Old Dawgs, New Tricks


Last weekend I drove over to the Lochsa River, one of my all time favorites.  It was a classic Lochsa weekend — rainy, snowy, with an occasional beam of sunshine.   Fish Creek, a river rat’s hangout and “put-in”, and sometimes “take-out,” had plenty of traffic.  The crowd, mostly from Missoula, was a good mixture of older paddlers and well, a younger generation.

Once I arrived at Wilderness Gateway, a popular camp spot for river runners, I had a realization:  I am no longer the younger crowd.  There were a few other groups at “the gateway” and everyone in our group started to discuss camping and we were like, “let’s camp away from the crazies and have our own space.” It made me think of my crazy Lochsa days where the older guys would camp further away with their nice tents, campers, and trucks.  I guess it’s just a part of life — getting old.  What’s the alternative?

Getting old, however, does not mean you have to make sacrifices on the river.  When I started kayaking I had so much respect for the paddling generation ahead of me because they had great attitudes, were friendly, helpful, and were just happy to be on the water.  Getting old doesn’t mean you have to have a bad attitude because you can’t do what you used to do, or there are new people doing new things, in different equipment.

I like to paddle with the young and old paddlers because I want to continue learning.  For me, progression is important not only on the river, but off the river as well. I think this can be said for a lot of people in family businesses whose parents don’t want to buy into new business ideas or social media techniques.

So what I’m getting at here is to keep your ears open, be a good mentor, and continue to learn from paddlers of all ages. It will keep you fresh, innovative, and healthy.  There is nothing worse than meeting a salty old river dawg who is past his prime and is rude, has a know- it- all attitude, and doesn’t even have fun anymore.  The same can be said for younger paddlers who are hot-headed and have inflated egos, and  bad attitudes.  If you can accept the old and the new, it will go a long way for the future generation of paddlers and yourself.  Remember, it’s all about having fun.

Tune in and turn people on to the wonderful sport of kayaking.


See Jason Shredder’s “Go With the Flow” archive.


Jason Shreder, owner of local whitewater company Zoo Town Surfers. I love Missoula, the great community, and all the awesome water that surrounds it.  I’m constantly moving and 90% of that movement involves kayaking, rafting, working, and hanging out with my awesomely supportive girlfriend and dogs.