Action County: Pat Griffith |

Action County: Pat Griffith

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Larisa Graham

Online Video: Watch a video of Griffith and see her take “the Luisa” on the Upper Colorado River by clicking on the “Web Extra” link to the right.

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Pat Griffith said some might have thought it funny for a 63-year-old woman to go through river guide school, “also known as ‘boot camp,'” she joked.

But Griffith, originally from South Carolina, didn’t let her age stop her. She moved to Colorado to be closer to her family in Denver and pursue her urge for adventure. Her first job as a flight attendant allowed her to see South America, Europe and Australia.

After returning to school to get her Ph.D in computer science, working in the defense industry and IBM in Texas, she choose to retire in Summit County.

“I can identify with John Denver’s song about ‘coming home to the mountains for the first time,'” Griffith said.

Griffith started whitewater rafting two summers ago, when she took a part-time job at Highside Adventure Tours in Frisco to keep herself on the river. She went through the rigorous 18-day raft guide training program with Highside at the age of 63.

“Johnny Cantamessa, the owner of Highside, encouraged me to go through their guide school, even though I was roughly three times the age of most of the trainees. It was a terrific experience, very hard, but the 20-year-olds were a wonderful group of young people,” she said.

Griffith now works part-time at Highside tours and gets out on the river as much as possible in her inflatable kayak.

Griffith enjoys being out on the river and the challenge of maneuvering her boat while reading where the river is going to take her. She now prefers to go out in her duckie, and is planning a six-day private trip along the Main Salmon River in Idaho with 22 other people.

“I enjoy the companionship that develops when a group of people spend maybe a week totally dependent on each other in a wilderness experience,” Griffith said.

Griffith also enjoys skiing, hiking and spending as much time as she can with her 3-year-old granddaughter in Denver, who she has named her boat after: “The Luisa”.

“One should simply never stop seeking out new challenges in life,” she added.

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