Western River Expeditions wasn’t always Western River Expeditions
So I've been told...
Western River Expeditions wasn’t always Western River Expeditions. In the beginning, it was just one man, Jack Currey, living in California, who had grown tired of hiking in the High Sierras, and after he conquered Mt. Whitney, began looking for new adventures. In 1957, after reading an article in National Geographic magazine about the San Juan River he convinced a few of his friends that a trip on the San Juan River would be an exciting thing to do.
They went down to the local Army Navy Surplus store and purchased 2 large Navy balsa wood life rings and made 4 rafts by cutting them in half horizontally, and attaching plywood floors. They loaded their rafts, life jackets and oars into a station wagon and took off for Bluff, Utah. They needed someone to drive their vehicle around from Bluff to Mexican Hat, where they would end their trip, and Rusty Musselman was recommended. When Rusty met them at the launch point to get the car he started laughing and said ‘You guys will never make it to Mexican Hat”! But they were determined and as Rusty drove away, they put on their life jackets, grabbed their oars, and started off! What they didn’t know was that (unlike cork) uncoated balsa wood absorbs water… Quickly!...and after the first hour, the little rafts were no longer floating high above the water but were gradually beginning to sink!
They paddled on….furiously!.... and finally made it to Mexican Hat. It was a pathetic sight….they were sitting in the water, supported by their life jackets, but the rafts were totally under the water! Invisible!...and they weighed tons! Well not literally….but it took all of them to finally pull them out of the water, up onto the shore, and tie them off to a tree, to prove to Rusty that they had made it. As they drove back to California they were determined that their next river trip would be with better rafts. They were determined that there would be more rafting adventures!!
READ: How did Jack Currey go from balsa wood boats to inventing Western River's patented J-Rig raft (J for Jack)?