Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 4 on the River–What a Way To Celebrate A Birthday!

Thurs Sept 3rd (Fred’s Birthday!) – We had been a bit restless last night. Fred and I had awakened in the night to a fierce wind blowing and a strong smell of smoke.

I think that I had mentioned in my blogging about our time in Grand Teton National Park over the previous week, that visibility of the Tetons was affected due to fires burning in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Some of the fires that were burning in Idaho were around the Salmon River area. The fires were not directly threatening us, and had not affected any activities along the Middle Fork, but the guides, and all of us were aware of the ongoing fire concerns.

With the smell of smoke, the blowing wind and the background ‘roaring’ of the river, it was easy to let our imaginations conjure up images of wildfire sweeping down upon us. I got up and looked around. No tell- tale glow of orange……no crackling of wood burning…..the guides were all asleep and not looking alarmed. I reassured myself that we were not in imminent danger and went back to sleep.

The next morning, I mentioned my concern to several of the guides (just in case they might want to check a news report?) They seemed a bit amused and noted that the smoke was most probably just more noticeable as the changing weather had settled the smoke lower in the canyon. Besides, they said, if there was a problem, the forest service would send a boat with orders for mandatory evacuation far ahead of any danger. They were right, the smoke cleared as the day progressed. OK – I guess I did get a little carried away.   ; )


Fred started out this morning in the oared raft with me. We had just a short ways to go before we stopped to explore a bit of local lore.


The Mormon Ranch patrol cabin. Built in 1847 and named for 2 Mormon settlers, the Beagle brothers, who homesteaded there. It has since been used as a patrol cabin for the Forest Service.


On our way up the embankment to see the cabin, we spotted this mule deer. She seemed pretty unconcerned about us.


This cabin stood on a much wider patch of land than Daisy Tappan’s cabin did. It looked a lot more possible to picture grazing cattle and making a living in this setting.


Old farm implements, and a few wild flowers graced the place.


After leaving the Mormon ranch, we rafted on a bit, passing the Bernard Camp Landing strip where Sam and Zach with our supply raft had stopped to pick up some fresh supplies that had been flown in. We stopped for lunch shortly after Bernard landing.


After lunch, Fred took another turn with the ducky, having been promised that upcoming Haystack and Bernard Rapids would be a lot of fun!


And they were…..


With rafts and duckies maneuvering around rocks and squeezing through tight spaces.


Unfortunately, the wind had picked back up this afternoon, which had everyone digging in and trying to make headway on the calm stretches of river.


And had those of us who were riding, bundling up against the chill.


Jack Creek Rapids - a series of constricted drops over half a mile – and the final rapids of the day, marked the entrance to ‘Impassable Canyon’, so named because no trail or road exists along this 27 mile stretch. Running these rapids gave a final dousing to all of those in both the duckies and the rafts!


We arrived at Wilson Creek Camp – mile 72.9 – with Fred soaking wet and chilled to the bone. The duckies are a MUCH wetter experience than the rafts!


We quickly put up a tent, and Fred put on some dry clothes. It felt good to be warm and dry and out of the wind.


We enjoyed a delicious dinner, even as you can tell from the pictures, we were all still pretty cold.


We had let everyone know that it was Fred’s birthday, and the guides surprised Fred with a well rehearsed ‘Birthday song’…….


And a candle in his apple crisp. Not a bad way to spend a birthday!

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