For Right-Brained People
Divine music in a heavenly setting
Three whitewater days, two bluegrass evenings, one golden opportunity
I think the first time I experienced the magnificent Tuolumne River was in about 1990. I had just had my first rafting adventure—a float trip on the Rio Grande down in Big Bend, TX. We spent much of the time in the water, floating with a beer in one hand and gently guiding our languid trip eastward with the other. That trip in no way prepared me for the T! It was love at first trip. The clear, cold water, the beautiful multi-colored boulders, the revelations of the Clavey and North Fork swimming holes, the dippers, kingfishers, and canyon wrens. And, of course, the dedication and skill of the guides, who dressed in formal attire for dinner that first trip (cummerbunds, bowties, shorts, and flip flops). The sere canyon and the restorative water brought back a flood of childhood memories of summers spent swimming in the Stanislaus River and inspired me to write my song, “Val’s Cabin,” about those days.
Since that first year on the T, I don’t think I have missed one (except for 2020), and some years we have managed to squeeze in two Tuolumne trips. I never tire of the smell of the river, the feel of the running water on my skin, the sunburns, toe stubs, and inevitable little bruises. I never tire of the bus ride to Meral’s Pool. And I never tire of the way it feels to play music in the camps—the relaxed, expansive atmosphere and the way every song feels new and different somehow in the evening air.
Joining me this year will be Jacob Groopman, a wonderful multi-instrumentalist and singer who grew up canoeing and kayaking the rivers flowing out of the Appalachian Mountains. This will be his first California river trip, and I am so pleased to share my favorite river with him. In these years of drought, we have seen many changes along the Tuolumne, and I can’t say that it hasn’t suffered, especially when compared to the wild flows of the 1990s, but it is still the canyon that I love. The river runs through all my memories.
2023 Laurie Lewis Trip
3 days, August 17 -19
$999 per person