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Tough Outdoor Jobs

Every backpacker dreams of a glory job in the outdoors. Here's what it takes to make the grade for 8 of the toughest ones out there.


Job description Safely captain rafts on half-day, full-day, or multiday trips on rivers throughout the country—while looking debonair, dispensing natural history factoids, and spinning entertaining stories that keep clients tipping well. Rookies usually run class I to III water, moving up to class IV and V after a few years. Some commercial guide companies offer instructional schools where prospective guides learn knots, how to read rapids, and how to handle complex rescue scenarios. Eric Young, owner of Sawatch Rescue in Buena Vista, Colorado, says, “Most guides need at least three to four weeks of formal training before their first run. But more importantly, a good raft guide needs to develop people skills.”

Entrance exam
­+ Grab a 5-foot length of cord and tie a bowline, alpine butterfly, fisherman’s (single and double), water, figure eight, and finally a square knot all within one minute.
­+ Hit a target from 20 feet with a throw bag. One try.
­+ Practice your delivery until this joke is funny: “A raft guide walks into a bar and says, ‘Give me a beer a whiskey.’ The bartender
gets a beer and a whiskey, and the guide says, ‘No, I said a beer
a whiskey.’ The bartender looks confused, and the guide explains, ‘My raft flipped, and I lost all my oars.’”

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