As a person approaches the end of a year, we all tend to look back at the moments that we have enjoyed and endured. Some things are joyful, some are downright painful, and some seem at the time so tragic that they’ll never be overcome. But overcome we do, and move forward. However, not without a look back, and a pause for remembrance.
2016 was a year that we at Dirt Bag Paddlers will never forget. There were so many good times… One was when our homies on Team Rage Cage, made up in part by three DBP Admins- Aaron Erdrich, Alex Wilson, and Jamie Page- competed in June at FIBArk for a shot to become the next Team USA. They fell a bit short, but promise was in the air, and Jamie Page, known to his buddies as PageCage, filed the first two of what was going to be many stories in DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE.COM chronicling their exploits.
Dirt Bag Paddlers marked three years since formation only few weeks after Jamie’s story and photos hit the Internet. Sadly, our celebrations on August 11th were cut short by the news from Colorado of the untimely loss of a good friend. James “Jamie” Page, age 25, had passed away while kayaking Gore Canyon of the Colorado River. He was doing what he loved. He still is, and will always be, sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.
Jamie was a terrific kayaker, raft guide, safety boater, and dedicated raft racer and member of Team Rage Cage. He was an amazing photographer and writer, and a member of our Staff here at DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE.COM. He and I had such big plans for the coming year…
The photos that grace this article were all taken by Jamie or his friends, and are saved for us all to enjoy still on Instagram on his account, @pagecage. It’s hard to find a photo of him not surrounded by friends. He shot this beautiful photo only a few weeks before passing, from his new home in Colorado, after many good days spent in Hartford TN on the Pigeon. It sums up everything we feel about him, everything that makes him great.
I wanted to give a gift this holiday season, this time of looking back and measuring our joys and our losses, to Jamie’s friends and family. I know everyone who loves him is thinking about him. So I asked Alex Wilson to share good memories with us all because I truly think Jamie would not want us to be sad. He would want our hearts to be filled with joy, and to fondly remember the good times. The greatest gift that you gave us Jamie was and will always be love and friendship.
Please, if you never had the luck and opportunity to meet Jamie, take a moment to pause and reflect on those you love – and if you have them, those you’ve lost. Send good vibes to the Page Family, and his many friends. Hug your loved ones. Life is fleeting. Jamie lived it full tilt. He would want you to do the same.
ALEX WILSON: “I’ve been a raft guide going on three years now. Jamie Page was my roommate at Smoky Mountain Outdoors my rookie year. It took me a while to figure out the J-Stroke; Jamie noticed and gave me a few pointers. About two weeks into guiding, Jamie asked me if I wanted to go kayaking with him. I said I’d never been. He told me it will be ok. ‘I got you bro. I’m your safety.’
Since that day, PageCage was always my safety. That first day I didn’t know how to roll (and still don’t) but every time I went over he was there picking me up, coaching me on how to get better and also being extremely passionate and positive about me learning how to yak. I dislocated my shoulder that day in the S-turns and hated hard boating ever since. As I was swimming Jamie’s kayak (which was too small for me) to river right, Jamie said ‘look up!’ As I did, a bear cub swam 10 feet from me on the Pigeon river. I haven’t seen one on the river in the hundreds of days since. That made that day worth it.
Jamie said that it’s not just the adventure and skill that’s fun about being able to make it down the river. You have to be a skilled person just to navigate the extreme water if you want to experience the extreme views that we get to see. Nature dude. Nature.
After that day, Jamie was on every river adventure I was on. I might not have been skilled enough to actually be on some of the rivers I did this year, but Jamie Page was there. And he is my safety.
The first river I did without him that was Class V, I was super nervous. I was actually thinking about not doing it. Without Jamie I felt as if I didn’t have any safety. But that was far from the case. We all felt him there watching our back, and making sure I was safe. His presence hovered over me and always will while I’m on any river. Miss you like crazy Jamie. PageCage brother.”
Raise a glass, say a prayer, however you do what you do. Jamie, and all those mighty dirtbags we’ve lost in 2016, are and always will be with us on The River.