The River’s Spell

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RYANS SON

Have you ever wondered why some kids, or the kid in us, is so drawn to the power of water that we are compelled to cast a stone into the middle of all that attraction? It is rarely just simple enough to only look at such an attraction. The magnetism is so strong that it compels us to want to be connected to it. The arch of the stone we toss is our tie to that body of water, like some invisible strand that a spider cast from the webs middle to pull us into its center.

It is like some Shaman putting us into a spell-binding state that our behavior is transfixed into that realm of some other worldly place, where we are so willingly sucked in. Tricked by such natural magic we often can’t resist tossing yet another, and another stone to see it splash again and again. When the stone hits the surface it ripples everywhere, including back to ourselves again, completing the circle and tightening the noose of our bond to it.

We can’t help ourselves, we do it almost without thinking. Water. It tricks us and takes us in to its enchanting power. Being thusly connected, we spin with the enchantress and enjoy every turn of the dance. At least until midnight, when the clock strikes 12 and we return to our thoughts and are grounded to earth again.

Maybe it is just that Spring is in the air and we feel its influence, like do all the other critters that are so possessed by the same juices this time of year. Perhaps it is a pent-up yearning to connect to innate feelings with the outside world and compels our deeper wishes to create behavior yet unleashed.

Like the toss of each stone, it is a force too powerful to resist. Better to just go with it. Create. That is what life is all about, an ever-moving connection of self to nature.

Gary Lane
Wapiti River Guides
208: 628-3523
http://www.doryfun.com
https://www.facebook.com/Riverdoryfun

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Vulture Medicine and the Efficacy of Valentines

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(sketch by Hurricane Bob)

“Grandfather, does the world really revolve all around me?”

Such was a question asked by a third generation grandson vulture sitting next to his wiser grandfather vulture on a cliff-side arena where they were watching potential carnage between a predator and prey show far below. “Well, yes it does, just like it does for everyone else,” grandfather vulture answered.

“But let me explain a little more,” continued Grandfather.

“To the prey you see below, his world indeed puts him in the center of survival. Nothing else matters, because if he does not reach deep inside to use every ounce of himself to escape, death will result and his world will be over.”

“In the larger scheme of things, it takes more than one animal to make a community, and it is the community that really matters because nature requires all its parts to function properly. If the earth was flat and extended into infinity, then perhaps needed resources required for life would always be possible simply by always being able to cross some far horizon to obtain it.  But the earth is round, so everything in nature works in roundness, like the way we use our wings to climb higher on the thermals. Circles are where all earth wisdom resides. Life and death is the only constant in a circle. Give and take is the process of how all things can continue to change and flow forward.”

“Light and dark exist because the earth spins in a circle as it goes around the sun, in an even larger circle. But dark doesn’t mean everything stops or doesn’t work anymore. Some animals have adjusted their patterns of living in the dark and so sleep in the light. While others make their living during the light and so sleep in the dark.”

“We vultures live by feeding off of death, as do all other animals. We just do it a little more directly. But other animals like the humans are often drawn to death just the same. Like us, they sometime gather on the banks of a river where the rapids are the most difficult, because if any boat carnage is to occur, that is the most likely place it will happen.”

“Why do they do that? What drives those disaster chasers?” asked grandson vulture.

Grandfather continued: “That curious behavior  may not have just one answer. Sometimes it is because they can temporarily escape their own problems by looking at someone else’s. Sometimes it is to relieve boredom. When nothing much different happens over and over again, it only breeds for the dullness of “sameness.” But that is uneventful and depressing. Watching things where potential for something exciting to happen brings thrilling anticipation to the blood. Wanting to know what comes next is what keeps your feathers ready for flight. And flying is doing, and that is what life is all about.”

“But, those with more wisdom conjugate at the edge of any potential carnage area to broaden their learning. By observing the mistakes of others, they can learn what not to do, so they do not repeat the same behavior. They wish to fly longer, so pay close attention to what things they can do to prolong their flight. The vultures that fly with the wings of science tell us two vultures can’t fly the exact same space at the exact same time. But those whom inevitably will try, only crash.”

“So grandson, you must always pay attention to your own flight to keep your wings working, but not forget that all other vultures have the same mission and worldview. Not paying attention to the flight of others might cause you to touch wingtip to wingtip and that could bend your feathers to cause your own crash.”

“If only your flight mattered, and you were the center of the world, all other vultures would avoid you, and that would be boring. An open heart with care for others, is what really makes all flight for all vultures more exciting and meaningful. It is what makes the world go round.”

chukar hunt jan 28, 2015 sugar 067

Happy Valentines

Barb and Gary

http://www.doryfun.com

GARY BARB HOLLY

 

 

Eagle Medicine

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blackhawk mar 12, 2014 riggins rainbow 3-14, 2014 044

Back through the mists of time, said Grandfather Eagle, to the little eaglet’s  of a second generation, all things in nature were in step with one another. But after a time, one of the life forms drove hard to get  ahead of all the others  and became what is known as human beings.   Unfortunately, the more distance they put between themselves and other organisms, their own intelligence was warped into a world where they thought they had control over everything they touched. So busy were they “being” they forgot to look anywhere except straight ahead.  Their self-absorption formed an arrogance that became a battleground where many fights became common as various beings forked into different cultures, each  believing they had the better answers to anything and everything than any of the others.

Ember Manning Br Jan 6, 2013 004

Though the stars traced circles in the night skies far above their heads, right before their eyes, where they could always be seen, they forgot the message twinkling brightly in the heavens.   Ignoring the oracles circling from afar, humans continued their ways following straight lines in their every task. But the way of linear directions cause drastic edges which can create dangerous places to fatally fall over, unlike circular ways, with only curves to create safer passage.

3 R - Aug 23-26, 2013 292july 2014 7590

While humans followed nature and made silver eagles they called jets, they forgot to imitate the same flight path as prescribed by nature. These metal birds flew in straight lines to gain height, while brother and sister eagles circled around to ride thermals ever upwardly.

All things in nature have repeatable patterns and circuitous routes. Man separates himself from nature by getting out of sync with the circular motion, and is why he falls into such depths that turn into self-defeating paths. But  curvature in motion always leads back upon itself, with no routes to fall off of and into terrible results.  Eagles flight is only repetitious in motion as it never leads to a dead-end. It only offers elevation and a different revelation as it spirals progressively higher.

LouAnn & Lowell Lull Aug 24-28_ 2008 Canon 127

So  to end his story to the eaglet’s, Grandfather Eagle spread his wings and showed them the roundness of his feathers that held ample air enough to enable flight.  Then he flapped each wing and jumped into the sky to fly around like the stars that light the darkness when the earth spins the spinning sun out of view.  This became his message, that all it takes to learn how to fly is to follow the examples written by the language of nature.  Truths discovered are simple to grasp, once revealed. But they matter little until they are discovered. Better not to have wings, than to have them and not use them. That is the point of discovery. Fly.

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To fly like eagles:

(figuratively  floating)

Gary Lane
Wapiti River Guides
http://www.doryfun.com

july 2014 8777

Scorpion Medicine

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Scorpion Medicine

scorpion

Once upon a time there lived a tribe of scorpions in the remote wilds of a beautiful canyonland paradise. Each winter the elders would gather up the younger generation and tell stories to help enrich their lives. Many of the  legends had valuable insights about how to live life, and some times symbols and figures were etched into stone to remind people of the future not to forget lessons from the past.

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“Let me tell you about the gifting of Grandfather Scorpion,” said Uncle Scorpion, to the little ones. “Long ago, some strange, giant beings floated down the great river in an unusual craft and landed upon our shores. They then got out and began looking around to find a place to sleep for the night. Your curious Grandfather went out to meet them with a raised stinger, to defend or welcome the unknown giants, depending upon their intentions.”

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“But the giant beings were filled with fear at seeing a scorpion, so squashed Grandfather to his death with one crushing blow,” he continued.

“Thus, Grandfather’s gift to you was to run and hide whenever you see these strange beings approach your home, or at least raise your stinger to defend your presence, if they ever catch you by surprise. These beings have lost their connections to all the other creatures and live in fear of many things they do not fully understand. So always respect your Grandfather and live by the wisdom he has passed on to you,” advised Uncle Scorpion.

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But many moons later, a young girl scorpion and boy scorpion forgot all about the wisdom stories and began gossiping about the crazy decisions other scorpions seemed to be making. So one of the elders, upon hearing them, took them aside for a thinking question: “Do you realize that when your stinger is pointing towards others and after the poison is released, your tail curls back and points at yourself? So, be careful what you say, or it may come back to haunt you. Otherwise, scorpion karma may follow you with some trickery,”he added.

Several days later a boat appeared on the water and the strange beings began to land. The two gossiping scorpions forgot about the wisdom gifts and stood their ground with stingers down, to meet the intruders. These giants looked friendly enough, they thought.

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Unfortunately, the intruders were still afraid of these scorpions with their wicked little stingers and so crushed them to their deaths. Scorpion karma had finally caught up with the two little gossiper’s, whom had ridiculed others and forgot about the ancient wisdom path. So they then became an unfortunate (for them) part of scorpion history to teach other scorpions (the fortunate one’s) to pass on the “stinger” wisdom gift.
What is the stinger gift?

The wisdom gift and medicine of the scorpion stinger is multi-faceted in its efficacy. It teaches that behavior has consequences and ignoring nature’s wisdom leads to a finite path. It can sometimes be  self-deprecating.
True scorpion medicine only works for those who take it and appreciate its potential. It is one of the many ancient wisdom’s that is available through the fractals of nature’s various medicines.

ice jan 1, 2014 018

Our world is made up of fractals, the patterns that ripple throughout all nature. All “others” are connected and share the natural world equally. It is only by self-delusion than man arrogantly believes he is the manipulator and controller of nature. Only by a reverting back to appreciating all things in nature are equal will better tolerance and harmony result amidst all creatures and the environment in which they live. The only reason for “others” to exist is for comparison so each can know itself as separate from. Not greater or lesser than, but different. To lose any one “other” is to diminish diversity.

chukar & steelhead meal, wood cutting Oct 2013 026

The path to wisdom and knowledge is endless. Living in-tune with earth wisdom will lead to an open endless path. False wisdom, is knowing and not doing. Coming to know wisdom and not practice it, ultimately is not wisdom.

Once stung by anything, it slows us down enough to re-evaluate our own pulse amidst the many. Shifting consciousness will facilitate different directions and results. If we run too fast across the landscape we will be out of tune with it. To help the planet and all life forms, we must first help our self. We are only a self in relationship to others. Harmony comes when all “others” are in tune with each other, and thus able to make true music compatible with the earth upon which all feet dance.

july 2014 23276

Unplug. Reconnect to Source.
Follow Flow
.

For more family harmony, tune-in to the river with:

Gary Lane’s Wapiti River Guides
http://www.doryfun.com
208:628-3523

Gate Keepers of the Nature Deficit Culture

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034

Is Facebook, twitter, a computer, or a cell phone the barrier between you and the outside world?  Are sophisticated technological contraptions your gatekeepers? You know, the obstacles that stand guard at the portals to reality?

Mind numbing fixations by advanced technology leads to nature deficit disorder. But nature is the foundation to our home in the universe.  If we don’t take care of it, we will lose it.

Computer screen oriented technologies is not the same as natural tool oriented technologies. One is a simulation that takes place only in the mind, the other is a real world experience that engages the mind with physical activity. Knowing without doing, only leads to stagnation of human health and degradation of the soul.

deer box canyon may 7, 2013 042

What is your gatekeeper?  Most folks forget or do not  realize they even have one. Often they are ghost-like and merely a step beyond perceptible.  But, bringing them to your awareness is the first step in getting control,  or at least managing them, so that all your time is not absorbed into unreal worlds of data streams.

 

school marm peak dec 17, 2014 293

Doing and being is real world living. This is quite different from fantasy, where illusions and delusions fill our mind and take us to an unreal world. Often this is where our machines take us. We begin to live our world through screens and devises where the dance becomes one between the human mind and data of the machine. It is a trap we get caught in where we live in a world of imagination, and forget about stepping out of the distraction to walk on the real ground. Only on terra firma can we feel the earth beneath our feet and kick up dust.

school marm peak dec 17, 2014 345

Living a personal dream is dancing the dance.  It is a laying-down of our own tracks upon the soil. Action is the catalyst to change one event into another, beyond which they become experiences that give meaning to our lives.  Participating in the here and now to engage raw nature builds personal history. History is where our memories go to make sense of the future, or should, if we wish to employ the gift of wisdom to lead the way. Otherwise the bad things we experience and wish to avoid will inevitably get repeated again.

school marm peak dec 17, 2014 267

(How you jump-start your kid matters)

Real world activities lead to compassion, while living only in the mind on computer world experiences leads to separation from nature.  Our human nature is nurtured by real world nature.  To care for something, one must have compassion.  True feelings come from the act of feeling. Emotion and feeling come from real world touching, not thinking about them.  The image staring back at you in the mirror is not you. When you touch that finger in the mirror, you feel only your own finger, not that of the image of it.  All life experiences are the same.

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Passion and compassion ride either side of the dragon’s back.  One stimulates the self while  the other creates empathy for others. Bottomline: transform the data stream into a river stream and ride the ride.

aug 25-27, 2014 treacy 3 day 011

Stick your feet into the river.

aug 8-9, 2014 004

Or walk on water.

Why Are They Called Life Jackets?

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swirly water june 15, 2014 015

It would seem like the answer to this question is quite obvious, but apparently there are a lot of people who fail to understand the gravity of what it means to wear them or not.  As prima facie evidence for such, two recent drownings on the Salmon River near Riggins, on separate days (June 8 and June 10) bare this point out. In both cases, neither victim was wearing a life jacket.  The flows and water temps for those respective dates were – June 8 –  9am: 43400 noon: 43100 4pm: 42500 (11.5c=53f) and June 10– 9am: 41200  noon: 41100 4pm: 40400 (12.3c=54f).

swirly water june 15, 2014 018

While I suspect alcohol may have contributed to the poor decision not to wear a life jacket, I don’t know that for sure. In either case, it was a costly decision for each person involved.  When this kind of news gets out, it sometimes scares people away from the river or running it when flows are high.  In reality, it high lights the fact that wearing life jackets is a crucial decision, that too many people ignore.

swirly water june 15, 2014 031

I don’t know all the details to each accident, but heard that the first one occurred at Black Rock rapid, when one person fell into the water without a jacket on and lost contact with the raft.  But, what I do know for sure is that the hydraulics on the wall at the foot of the rapid are tremendously turbulent and powerful.  It reminds me of a huge coffee pot with boils and giant whirlpools, and even in a lifejacket would be a nervy swim. But, without one, a fatal consequence.

swirly water june 15, 2014 035

The day before, I was in my dory boat and a violent eddy line grabbed my boat and pulled us into a whirlpool. The stern was sucked down with-in two inches of the gunnels (hand-rails) on both sides (on a boat with 28inch sides at the stern end) before spitting us out back into the main current.  Often the chaos water is as challenging as the big waves and dynamics of the rapids themselves. All parts of the river become plenty of good reason for keeping alert and paying attention.

Dodge - Ruby

The second drowning I know a little more about, due to the fact, that my party was the one who rescued the body and performed CPR, but too late to bring the person back to life. The other person is still missing from the first drowning, but at least this second incident will offer some sense (sad as is it is) of closure to the family in at least not knowing where their loved one ended up. Closure is a relative term, as no one ever really gets over losing someone dear to them.

This person did not have a life jacket on, nor did any in their party of four guys, whom all tipped over in Lake Creek Rapid (at least is what the paper said) as opposed to Ruby Rapids which normally flips more boats, and apparently they luckily made it through right side up.  Correction (just learned it was indeed Ruby Rapid where they tipped, and that now makes more sense). Three in the party were able to keep a hold of the raft, while the one who drowned didn’t. Also, when he was found by the gal running a safety cat for my group and dragged to shore by a jetboat she flagged down for help in the process, he was in his underwear,  tee shirt and tennis shoes only. The river hydraulics had pulled his pants off his body.  With no wetsuit, his body was turning blue in places from the cold water and is precisely why we always where wetsuits in high water, even if it is over 90 degrees in air temps.

swirly water june 15, 2014 059

It is also why we cinch life jackets on all our guests good and snug, sometimes to a little dis-pleasure to some, thinking they are too tight. But, better that than getting sucked off your body, which can happen if not secured properly.  High water trips are not for the timid, but plenty reasonable for those who like adrenalin and are properly equipped and prepared. So as intimidating as it is to hear about, or actually see the aftermath  of what poor decisions leave in their wake, it is no reason to not go boating.  Nature plays by harsh rules, but by paying attention to those rules with proper respect, your chances of having a safe, fun trip, are far higher when engaged in any adventure that comes with some degree of risk.

Another aspect to how people sometimes find themselves in trouble with the river is due to perception. Often, as an observer on the land watching the many guides and experienced river people running the river and making it look easy, can be quite misleading to them.  More than once I have salvaged a sunken drift boat that did not have enough floatation in them, or inexperienced  oarsman to negotiate simple water that experienced people have little problem with. Or helped rescue people who jumped on the river in their own gear but over their head in expertise and found themselves without a boat and in a precarious situation.

This is part of the reason I offer driftboat lessons for those whom have their own boat and want to improve their skill level, or wish to get a boat and learn how to read water and maneuver their boat through troubled current.  Using a mentoring service is a good way to improve on one’s learning curve.  It takes a lot of time to learn about the nuances of fluid hydrology and how to apply small tricks that make the big differenced in keeping a boat right side up and good stories as a conclusion to your trip.

As a commercial outfitter, we often get people who tell us they were thinking of doing a river trip, but in seeing the rapids from the highway, they thought they were too small and would not be much fun. When we convince these folks not to be deceived by the sense of scale (big rivers and canyons have a tendency to dwarf reality) and that they will enjoy it, (and if  we actually get them on the water), they will invariably ask: “is this the same river we saw from the highway?”  We have to bite our tongues and not make them feel like this is a stupid question, but common sense isn’t that common.

While we in the outfitting community would like to avoid bad publicity in the media and say it is perfectly safe to run the river when it is high, or at any other time, that would be a farcical claim.  In nature, nothing is free or without risk.  To us ecologist types who appreciate the reality of evolution, we call the consequences of choice and behavior  in the wilds, “natural selection.” That is how the real world works.

The moral of the story: there is no such thing as a risk free river trip, anymore than you can walk across the street without getting run over by a car 100% of the time.  Bottomline: pay attention. It increases your odds. But, don’t stay home. Two old saying I  I always liked are:  “those who do not do things because of their fear of dying, never  really live,” and “man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

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Gary Lane
Wapiti River Guides
http://www.doryfun.com
208:628-3523  (if calling us by cell)
or

800-488-9872

 

 

 

What Does The Devils Slide Have in Common With Colt 45?

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slide1

Nothing. Water and alcohol do not mix, especially when that water is funneling through the second deepest gorge in America where solid cliffs on one side and a rock slide on the other pinch the longest free flowing river within one state down to a narrow chute maybe 50 yds wide. You could shout at someone on the other side of the river and hear them quite easily, that is,  if it were not for the thunderous roar of the monster rapid created by this splendid geomorphology called The Devils Slide.

The Devils Slide is  only a nemesis of a rapid in high water on the Lower Salmon River, but disappears entirely in low flows. (less than 4,000   cfs) While some may need the liquid courage of one can after another of Colt 45 beer to muster up enough steam to run the fearsome rapid when it becomes fearsome, it in no way helps keep a raft right side up.  Such was the case in 1978 when I was working for Grand Canyon Dories and we had a commercial trip in high water and found ourselves where we didn’t want to be.  We had  one guest-guide (let’s call him Factor A) the company had hired to run a baggage raft for a three dory boat trip, who thought us dory people were elitist snobs and worried too much about getting our little wooden boats through a rapid he thought looked like just some big fun and no big deal.

He took one quick look at the same rapid we spent considerable time scouting in earnest, went back to his raft and began pounding down Colt 45’s as he waited impatiently for us dainty dory guides to figure out how to get through the whitewater chaos that churned our stomachs and wracked our nerves.

The 13 day trip started from Corn Creek, and was led by Clarence Reese in his dory boat, along with Barry Dow and myself in our dory boats. Normally one of the company guides would row a baggage raft, too, but this time we had to hire an unknown guest guide whom none of us had worked with before.  He was a nice enough guy, but had more of a caviler cowboy attitude at the time, that didn’t quite jive with the finesse fanatics that clean run attitudes in wooden boats require. Like alcholol, water and wood clash, and rowing boats is much preferred over fixing them.

Because of high water, which was hovering around 30000cfs-ish when we started off, we were worried about the Slide if the river came up much. The back-up plan was that the company was going to pull us off the river at Eagle Creek, which is the last place possible that has a bad access road into this remote area, if the flows came up too much. Before our trip a scouting mission of guides only ran some dory boats through the Slide at about 34,000 cfs and barely made it right side up. So, they assured us that if the river went higher than that they would come to our rescue.  But if is was above 30,000 cfs they would send a jetboat for an extra margin of safety for our runs with commercial guests.

Well, we had been keeping track of water levels vehemently, and knew it did nothing but rise. We guessed it was too high for us to run the Slide, so had a great time the night before, knowing we would be pulled out the next day…or s we thought. But, the next morning when we began floating down to our take out, there were no rigs. We waited around, in case they were late, but soon discovered they were not coming and we were committed to a different date with destiny.

All us dory guides were direly worried, but tried not to let it show, as we drifted on downriver. The sky was blue with not a cloud in sight. But as we stopped for lunch at the head of Blue Canyon on a big sand beach, we could see clouds starting to drift in from the west.  None of us guides could eat, as we were so nervous as to our rendezvous with a frenzied rapid, and as we got back into the boats and began drifting  closer dark clouds began creeping in from the west. The current was fast and as we pulled into the small eddy to scout, thunder and lightning clashed adding a bad omen as prelude to what was about to happen.

When we got up on the pile of boulders to see what was in store for us, it soon became apparent this was a serious situation.  It was the first time I had ever looked at a rapid and tried to figure out where the place was to be with an upside down boat. On the far side of the river (east bank) about a third of the river is a back eddy that itself looked like a river doubling back on itself. It contained two giant rolling ocean-like waves that we dubbed “The Things,” that surged upstream into the vortex of the middle where all the “mayhem” converged. Giant diagonals were rolling from each side of the river into a center collision that exploded sporadically high into the air.  Nightmare material.

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On the left side, there were two diagonals, one above the other. The upper one looked small, compared to the lower one, but was big enough itself to stand a dory high on its bow.  The larger one had a soft spot between the largest part of its curl and the vicious vortex in the middle. It looked do-able, but the consequence for error looked awe-fully troubling. Below it was a depressed eddy full of wild swirls, huge boils and bottomless whirlpools. They blended together like a giant mix-master that would be a “Forever Eddy” for any body or boat that got trapped in it. So my plan was to be in the very middle where we would get shot through between all the more dangerous looking stuff on both sides.

The other bad thing that happened was that there was no jetboat back-up. We had people, some women and children who did not want to run the rapid, nor did we want them to.  But we also did not want to run empty boats through.  So Clarence told the group that if there was anyone foolish enough to run this rapid with us, meet on “Fools Rock”, to scout and plan our runs. All this, while Chip pounded 45’s.

I still remember the dead salmon in a tiny pool on top of Fools Rock, where they got trapped when the water dropped.  Even at that, we were still maybe 10 yards higher than river level, so it was hard to imagine what the river looked like when the salmon were getting bashed. But, we were glad that there were enough volunteers to put two passengers in each of our boats for much-needed weight and high-siding. Also, the promised jetboat finally arrived, with company guides whom actually helped all the guests not wanting  to ride, do the class V climb-around over a treacherous maze of boulders, almost as bad as the rapid itself. In fact, a few minor wounds  that resulted when the smoke all eventually cleared happened there.

With jetboat in place, and butterflies in formation, we began the task of getting our flotilla through the troubled water. Barry Dow led off, with Factor A  following in the raft. Barry’s plan was to plow through the soft spot on river left. He had a good entry through the first diagonal and nailed the soft spot. But the soft spot wasn’t that soft. As his bow went skyward, he went stern ward with an oar in each hand as he left the seat and landed backwards all sprawled out. But the boat made it over  the top, then slammed down the back side, caught an ugly eddy boil and did a 360 degree spin faster than the blink of an eye (or so it seemed). The bow of his wooden boat missed the solid cliff-side rock by less than a foot, (which would have turned it into mere match-sticks) but he was able to crawl back into the seat and gain enough control to not get sucked back up river into the land of the “Forever Eddy.” Then made it to the first place downstream he could get his boat in to wait for the rest of us.

Factor A  followed Barry, but when he came around the blind corner of our eddy stop and could see the rapid from river level at full strength perspective, he froze like a deer in the headlights. He did manage to square up for the same not-so-soft spot that knocked Barry off kilter, but his raft flipped as fast as Barry’s boat did the 360. Fortunately, he too did not get trapped by Forever Eddy, and the jetboat was there to pick up the pieces.

My turn was next. Clarence would wait, watch my run from Fools Rock and then run sweep. While we normally run two boats at a time, for safety, this time was different. Having only one jetboat to collect us up, meant it would be wiser to run one boat at a time, so we didn’t have people scattered all over the river to make carnage even worse.

Watching other boats run bad stuff first can be good and bad. Good to see where to make corrections, but with better options lacking, it is more like lining up behind the lemmings about to make their last plunge.  Even though Barry made it through right side up, it was all so Russian-roulette and iffy looking , that I opted for the middle route. But,  when I round the corner to see the spectacle at real scale, that soft spot looked good.  I thought about taking that line, and in 20-20 hind-sight, that hesitation on my pre-determined line may have been my crucial mistake.

My original plan was to hit the vortex precisely where both left and right mega-waves slammed into each other, both capable of flipping a dory like a pancake on their own, so that each would hit me at the same time, thus off-setting each other. But, in my moment of hesitation, I was about 3 feet off of where I wanted to be, so my theory didn’t get tested properly. Instead, it was if some one on shore had a plunger connected to dynamite in the vortex and set it off when we arrived. At least that is what it felt like as the right wave exploded and we all went flying through the air as the dory tipped violently upside down.

n fk payette june 17, 2013 067

Luckily one guest had never lost contact with the boat and I felt his leg on my way down to grabbed it to crawl up alongside him, where we both then climbed on to the bottom of the boat, grabbed the other swimmer who made it back to the boat, then threw my stern line to the jetboat that held us in the current, so we could tip the dory right side up and recoup  before entering the next big rapid immediately downstream. Once we were ok, the jetboat went back to wait for Clarence.

He too went for the middle, but had the same result as me, though I don’t remember all the details of his run, because I was in similar shock mode, as was Barry, who I saw sitting on shore shaking his head when I floated on by him to find my own debriefing eddy.  We waited for the jetboat to help pick up all the aftermath of Clarence’s run, then met somewhere downriver in calmer water to reconnect with the walk-around folks and head on down to Cottonwood on Snake River for our last nights  camp and cathartic carnage stories.

As guides, fully responsible for the welfare of commercial guests, we were furious with the management end to having  sent us on this folly expedition when the river rose to such ugliness. They didn’t think a mere thousand or two cfs higher than the exploratory run at 34,000 cfs would be a big deal, at such high flows. But, they were wrong. It is. But that was a long time ago, and is how evolution works trying to figure out when to run or not run a river in question.  Educated guesses work sometimes. Sometimes they don’t.  Other than tippage, fortune rode with us that fateful day on the big water.

The date was July 2, 1978 and The Slide was at 35,200 cubic feet per second. (which is tons of Venturi Effect – or Nozzle Effect).  Since that time, I have run The Slide many more times and have other carnage stories to tell, as do many other people on various other trips that all add up to give this rapid legendary status in the river world. This would include one time when the Slide surfed my dory in the vortex. Notice, I didn’t say I surfed the Slide, because that usually means that was my original plan A intention.

An interesting side note about the Slide is that because it is located in a remote canyon it isn’t something that is run everyday. So, unlike day trips on more accessible stretches of the Salmon River, where all the nuances of various flows are possible to learn by those who spend a lot of time with back to back runs, the Slide isn’t seen as much. Some rapids are worse in higher flows, some lower. Yet sometimes, in-between flows can present weirdness that higher or lower flows miss-out on.

Many outfitters, with different kinds of craft, or private enthusiasts  who like hair-boating, have different cut-off levels that determine when they don’t run the Slide. My personal level, as an outfitter is now 25000cfs.  But there are those who have higher level cut-offs, and when the sun goes down, and if the rapid could speak, it would have much to tell.

But whatever the story, the moral they have in common is: from dory boats to 33 foot pontoons, to triple-rigs, highly beware if you ever have a date with the Devil.

vertical dory run

 PS – The only craft I would ever run The Devils Slide in at flows above 65,000 cfs is an aerial one.

See youtube video of the Devils Slide at 80,000 cfs from the perspective of a Hughs 500 helicopter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ2mI8L4mqU%5B/embed%5D

For a good time:

Gary Lane
Wapiti River Guides
http://www.doryfun.com

 

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