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.

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Stick your feet into the river.

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Or walk on water.

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

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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.

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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.

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 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

 

It’s Hard To Find a Good River Guide These Days

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“It’s hard to find a good guide these days, “is an old saying we like to use when things go wrong out on the big creek.  But, contrary to the old saying, it seems good  river guides are actually quite easy to come by.  All you need check is most any river touring website to learn that most outfitters have only the very best ones working for them.  Apparently, it is much harder to find a bad one or even an average one.  If everyone is already a member of the crème del crème club, then it isn’t likely many will be reduced to the mere riffraff gang.

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Somewhere back in the beginning, everyone has no experience and starts off with a clean slate.  There are many different ways to get experience, but aside from that, there are a lot of rules and regulations to become a bona-fide river guide.  Initially, in Idaho it is required that 3 trips be conducted under supervision of a licensed guide for each river or section you wish to be legal for.  Now that doesn’t make a real guide, but, along with first aid it does meet the required criteria for becoming a documented one.

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Many hoops come with the territory to help gain official job status as a guide and access to experience is highly varied.  There are numerous books, whitewater schools, or private boaters with enough trips they decide to transmute over to guide status.  But teaching good relationships and developing healthy people skills is a bit trickier and time-consuming.

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A common malady in this profession is that  once  some potential guides develop the proper river skills to run a successful trip, or like  what happens to some of the  more experienced people whom have already guided for a few years,  sometimes egos morph over into self-absorbed show-boating.  Unfortunately, grandiosity is like a disease that makes everyone sick.

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Perhaps susceptibility to this big headed-ness is partially due to the “spotlight effect.”  Commanding attention is an attribute that comes with the guiding territory, as escorting people through the wilds requires such for good leadership. This aspect  can sometimes transgress into behavior for some, similar to a performer being on stage. There is a subtle temptation of always trying to keep the plate spinning and be the center of attention.   The power of theater and drama sometimes magnifies the scene into something more than it really is.  Place is the important quality people usually sign up for when selecting a river trip.  Movies are where you go to purposely be entertained by actors.
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When the run-away horse of such illusions show up, a smart guide should grab the reins to regain the essence of what guiding really is.  Any guide worth their salt should recognize it isn’t about being the focus of the beam; it is more about spreading out the light for others to see things they might have missed without a little help.  There are many things to read from nature’s manuscript, and those who are more familiar with it are better able to help interpret what it is revealing to those who live more sheltered lives while in pursuit of other things.  Attention is the grail by which we see the message. That is, wherever our attention goes, so go we.

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One thing I observed in my early professional years was that the language used by a lot of guides towards guests was often quite condescending.  Calling people degrading names like dudes, peeps, city slickers, or some sort of business referral like customer or client was always a little  embarrassing for me to hear.  If I went to the city,  and being mostly out of my element and lost, it wouldn’t make my experience any better by being called a hill billy, country bumpkin, or ignorant backwoods okie. To me the word “guest” seems much more appropriate in either case when referring to any kind of visitor. It is much warmer and conveys a more welcoming spirit.

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Helping people have an “ah ha” moment is the compound interest gained in an unusual outdoor adventure experience.  You never know when it might happen, but it helps when a guide is able to facilitate that potential by knowingly putting people in special places that are a rich seedbed for such growth to happen. Wisdom comes from nature, and once guides learn this value they can appreciate the importance of setting up circumstances where guests can be put into the middle of that garden of enlightenment.

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If you could ask Lewis and Clark what value a guide has, you would discover how important their guides were to the success of their mission. For example, on the 1806 return trip in June, Lewis and Clark had great apprehension about crossing the snow-covered mountains without guides. They felt they could not cross without them and luckily were able to persuade Speaking Eagle, Black Eagle, and Ahs-kahp, who were three of the very best Nez Perce guides to lead their way. Of course, these were not their only guides, besides them, and Sacagawea who led them a good part of their distance in uncharted territories.

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These guides were as excited then, as guides of today often get when taking modern people into some of the same rugged and beautiful landscapes of today. The Nez Perce were paid with guns which made their hunting easier, while guides today get paid in money which make their livelihoods possible. Though the more esteemed value to both was deeply felt in the heart and spirit where no material thing can be taken. What is life really about, if not to get out and see what there is to see? Inspiration keeps depression at bay.

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But, in the process of getting out and seeing things we have never seen before, it is only reasonable to find a good guide. It can be a writing guide, or human guide, but in either case it is the information and knowledge they contain that we seek. Sure, anyone can go out on their own without consulting any form of guide for true unadulterated exploration. But, aside from that goal, guides help us save time and offer more opportunities to see wonderful things we might otherwise miss. It takes a large chunk of time to make your own trial and error path trying to learn anything new. The learning curve is greatly reduced by piggy-backing someone else’s consumption of time to figure things out.

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Even guides consult other guides, maps, guidebooks, and any source that might provide additional insights into becoming more intimate to an area. Rather it is new country, or a different perspective in familiar country, one can never learn too much. So while adventure isn’t the map, a map still has the advantage to make the adventure less risky and a time effective endeavor.  Dead end trails eat away time and back tracking efforts might cut a designated time trip, to a shorter length, and possibly to even miss the final planned destination.

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Hidden dangers, and dangers not even suspected to be dangers that are known to guides, but not the uninitiated, can mean the difference between failure and success, or in extreme cases life and death. All through time humans have sought the advice of guides, from soothsayers to YouTube, people continue to seek sources to guide their way forward through the march of time.

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As a river guide, I often find myself in places, such as where the Nez Perce guides of yesteryear once stood in awe of their surroundings. Like a special place in the mountains where Speaking Eagle, Black Eagle, and Ahs-kahp stopped before a rock Caryn built by their ancestors to remind travelers to pause and wonder at the meaning of their world. It is said that the voice of Itsiyiyi,  or spiritual Coyote, would sometimes speak to those who listen:

“Frail Human, standing tall with head near the stars above,
Proud-standing, with feet on the birthing-place of rivers,
Safely have you come thus far through these mountains.
How could you tell which way to go?
Looking up, what do you see? Nothing but sky.
Looking down, deep canyons.
Behind – mountains. To right and to left – mountains.
Looking ahead – mountains. Mountains as far as eyes can see.
You, who are a mere Human! How can you find your way?
Something Greater than you has been your Guide.”

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Gary Lane
www.doryfun.com

 

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

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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

Santa’s Answer

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 iceboat shane dec16, 2013 007

On  Christmas eve, an unexpected gift came to me from high in the sky.  With a bit of serendipity added to the mix, it was a welcomed addition to the prosperity of my spirit.  I was sitting in my hot tub with its panoramic view of  the Salmon River, where I often read and bid farewell to the days last fading light…and then…

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Having just finished a passage in a book by a guy who recorded his three-month long canoe journey down the  Columbia River from top to bottom, where he was describing why he was doing it, I closed the book and looked out to view the sun’s last light on the far hillside. Just then my peripheral vision caught movement that directed my attention to the sky. Looking up I spied a bald eagle, shining brightly in the cobalt blue background of sky with glimmering brown wings and body, separated by a stark white head and tail. Then another one appeared, making two adults circling around my little hot tub world.

Wow, I thought, as I had just finished the solo river traveler’s revelation about seeing various wildlife, and comparing it to how it affected his education. He compared his book learning about nature, to the actual experiential  observational one, and how much profound the real encounter with nature is to the abstract book learning way. And, I couldn’t agree more, as I watched the eagles circle over head. After all, I have learned from seeing them many times before, (mostly on their morning hunts) that by waving my arms it could attract their attention, as does most movements impact wild things that depend on such for food and survival.

Often the lords of the sky-world  would be enticed to circle longer, to check out what my movement was connected to, as they again did tonight. But unlike the dull early morning light I normally watch them in, this light was of the golden variety indicative of a setting sun. They were high enough to catch those last rays and the thermals it aroused,  so were able to use it to advance farther upward.   And as the two adults continued their circling,  a juvenile appeared from downriver and flew up to join them.  The natural drama was spectacular as gorgeous light played on their forms. Did I mention the  contrasting  brown feathers between the glorious white heads and tails?  Ok, that image burned a lasting impression in  the furrowed portions of my brain.

Their concentric circling sometimes over-lapped like rain drops do when they hit flat water and spread out in all directions.  Then the uniform waves get interrupted into chaos emanating out willy-nilly everywhere.  Similarly, my thoughts began to ripple around, too. They drifted into questioning how  it was that events  like this are still possible, knowing that at one time eagles were taking a sharp decline and once an endangered species. Basically, two reasons for being able to observe such wonders:  1) I go outside and open my eyes. 2) eagles have made a comeback due mostly to the courageous action of Rachael Carson. She was the wildlife biologist who wrote Silent Spring and took on the task of challenging the giant pesticide companies using the chemicals (DDT) that were causing the decline of many birds of prey, besides just our iconic national symbol.

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Her efforts rippled outward, just like that “raindrop effect” and made a huge impact as to how things turned out for the eagle. To me, it brought home how important it is to honor our ancestors, as she is now, but her spirit carries on. That dimension of life that we may not see, but now permeates throughout  the natural system.  Like the spirit of Santa Claus and the idea of gifting it represents, it is important to keep the idea of giving back to nature, including our own human nature, in order to pass the torch of compassion forward for co-existence of all life forms.

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”    Norman Maclean

chukar oct 24, 2013 010

 

Salmon With Feathers

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OR coast Sept 1-8, 2013 486

If one was to track down the DNA of a salmon, that is, it’s true signature, they would be astounded by where all it has been and eventually ends up.  It might seem that when a spawning salmon dies, the river bed is where if finally  ends up. Wrong. The salmon becomes food for many organisms once it is dead and is far more reaching than one might first imagine.

Barbs Oregon Coast Sept 2013 005

How so? Well,  dead fish often end up in other places than just  the waters from where they came.  For example:  when a bear eats a dead spawned out salmon, it may drag it into the woods.  So, the carcass of the dead fish itself then becomes food for land organisms that may also eat on it.   Or a bear may  defecate  in the woods, leaving nutrients that plants eat to make berries.  In turn, the berries are eaten by birds.  Interestingly, new genetic studies indicate that feathers of birds can contain some dna chain of the salmon’s signature.

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So a salmon’s signature can be found in many places.  Simplifying natural processes comes with great difficulty when  deciphering ecological tracks and using various tools to measure them by. But now, with the science of genetics, we have yet another tool to help trace movements of fundamental elements that are vital to keep ecological cycles pure and functioning properly. With more sophisticated technologies comes ever more simplified revelations of the elemental. We may use telescopes and microscopes to see beyond the naked eye, but in the end everything is simply just a part of something else.

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