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March 3, 2010

I first met Hilde at ‘Barking Dog’ wave in California, she was the
best paddler there that day: an accomplished player that could really
carve and spin and make the most of this small wave. I convinced her
to try out the Pyranha boat I was paddling (this was in 1998) and she
really put it through the paces – coming back to me with the same
pro’s and con’s of the design that I myself had come up with after
spending a month in the boat at all sorts of spots. I asked her her
name and was so surprised by the answer .. because it turns out she
was the paddler the dealers in the area wanted to talk to about the
boat – just I had mistakenly assumed it was a guy’s last name!

Hilde’s opinion seemed to be the law in California, and whatever boat
she was paddling I put on the top of my list to try – foremost
because she’ always picks a winner, but also to compare notes
afterwards and see how I ranked as a tester. She’s got a great sense
of what others will enjoy, perhaps from her history in instruction,
and also a quick take on judging a boat’s performance. She also
moves effortlessly with the water.

What a treat it was years later to find we were finally enjoying
the same Jackson Kayaks, and that we would be taking a trip down the
Grand Canyon together! I have done ‘The Canyon’ before, but to be
shown what she knows about and sees beneath those walls – that was
really something special that I highly recommend to all. I look
forwards to hearing her view on our new Jackson Kayaks just as
eagerly as i awaited her take on that first demo boat I took on the
road so many years ago.

Clay Wright

Hilde’s Bio

Water has always been a big part of my life.

My day job since 1976 has been a boatman on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon; I rowed and kayaked and paddle-boated enough river miles to make 5 trips from the west to east coast and back again. I was the first girl hired by my company –Outdoors Unlimited -on the Grand and have done over 100 trips. I consider the Grand Canyon as much my home as Coloma, California, which is where I live between trips.

My first kayak was a purple Lettman Mark IV fiberglass boat that I made in someone’s back yard in maybe 1972. It started me on the long journey that has ended with Jackson Kayaks.

I was lucky enough to grow up in an era when people could do the river bum-ski bum circuit and still end up relatively comfortable. Working as a guide I learned the value of living simply and knowing that the happiest times are usually not those surrounded by accumulated “things”.

The past few years I have immersed myself in the world of Hydro Relicensing as a volunteer representing private boaters. Originally I selfishly got involved to open up some runs on dewatered sections of my local river. I continue to be involved on another river and relicense project because I realize that this opportunity comes around once in a lifetime and I have found that I actually enjoy negotiating for runs that will be run by boaters not yet born decades into the future. Pay it forward.

My favorite quote comes from Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. I often read it to passengers while floating on a calm section of the Colorado. The River Rat and Mole meet for the first time along the bank of the river.

Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolute nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,’ he went on dreamily: `messing–about–in–boats; messing—-‘

`Look ahead, Rat!’ cried the Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.

`–about in boats–or WITH boats,’ the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. `In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not. Look here! If you’ve really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?’

See you on the river!


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