Exam Time


After an epic series of grunts and profanities, it happened. Our bus was finally gaining traction in the sand and on its way home from where it dropped us. We were at the put-in of the Karnali River, in Nepal. It had taken us a day and a half of bumping around in the back of that rickety bus to reach this remote Himalayan waterway that’s only run 10 times a year.

The 21-day trip would be the final exam in the first year of the Adventure Guide program at Thompson Rivers University. The program is one of the most thorough job interviews around—instructors have two whole years to watch a student’s performance on wilderness trips and whitewater to determine whether they’re a good fit for guiding.

 In the year leading up to the trip, I’d been pushed so hard that the territory outside my comfort zone was starting to feel like home. Nepal took everything to the next level; it was our longest trip yet and in an utterly unfamiliar setting.

Though my 10 classmates and I had swapped gum-stained desks and true or false questions for kayaks and high-volume class IV whitewater, this was definitely still an exam…



Click here to continue reading this column in the free digital edition of Rapid, Spring 2014, or download our free app for Apple or Android.


If I wanted to translate my passion for paddling into a career, I would have to get used to this stream of ever-changing challenges… 

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