Tues Sept 1st- As we got ready to load up on the rafts, our guides mentioned that today would be another good day to try out the duckies – not too large of rapids. Fred was good for another morning of duckies and I decided to give it a try, also.
The ducky (inflatable kayak) was wide and very stable. You sit on the bottom (no seat) with legs outstretched. This makes you feel very secure, but it does make it a bit more difficult for a ‘shorty’ like me to get a good stroke with the paddle.
I felt pretty confident as we paddled along, me following Fred. There were two things that you had to worry about while in the duckies - rapids and rocks. While negotiating the rapids, you worried about flipping over or getting pushed up against the rocks. Also, due to the low water levels, you had to worry about getting grounded or stuck on rocks that were just beneath the water. I got stuck in just such a situation.
Coming upon a rapid, my ducky got stuck on a rock ledge and it wouldn’t budge. I ‘scooted’ and wiggled and pried with my paddle, but I was stuck tight, held in place by the swift current. To make matters worse, I was headed down the right channel of the rapid when I should have been going down the left side. Finally, after what seemed like 15 minutes (though it was probably only 5) I stuck one leg out of the ducky and managed to push off the rock. I was free, but headed down the wrong channel where I was sure to get stuck again. I paddled – hard- and finally got going in the right direction.
I enjoyed paddling the ducky all morning, though my skill and grace did not come close to Fred’s. I did learn that the wide inflated sides of the ducky would just bounce off the rocks when I couldn’t manage to go around them, and that it was perfectly OK to go down a rapid backwards when the rocks turned me around. Though to brag just a bit, there were several rapids that I flew though, negotiating them like a pro. : )
After several hours on the river, we stopped at Loon Creek for a hike. About a mile up Loon Creek was a wonderful hot springs.
The hot springs had been banked into a pool where we all eagerly sank down for a soak. While we soaked, we were told how this area had been significant in the Sheep-eater Campaign of 1879.
The Sheep-eater Indians – a sub-group of the Northern Shoshone were accused of ambushing 4 men in Long Valley and killing five Chinese miners in the Middle Fork area. It was the Chinese miners who had built the first hot springs pool where we were soaking. In response to these accusations, the troops at Ft. Boise set out to ‘subdue’ the Indians.These troops descended into the Middle Fork via Loon Creek. Fighting and killing ensued, ending with the surrender of 51 Sheep-eater Indians.
After a nice soak, we hiked back to the beach for lunch. Lunch was always preceded by ‘snacks’ to nibble while the guides were busy setting out lunch.
Then, we would have an assortment of deli meats and cheeses to make a sandwich and fresh lettuce and tomatoes and onions to top it off, followed by a cookie or two for dessert. We would not have to worry about going hungry!
After lunch, we were back on the river, and Fred and I decided to ride rather than to ‘ducky’.
An hour or so downriver, we stopped at Hospital Bar - another hot springs.
This springs was supposedly the site where wounded troops would come to soak in the hot springs and recover. This would be our last hot springs on the Middle Fork, so we enjoyed every minute of our soaking time.
Our campground for this evening was Lower Grouse Creek Camp at mile 56.5. We had a beautiful site for our tent!
After getting set up, we gathered for a short hike to the Tappan Cabin.
Daisy Tappan was a legendary figure in the Salmon River area.
Quoting the writings about Daisy- “Daisy was born in Prineville, Oregon in 1908 but her family moved to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River when she was a young girl. She and her brother spent their childhood years living in what is now the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness near Indian Creek.
Daisy later returned to the Middle Fork area with her husband Fred Tappan to raise their two sons in a small log cabin on what has been known ever since as the Tappan Ranch, at the mouth of Grouse Creek. Together they raised cattle, horses and a few milk cows, and put up hay to feed their stock through the long winters. As if raising hay in such rough country wasn’t daunting enough, Daisy and Fred had to pack the haying equipment into the back country by horses when they set up their home.
In addition to tending to the ranching chores, Daisy grew a big garden with strawberries, watermelons, blackberries, raspberries and muskmelons, as well as corn for her chickens. She canned all of their fruits and vegetables. When she wasn’t growing and preserving food for the family’s subsistence, Daisy looked after her sons and fought off the bears that frequently swam the river to feast on the bounty of her orchard.
After several years of investing their sweat equity to improve the hand-hewn homestead, the Tappans were forced to move from the Middle Fork when their grazing permit was discontinued. From there, they moved on to Yellow Pine, Idaho, where Daisy transported her sons three miles to school each day by dogsled team in the winter, and then mushed six miles out to the nearby landing strip to pick up the day’s mail, before returning to Yellow Pine to deliver the mail and retrieve her sons from school for the sled-ride home.
Daisy loved her animals, especially a good horse. She could handle a pack string of horses or mules better than most. And she could break, train and ride a horse with the best of them. When it came to handling a gun, she was a crack shot. Daisy could out-work, out-shoot and out-ride most men, and she didn’t mind telling them.”
Daisy sounded like quite a woman! and it did not escape my notice that she was just 25 years old when she moved away from the Middle Fork cabin.
The Tappan cabin faced Grouse creek. The cabin was situated between the Middle Fork River and Grouse Creek.
Fred investigates the root cellar and I took an interest in the little chicken coop.
This was the orchard / garden area. There was precious little flat ground, and all of it rocky. It would seem difficult to grow anything or to graze cattle. I really don’t know how they managed……..