Legendary Salmon River Raft Guide Inspires Book 'Anything Worth Doing'

Oct 15, 2012

Author Jo Deurbrouck knows rivers. She spent 12 seasons guiding people through Idaho’s whitewater. That life inspired her newest book Anything Worth Doing. It’s the story of two raft guides, Clancy Reece and Jon Barker, who spent a decade together pushing their limits on the Salmon River.

The book, Deurbrouck says began when she learned that Clancy Reece had died. “In 1996, Clancy Reece who was kind of a legendary raft guide in the boating communities of Idaho, the hero of the people who taught me to boat and my hero by proxy… Clancy Reece died.”

Reece died on the Salmon River at flood stage after attempting to set a 24-hour downriver speed record. His story stuck with Deurbrouck for years. When she retired from river guiding, Deurbrouck began to research Reece’s story.

She ended up meeting Clancy Reece’s younger brother Charles who lived in Clancy’s house.  When Charles moved in after his brother’s death he found journals and scraps of paper filled with poems and ideas. “He [Charles ] gave me all of Clancy’s writing. He [Clancy] called it his doodles,” recalls Deurbrouck.  

Deurbrouck also had access to video tapes from Jon Barker’s family. One of those videos showed Barker and Reece right before they set out on their epic source to sea voyage down the Salmon. They’re seen chanting “Anything worth doing is worth over doing.”

“If you read the man’s story it really makes you think about the things that you love and the stories that guide your life because I think that they had to do that trip,” Deurbrouck says. “Because they understood what’s easy to forget. The Salmon River is 409 miles long and then it ends at its mouth of the Snake. That’s not true. That river way continues down the Snake.”

Then, Deurbrouck explains, the river continues down the Columbia River and eventually the Pacific Ocean. “And if you want to know that river [Salmon] you want to know it to the sea. I think it’s a beautiful kind of crazy but beautiful story,” she says.

Jo Deurbrouck lives in Idaho Falls. She talks about her latest book Anything Worth Doing in Boise tonight at Sun Ray Cafe at 7. She’ll give another reading in Ketchum, Idaho on November 8 at the Community Library.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio