Posted by: ramblinrobert | June 28, 2008

Long day on the water

To make our layover camping spot, we had to put in a long second day on the water. After breakfast we broke camp, packed the canoes and headed out. After a couple hours of paddling we took a break at a lovely sandy beach with a nice swimming area. Entertainment was provided by swimmers, jumpers and divers, the latter two taking advantage of a good rock next to a good-sized hole in the water.

But, we had to push on, so soon hit the water again until finding another sandy beach in a little cove, where we had lunch and more entertainment from the jumpers, who were challenged by an even higher rock.

Enid failed to mention a few things to me when she told me about the trip; one was the wind, the other were the rapids. I had envisioned peacefully floating down the river, sprawled in the canoe, watching the hills and trees drift by. I had no such luck. There was a small amount of wind in the mornings, picking up in afternoons to a steady blow. I could have done without the wind. But, I loved the rapids. They provided an opportunity to learn to navigate a loaded canoe through fast moving water without swamping or capsizing. (I’m happy to say we did neither during the trip.) After going into our first rapid on the first day and broadsiding into a rock, I decided it was worth learning some boat handling skills.

This morning Julie added to her instructions from the previous day by reminding everyone that if the boat starts to tip in one direction, especially when it hits a rock, go to the “high side” to shift weight and keep the boat level. This reminder (of what I’d learned on my Owyhee River trip several years ago) proved very helpful in one rapid. Approaching one rapid, Enid and I were between groups of canoes, and I hadn’t seen how the previous boats had navigated it. I took a guess and we went in. Just as we entered, I could see that there were two channels, a small one to the left and the main one to the right, with a large rock (about six feet high and 12 feet across) smack in the middle. Because of the channel on the left, the current didn’t do what I expected and our bow rammed square into the rock. The back end of the canoe then started spinning around to the right and we ended up with our canoe’s right side high on the rock and the roiling water about to swamp our lower left side. I shouted “high side” and Enid and I hugged the boat’s high side as the boat slowly spun around and off the rock. We ended up backing out of the rapid, having taken only a gallon or two of water. This was a close call, but it gave me another reminder: When you don’t know what a rapid looks like and don’t have anyone to guide you through, stop and scout the rapid!

We cruised into camp in plenty of time for everyone to set up camp, relax a bit and to have another leisurely dinner. One of the interesting things to me was to hear people talk about what the river and landscape had been like the previous year. Every year is different, with different spring river flows moving sand and rocks around to create different current channels, different beaches, even different creeks–flowing or not flowing. Fortunately, there was some water flowing down from Basin Creek, providing a nice pool at the base of the waterfall for swimming, and another rock for (you guessed it) jumping.

I took advantage of some slack time to finish a John Lescroarts murder mystery novel I’d been reading, and to start a new non-fiction book on a favorite topic of mine, sustainable economics.

There is one other thing I did a lot of this day. After the first day of paddling, even though it was short, my muscles were stiff. I am horrifically out of shape, and my upper body was getting quite a workout. After this second, long day, my muscles were very stiff and a little bit sore. So, I stretched my arms and shoulders a lot to improve my circulation and speed up the healing.

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