Thursday, July 25, 2013

How We Roll--A Summer Camp/Raft Trip Part II

After waving our last good-bye to the Carter family, we began a scramble to launch our 6 rafts, 1 catamaran and 3 kayaks. We were a small group trying to launch among huge commercial outfits. What a zoo it was!

It took awhile, as always, to begin to appreciate where we were, why we were doing this, and to look forward to the adventures awaiting us in the next few days.

This "River of No Return" is considered the premier river of the Northwest by rafters. Where we launched, the Middle Fork is little more than a creek. The rocky bottom is barely below the rafts, which explains the many hang-ups on rocks we had among our group. I guess we were never technically stuck, since we always managed to get off the rocks, although some delays were longer than others. The other issue became broken oar blades--we had 3 blades break in the first 3 days. That led to anxiety about running out of spare oars. Fortunately, no more broke.

Over the next 100 miles, the river drops 3000 feet, which makes it a white water marvel. Many creeks flow in, increasing the waterflow and depth as you travel downstream.

(As you'll notice in the photos, this river has suffered severe forest fires over the last few years.)

Where the rafts struggled with the bony bottom and the protruding rocks, the kayaker's were in paradise.

Most of us growing up in the area are aware of the Lewis and Clark Expedition traveling along the Salmon River with their interpreter, Sacagawea. But thousands of years before Lewis and Clark,  the area was inhabited by Sheepeaters, as neighboring tribes called them. I believe a person could still survive on the Middle Fork by eating sheep, judging by the many we saw on our trip.

Mike and I have been interested in petroglyphs and pictographs for the past 40 years. We've traveled to some interesting places in the NW in search of this rock art/language. On the Middle Fork, we were treated to some of the most vivid and definite pictographs we've ever seen. In the large photo, the hand is pointing to a man on a horse, making that image not more than 200 or 300 years old.

The scale of this canyon is phenominal. Some of the photos from the river really show the size of the cliffs.

Getting up above to look down emphasized just how deep and narrow the canyon is. 

Before leaving on this raft trip, we questioned whether our granddaughter Angelica was old enough for this trip. Not having been on this river before, we didn't know just how tough the rapids might be. But Angelica is a pretty good swimmer and has been on several other raft trips including the main stem of the Salmon. In the end, she hopped on a raft and away we went.

I really enjoy sharing our love of the natural world with our grandkids, and giving then unusual experiences. On this trip she got to try out paddling a kayak and rowing a catamaran.

The thing you don't want to happen to a child on a raft trip is for them to get hurt or scared. But as rafters say, "you either have flipped or you will flip." Likewise, "you have been a swimmer or will be a swimmer." Well, on the last day, Angelica became a swimmer. After joining the Main Stem of the Salmon, there is just one class four rapid to maneuver before take out and it was a doozy. One of the rowers in a raft ahead of us fell out of his raft--swimmer 1. Then Mike and I went through and we both got drenched but stayed in the raft. As we looked back at the last raft, the one Angelica was on, we saw her fly out of the front of the raft--swimmer 2. She was savvy enough to grab the spare oar on the boat and hang on until my great-nephew could haul her back in the raft.  Once all our rafts had pulled out in an eddy, we saw she was okay so we cheered and whooped up a storm. She had become a swimmer and came up with a smile!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How We Roll--A Summer Camp/Raft Trip Part I

On June 30 we headed out on a 5-day camping trip with our son-in-law, his three children and a fourth grandchild. We were pulling a trailer with all our camp gear plus 3 rafts and equipment for our raft trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Our son-in-law was pulling his pop-up trailer behind his minivan. Our caravan was quite a sight I'm sure--suburbia meets the Blue River hill-billies.

Mike had planned our trip by renting cabins around Oregon on our way to Idaho using So these cabins vary in sizes and upkeep. Most have housed Forest Service folks in the past, and some are on high elevations providing wonderful vistas.

The cabins vary in appearance from "creepy" to "adorable" to quote the granddaughters. Creepy included bugs, spiders, and deserted barns full of various animal turds. Adorable included cottontail bunnies, baby birds in a visible nest, and a great creek to play in.
Adorable (inspite of name--Murderer's Creek)

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We were traveling during perhaps the hottest week of the summer. At the end of a day sitting in a car, to arrive at a new cabin/campsite, when the temperature was 106 degrees, Hannah wasn't the only one who felt like having a fit. But after a good night's sleep and a cool morning, all of us felt refreshed and ready for the next day's adventure.

The great thing about a trip like this is that the grandchildren get a different view of of the world. We covered a lot of territory and saw some of the most rural parts of our state. We saw desert, forest, mountains, lakes and rivers. We saw wildlife: elk, deer, antelope, cottontails, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, and one marmot. I know they will remember this trip for all they saw and did on this vacation including meeting this precious foal in the ghost town of Granite, Oregon.

We crossed the border of Idaho on July 3 and picked up my daughter, Rachel, at the Boise Airport. With another 2 nights of camping, we ended up at Boundary Creek (at nearly 6000 ft. elevation) where we launched on our Middle Fork raft trip, taking 11 year old Angelica with us. The Carter family saw us off, and then after pulling the pop-up trailer up and down the mountains of Oregon and Idaho, went home to trade in the minivan for a 4-wheel drive!

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