I’ve been visiting the tiny town of Ohiopyle since I was a little boy growing up in western Pennsylvania, and I’ve paddled the Lower Yough with White Water Adventurers for almost 15 years. I first met Buck Marietta back in the day when he was still in middle school and hanging around the raft company after trips. I remember not knowing he was deaf and me asking him a question, and his sister Laura explaining that Buck couldn’t hear me. Then I saw him signing with some of the guides, and I thought that was pretty cool, that these folks were a real river family. Then and there I started my own journey to become a dirtbag, because I wanted to be in a brotherhood like that…
Now I call Buck my friend. I saw him from time to time when I’d come into town to privately paddle the Yough and raise hell, but usually I’d stick around my friends so I didn’t really hang with Buck or the WWA crew. Times had changed and most of my old friends like BJ, Amy, Chad and Lurch had moved on.
Buck and I really started to get to know each other through DBP and Facebook. I still say that social media has awesome power if applied in the right way (not showing us your latest dinner or asking me to play candy crush…) although some may disagree. Certainly the Dirt Bag Paddlers have brought together a glorious collection of world wide whitewater weirdos, and Buck is most definitely one of them!
A while back he jokingly asked me when I was going to interview him. I was embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of it first. Buck can be cantankerous and sometimes pretty damn crude, but the truth is he’s one of the nicest, most honest people you could ever hope to meet. And he’s a true Dirtbag who loves the river with pure passion, with a special story to tell because he is a deaf river guide.
If you meet Buck in person, he will communicate with you by typing out his sentences on his phone if you don’t know sign language, which I don’t. Also, many Dirtbags have only seen the Mountain Buck on Facebook, reading his often off-color and infamously funny comments. So I’ve decided to let Buck speak in his unique way instead of interpreting it for you in regular English. One shouldn’t water down Buck Marietta, he is best enjoyed full strength and ALL NATURAL.
DBP: Buck, you have an incredibly inspiring story of overcoming serious disabilities to live out your dream of being a Dirtbag raft guide, one that can give hope to many others who have obstacles in their path to self fulfillment. Can you explain your disabilities to those paddlers who may not be familiar with you?
BUCK: Well I was born of deaf well my family raise me in Ohiopyle and river too
DBP: It is amazing that you have been able to work side by side on a demanding river like the Lower Yough on the big river trips for White Water Adventurers. What is your typical job on the river? Did you teach the other guides to sign so you all can communicate, and did knowing sign language make it easy to learn regular river signals?
BUCK: Well river guides can sign language and not some we can signal river like work river u know
DBP: It’s pretty cool that you were given the opportunity to prove your worth. Do you feel that your disabilities give you advantages like seeing the river in a different way, or feeling the current? Or do you feel like you’re just one of the crew?
BUCK: Well I alway pay attend on safely ppl and guide said that my eyes are very eagle eyes
DBP: Your dad runs WWA, and you and your sister were raised on the river. What was it like to be a little kid growing up around all of those terrific boaters? What lessons did you learn from them?
BUCK: Well if u grow up in Ohiopyle u will love it bc there peace and thing. my dad taught how skill safely training and thing too my sister doing so my sister and famous Rodney rice taught me how paddle duckie myself in middle yough and lower yough
DBP: You basically grew up in Ohiopyle, PA, a true Dirtbag stronghold, but also a town with only a hundred or so actual residents, the rest being seasonal employees of the various outfitters. What is it like being a year round resident of one of the coolest whitewater towns in America?
BUCK: Well Ohiopyle is very awesome town bc small town and lot hot girls on rocks and have good times with friends of summer Ohiopyle. I love Ohiopyle bc river make me happy and relax
DBP: We always love asking this question… tell us about your biggest WALLACE on the river.
BUCK: Well I got big walance well I try pull big man “fatty man” in my lunch boat but I saw swimming rapid and my though oh man and fat man then rapid hit my boat we flip boat all food and drinking lol
DBP: Another favorite question we ask of everyone is what’s your favorite boat and why?
BUCK: My favorite boats are 2 boats are my baby duckie and my sister’s streddler Bc duckie is good fast and easy plus good treat on me and shredder is easy for ride on Ohiopyle for good date with girls.
DBP: What is your favorite rapid and why? And what rapid gets you the worst?
BUCK: My favorite is dimple rock rapid bc there fun flip of ppl and guides too lol but i love save ppl I feel awesome and superhero. Well I hate rapid of high water of railroad rapid wow wow that almost died myself
DBP: You’ve got some big balls bro! You’ve run Ohiopyle Falls, which for many years was closed to boaters and considered unrunnable, in an inflatable kayak. Tell those paddlers who have never run a big drop what that feels like.
BUCK: Well i heard many stories a about swimming over waterfall and kayak over waterfall so I wanna go over waterfall as bad until I was 7 years old finally I was 17 years old I begging to my awesome parents and finally allow me go when I finish football camp that day of Ohiopyle fall fest my dad pick up on me and I was very excited that I ready get my river gear and I was very nevous But I trust with jake g “Jimbo’s son” teach me how I go over waterfall with my baby duckie first time I go over waterfall I make it as smooth then I told my mom one more so she was freak out and I doing go again but I forget my thigh on my left leg i hit below on river and stuck in washing waterfall roll so my mom freak out and almost fall down but chuck Morris said calm down Margaret “my mom” buck will know how doing so I swam down in waterfall and swimming up I made it next day my back got hurt lol
DBP: You are a go getter who has never let anything slow you down in regards to your disabilities. Not only do you guide for one of the most prestigious raft companies in the East, last year you were offered and accepted a position as an assistant football coach at a local high school after playing back in your school days. These are impressive achievements that can inspire others, especially young people facing the same challenges you have overcome.
BUCK: Well yes i was former football player in high school of speak school name is Frazier high school well now I am assistant football of Frazier middle school for defense line coach that wonderful. Thank u well I grow up of speaking ppl bc my family said I am more smart and I can write paper for talk or text on phone u know I alway open mind
DBP: Well, Buck, you’re as well known for your funny antics as you are for your paddling! Hah! Thanks for answering some questions, we will finish up by asking what 2015 holds in store for Mountain Buck and leave us with one of your Memes for the readers. Cheers bro!
BUCK: so follow me on lead like see my ass on boat and see my paddle skills thing u know well I can teach bad guides.
Hah! That’s Buck Marietta, a TRUE DIRTBAG PADDLER!!