My connection with Western River was a mystery to many. No, I’d never been to Moab on family vacation. My parents didn’t guide for the company in the 80s. I didn’t have any previous connections to Moab or Western, yet here I am.
Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Alora Bonner. My childhood was split between the arid, desert town of Mesquite, Nevada, and the quaint, mountainous settlement known as Heber City, Utah. I understood the value of living life according to the seasons from a young age, however my high school days were jam-packed with sports, practices, games, and fundraisers, and I rarely had time to enjoy the great outdoors.
My first excursion to the outdoor capital of the nation was a breath of fresh air. I visited Moab, Utah, with my roommates in college. We were attending Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah. Three of my roommates practically grew up under the world famous arches, so we made it an annual tradition to visit Utah’s mighty playground every President’s day weekend. Immediately, I fell in love with the town, the red rocks, and the limitless activity. I adored the simplicity of an outdoor lifestyle. Back at SUU, studying and homework assignments were keeping me extremely busy, and I desperately yearned for active lifestyle and a summer escape. I wanted to feel like I was part of a team again.
Luckily, I had the locals input on all of the river companies, and even the locals in Moab know that Western River is the most prestigious, but I didn’t know the first thing about rafting. I knew how to sit on side of the boat and paddle. That was the extent of my river experience. I didn’t know how to control my own boat or camp out for 5 days. I was swimming in doubt. By some miracle, I secured one of the last interview spots, and one week later I was offered a job as a river guide. No connections. No expectations. No worries at all.
Little did I know that Western River Expeditions would be my saving grace. My first introduction to the mighty Colorado River will forever permeate my mind. I remember the water was high, and the color mirrored the canyon walls. I was mesmerized by their sheer height. The sun felt hot on my skin, and I couldn’t wait to get that summer glow. After one trip on the Fischer Towers daily section, I was hooked. A job that was only meant to be for summer fun rapidly progressed to a career meant for a lifetime.
Now I’m packing to move down to Moab for my third season. I spent all winter dreaming about the summer. I still remember my first day on the river. Since my first season as a Western river guide, I have finished college at SUU. I’ve worked at a residential treatment center for girls, a snowmobile tour company, and as an athletic trainer. Recently, I gave up two offers to continue my education at a graduate level. The river keeps calling me back, and Western River is my new family. Becoming a river guide is one of my proudest accomplishments, and I couldn’t be happier with my life on the river.