Text and photos by Trina
Since the days of the Death Wave, things have changed a bit in this neck of the desert. With the fading of the last pockets of melting snow in the high country, the river has mellowed. Dropped a few inches. Chopped its windows. Installed bouncing hydraulics. The river is low and slow.
Favorite beaches have re-emerged, both sandy and muddy, which record the daily meanderings of killdeer, regular deer, raccoons, rodents, great blue herons, mysterious tunneling and squiggling things.
Islands of rock and willow that were lost in the spring runoff are found again.
This evening we ventured out to a favorite spot, a secret island landscaped with smooth, water-and-sand-polished rocks, an island I frequented much more, well, frequently when I had big water dogs who could comfortably and capably swim out on their own while I waded across a thigh-deep channel to the island. Not so with the little beasts. They don't have the power or natural love of water that a big, beefy Chesapeake does. They needed the "briefcase-assist" for the crossing: they were carried like little doggie briefcases by the handles on their lifejackets, sort of swimming, sort of panicking.
Things improved greatly for the dogs once the river crossing was behind us, their lifejackets were tucked into my pack, and we made our way down the island shoreline to discover that what used to be My Secret Island is now My Secret Islands with an "s," cut in two by a newly carved river channel that was too deep and too fast to cross with little dogs, with me on foot, without my packraft. (Next time..!)
We managed to enjoy ourselves even confined to the new, smaller island, romping, sniffing, rooting around in giant tangles of sticks and dead trees, stacking rocks, watching birds, wandering aimlessly, just sitting, watching everything and nothing until the sun set and washed the river and rocks in rust.