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

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.

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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

Gate Keepers of the Nature Deficit Culture

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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(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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

How River Guiding is Like Farming and Ranching

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deer box canyon may 7, 2013 042

If you like certainty in your life, then you won’t like guiding, farming, or ranching.  There are too many variable in all these ways of life to satisfy those who like or need black and white solutions to the trials and errors of any life style.  If you like the stability of knowing what will happen between 8am and 5pm of the common work week, then following a job that is more like a 24/7 proposition won’t be for you.

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All three lifestyles, guiding, farming, and ranching are enmeshed into the framework of nature and all the tribulations of adapting to constantly changing situations and challenges.   But that is also the beauty of not knowing before-hand what each day will bring, as the mystery is always just that. Something unknown waiting to happen, and not knowing for certain can be exciting and never dull.

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Climate, what is expected over the long haul,  and weather, which is what happens daily,  are the two things that are a baseline to lifestyles that are  foundationally tied to mother nature.  Each day counts. Going out in the middle of the night during  a snow storm to tend to a cow having a calf,  watching a hail storm destroy a crop of cherries, or rowing a boat in the middle of a down-pour to get down river are all a part of the bargain in these livelihoods.  Of course, it also includes cute little newborns in the spring sun, the sweet fragrance of a blossoming orchard, or the view of bighorn sheep drinking by the river’s edge as you float down stream.

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Sometimes, droughts control crops, be it animal or plant, and even the amount of water that rolls down the canyon, or not, that determines if a river can be navigated.  Whims of the weather shape behavior on our planet, for  all biological entities. Realities face isn’t always one we wish to kiss or a medicine we wish to taste. But, there isn’t a coin made that has only one side, so flipping it we must and live by the consequences that result.  Chance is always uncertain, while change is always a constant.

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The good, bad, and ugly all play out in  the grand uncertainty of it all.  Of course, the balance weights heavily in the positive aspects of the whole, otherwise, why would anyone wish to live this way? And why else would people who do these things wish to share it with others?  Seeing the smiles and content in the heats of others is reward enough, not counting the immense joy it brings to oneself.  Ears, eyes, and voice evolved for a reason. It wasn’t to be deaf, blind, or silent. All these things came about to share and develop community. Just like it takes all organs to make the body function properly, it takes a collective community to make a social system work well.

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Though I am a river guide, I have also worked in both other professions at some capacity during my years, so can appreciate the commonality between them all.  Though river guiding can be a lot of work, compared to the other two, I think I will stick to river guiding. Given the choice between shoveling cow and horse manure or viewing natural beauty of a river flowing through white-washed rocks from birds of prey, white always wins over brown in my world.

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Gary Lane
www.doryfun.com

Catspaw area Mar 8, 2013 013

 

Romancing A River – Why Not Make the Salmon River Your Valentine for Tomorrow?

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heart rock feb 10, 2013 008

What makes the sensuous Salmon River such a seductress among white water adventurers?  That is a large question for a large river. Perhaps the biggest reason is its curvaceous nature and sensuous excitement that waits mysteriously around each bend. 

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For any who get within range of sight or sound of this splendiferous river, its mighty pull is similar to what it was like when getting too close to the Sirens in Greek mythology.  Once nature’s spell is cast, there is no escape. It will lure you into the middle of the magic where it is hard to tell what is real or an illusion.

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Similar to what love does between people that makes them do wild and crazy things, so too does the Salmon River take you into a world beyond the rational.  Beauty comes in many shades and forms, but its power is all the same, though it can affect people quite differently.  It can take your breath away, or make you breath harder; can freeze you in the headlights like a deer, or make you dance like a happy footed penguin; make you what to scream and shout, or steal away into solitude and quiet.

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As in most relationships between two people, it is the physical attraction that first inspires that initial contact between a human and the river. In the case of the Salmon River, it is the deep emerald pools that make you want to jump in over your head, the huge riverside beaches with Hawaiian-like sands that make you want to play footsies with the shore, and grandiose canyon walls that have a labyrinthine stranglehold over your psyche.
LOWER SALMON 5 DAY

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The river makes its own rules and there is always an edge to worry.  Be it floating up to an event horizon at the top of a rapid, or standing at the brink of a  lava wall at the top of the canyon, the closer one gets to the line of demarcation the stronger the thrill.

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The premier attraction of any natural treasure is measured largely by its ensoulment to the heart. Like photographs that can never adequately capture the reality of place, neither can any words do a better job of communicating what feelings are evoked by actually being there.

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You can’t take a picture of or explain precisely what the Great Mystery really is, anymore than you can understand all the threads that weave it all together.  But you can feel and sense the mystery of it all when you immerse yourself in any natural wonder.   It is called a natural wonder because of what it makes you do.  Being enriched by nature makes you ponder everything between the far beyond and our place in the universe. Every answer to any of our wonders is most often yet another question. What else would one expect in an infinitely expanding universe?

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As we consider our place in time and space, it seems only fitting that as we humans use Valentines Day to celebrate human love,  we should also be reminded that there is a more fundamental element at work underneath it all. It is our relationship with nature that makes it all possible.

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Nature is the seedbed to everything else that happens in our world, and it is by water that the garden of our very being is nourished and grown.  This spiritual water is delivered by river, as much as blood courses through our veins.  So what better symbol of a valentine to those we love than the sensuous river of romance that flows through the heart and enriches all.

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My wife and I met on the Salmon River and were married on it, too. So it is very special to us. But, we are not the only ones to have been so influenced and seduced by this river. There are many others with similar such stories, and yet the river still lies in wait to continue working its magic spell of the sensuous over the uninitiated.

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Happy Valentines Day from Salmon River.
It doesn’t just occur on Feb 14th, it can happen anytime.

Gary & Barb Lane
www.doryfun.com
800-488-9872
or 208:628-3523 if calling by cell phone

Old Man Winter. Mother Earth. Why Humans Antropormorphize?

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chukar ember jan 6, 2013 kelly ck 077

It is a curious thing we humans do with many aspects of nature. Calling it “her” as if it can be either feminine or masculine to begin with, or giving elements outside ourselves any other attributes that are human like, is ironically only human nature. The fancy word “anthropormorphic” simply stands for the idea that humans attribute human characteristics to things that are not human.

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Mother Earth, Father Sun, Old Man Winter, Grandmother Ocean, Grandfather Time, just to get started on a few such examples.  We give female names to ships and storms, male names to deities and monsters, and animal names to describe weather conditions and various aspects of life situations in general.  March roars in like a lion, but goes out like a lamb; birds of a feather flock together; meaner than a hornets nest; making a mountain out of a molehill; straw that broke the camels back; raining cats and dogs; a crocodile smile; messier than a pigs sty, a fly in the ointment; …and on and on.

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While rafters seek gnarly whitewater runs, surfers pursue gargantuan big wave rides, and mountaineer’s go through hell to reach heavenly peaks, the emotions and aspirations encountered along the way are most often described in anthropomorphic terms.  A hippo of a wave, sliding down the dragons spine, or seeking an eagles view atop the world, all help give animation to our humanly  pursuits. We use these things to enliven our adventures.

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It seems our kind has a natural tendency to humanize everything. Perhaps it stems from some sort of deep-seated need to want to dominate nature.  How we manipulate our environment is prima facia evidence for that observation.

Is it that we cannot think of some other non-human metaphoric analogy?

At minimum, we seem only to better understand things by how they relate to us in our human centered world, by the feelings that are invoked.  To care for something, it must have some ability to care back, otherwise what would be the point?  What value is there if that “other” doesn’t care what we do?  Hopefully that aspect of human nature to give feelings to those things that cannot feel might be an internal mechanism in our DNA for us to not destroy things in the natural world. Our survival as a species depends on taking care of the things that nourish and sustain us. It is all in our own hands.

Protect the Earth

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