June 30, 1975 Oakland Tribune – By Richard Spencer Tribune Staff Writer
RICHMOND — Almost 3,200 miles the Yangtze flows, winding eastward from the Tibetan plateau through the bulk of mainland China before blending with the Huang Hai, the Yellow Sea of the north Pacific Ocean.
It is this river that presents the challenge now for 28-year-old author of “Whitewater Rafting” (Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., 361 Pages).
But closer at hand for William McGinnis, a modern-day “Whitewater Bill,” born and raised in Richmond and a 1965 graduate of Ells High School, are the tropical waters of Rico Grande de Santiago in Jalisco, Mexico.
“Friends report it is a great run through exciting rapids,” said McGinnis, owner of Whitewater Voyages/River Explorations Ltd., whose book will be available as dealer shipments arrive.
McGinnis, who holds a masters degree in English from San Francisco State University, bases his enterprise here but it ranges over rivers in California, Oregon and British Columbia.
“I’ve always been intensely drawn to the outdoors and to water especially, and to writing,” he said, “and it looks like I’m piecing together a career involving both.”
And he will get more of both in short order if the hopes and work of Kathleen Macmillan pan out.
She is a Sinophile, long-time family friend, University of Wisconsin student with co-major in Chinese and philosophy, and “that rare individual who is a true scholar,” he said. She is trying to get McGinnis to the headwaters of a major Chinese river next summer.
“The trip would have a tremendous sense of expedition and adventure in going into a strange culture,” he said. “Just getting your gear to the put-in point would be fantastic.”
McGinnis, who said a rope burn is the worst injury he has seen in 10 years of rafting, is already designing special frames for the rafts that can be transported by air.
“Kathy has been working a long time trying to organize a trip to China, and a rafting trip is so apolitical,” he said, adding a trip to the People’s Republic of China would probably involve a group of 30 to 40 people.
“I just got the word that I should be thinking about next summer,” said the man who has spent the past four years organizing rafting trips and believes “as long as I can continue to write I’ll stay with it.”
Besides, he said, “the possibilities for adventure are dying out, but this is an age of exploration for many rivers. Some are marked unnavigable on maps, but I want to find out how many can be navigated with new methods and equipment.”
“Right now it’s become that,” he answered asked if his is a paying venture, “but there’s a long way to go to compensate me for the time I’ve spent.”
“Whitewater Rafting,” he said, was 2 1/2 years in the compiling, took a year to write, and “is the first thorough guide to rafting to appear.
“There is nothing quite so beautiful as a wilderness river, and rafting is inexpensive and intensely beautiful. It’s a chance to experience a very different way of life. It’s an adventure.
“It looks like I’ll be going up and running the Chilcotin and Thompson,” said McGinnis, referring to two British Columbia rivers, adding he plans to attend the theater in his off-season “instead of crowding in another raft trip.”
But what about November and that trip down the Rio Grande de Santiago, and what if there are no takers?
“Why I’ll just go anyway” said the man who has surged along with the waters of the Colorado, the main and middle forks of the Salmon, the Clearwater, the Rogue and the Eel, with a smile on his face. © 1975 Oakland Tribune