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Remembering Desmond Johnson

Status: Live River
Date: 2022

Desmond passed away in early 2022 after a long and adventurous life. In 1972, he and his son, Ford, went on an ARTA 30-day Whitewater School and got hooked on river running. It was sometimes hard to find guides for weekends on the Stanislaus River at that point, so late one Friday night ARTA’s area manager was talking with another just-off-whitewater-school guide who said, “there’s this older guy (about 50 then…) who was great – let’s call him”.  The call was made, Desmond answered and said, “well, of course I’d like to come up and guide tomorrow morning” – he showed up first thing at Camp 9, and brought a plastic container of homemade sangria with him to share at dinner with the guests. It was the start of a lot of great trips where Desmond always added his Louisiana hospitality and his real estate appraiser trial-court wit. After the 1973 season, he started his own river company, RAFT, which ran trips on the Stanislaus and South Fork for several years.  Desmond and both his sons were frequent rafters all over the West long after that. In 2023, Desmond’s family made a generous gift to help the Stanislaus River Archive.

Keywords: Guides, Memoir
Format: Photograph
Collection: Admin's Collection

Date uploaded: Mar 22, 2023
Date last modified: Mar 22, 2023