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About 4 years ago in Oct. 2008, I was putting on the Green Truss section of the White Salmon River with a group of friends and a guy walked up and asked if he could join us. He mentioned that he had just moved to the area from Ohio and had never paddled any of the runs around Hood River.
I am all about meeting new people to paddle with, but not so excited about putting on a Class IV-V waterfall run with a complete stranger. I could tell by the awkward silence that the rest of the group was also feeling hesitant, especially since we were all bundled up in drysuits and he was wearing board shorts, a torn up dry top, and some duct-taped tennies. FYI, the White Salmon River is freezing cold year-round, especially in mid-October, but Andy Maser spoke up and told the guy he was welcome to join us and that we would show him down the river.
Well here's a great lesson in not judging a paddler by his appearance! This guy, Drew Eastman, turned out to be an awesome boater and it was great to have him along on the trip. About halfway down the run I flipped over in Upper Zigzag, got pinned up against the wall, swam, and lost my paddle. Drew helped in the effort to recover my paddle and we all ended up having a great day on the river. I got his number at the takeout and throughout the next year he became one of my favorite people to paddle with. We did some memorable trips to the Clendenning River in British Columbia, the Feather Festival in California, and the Tieton in Washington. He eventually asked me out on a date but I was pretty nervous because I didn't want to screw up one of the coolest paddling relationships I'd ever had. Luckily, the first date was awesome and before I knew what hit me, I had a really fun boyfriend!
Then last summer we were paddling the Little White Salmon and we got out to take pictures of people running Spirit Falls. Drew knelt down to get his camera out of his dry box and when he turned around he was holding a ring, and he proposed right at the lip of Spirit! Well I was completely caught off guard, but of course I said “YES!” and all our friends were cheering from the pool below. It was definitely my favorite days on the Little White ever! So, I'm sure glad that Drew decided to join us that day on the Green Truss, and I've got to say, it's great to be with someone who understands that sometimes it's important to drop everything last minute because a river just came in and you have to go kayaking :)