Mogul Mike Hunn – Adventures on the Gorge 2020 Raft Guide of the Year
Adventures on the Gorge: How and when did you fall in love with white water rafting?
‘Mogul’ Mike Hunn: My parents took me rafting in 1984, after my freshmen year at college. We did the New River. Had a blast. Water was high, almost un-runnable for the time. 10′ I believe. We were put in a Ranger Bucket Boat. 8 of us plus guide. Boat was overloaded. None of us had any rafting experience, including the guide. Found out later it was his 1st commercial trip. We ate lunch in the boats while the guides scouting Double Z rapid. We ended up running Beury’s Hole and lost only 1. My brother. We were laughing and guide was yelling at us. We didn’t care. My bro was in the water. We were invincible! At the end of the trip, I knew I wanted to do that again. Since then I have not missed a single year on the river.
AOTG: How and when did you become a guide?
Mogul: My sophomore year, the engineering department ran a trip and I jumped on that as soon as I hear about it, and it was the last commercial white water trip that I ever paid money to raft. I then started a whitewater club at school so I could get for free. brought 24 my 1st year running the club in 1986, by 1989, I had it up to 90 people and that spring after the trip, my buddy Rick Drushal and I started driving to WV after work on Friday nights to train on Sat/Sun to be guides. It was more of ride a long’s than training!! No instructions, just sit in back with the 1st or 2nd year guide and get your trips documented. Needed 12 to check out. I wanted to be a guide by July 4th weekend of 1989. Showed up that July 4th weekend to get my 12th run and 2 check out runs in and instead, I got shot gunned checked out. Pam Neff said, you’re here!!!! Get on that bus. You’re checking out today and working tomorrow. I was still in street clothes when I got on bus with no gear. Equipment driver, Roger, gave me gear at put in and I gave Vickie Jones the nail biting ride of her life! You see, I had never guided a rapid yet, never called a command or told a story. When I pushed off the shore in Thurmond and said Forward, that was the first white water command I had ever given. I even told the crew that Vickie was going to be a guest guide at Double Z, because in all my ride-a-long’s, no one had made a clean line through it and I had no idea how to get the boat down successful. Vickie showed me the way and I have never looked back. I might even be on a small list of people who have checked out and never called 1 stroke in Double Z. Thanks Vickie for the trust! You gave me my whitewater wings the day, July 1st, 1989.
AOTG: What is your favorite part about being on the water?
Mogul: All my trouble are put on hold for the day!! The beauty of the canyon if remarkable. The sounds of silence is peaceful and the roar of the water can be breathtaking. Where else can you put on a shoe glued pair of sandals, wet trucks, wrinkled shirt, unshaven, bed head hidden by a ratty old hat and be dressed for success!!! This is the one job that I truly can say that I have always liked getting up and going to. Not many people can say that. The line I use a lot in the boat is…. “A day on the water is better than any day behind a desk!!”
AOTG: What are three reasons people should take a white water rafting trip?
Mogul: 1. Exercise – Many people say they are sore at the end of the day and don’t realize how much work it is.
- Adventure- Time to set the iPhone down and get off social media and look around. No more couch potato. The Canyon is special, no matter what river you are floating. The rapids don’t have to be big to have a blast on the Rio. It is all what you make of it. Time slows down on the water, enjoy and don’t rush it.
- Explore- Many river canyons are only accessible by boat. Once on a creek, you get to see many things that most of the world population will NEVER get to be part of. I always tell people don’t forget to look UP, you can miss a lot a scenery on a river when all you are doing is looking downstream.
AOTG: What makes Adventures on the Gorge different and special?
Mogul: Location and diversity! AOTG has the cream of the crop for a adventure. On a 1000′ rim, beautiful sunsets and a unbelievable list of activities you can be part of, plus a pool, 100’s of cabins, incredible wedding destination, food options and bars. There is something for everyone. Amazing how the industry has changed from a field to camp in, to deluxe camping (on a platform), to cabins with condo like amenities. I have rafted in 20 states and seen many different outposts from a shed, to a trailer, to a parking lot and to a phone number to call to be told where to meet your guides. At the end of the day, everyone splits and goes their own way. AOTG has it all to keep you in one location to enjoy the evening. If you have never been anywhere else to raft, you don’t know how special of a place you are at!!
AOTG: What is your advice to a first time rafter?
Mogul: I have many words of advice. 1 – Research the river you are about to float. You should know if it is a World Class river down to Family Class river. 2 -Know how to swim and don’t just trust your PFD. It is not a controlled environment and things to happen. You raft enough, you will find yourself in the river. 3 – Listen to the safety talk- there is a lot of valuable information given out in just a few minutes. 4 – Relax, have fun and enjoy the moment.
AOTG: What trip do you suggest they take?
Mogul: Choose a river that you feel comfortable with. If you are scared, you will not have a fun time and probably will never go again and we want you to have fun and we want you to come back. So start off with a mild river and build up to a wild river.
AOTG: What is your favorite memory at Adventures on the Gorge?
Mogul: I have many memories over the years, but probably my favorite wherever I have worked is seeing my name on the schedule as being “Requested”. To me that means I did my job and showed that person or group a wonderful time on the river and they want me to take them again. Every guide hears this line, “I will never go down the river without you as the guide”. That make us feel good. Show them a great day on the creek and you will see them again. Then it is more than a Guide-Guest relationship. You build friendships that last a lifetime. I have been to guests weddings, birthdays, concerts, football games (thanks Jack for the Michigan tickets, and it was not a bribe!) to floating other rivers with them, like the Grand Canyon. Some of the ‘Request’ go back over 20 years. And as always….see you on the creek!!