May 29, 2012

North Fork of the Crooked River - May 29 - Part 4

Waking up to some of Trader Joe's finest instant coffee

We woke up to the sun warming the side of our tent, and rolled out for the last round of coffee. Today the plan was to put on the river from camp and float back to where we had scouted the first day and then hike back up to the car. When I mentioned the only problem with the plan was that the float was too short, Kirk offered to hike up to the car and meet me where the river meets the road, another 5-6 miles down the way. Hell yes! Because he had boated that section of river before (although water levels were much higher then) he knew there were no big obstacles and I was confident that I could navigate that stretch alone.

We've added some goodies so I can strap in a few dry bags (long river trips!)
We put on the river with much heavier boats, because for the first time we had strapped everything to the packrafts. (I will cover our rigging system in another post) Because we were weighted down, we scraped a bit more on the rocky bottom, but our boats are tough little 5 pound boats, and they were no worse for the wear.

At Kirk's departure point, I headed around the next bend exhilarated to be boating alone. Even though the river was mostly class 1 riffles and small class 2 rapids, if at any point I didn't want to run anything, I could just stand up in the river and walk around. Fortunately I didn't need to do that, and following the green tongue and navigating around rocks and branches proved to be a great exercise in learning to read the river. A different language, river running. I am great at hiking cross-country and finding the path of least resistance (often game trails) but reading a river is a different beast. Instead of tensing up and freezing at the site of a horizon line, my little packraft and I could be sure that danger wasn't immanent, and could suss out the line on my own. Very empowering!

We were slightly worried that the river would widen out and become too shallow to packraft, meaning I could be walking that 5-6 miles instead of floating, but the section proved to be smooth and beautiful. I saw a huge bald eagle, many colored birds and some deer on the way. I portaged around a small dam, and soon was at the road, having reached Kirk only 10 minutes after he had arrived from hiking to the car and driving to meet me.
Going solo and stoked

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