Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hike-a-Float Day

Words by Greg
Photos by Greg and Trina

One fine day last weekend we started out with a hike along a cold green river, up the wide canyon through cool air under warm sunshine. Not far, really. Just to where the creek from side canyon spilled warm red water into the flow. We left our little rafts and our paddles there. Then we humans tromped and dogs romped in and out of the red water, following the little creek through its sharp little canyon.

Springtime seems to be rampant in the irrigated urban space where we live. But out in the wilder places, the natural vegetation seems to be somewhat more hesitant to stick its head out -- knowing from experience, perhaps, that April may still bring cold and snow. Or knowing from the dryness of this year, that waiting this one out might provide the best chance of survival.

Still, there were springtime sights to see. Some blossoms. Bright leaves on trees. A few bugs and bees. Shiny red-tinged leaves of poison ivy just emerging.

We followed the red creek and the little canyon through winding turns until we emerged in a broader valley. We walked to where we could see the dark gash of the canyon heading back the way we'd come. There was a high trail that aimed back that way. But a dry trail on an afternoon that had become almost hot. We dropped back into the canyon and wound our way back.

At the big river we inflated our packrafts and prepared to float. First section was our toughest rapid. Big waves against a wall that charged into an undercut rock. All of which we intended to avoid by dodging through a rocky inside line. The dogs and I waited onshore while Trina ran it safely. Then the dogs and Trina waited while I dodged and scraped my way down to them.

Then we all floated onward together, dogs alert atop our packs. We slid through some small rapids and soon -- too soon -- we were back at the trailhead and the truck. We wanted to float more. There was daylight remaining. But not enough to float 10 more miles to where we'd left my bike. We did a quick-load, as in, threw half deflated rafts into the back, then drove downriver a few miles. Re-inflated, we put in above another rapid. Then slid down through a few more as the bright afternoon turned to a grey evening. Then took out at a wide ramp.

I was shy about taking any photos while we were floating -- due to a recent experience wherein my camera flipped into a river. But soon I expect to regain much of my former gallantry-under-foolish-conditions --and some new protective gear for the new camera.

After our float I blasted up the gravel road on my bicycle and retrieved the truck. We cooked our dinner on the tailgate near the quiet ramp as the sun pulled out from under the evening clouds and lit everything in a golden glow. A pleasant finish to our small adventure.

Frog eggs

Red stream meets green river.

Dirty and Doggy.

Zeek, Sprocket and I wait -- some of us less patiently than others -- while Trina runs the day's biggest rapid.

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