Photos by Kylie Fly.
“I have never loved something as long as I have loved the river.”
The caption sat beneath a photo of a young, white-blond girl, herself sitting cross-legged on a boat. Around her, the muddied turquoise of the Salmon River swirled gently. Teva Explorer Kylie Fly double tapped the photo, knowing instantly she had to meet the woman in the photo, the one who had so perfectly described the feeling of being in a long-term relationship with nature.
Kylie Fly and one of her triplet sisters joined Britten Duerden for a week on the Salmon River to learn what it takes to guide a river trip. Kylie wears the Terra-Float 2 Universal.
Britten spends as much time jumping in the river as she does navigating down it. Britten wears the Women’s Alp Premier sandal.
Her name is Britten Duerden, and the Salmon river practically runs through her veins. The Idaho transplant is a guide with the family-run operation Action White Water Adventures, where she’s often the only female on the crew — not uncommon in a widely male-dominated industry. As a trip leader she manages up to 30 paddlers at a time, managing crew, maintaining schedules, preparing meals, and teaching safety and navigation.
A flurry of activity begins the moment the rafts touch the sandy banks of the Salmon River, as the crew prepares to set up camp and begin cooking.
“I like being the boss!” she laughs. Being the leader means Britten paddles the yellow boat, which is lovely called the “mama duck.” Running about ten trips per summer, she spends an average of fifty days on the water. She knows the river’s quirks and temperaments like the back of her hand and has earned the respect of everyone she works with and guides.
Britten is responsible for guiding crew members, teaching safety skills, and preparing and cleaning up meals. Britten wears the Women’s Alp Premier sandal.
“I have spent entire summers in Idaho doing river trip after river trip, and it’s never gotten old,” she explains. Being a river guide means embracing a lifestyle that takes you for miles and miles down deep river canyons, one where you often only interact with the people on your crew for days at a time. It’s a peaceful way of life, free from technology and distraction, which allows for connection with each other, yourself, and the environment. The river is a place to be present.
Britten and Kylie enjoy some down time in the water, cooling off in the Women’s Hurricane XLT Infinity and the Women’s Al Premier. Both styles were inspired by heritage Teva designs, which were created for people who wanted to explore rivers.
When you finally pull out at the end of a run, it can feel like stepping into the world again, a flurry of gear shifts and boat flips and dynamic energy. It’s a feeling Britten lives for — something Kylie found out when she spent a week on the water as one of Britten’s crew members.
Kylie (left) and Britten are all smiles while enjoying the waterways of their native Idaho.
“After navigating varying degrees of rapids, dodging deep holes and traversing giant boulders in the water with Britten, I agree full-heartedly with her mom when she says Britten has nerves of steel. She is calm and collected, and can do anything. Little to nothing rattles her,” says Kylie. “The girl’s got river running through her. Everyone should take at least one river trip in his or her lifetime. If you haven’t, maybe now is the time to take the plunge.”