- Dec 12, 2018
This August I returned for another trip down one of my favorite rivers. All together we would have 5 boats 9 people and 1 dog. We were doing an 8 day 7 night trip and arrived at the launch Boundary creek the day before our launch date. We arrived at the ramp and quickly got organized to one side of the ramp as I knew from my years working as a guide on the river, the commercial trips would soon be showing up. We got checked out with the ranger and were allowed to drop our boats. We had a mellow night eating hot dogs and passing out from the long day driving and then rigging. Tomorrow we launch. I woke up and switched some camps around with the ranger in the morning. The list was
All together a fairly mellow game plan with easy to make miles. I did have some folks rowing boats on the trip that were competent boaters but hadn’t yet cut their teeth on a low water middle fork. Speaking of which our launch was around 1.8’, not particularly low but low enough to cause people trouble if you get into the wrong spot. After rigging up a bit we launched and were soon cruising down at a good clip. No major issues and we regrouped at teepee hole for a beer. After that we cruised down through pin ball and I actually made it through. I think I’ve only made it through that rapid clean maybe 4 times out of 30+ low water trips! We arrived at Big Bend, an amazing low water beach that I had only camped at 1 other time and we sipped some whiskey and recounted the days events. After a nice salmon dinner we called it an early night.
We awoke and slammed out a breakfast so that we could hit the water. Today we were to make it to Big Snag. Which turns out is a really nice camp that I had never stayed at.
Early in the morning we came to Trail Flat for a hotspring.
After soaking for a while we made it through sticky ricky and down to The Chutes. The Chutes can be a particularly tough rapid at low water. Most of the group made it fine but the second to last boat didn’t fair so well. They spun a rock upon entry and went sideways over a large rock and basically pinned sideways in the middle of the river. After some rope action from both sides we were able to wiggle them loose and the rest of the day proved uneventful.
Tonight it was Ladies night to cook so the guys took to the boats for games and whiskey.
The next morning we got into the routine that is multi day river trips but added a yoga event before departure. Up first thing in the morning we had Lake Creek rapid and Pistol creek rapid. Lake creek continues to evolve after a large flood event that completely changed the course of the river. The drop was low and rocky and much different than I remember from trips in the past but it was uneventful. Up next Pistol. Pistol had been on my mind for days before the trip. In low water there is an easy sneak down the very shallow right side. But, if that shot isn’t open you have to go left over a large falls that hides a deceptive fang rock that likes to slice boats floors open like a machete. Luckily for us we were just barely able to scrap down the right side. Below the rapid we pulled over and broke out the Gin for the gin pool, swam, fished and ate some lunch. After that we were off to Marble Right camp for the night. The guys did boiled dutch oven chicken and we sat around the fire telling stories well into the night.
We packed up, ate breakfast and launched. A mile or so down to Sunflower hot spring. We get a hot shower today! Sunflower is a hot spring that basically comes off the rocks and is a hot shower at river level.
After soaking for a while we made our way down to Cameron creek to scope out some Petroglyphs and hide in a hole of shade and do some lunch. The temps were very hot today and little did we know would continue to be well over 100 degrees all week. Needless to say we were constantly swimming and cooling off.
Today was a decent mileage day and we pulled into our camp COW for the night around 5:00. We quickly set camp and unloaded. Girls night, meant the guys could chill on the boats and drink beer.
After dinner we loaded up our backpacks with beer, grabbed our headlamps and headed up to Loon creek hot springs. Luckily we had the tub to ourselves and enjoyed an amazing soak.
This morning began just like any other morning but little did we know we would have some entertainment. The Canyons sweep boat came down and waived to us, as he entered Cow creek rapid he seemed to hesitate as to go left or right and ended up in the center stuck on large rocks. Sweep boats are massively loaded craft that steer downstream using gravity with a front and back sweep. They work wonderfully for transporting gear for commercial outfitters, but when they get stuck they can require a great deal of work to get unstuck. In this case we got to watch as the sweep boat spent probably close to an hour trying to get off the rocks. Eventually the rest of their crew came down and realized what was going on and stopped to help the captain. After another 25 minutes they were able to free him and our river show was over. We did a sausage breakfast and noticed that the yellowjackets were swarming, they would continue for the rest of our trip. We launched and made our way through Tappan canyon with some minor scares in Tappan III or Cove Creek rapid. A new rock had blocked the left side shot and you have to now go middle which was interesting to say the least. A couple short river miles down further and we were at Camas creek camp early in the afternoon. We spent all afternoon swimming and basically living in the water as it was well over 100 degrees.
Today we would float past the Flying B ranch and would be able to get ice cream T shirts and pick up ice for our coolers, which was well needed since everyday was so HOT. We did lunch up in the shade on their picnic tables, which was a real nice break from the heat. After the ranch we would enter the Impassable canyon. We only had a short way to go down to our camp at Little Pine and took our time getting there. At camp some of the group set out for the hike, succeeded but ended up coming back in the dark, luckily they had their headlamps and were prepared. We had a big fire and sat around passing around the tequila enjoying the stars.
Today would be an awesome day! So much to do so little time. We were on the water early and made our way down to Elk Bar the largest beach on the river. We stopped to do lunch and play frisbee on the beach. After that we did the hike to Veil falls cave and showered under the waterfall.
Then down to Mist Falls.
At this point it was getting late and we made our way down to Lightning Strike camp.
Tonight was PARTY night, Last night on the river. We had a great steak dinner and mixed up some Jungle juice and proceeded to have an epic dance party on the beach.
Slight hangover, yep last night was party night. We whipped up some breakfast and hit the water for our last day. A quick stop at Parrots Grotto for those that hadn’t seen it. Then we had rapids, lots of rapids, Cliffside, Ouzel, Son of Rubber, Rubber, Hancock, Devils Tooth, House of Rocks and Jump Off.
I was most worried about Devils tooth. It has a tricky entrance with a decent pouroff drop.
But, we all made it safely and before you know it we were going through the last rapid. Jump Off isn’t one I really think about, but I turned around after going through only to see my buddy Mike hit the left side rock sideways with just enough momentum to almost flip him. The boat started to climb the rock, but Mike was quick and jumped up onto the tube and righted the boat.
Wow that would have been something to flip in the last rapid of a 100 mile trip. Technically we still had Cramer creek rapid left, but that’s on the Main salmon and doesn’t really count. Just down stream from Jump Off we pulled over and did lunch at Goat creek, a cool little beach I had always wanted to stop at. After lunch we hit the Main salmon, said goodbye to the crystal clear water of the middle fork and headed to the ramp. Luckily we had purposely taken our time and the ramp was clear once we arrived, allowing for a stress free de-rig. Another trip in the books!