THANKSGIVING. by The Staff at Dirt Bag Paddlers

My name is Mike Toughill. On Facebook I’m known as Mike Joseph; friends have called me “Chicago” for years. I’m the Editor-and-Chief of DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE, an original member of the Dirt Bag Paddlers, and a die hard whitewater boater for life. I have many thing to be thankful for.


One of my great joys is the friendships from around the world forged through my work for this magazine. The stories from our lives on the water are rich and wide-ranging, and we attempt to encompass experiences from around the globe. I’ve been able to travel a fair amount, but through the eyes and pens of these friends and contributors, I get to journey to other places and see the world from various points of view. I’m very thankful for this opportunity .


I asked some of our regular contributors to write about the things they are thankful for this season. We are all stoked with our success. This publication marks its One Year Anniversary in three days, and we are proud of the fact we’ve had nearly 80,000 reads from around the world in that time without a penny spent on advertising, and without charging anyone a cent to read. We mean it when we say we are the world’s best free whitewater publication.


Here in America today is a day of celebrating the things and folks and values we hold dear. May your day be filled with love. And maybe some paddling. Happy Thanksgiving!



by Kelly Gladen


“I am thankful for the river that has come into my life.


I remember the day I got to go rafting for the first time, on the upper Gauley back in 1994. They usually say you will either come back or say the hell with it when you take a big swim. I swam at Sweets Falls and into the Box that first time; from then on I knew it was a calling for me. I went back the next year. I was addicted.


What the river does that makes me thankful is what it can do for the soul. It can calm you when you have a bad day. There are days when I just sit on the side and watch the water run through the rapids. I forget about everything that has been going on. It gives me a new sense of zen like rejuvenation.  The river has gone from high crazy water to low times when there is just enough water to get thru. It’s ever changing movements awe me.  You just never know what you will get.
Now I get to show others what I got to see when I first went rafting over 21 years ago. To introduce folks to rafting is very rewarding. I am most thankful for the excitement and joy that I share with them. I hope to continue this for some time.”




by Ollie El-Gamel


“For my parents who took me to my schools kayaking club every Sunday.


For the friends who have seen me at my lowest lows and highest highs. They’ve been teachers, rescuers, shoulders to cry on, mentors and role models, listening ears or fountains of advice. Who no matter how long it has been will always be dear to me, including those who I won’t see again till the end of my own adventure.


For the beautiful places I have explored. The fresh earth underfoot. The new smells and scenes around each riverbend.

For the release paddling gives me. The calmness of mind and spirit. It has the power to wash away my hurts, revitalise my passions and dampen the fires of worry.


For every failure and heartbreak. Without which I wouldn’t be who I am.


For the chance to live life free and with no regrets.”



By Caleb Chicoine.


“I give thanks for the river! Ever since I started paddling my life has been infinitely better.  I now have something to look forward to every day, a unique passion, and a whole new family to share it with!  The river has completely shaped my life and I never would want anything else!”



Chillywater Larry.


“I am thankful for outdoor adventure guests. Because the outdoors are an intimidating place for most folks, I thank you for allowing someone like me into your lives to share my love and respect for those adventures. Because of you the guests, I have been fortunate to do some pretty epic things in my life, and the best part is I get to share these adventures with you. Whether it is in a boat, on a board or skis, or on a drive through the mountains, it has been my pleasure to have you along. Because of you I am reminded not to take this beautiful world for granted. You remind me how all different walks of life crave the valuable time spent outdoors, even though we are all occasionally out of our element now and then. I am thankful that you have made this a viable industry where those like me can be employed to share those moments with you. You the Guests ROCK! Without You, I don’t know who I would be in this world. Thank You for being You, and allowing Me to be Me. See You Outside soon.”



By Ross Miller


“Being a Dirtbag Paddler allows me to be somewhat free from the soul crushing nothingness of an empty, hurried, and angry existence.


The dirtbag lifestyle enables me to travel as I wish, where I wish, with the resources that I have.

It is instant gratification, as well as long term happiness.

It requires that I sometimes think “outside of the box.”


It demands skill sets acquired only through life experiences.

For some of us, it is a lifestyle born out of necessity.

For others, it is a desire for freedom that drives them, a release from the stagnant doldrums of everyday 9 to 5 life.

This way of life is more pure than most lifestyles, but it is not for everybody.


No matter what it is that drives a person to live this life, the dirtbag lifestyle requires resilience, adaptation, planning, and perhaps even a bit of luck every now and again.

Through living this way, I have become part of a very tight-knit worldwide whitewater community. A community which shows huge support for its members, even as we meet each other for the first time.

I have made myself at home wherever I go, and this life has taught me to be resourceful, responsible, and less materialistic.


I strive for happiness, not possessions.

I seek thrills and love.

I long for adventure.

I live for a feeling most people never experience, in places most people never see.

We, as dirtbag paddlers, are brave explorers in a modern world.


We are a bold group, as varied as the places we come from, forging our own paths, our own way.

We are not afraid of the unknown.

On the contrary, we embrace it.

Perhaps this is the path less traveled, though many of us have chosen it.


There are wonderful things to be discovered along the way, truths and physical beauty.

This is the dirtbag lifestyle, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, even if I could…..

Dirtbag Paddler for Life.”



By Ryan Waterhouse


“I am very thankful for my mother for giving me the free spirit I have and always supporting me in anything I do. The raft guide lifestyle can be easy for a parent to disapprove of after a certain age but she sees how passionate I am about it and how happy I am when on the river, and she encourages it. I feel very grateful to have had all of the opportunities I’ve had to travel, adventure, and live my life to the fullest. In the past few years I have been lucky enough to travel around the country for rafting and made many new friends in the process. My family and friends mean the world to me and I hope I can have as much of a positive influence on their lives as they’ve had on mine. I’m grateful to Aire for making such high quality inflatables that I have been using and enjoying for almost 10 years now. I am grateful to be part of the DBP social network that has united paddlers of all facets from around the world and helped make the paddling community tighter than it has ever been. I may not be rich in pocket but I am damn sure rich in spirit and I thank all of you for that!”



By Jesse Delamotte


“The list of things I’m thankful for could go on and on. Life has brought me so many amazing experiences. The bigger ones, they stick out.


I’m thankful for my amazing parents and step parents. Each side with 5-6 kids. Raising minions and teaching us about the world. My grandparents who encouraged us to explore and go pursue what we wanted  (And for the 6 cases of Yuengling you brought to Boise!). I’m thankful for my crazy collection of siblings. The kids that fought, cried, jumped, ran and went on adventures with me. My brother Dylan who jumped at the opportunity to move from Ohio to Boise with me. My aunt and uncle in Boise. The ones who let us sleep in their shed for a few months in the summer..

My family. I am thankful for all of them. And then of course the river folks.. The dirty, loud, foul mouthed, smelly rafting people I also call family. The Payette crew. The people that introduced me to a life that I love. I’m thankful for the community of Boaters and all you Dirtbags! A breed of their own.


I’m thankful for the smell of fresh pine at the put in. The cold water, the companionship. The moments when the only thing in the world that matters is going with the flow of the River. The fear and excitement that push me to do what I do.”



By Associate Editor Wes Breitenbach


“What I am thankful for?

What a loaded question.  I consider myself a rather thankful person. So many things are on that list, it’s hard to pick just a few. But, I’ll try.

I am thankful for…….. (in no particular order)……

-every moment I wake from sleep and my eyes open to another day.

-all of my friends and family who make it to this new day with me.

-being born in the country and in the time period I live in.

– my hands that work so well to provide for myself and others.

-HDPE- gravity- erosion-water- PFD’s- Gore tex


-the fight for equality

-the Native Americans not killing us on sight

–both ferrous and nonferrous metals


-wind and solar power

– all plants and animals (even the ugly, non-tasty ones)



-the extinction of the dinosaurs

-accessibility to food and water

-tetrahydrocannabinol receptors

-being self-employed


-Meteorite showers


-the ability to reason

– Stromatolites

-You Dirt Bags!

Not necessarily an end to my list, as you can see I could go on, but a small window into what I appreciate.”


As you can see, ask a Dirtbag… You’ll never know what you’ll get!


I also secured one of our biggest supporters to speak a few words on thankfulness and the special community we call ours. I think she summed it up best, because here at the Mag we are as thankful to be a part of delivering these messages, of LIVING these stories, as those of you who are coming along with on the journey.



By Maria Hill

“I’m so thankful for DBP Mag. The videos from around the world by the paddling community are a constant joy. Love to read the stories of adventure and passion for whitewater paddling.

One Love, One River 4 Life.

Thank you so much for sharing the beauty of our world’s rivers and its paddlers.”


It’s a pleasure, Maria! We have many great days to come, but looking back over this first year of stories, it’s been one heck of a good time! Thanks for the support!!



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