It's great to be home again. We can wander far and wide but to be home is The Best! You know you love your home when you love to be home. Camping is cool and camping is fun but it's so great to be HOME AGAIN! WHA--WHOOO!
We actually arrived at Home at 3 pm. The derig for both vehicles took 2 hours. Not bad. Then the obligatory trip to WINCO. Then Happy Hour. Now it's a whisker past 7:30 pm and time to check email and post up to El Blog. Not much happening in Ye Ol' Inbox. (PS--Added after completion of this post--gee, it's 8:10!)
We had a splendid trip--one of those "Dear Diary" trips. We got in four days "on the river." We paddled roughly 48 miles on those four days. However, one of those days was a 21-mile day. That one was tough.
We saw way too many bald eagles, ospreys, and six ba-zillion deer. We got to within a paddle's touch of some fawns. Fawns must not hear and see well to let us get that close. Bambi ought to send her fawns to reform school!
We had a few anxious moments, ran some decent whitewater and covered a lot of spectacular country. We logged over 1100 "billable" road miles on this trip, logged four official days of per diem and clocked over 50 official volunteer hours each on behalf of the gubmint. That gives us me 110 hours and Susun 90 hours for a total of at least a combined 200 "recordable" hours on this project. That's impressive, actually.
We learned how to "wrassle" a Trimble June SB down to "river level" and make it tap dance. It was frustrating at times but we prevailed. We dealt with the typical variety of bureaucratic ICO's (Issues, Challenges and Opportunities) and we prevailed on those, too.
We had a totally great camp set up. One night, Susun said, "I prefer this over a motel room." That's a very High Compliment. I was humbled. We did some awesome cooking, had some wonderful Happy Hours and enjoyed some great stuff. We had superb neighbors and never had to go to the store ONCE during the entire trip. We didn't spend a danged dime on anything from when we left Idaho Falls until we left the Salmon River! Somehow, I figgered how to keep us "iced up" for days with fresh Happy Hour ice and cooler ice and all of that. It was something I've never before accomplished. It worked.
The Salmon River is a majestic place--far more majestic than either of us ever knew or imagined before. We thought we knew the Salmon. NOT! The Salmon is a powerful place, too, filled with Deja Vu and karma, too. Who knew is was as complete as it is? No one ever told us. No one prepared us. Not ever our bosses. We feel as if we have been turned loose in a wanderland where we can wonder and wander forever and never see, feel or experience the same things twice. How can we possible describe that? Well, we can't.
We don't intend to. We will simply document the various "waypoints" of river life and make some laconic comments and move on. Meriwether Lewis had such a phrase in his journals of the 1803-1806 Lewis & Clark Expedition. He simply said, "We proceeded on."
That's what we did this week--we proceeded on. It was a bumpy ride at times and filled with magical moments at other times.
One of the great things that happened is that we both became "one" with our boat. We finally ironed out all the kinks and "got it together." From paddling to food prep to hydration to sun protection to working our way through worn out body parts to "whatever, " we got 'er dun. It was a real inspirational experience for both of us.
During the 21-mile day, my left arm gave out about Mile 16. It was very painful to even take a stroke. Susun didn't miss a beat, she swapped paddles with me and powered us 5 miles to the take out. YOU GO, GIRL!
(I had an out of code thingie of Natrol MSM [expired 07/2007] and I rubbed it all over the left arm and was good to go for another 13 miles the next day!)
I had told Susun time and again my greatest fear on a river is a horizontal line. Yesterday, I got to come face-to-face with my greatest fear. We rounded a bend and, poof, there it was, a classic horizontal line ALL the way across the river. According to my GPS, we were floating at 4.5 mph without taking a paddle stroke. So, we were approaching this line a fast clip. Neither one of us flipped out. I simply told Susun I would turn the boat sideways and scout it with a "read and run" approach. Well, trust me, this bedrock ledge stretched ALL the way across the river! Luckily, I spotted a tiny slot against the far left shoreline at about the last possible second to get there.
What was so sweet was I told Susun what we had to do and how quickly we had to do it and how there was no margin for error and, poof, we both paddled precisely to the slot and squeezed through two "wrap rocks" and it was a piece of cake.
When we were at Dugout Dick's, there are these huge giant rocks in the river. A LOT of them--they are perhaps 20 feet tall and maybe 15-20 feet in diameter, maybe more. They are draped with giant logs and typical river flotsam. At yesterday's level, the left route had this HUGE boil that would push you into a cushion and then into some well-aged strainers. The right run was only accessible by eddy-hopping and then doing some rock dodging and then putting on a mean ferry angle across a squirrely current line only to hope you could navigate between two wrap rocks and then do a 180 turn to miss a boulder bar. Yea, verily, it was a real test of tandem paddle skills!
So, Susun was rightfully concerned about this gig. We scouted the whole thing from river left and she wanted to line the rapid. I simple said, "We can run this." Then I described the run and pointed out the various current lines we had to hit and the various eddies and the various rocks and I told her, "We have the skills to do this together. We can do this. Are you up for it?" And she said "YES!" That was such music to my ears. Frankly, the whole script of moves was very complicated and you couldn't really miss one move and hope to make the next move--they all had to be successfully completed in sequence in order to work correctly.
I can't remember precisely how many moves were in the sequence but I am thinking it was a 10 Step gig. we pretty much had to make 10 VERY successful moves all in the proper sequence to get through the rapid without wrapping The Lynx on one of numerous very capable Wrap Rocks.
Much to my joy, Susun was a Gem in paddling that rapid. She did precisely what she had to do. Her timing was superb and surgical. She clearly understood the "cause & affect" action of her paddle and she applied her force and power at exactly the right second to help us navigate the dangerous obstacles. I was so happy to see us navigate that rapid together. I told her afterwards that we were within inches of where we needed to be for each of the moves we needed to make. It was totally precise and it wasn't luck. It was because we had both learned how the boat behaves and how each of us needed to behave to get the boat to do what needed to be done. It was sweet!
Thanks, Sweetie, I am Proud of You!
Well, it's time to move along tonight. We will have more tomorrow. CHEERS!
(Added @ 9 pm: So, we're eating a great dinner Susun prepared tonight. At the end of our repast, she says, "That was my favorite river trip of all time! It was joyful, exciting, and wonderful in every way." Bear in mind Susun has done a LOT of river trips, including paddling the Grand Canyon solo in a Riken inflatable. I was quite delighted to hear her say this tonight. Yea, verily, Sweetie, I am PROUD of YOU!)