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.
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