Austin Metheny is a cast member on “The Brigade: Race to the Hudson”. Not only does he have an awesome beard, but he has a drive and determination that definitely motivates the team and keeps them pushing forward, even thru the physical challenges they face. He joins The Revolution this week with a look at the most recent episode to talk about the intense physical nature of this adventure, and how his experience as a whitewater rafting guide helped the team in this leg of the journey and more.
Everything that the team members need, they have to carry on their backs. Throughout the hiking portion it became clear just how much of a challenge it was to carry those packs. Austin says every team member brought their own gear and distributed it on their packs how they saw fit with packs averaging between 65 and 80 pounds. He discusses how his minimalist, get by with what you can approach to packing ended up helping the team by allowing him to take on extra weight for others when they needed help.
One of the pieces of gear they each carried along, that they couldn’t ditch to save weight, were packrafts. These rafts were essential to get through a stretch of water after the hike where they would be traveling through swift currents and some rapids. Austin says he was comfortable with this piece of the journey. As a third-generation whitewater rafting guide with 20 years of experience on the water, he was prepared to travel this stretch and help others who didn’t have as much experience or confidence. Because they are under a deadline to travel 750 miles and get to York Factory in just 28 days, the way they spend every minute of every day is consequential. For every moment of lost time, the team falls behind and has to make it up somewhere else. With that, there isn’t a lot of time to hesitate. The team often has to trust the team members who are experienced in the task at hand, make a plan, and jump right in. However, the whitewater portion caused some hesitation among team members. Matt, another team member with whitewater experience wanted to err on the side of caution and hike along the bank to check out each rapid and assess the safety of each. While his caution and desire to keep the team safe was apparent, it also wasted a lot of time. Austin says that because this is something that he has been doing for so long he has become skilled at reading the water and danger level. If you know what’s underneath the water, you can assess the risk of the rapid, Austin says. As long as there aren’t large rocks or a high risk of foot entrapment if you flip over, he says sometimes the best way to approach the situation is just to run the rapid instead of over analyzing the situation and wasting time. For the most part the stretch of whitewater went relatively well, however Don did fall out of his boat at one point in the main current. Austin says as a guide he always tells people that if they fall out while in the main current not to stand up so they can avoid foot entrapment and being forced under the water by the pressure of the current. Instead it’s best to swim to the eddy or bank and then put your feet down. Don did get beat up by the rocks, Austin says, and ended up with a dry suit full of water. However, he made it through largely unscathed and the team was able to recover his boat for him.
A strong team member both physically and mentally, viewers saw Austin take a step back from the celebration after reaching the cache in the latest episode. He talked about how important it was for the team not to get distracted, but rather to stay focused so they could make it to the other cache sites along the way. At that point Austin said his personal focus wasn’t on himself, but rather the team dynamic, wondering who might break down physically or mentally and wondering how the small injuries people were dealing with would play out over the course of the trip. He talks about how important it was to keep people positive, keep spirits high, move forward and focus on a goal each day and reach it.
As much as “The Brigade” is a physical challenge for the cast members, it’s also a test of their individual ability to be a team player and work toward a common goal, unselfishly. Austin says that good communication was key. Being able to read the team, respect where they were at, know when to push them, and when to back off – all of those were important factors in operating at full capacity as a team. Austin says that he is a pretty patient person in general, so he tried to motivate the team and stay positive, even when he was frustrated at certain points. Going in to “The Brigade” he says that he knew not everyone would have the same skill sets, levels of experience or capabilities. However, after getting through the stretch of water with packrafts he was surprised at how quickly and easily most of the team learned to paddle and how well they adapted. He was encouraged by how coachable his teammates were, knowing that they would listen and do what the more experienced team members told them. Individually, skill sets aside, he says that each and every team member held their own and he talks about his admiration for Don in general.
Be sure to watch “The Brigade: Race to the Hudson” on Outdoor Channel, it will be the best part of your Monday! Catch it every Monday at 8:00 pm ET.
Step out of your comfort zone!