Owyhee River and Drug Use

by Vince Welch on June 16, 2011

So here’s the deal. I had a choice to spend time thinking about what to put in my first blog or go down the Owyhee River in the southeastern corner of Oregon, the back of beyond and then some. Really, there was no choice. I chose the latter, mostly because I had not run Oregon’s “Grand Canyon” in 30 years and it is a lonely, beautiful desert river, but also because I don’t know squat about writing a blog. I hoped to avoid what shouldn’t be a big deal. Just words, right? New medium — another no big deal. (My cluelessness even led me to believe that my blog name was somehow unique, until I found a couple of dozen blogs with the same name. For now I’ll stick with RiverMouth and learn to live with my diminished sense of cleverness).

I have been told by MG’s blog-gurus that a blog can be anything I want it to be and essentially I can just go for it … whatever “it” is. So in terms of identity and content, think of RiverMouth for the time being as a braided river finding its way to the ocean by many different routes. One can expect detours, being blown upstream or getting stuck on a sandbar or in an eddy.

Being the shirker I am, I have decided to foist my initial burden on the shoulders of any potential audience. So I start with a subject that used to be (and still might be) a controversial river issue: drug-testing for guides. Coming from an earlier generation of boatmen, I missed the opportunity to piss in a bottle. But here’s a wee, serendipitous anecdote: While on the Owyhee, I learned that a river guide friend (who is still guiding) that I started out with in the 1970s, landed a short-term gig at a lab that tests for drug use at local businesses. (I suspect he was anything but pleased when drug-testing river guides became the norm). Nevertheless, his job (I kid you not): to stop any cheating by watching guys do the bottle thing. Since I smell a story, I need to speak with my friend as soon as possible. In the meantime, RiverMouth is soliciting personal experiences, points-of-view, anecdotes, company policies, “avoidance” techniques, history and jokes about, well, you know … going #1. Aliases are fine; they protect the innocent as well as the guilty and there is no sense in rocking the boat unless you have to.


A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing toward an ocean, a lake, a sea or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water; a cyber location where fresh- and saltwater stories, anecdotes, history, opinions, breaking news, obituaries, community exchanges, and, OK, an occasional (but civilized) rant of a river nature meet and mix; the place where the flotsam and jetsam of river life collect.

Vince Welch is a former professional river guide, long-time MG contributor and author of The Doing of the Thing: The Brief, Brilliant Career of Buzz Holmstrom. He continues to run rivers throughout the West with his family and other ancient mariners and is currently completing biography of Amos Burg. He lives in Portland, Ore.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mondo Dondo June 22, 2011 at 4:29 am

Pee for enjoyment, not for employment.

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