River Conditions

WhiteWater Voyages Media Articles

October 5, 1975
San Francisco Chronicle


Toward the Roar Downriver

Whitewater Rafting, by William McGinnis. New York Times Quadrangle 361 pp.; $12.50

By Reviewed by Stanleigh Arnold

Whitewater may seem far removed from desert sand or mountain granite, it its impact on the sensibilities may be remarkably similar. And not only upon the emotions, either -- all these inspire in a certain kind of person an almost compulsive desire to learn, to retain, to pass knowledge on to others who will follow the same trails, wet or dry.

So it is that this work is so reminiscent of The Complete Walker which, in its first form and in its later revision, has brought such deserved recognition to Colin Fletcher. Both McGinnis and Fletcher are students constantly adding to the store of knowledge through communication and experience. Both know their subjects far better than all but a very few. Both are teachers. Both are adventurous but each has a tremendous respect for the dangers that await the unknowing, the careless, the unprepared who venture into the wilderness. The outdoor knowledge accumulated by such folks simultaneously heightens their enjoyment and diminishes the danger.

Like Fletcher, too (and here we'll abandon the comparison), McGinnis has created a book of concentrated information while skillfully mixing enough humor, imagery, example and anecdotes to maintain a constant flow of interest.

"Whitewater rafting" is several things. For one, it's a guidebook to over 30 of the best river runs in the United States, following each run from its inception to its end and pin pointing danger spots along the way.

It's also an equipment book, a camping book, an outdoor cooking book (with a proper respect for that great instrument for outdoor cooking, the Dutch oven) and a book on river safety. It is, too, well-illustrated with photos and drawings.

Above all, it is the book of a writer who is fascinated by swift rivers, a man who, because he is both literate and enthusiastic, can bring his readers as close to Whitewater rafting as they're likely to come without shoving off toward the roar downriver.


© 1975 San Francisco Chronicle.

 

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