Bigfoot of the Owyhee

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When dawn breeds a new day in the Owyhee country, it might be possible to get a glimpse of a desert Bigfoot.  It is known in these parts that there once roamed a legendary giant haunting the ridges and wild remoteness of this isolated  badlands.    Large foot tracks laid down  in many places for a good number of years during the mid 1800’s, give evidence of its presence.  Measured tracks were around 18 inches long and were found in far-ranging areas, often covering over 80 miles in a single night. Depredations against the local settlers and miners  were often a result of encounters with Bigfoot. But not, against the indigenous Indians in the same area.  Why?  Because this Bigfoot of yester-year, was actually an Indian who was almost the size of modern-day bigfoot, as so described by those claiming a hairy encounter with such.

Bigfoots real name was “Oulux” to his Indian friends. They also called him “Nampuh,” which is where the name of Nampa, Idaho, comes from. He stood 6’8″ tall, had a chest girth of 59 ” and weighed around 300 pounds – all muscle and bone.  No fat, as that would work contrary to the almost miraculous feats Bigfoot left in the wake of his travels. For years the whites were terrorized by his presence, with a little help from the repetitively  enlarged fantasies of their own making. Such is the mechanism that many legends are made of.  Filtering out truth from fiction is always a historical challenge.

But, no doubt, Bigfoot was real, and he made an ever lasting place for himself in the mirages  of the Owyhee landscapes.   His ghost might still be seen today, from time to time, by those with larger imaginations. He was also blamed for many murders and attacks on wagon trains along the Oregon Trail.  Some legitimate, some not. But, the rumor mill has always been a way to cast dispersion and unsupportable evidence for many irrational concoctions.  Specially so, in Bigfoots case, as was indicated  by the $1000 price tag on his head.

He also had light skin, and in reality was not a full-blooded Indian. He was part white, part black, and part Cherokee, none of which were of native blood to the area. But based on his mean personality, one might conclude this was a bad gene mix.  Before his Indian  name, he was known as Starr Wilkinson.  As a kid, he was bullied about his size by other kids, which boiled his blood and ignited  enough  anger that he almost killed a few of them. So, more likely it was by poisonous  social norms, than a bad gene inheritance that  rendered his inclination towards the darker side of character that  normally gets revved up by anger.

Later on he had troubles with a woman whom became his girlfriend on a wagon train heading west, when another man stole her away. One thing led to another, and soon he killed the rival ( a white named Hart), by choking,  then threw  him into the Snake River.  But only after having first  been shot by him in the side. Not long after that, near the Boise River, he met a french trapper named Joe Lewis. He had been in party with the Indians of the  Whitman Massacre at Waiilatpu, and still lived with them.  So Bigfoot joined this nefarious band of trouble makers and  continued on with them in their raids and murderous rampages.

Eventually, around 1857, Bigfoot and his blood thirsty companions attacked a wagon train at the confluence of the Boise and  Snake rivers. All of these immigrants were killed, including his girl friend of old, who,  by chance alone was on that wagon train.  Afterwards, many more raids were made over the years,  with Bigfoot having killed so many people, he soon lost count. Thus, spawned his “Dead or Alive” price tag, not to mention a raised level of fear for all who traveled through the Owyhee country.

He continued to amaze the brave souls who pursued him, with his unbelievable abilities to cover so much ground in such a short time. It also gave him a reputation of  being able to outdistance a good horse.  One time, he escaped capture when two of his compatriots were shot beside him, by jumping into the Snake River and swimming to the other side. His camp was found later on, where only the bones of two salmon remained, as Bigfoot had doubled back and re-swam the river again to escape.

Eventually, the consequences of cause and effect caught up to Bigfoot. He was killed in July of 1868, with 16 bullets that was required for such, by a questionable lawman named John Wheeler.  This lawman turned outlaw shortly there after, and has a personal history worthy of another story all its own.

Bigfoot is now gone, but his spirit still rides the scowling winds of the lonely Owyhee landscape. Even shapes of the landscape itself give stone  testimony to a hint of Bigfoots presence.

You might still get a chance to see his ghost. That is, if you are of the mind-set which favors a vivid imagination and is easily swayed by the legends and fanciful lore of times gone by.

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.

Don’t Forget. Now is the time for Owyhee Trips – see previous post: How Alone Do You Want to Be?

For more river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.com

or (more pics)  Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

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Hawaii in Oregon? Some History of the Owyhee River.

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Well, technically, no.  Two things can’t be in more than one place at the same time. Hawaii is an island complex unto itself, so can’t be in Oregon, too.  But, its namesake can, such as described by a most colorful history of the Owyhee River,  essentially  almost  as pretty as the country itself.

It isn’t that the landscape of the river looks like the island paradise, but rather, because of another interesting reason.  Owyhee is a mis-spelling created by Captain Cook, when he first discovered the Hawaiian Islands and wrote the name on the first maps of that area.   It was a documentation of his impression of what the  native tongue sounded like for their vocalized homeland name.

In 1818, Donald McKenzie, of the Northwest Fur company sent three Hawaiian Islanders down the river canyon to explore for beaver furs and potential navigation routes for industry.  Originally, early trapping expeditions to the region was a race between the Americans and the British. The British intended to arrive first and trap out an area so Americans would have no reason to come west. But, in reality  it was a race for dominion, and the Brits didn’t have a leg up on the Americans. Evidence of this is exemplified by the way the American West was won-over,  when doctrines of Manifest Destiny spread-out nationally  from the east coast.

At any rate, the Hawaiian Islanders who pushed downriver, never returned and were never found. So they were presumed to have been killed by local Paiute Indians of the area.  Whatever their fate, it certainly gave a curious name to tie two different paradises together.  Widely different, geologically, but each quite spectacular in their respective ways.

Of course, it wasn’t only furs that brought attention to the Owyhee River region. There was gold fever working its magic spell, too.  Though, as viewed from an indigenous perspective, it may have been seen more as a “Black Magic” nemesis than “White Treasure Hunt.”  But, these aspects are yet another story.

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.
For river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.com
or

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

Don’t Forget. Now is the time for Owyhee Trips – see previous post:
How Alone Do You Want to Be?

How Alone Do You Want To Be?

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It may be true, you will always be lonely, if you don’t like the one you are with, because from the get-go,  that other person is always yourself  So you can’t escape your own skin. However, you can escape your situation, if the need arises, at least temporarily at the minimum.  For those whom are completely at home with themselves, yet get a stomach full of crowds and putting up with other people’s baggage, there is hope. There are places one can go to actually experience what good, healthy, “aloneness” actually feels like.

Why healthy?  When the body is sick, even with whatever medicine is taken, it still requires rest to help make for a good recovery. So when the ills of everyday, rampant living, gets overwhelming, what to do?  Vacation. Vacate. Get out. Far out.   And I know just the place for that. It is where I go that gives me that since of what aborigines must feel when they do their walkabout in the vast out-reaches, where one can almost outrun their shadow.

In the Southeast corner of Oregon is a river called the Owyhee.  It flows through a high desert plateau, that is so remote, even an Aborigine might get lost.  At least the Aborigines, in this case, ancestors to the Paiute people, found refuge here before getting lost in time.  The only thing left that gives  hint to their presence is their etchings in the rocks at various places in the canyon.  It is fun trying to figure out what their messages to the future meant, but real answers have  drifted away with their passing into history.

One of the biggest beauties for me, is the feeling of being absorbed by the canyon, and taken into a world filled with isolation.  Even when making side hikes to the rim of the canyon itself, on top, the mesa plateaus stretch far out into a distance where everything from you to the horizon line is filled with nothing but  raw nature. Not a sign of man, anywhere. Just sage brush, mountain mahogany, and rolling hills where even the far  off wind is lonely.

The mixing smell  of sage, flowering primrose, and arrowleaf balsamroot  on the upper desert floor, is an interesting contrast to the clean crisp aroma of air that is so far away from everything, it might have escaped the pollutions of society. Fresh air filtering through the nostrils is a simple pleasure many people have been away from for so long, they forgot exists.  It just takes the right place, to get the right smell.

 

The Owyhee River, for me, is the right place. It is one of my favorite rivers and escapes.  It’s unreal character is almost like stepping into the Twilight Zone, where another parallel world exists. One where each bend in the river, or step around every corner when hiking the side canyons leads into something exciting. Astonishment is perhaps the better word here. It helps give me that fulfillment of my expectations of what paradise must feel like.

Sometimes I even feel like whistling that famous tune from Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarfs, as the words “Hi ho, hi-ho,  its off to work we go,” roll through my mind as the song leaves my puckered lips.  Mixing my voice with that of the canyon help me feel like being one with the universe. It is like being in the smack  middle of the magic kingdom of my own making, yet is a stark reality, at the same time.

The closest thing I can compare it to for other people who have traveled the world, is the Grand Canyon. It is like floating through a miniature copy of that world heritage site. Yet, it has far less traffic than does one of the worlds most popular  destinations. That is the Owyhee’s saving grace. That, and the fact that this place can only be reached by river during the spring time. The rest of the year, water levels are too low to comfortably float. Unless walk and wade, line/carry your boat, and hardship expedition adventuring is your cup of tea, that is.

Having made over a hundred trips down this river drueing my personal history  of river running, my favorite time here is April and May.  On average, the river is runnable  from early March through the end of May. Though, in extreme snowpack years, the floating can extend into June.

While it is true, other floaters can sometimes be seen, it is not a river that sees congested use like most of the other well-known and popular rivers in North America. Another reason I like it so.  But words can only do so much justice to any thing or any place, so with that, and for now, I will let the pictures work their magic.

Oh. One last thing. If there is anyone out there in the blogosphere reading this post, and is inspired enough to want to make a trip with us this season, now is the time to make reservations.  We expect good run-off (some years there is not enough snowpack for good floating) and will be launching on Saturdays in April and May.  We are not sure about June, as yet??

Give us a call: 800-488-9872

6 days of bliss

Discounts to readers of this post, available

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.

For more river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.com

or
(more pics)  Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

Or for my Chukar Hunting Blog: Chukar Vortex
go to:

chukarama.wordpress.com

Time is a River

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Einstein said: “time is a river.”  It’s a giant river, and we are all swept up by it, he claimed.  It can speed up and slow down. Did you know that time has different rates on our Moon, and on different planets?  It makes me wonder: if I dialed my own cell phone number, then jumped on a rocket to the moon, could I get there fast enough to answer my own call?  Ok, a little out there, granted. But that is the beauty of being able to fantasize.

Many of the questions about time is how Einstein came up with his theory of relativity.  I always like that concept, as it is great metaphor for what happens to people when they go on a river trip.

Time seems to slow down in relationship to the fast paced world they leave behind. LIke entering some magical time machine, stepping out into the wonderful world of rivers, we can travel to larger destinations ro our own fantasy worlds. We have more time to relax and dream. Getting fooled into believing you are living in paradise, is a feeling I often get while floating various rivers. Sure, it may eventually end, bursting my fantasy. But, at least I get to have it for a while, and based on all the smiles on people I have shared such experiences with over the years, I’m not the only one.

An escape can be very medicinal, specially when one can get temporarily lost in the process.  Similar to being marooned on an island perhaps.  With no pressures, you can do anything you want, any time you want to. How freeing is that? It is a wonderful launching pad to lift off your spirit. It is also quite addictive.  Blasting off on another river adventure makes me want only more. It’s like a disease I am glad I have because it works the opposite of most such maladies. It improves my life for the better.  Catch it if you can.

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.
For river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.comor
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

Or for my Chukar Hunting Blog: Chukar Vortex
go to:

chukarama.wordpress.com

Wood Ducks and High Water

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This time of year is always exciting, because the changing state of nature is moving faster and always comes with an element of surprise. You never know when the weather will change drastically enough to cause epic events and create new opportunities for adventure. Snow for skiing, or water for boating, it all depends on snow or snow melt.

My favorite, is when snow turns to water as  sudden storms with warm rains hit the high country.  It is a natural recipe for stewing up some high water discharge rolling down the canyon country, with the right ingredients to invite those with an adventurous spirit to taste.

Conversions of snow to flow fills reservoirs and spills over dams creating electricity for commerce. Yet, that same electricity is part of the rivers spirit that  can be felt when floating a raft down its wild course. It is what I tapped into on my recent rowdy ride down the swollen banks of the Little Salmon River in my back yard.

This little stream, when high enough to raft, is what us river folks refer to as a busy river.  Translation: unlike pool and drop rivers, where one can catch their breath between rapids, fast paced rivers have a constant gradient which spells mostly rapids, and very few eddies to rest in.  The pace is such, and dangers enough , that it takes serious attention to negotiation, and little time to be a casual observer of all the other things that fly by your vision as you get briskly whisked along.

However, sometimes things catch your attention, and it is possible to glimpse things other than a wave in your face, or churning hole off to your side. My recent treat was to flush a wood duck from out of the  stream side  brush as we floated downriver. It was just a duck and suspicion of what kind, at first.  But, I saw where it landed, another 200 yds downstream, so tried to pull a sneak closer, as I approached, to get a better look at it.

Luck was on my side, and as it jumped up and flew downriver again,  it confirmed my first impression. It was indeed a wood duck, and for me, that was cool. Why? Because it was the first time I have seen one here, in over 30 years of running this river. But what does that mean?

Have I been that oblivious of an observer over the years to have missed other wood ducks that may have been around? I doubt it, as I normally pay pretty good attention to my surroundings and always look for identifying features on any of the wildlife I encounter when out roaming through nature.

This duck was a male wood duck, as I was able to see his brightly colored head and indicative hood. Very beautiful, but no time for picture taking, when oars required my hands, not my camera. But neat to see, all the same.

But what did this  wood ducks indicate? An improved landscape that invites the duck to our area,  or a degraded one elsewhere that drove the duck out and in an exploratory mode to find new accommodations?  The answer would only be a guess, that I dare not attempt, with such emptiness of facts. More importantly, for me anyway, was just being able to see it. It is a duck that looks like it stood under the shower of a rainbow to receive its colorful feathers.

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.
For river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.comor
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

Or for my Chukar Hunting Blog: Chukar Vortex
go to:

chukarama.wordpress.com

 

Why is History and Education Important?

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No simple answer.  In my case, the fact that I had parents whom encouraged  my sister and I to experience the outdoor world in the raw, at an early age, is where appreciation for nature first erupted.  The total wonder that captures the imagination of kids at an early age is the same one that ignites our innately human capacity of asking questions about everything around us. Why this, why that?

Engaged with nature outside, up close, personal, and at an early age, is an atmosphere much different from that experienced indoors and in front of a  computer screen.  Like fishing in the ocean and having no idea what might bite, surprises in nature can jump out at you from almost anywhere. And that quest for the unknown, lurking everywhere, is always exciting,

Sure, you can learn about nature watching movies on you tube or other technological media, but only because it comes from someone out on the ground who spent the necessary time required to capture it. But learning intellectually, is not the same thing as experiential learning. One affects the mind, (logic and reason) the other affects the heart.(emotion). Passion is created from emotion, and without it, one cannot become “compassionate” about much of anything.

A world without compassion is one that could suffer harshly in the department of natural stewardship. Passion is like gas, it is the fuel that keeps the engine running. So education, intellectually and emotionally is important. It is the driving mechanism guiding our decisions which affect the planet.

Our decisions create our reality, and build our history. Being human, our decisions can be both good and bad. These choices are revealed in the consequences they lead to, often spelled out in the landscape that by succession soon becomes our new world. If we forget history, and forge onward without it, we are likely to repeat the same mistakes over an over again. If we are to learn from it, we first have to remember it, and if we don’t know about it to begin with, that means research.

I had a poor high school history  teacher, lazy mostly, who was more interested in students memorizing dates, rather than learning about cause and effect, which lead to why things became as they did. Nothing could be more boring. But, when I began floating rivers, and wondering how people lived in the canyons before I arrived, that fueled my fire to learn more.  Now, I love history and have gained a lot of interesting insights as to why things in nature are as they are.

So history and education are important because it is how the world is shaped. Our future is determined by the choices we make today, so we need all the help from history and education that we can get.

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.
For river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.comor
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

Or for my Chukar Hunting Blog: Chukar Vortex
go to:

chukarama.wordpress.com

 

In Nature, Why Is A Question More Exciting Than The Answer?

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Simple Answer: curiosity is the juice of life. Uncertainty and wonderment of the unknown is a carrot for people.  Ever watch a magic show? Who is not bedazzled or befuddled by the more outlandish tricks?  The harder it is to guess how the stunt was performed, the more marvel it creates in the mind.  That “wanting to know” is out there at the end of the cerebral  stick, beckoning to our innate curiosities.

Venturing out into nature is like attending the biggest magic show on earth.  There are so many amazing tricks to explore.  Like wanting to know how the stage magician’s trick is performed, so too is the way nature plays to our senses, igniting deep  desires to learn her mysteries.  The questions inspired by the natural world come from an endless stream that constantly provokes our attention.  How did that bighorn sheep scamper across boulders covered by slippery moss without breaking a leg? Why do fish have eyes, but no eye lids? Do they sleep with their eyes open? Why do cougars  have claws that retract, but wolves do not? Why do bears hibernate  or squirrels estivate?  Why do lady bugs ball-up in pine cones for the winter?

All magic is explainable because there is no real magic at all.  Science has an answer for every trick the magician performs, rather you know the answer or not. But what we think of magic, does not exist in the real world, only our minds. It is what gives rise to our superstitions and myth making.  It seems us humans need to have answers to everything, even if they are wrong. If we can’t find the answer immediately, we make them up. Does this mean it is some innate trait for humans to be so impatient? Even  the fact I am trying to answer that question might be more evidence for the curious side of the human personality.

But, that’s ok, it just adds more spice to life and keeps the inner juices flowing.  If we had no such spark, we might turn into a zombie, forever stumbling around in some form of unconscious walking stupor.  Each day the sun comes up and arches across the sky, turning dark to light like magic. But in reality it is the movement of the earth that enables that illusion of truth to happen, It occurs everyday, and is the same sun each time. Yet, the rays of shine  are always different and so too their effect, be they direct or indirect. Therefore, something new will result, despite the appearance of just another day ahead. Clouds can change the suns dance on the sky. As nature unfolds spontaneously in her  cause and effect ways, a diversity of events will soon be put into a wild drama for those who tune into the show.

Is this a picture of a tree with pet rocks, or rocks with a pet tree trunk?  Nature’s tricks are endless and inspire ever more questions to keep our minds on the wandering, ever wondering. Rather we use telescopes, microscopes, or no scopes at all to view the grandest show on earth, the world is a big stage.

A rabbit may not come out of a hat, but a snowshoe hare will change colors with the season. Brown in summer, white in winter, transformed by natural magic that allows for its survival in a landscape full of predators with tricks of their own.  Not knowing, ever questioning, is part of the real magic of nature. But once we get an answer it is a bit of a let down, so is why the question is much more exciting. It is the kind of uncertainty and luring show that will keep me going back for more. It is free, lasts all day, and happens everyday of the week, all life long.

The real beauty of magic is that it consists of the reality of things we already know, and those things that exist, but that we do not yet know. Man is exploratory by nature, always in pursuit of truth and discovery. Discovery of what?  Anything and everything. Does it really matter? The question is the answer.

Rivers make good medicine with us, we make good medicine with rivers.
For river trip information, please go to our website: www.doryfun.comor
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

Or for my Chukar Hunting Blog: Chukar Vortex
go to:

chukarama.wordpress.com