May 29, 2012

North Fork of the Crooked River - May 28 - Part 3

Not too shabby!

Packrafting rocks. Yesterday bodes well for the rest of the summer. We are going to be able to hike in and boat some incredible stuff around here that few ever see. Very exciting!
Kirk the playboater finds a wave to surf
It was a warm night and I woke up from our river-side camp and made as much coffee as our limited fuel supply could provide. Read a fair amount - my attention span is much greater when I am out in the wilderness…I always try to bring a book in the backcountry with me; my retention is much better when all there is to do in the world is drink coffee and read.

Kirk finally emerged from the tent and we slowly packed up for our hike upstream. We had to climb almost 1,000 ft to get to a point where we could make some distance around all the deep finger ridges that funnel into the river canyon. We still had to drop into several creek drainages, but the landscape was open and stretched for miles and I was glad to move my legs.

I think there is a river back here!

When we came to Juniper Canyon, it was so deep and cliffed out that our option would have been to hike out and around (probably another hour) or to drop to the river. We decided on the river and emerged on a trickling creek-bed between basalt columns that met the river. We spread out on the rocks for our first class lunch of nann, cheese and meat stick.

The hiking had been much easier with our lighter packs and by the time we had boats inflated and our new rigging system all set up (VERY nice improvement), we were floating on the most gentle, picturesque little river ever. Lots of cliffs meeting the water made for dramatic corners and deep pools that will be excellent for swimming once the temps get warmer. There were no big obstacles aside from scraping bottom in a few shallow spots. Very serene and much easier than climbing up and over all that way. This is the way to go.

We had to portage the Lower Falls, but we put in right below and loved floating in and out of the deep green pools - both sides of the river were columnar basalt, and Kirk was even able to surf a small wave in the river. Bliss. Our camp was right around the corner, so we floated to our tent and our journey for the day was complete. Napping, reading and exploring took up the rest of the day.
Feels good to be alive right about now

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