Friday, July 24, 2009

Paddler’s guidebook reveals special spots

Sean Glaccum explores Idaho’s rivers for rafters and kayakers

Express Staff Writer

“The Idaho Paddler Whitewater Gems: A Rafter’s and Kayaker’s Guide,” by Sean Glaccum. $22. 186pp.

Idaho attracts river runners of all types. The majestic scenery combined with the challenge of whitewater lures paddlers from all over the world.

Ketchum resident Sean Glaccum, who has paddled across the state, thought there was just one thing missing: a comprehensive and updated guidebook to assist in river adventures. With that in mind, he recently wrote "The Idaho Paddler: A Rafter's and Kayaker's Guide."

"I have been paddling around the state since I was a kid," Glaccum said. "I have been looking at Greg Moore's book, "Idaho Whitewater," for a long time and fantasized about all the rivers in the state. Eventually, I started running more and more of them."

Glaccum has been a licensed river guide for 14 years and managed Payette River Co. from 1996 to 1998. He was a guide on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River from 1999 to 2005. He also rafted and kayaked for nine seasons in Nepal, India and New Zealand.

"I could not get any more guidebooks about Idaho rivers," he said "The state was without a river guidebook and I had enough photos to do the project. I focused the last two years on informing people about runs they did not know about. I got help to find runs from lots of local folks."

The 186-page guidebook includes runs for all levels. The rivers' environments vary from desert canyons in the south to the lushly forested mountains of the Idaho Panhandle.

"We are still a bit like the Old West and there's a lot of unknown water out there," Glaccum said. "It's an addiction to search for new runs and it's a lot of fun not knowing what's around the corner and pushing the limits, which is more thrilling."

Glaccum said the guidebook is for a new generation of paddlers; it includes short runs because there is a desire to run a full-action short run rather than a long, 10-mile long run with no action. The guidebook includes descriptions on the type of runs, best season, water levels, length, difficulty and directions to put-ins and take-outs. Each description includes a full-page, color photo.

With only brief descriptions of its 72 runs, "The Idaho Paddler" is not a substitute for the state's two previous whitewater guidebooks, "Idaho Whitewater" by Greg Moore and Don McLaran and "Idaho—The Whitewater State" by Grant Amaral, both of which are out of print. What Glaccum's book does do is point paddlers toward more recently discovered steep creeks and waterfalls. It also contains information on park-and-play spots.

That said, it should be noted that Idaho's river-running claim to fame is big water—it will never be known as a creeking mecca. Most of the creeks described in "The Idaho Paddler" are short and access to them is difficult. Glaccum's book will be of interest especially to those looking for the more out-of-the-way runs.

"I don't give it all away, and everything is not written out so readers can feel like explorers," Glaccum said. "It is whitewater, and it can be over some people's heads but there are surf waves and play spots as well as fun waterfalls."

"The Idaho Paddler" is available at

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