• Thomas Delker

Desolation Gray Day 6

Brats for dinner and pancakes for breakfast. We were also a packed quickly and out of camp before 9 am. The early sun has me waking up every morning by 6 am. I make coffee and tea for Crys and myself then start the morning chores. Taking down the shade shelter, scooping ash in to the ash bucket, packing away the fire pan. It has become a ritual that happens quickly now and with the kids helping pack their sleep set and tent we are efficient.

We watch one group of rafts pull out about 10 min before us. We hit the water and start the day.

A few 2s for the first 5 miles which means Crys gets in the kayak. She handles the first few well but then comes one that seems a bit bigger than the others. The guide book mentions a large sleeper at the center of the channel toward the bottom. Crys is out front and doing well running the main tongue but what she can’t see from her low vantage I can see from my high perch - the sleeper is right in front of her! I watch her go up and over and it looks like she is balance on the exit boil line of the recirculating hole for a second. And then the hole reaches out and pulls her back in and flips her. She fights for a bit trying to decide if she wants to try a roll but then the suction of the hydrolic pulls her right out of the boat, popping the skirt. Thankfully she is far downstream of the boil line and she pushes off her boat to get herself out of the washing machine action of the feature. She stills has her paddle and in a moment andrew is there besides her as he saw the action and sprinted to get to her. He can see she is out of danger and tells her to swim to shore and chases after her boat. I collect her with the raft and pull the kayak that Andrew has wrangled with much effort to an eddy. Phew!

The next 20 minutes are spent analyzing the situation and we are all thankful for the relatively easy swim and recovery.

The rest of the morning was uneventful except for one class 3 that was fun; splashy with only a hard pull needed at the bottom to stay off a large boulder that the current pushes in to.

Some hard rowing across the windy flats and we pass the early group and arrive at the campsite we had hoped for at 12.15 - Nefertiti. A nice site with good cottonwoods, a picnic table, a fire ring and a pit toilet - practically civilized! The other group comes in shortly after and takes a second site just down stream.

The afternoon is spent swimming and in hammocks. Right before dinner Crys and I head to the river for a bath. As we lather up we both jump a bit and look at each other with a questioning expression. We go back to washing and Crys let’s out a shout of surprise and a moment later I feel it again too; a fish is nibbling on me! Both of use are laughing and shouting, trying to finish our bath as fast as we can while the fish continue to nip lightly at us. Fun, but also unsettling.

Dinner of white bean soup and brownie in our Dutch oven. Then off to bed for hopefully an early start tomorrow to get off the river, packed and driving the 7.5 hours back home as soon as we can.


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