Guide of the Month
Interview by Zeke Callanan
NAME: Liz Caruso.
YEARS GUIDING: 14
COMPANY: North American. I was living down in Connecticut at an engineering job and guiding on the Deerfield on the weekends. I guided down there a lot because North American was really developing business down there and it was only an hour and 45 minutes from where I lived.”
RIVERS GUIDED: the Kennebec, the Dead, the Deerfield, The West River in Vermont, Bull’s Bridge on the Housatonic in CT, and the Penobscot.
OTHER RIVERS PADDLED: “Done the Gauley, the New, and the Youghigheny, Upper Yough, in my Shredder…...Yep, we’ve done the Salmon, Salmon Stream, and Canada Falls.”
BOATS: “I don’t kayak. I never could put enough time into it. My fun boat is my Shredder. One day I’ll be able to get back into it. We own a Shredder, and my husband kayaks. And then all the North American boats. I love our boats. Riken, great rocker, great ride, they sit low, good fun.” (A hopeful, but doubtful chuckle.)
FAMILY: Husband, Greg Caruso works at Northern Outdoors. They have a son Jeremy, 15 months, and, Liz says: “Yep, 19 weeks [pregnant], and I kept it a secret til a couple weeks ago.”
FUTURE RAFT GUIDES? “Absolutely, they have no choice in the matter. He had a life jacket last year and he’s two months With two parents as raft guides, they kind of don’t have a choice.”
SO WHICH COMPANY WILL THEY WORK FOR? “Whoever needs it the most on the day.”
BEST RIVER STORY? “The most fun I’ve had has just been Shredding the Upper Yough and rafting the Salmon. Not knowing what’s coming around the corner, and just paddling with all you had to make sure you do what you had to do. Just being with people you can rely on. The river has its own way and has its own mind and you just have to make sure you’re agreeing with it.
BACKGROUND? “Born in Massachusetts, lived there until I went to college in New York (RPI – BA and MBA), then moved to Connecticut.”
What’s the dumbest thing you’ve seen a new guide do? “”
DUMB GUIDING STORY? “I’ve seen a new guide practically asleep float into Kayak Keeper. The whole boat emptied and people were strewn all over the river.”
ASLEEP? “Even when he was awake, he was asleep.”
WHY MAINE? “Well, I love where I live in Maine. I love this area. A lot of rivers, a lot of ponds. I mean really, you have it all. In the Forks you can go hiking whenever you want, you have the Appalachian Trail, and mountains you can hike on. And these two great rivers which are unlike any other. And streams you can fish on. Winter’s one of my favorite times of year because I go walking or cross-country skiing and I love the quiet and the peace and the snow and the wildlife. To me, I’m living in Vacationland.”
SUMMER VS. WINTER? “The winter tourists are much more self reliant.”
ONE MORE STORY? “Okay, I am looking at [Jeremy] and thinking this whole thing started on Mt. Katahdin. I had asked Greg to guide me on a winter backpacking trip, through Baxter Park. Suzie said he was a guide for that. That’s how we met, that’s how we started dating. And then the very next year we went up and we summitted it in the winter. And he proposed at the summit.”
ADVICE? “I can say, speaking because I’ve come full circle, I’ve been that city girl who is stuck indoors and started guiding on weekends to quitting her job to doing this full time to, you know, being able to guide every weekend whenever I wanted to being so inundated with the administrative issues of having a business to now not being able to guide at all, I just think that guides take for granted…guiding. They take for granted the best part about being out there. This is what it’s all about. Being up here, being in the outdoors. There is really no better place to be than out on the river on a beautiful day. And another word of advice I have is don’t become a mother until you are ready for the most intensely demanding, but rewarding job you’ll ever have. .”
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