Rogue Life

J.R. Weir – Sundance Kayak School

J.R. Weir lives in Merlin, Oregon and is an owner of Sundance Kayak School. He first discovered the Rogue River when he was eleven years old. Since then, he’s been a guide, kayak instructor, and is now an outfitter. When he’s not on the Rogue, J.R. is likely to be found paddling another Southern Oregon river or creek. 

The Interview

How long have you been running the Rogue River?

Recreating since 1994, Guiding since 1998, Outfitting since 2013

What are your favorite things about the Rogue?

The scenery and wildlife are some of the best in the world! I love that the Rogue is a great river for people of all ages and walks of life and has something for everyone. Amazing hikes and side creeks abound with scenic waterfalls visible from the river, fascinating cultural history, interesting geology, and classic whitewater.

Favorite place on the river?

Little Windy Creek.

Is there a sense of community on the Rogue?

Yes! One of the most rewarding aspects of being a “river person” is being a part of the greater river community. The Rogue holds a special place in the hearts of those who have floated and journeyed through it’s magical canyons. All who cross paths on the river share the experience and exchange knowing smiles, and friendly greetings. A general enthusiasm and helpful intention prevails.

What lessons has the river taught you?

When I was 11, my dad and I took a 9-day, full-immersion, wilderness kayak course with Sundance Kayak School, and that experience changed my life forever. We fell in love with the entire experience, the Rogue River, and with the guides who encouraged us to take our watches off and be on “river time.” I remember my dad surprising me when he took me aside and said, quite seriously, that if I ever had an opportunity to experience the lifestyle these glowing vibrant guides personified that I should seize the chance! Growing up, kayaking became a constant source of adventure and renewal in both of our lives as we explored our local rivers and shared quality time together. The lessons learned through kayaking and almost 20 years of guiding have helped me to appreciate and navigate life’s many bends, rapids and beautiful, fleeting moments, going with the flow, and connecting with the exquisite rhythm of the natural world.

What’s the personality of the Rogue?

The Rogue is wild yet forgiving, deep, warm, and playful. The pool-drop character lends itself to moments of excitement separated by periods of profound calm and beauty surrounded by breathtaking scenery and wildlife. It is manageable and fun for the first time river runner has classic whitewater which will challenge and excite even the most seasoned boater. The Rogue is the perfect place for family trips and personal growth, and experiencing a profound connection with nature in a wilderness environment.

Any final thoughts?

Life on a river trip is as pure as it gets. Good food, clean air, excitement, friendship and enchanting scenery. In the morning you wake up to a fresh day with purpose and serenity, watching osprey dive for fish and the mist dancing on the water. Your only job all day is to have fun, be spontaneous and mindful, and float through a spectacular wilderness canyon. In the evenings, making a comfortable home on a secluded beach, enjoying a hike, and watching otters play with cold beverage in hand. Dinner served at rivers edge, music by the fire, stories and camaraderie, a blanket of stars, the best sleep of your life. As the experience deepens, the crazed pace of the real world becomes distant and inconsequential. You notice that your life is more in tune with the nuances of the great outdoors. In addition to the song of the river, you hear the strum of a distant chord that now includes you in the workings of nature.

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