Name: Pete Wallstrom – Age: 35
Nickname: Project Pete
Special Talents: Very good at crab soccer
Place of Birth: Vermont
Company Name: Momentum River Expeditions
1. When did you take your first rafting trip and what got you hooked?
I was working for a restaurant in college and they took us on a trip. I was a horrible paddler, my guide was constantly telling me to listen and I was grinning the whole time. I was immediately hooked. I asked the guide how he got started as soon as the trip finished. I went through guide school; the guide became a very good friend of mine, and that was it. Guiding opened up a lot of doors for me, gave me a ton of opportunities to travel and allowed me to meet some amazing people… – but I had no idea I would still be doing it.
2. What’s the biggest difference of rafting in the country as opposed to abroad?
The biggest difference is definitely that you are in another culture. But a difference that many don’t think about, is the process of actually getting to the river! We have a very good transportation infrastructure here. Many of the countries I have traveled to don’t. I have used boats, buses, porters and oxen. Sometimes the highlight of an international river trip is the journey to the river.
3. What is your most favorite rafting trip to do?
Abroad, it is definitely the Rio Futaleufu in Chile. The combination of being in Patagonia, the beauty of the river and the HUGE whitewater is hard to beat.
Here in the U.S. it is the California Salmon right here in Northern California. It is kind of like a mini Futaleufu. It is an amazing river in a spectacular setting. It is a really special place to me and one of the reasons Momentum is here.
4. You travel in the winter, is that to escape the cold here in Southern Oregon? Where do you usually go and what do you do?
No, I actually like the cold. I grew up skiing. Also, the more snowy and cold the weather is now, the better the spring rafting is! I go to South America a lot… Patagonia and the Fu (Futaleufu). When you run rivers all over the place, you tend to chase the spring and summer because that is when rivers are usually at their best. This year I went to Panama to surf.
5. What is your favorite run in Southern Oregon? Why?
This place is a river runners paradise. So many rivers: It all depends on what you are looking for. The Rogue and a one-day summer trip on the Upper Klamath, is hard to beat for pure fun. But my favorite is probably the Illinois River. It is the classic wilderness journey. Remote, beautiful, amazing rapids – there are not many multi-day wilderness trips anywhere in the U.S. or abroad that can compare. We are lucky to have it so close.
6. What is your funniest moment while running a river?
Hmm…This one is more of an outdoor moment. I was backpacking in Glacier National Park and was sleeping outside of the tent. In the middle of the night I woke up because something was pulling my hair. I was still asleep and disoriented so I jumped up and forward. Unfortunately, I was still in my sleeping bag, so I just fell over again. As I was trying to get up I heard this crazy screaming. I stumbled up and turned around to see this little thing run at me and head-butt me. I fell down again, still tangled in my sleeping bag and wondering what the hell was going on. At this point the person I was backpacking with had woken up and was laughing hysterically. Then I finally realized what was going on. It was a female mountain goat and her baby. They must have been licking the salt out of my hair. When I woke up I freaked them out – baby goats sound crazy when they scream, and the mom was probably trying to protect her kid so she butted me.