering a group of apprehensive rafters. He welcomes everyone into the AO family and gives them the reassurance and confidence that they are capable of not only participating, but succeeding.
He believes that the best memories are formed on days that aren’t perfect.
Unpredictability comes with the territory when it comes to whitewater rafting, and Joe thrives in it. He says one of his favorite things about his job is that no two days are ever the same. Every day has new causes for immediate and creative solutions both on and off the water, and bigger challenges are always just around the corner. His role within AO has taught him a lot, notably that he does not need to know everything – you can accomplish more as a team than you could ever hope to as an individual.
The fix-it attitude that helps make Joe so essential at AO carries into his life off of the water as well. Joe worked as an apprentice in a few construction trades before committing to the river guide lifestyle, giving him skills that AO lovingly takes advantage of. He spends some of his days off maintaining his home with his wife and maintaining his mother’s nearby property. Joe spends much of his free time during winter out in the snow, whether it be on a snowboard or snowmobile. He has been testing the waters of other outdoor recreation as well, learning more about motorcycles and mountain biking.
Joe may be a by-the-book kind of man when it comes to whitewater, but his true nature breaks through the moment he perfectly delivers a dead-pan joke or laughs at a bad pun. Ask Joe about the “recycling program” he started on the Tuolumne or about the official rules to Buckethead and watch for the corners of his mustache start to rise.
Words to Live By: “Make things happen rather than have things happen to you”