Land of Superlatives

Haven Livingston | Smith River, California

In 2010 I lost my job, broke up with my boyfriend, rented out the house we had just bought and followed my mom’s advice. “Do what you love,” landed me on a road trip to explore the rivers of Northern California with a couple of friends. My friend Timon had introduced me to river life on the Tuolumne River a few years before. I was already smitten with floating down rivers, but when we landed at the Smith River I knew there was no turning back.

I stepped on to the veranda at Rock Creek Ranch, a property owned by Smith River Alliance, and said to myself, “I will live here.” A few days later the Alliance offered me a job and I began my explorations of my favorite river in the world.

The water of the Smith is known for its incredibly clear blue and clean quality. To steal the words of a local geologist, ‘it’s a land of superlatives.’ The cleanest water, the biggest salmon, the biggest coast redwoods. Most importantly, almost its entirety is protected by that Wild and Scenic Act.

It is where I learned to whitewater kayak and to this day I repeat my migration back to what feels like my homeland. To me, it is god’s country.

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