Monday, July 18, 2016

A toe in the water...

Actually, it was a lot more than a toe, and the water was icy.

Before I tell you about my adventure, I have to say that I'm not a good swimmer, I do not like to put my face in the water, and falling into a river scares the dickens out of me.

So why on earth did I agree when Mike suggested I join a bunch of old friends on a whitewater raft trip on the River of No Return? The River of No Return? The very name sent shudders up my spine, even though I knew it meant simply that once a boat had floated downriver, there was no getting it back upriver. Too many rapids, too steep a gradient, too much wilderness. And no roads, not along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, which was where the raft trip was to go. It's wilderness, preserved by governmental mandate.

For eight months after I sent in my deposit, I worked at convincing myself I wasn't totally insane, that I'd survive the trip, and even enjoy it. My son, who'd done a whitewater raft trip down an Oregon river, told me I'd probably never get wet, (He lied.) some of my friends assured me I'd love it, but others told me I was crazy to consider five nights in a tent in the wilderness. Sleeping on the ground, at that. (They were all correct.)

We'd been on the river less than an hour when I got wet the first time. And for the next five days, I was mostly wet from our morning launch until I changed into dry clothes in my tent in the late afternoon. I slathered on sunscreen every couple of hours, and still got browner by the day. I became clever at finding bushes/logs,/trees to hide behind (no, there are no convenient porta-potties in the wilderness). And I had a wonderful time.

There were twenty-three of us, including seven youngsters between ten and fourteen. Everyone was friendly, fun, just plain nice. Our guides (all seven of them) were experienced rivermen, superb cooks, and really nice guys. They took excellent care of us and fed us really, really well. They even pitched and took down our tents for us, which undoubtedly saved a lot of time, as well as making sleeping under a nylon dome in the wilderness a lot less daunting.

We saw wildlife: lots of birds; many, many bugs (some of which bit); a few snakes (Including one rattler); small critters which sometimes looked like chipmunks; Rocky Mountain Goats; and a Black Bear (which wasn't black, but sort of cinnamon colored). We saw small planes skimming the mountaintops, because the only way in to the remaining ranches (grandfathered when the area was declared a wilderness) is by air, but never heard a jet or saw a contrail until we neared the confluence of the Middle Fork with the main Salmon River.

There is no internet access in the wilderness. Nobody could text or email, make phone calls, or even play solitaire (unless he bought a deck of real playing cards, and I never saw any). We spent our evenings conversing, and mostly went to bed early because it gets really dark in the wilderness. And that meant that the night sky was fantastic. We forget, sometimes, how many stars we can see, because our city lights make all but the brightest invisible.

 Here are the best of my photos. Click on each on for a short explanation.

 A final note: my short paranormal Regency romance, Florentine Enchantment, will be released on 12 August. Read a short sample.



Jana Richards said...

Amazing pictures, Jude and I'm glad you came back in one piece. But I still think you must have been slightly crazy!

Mary Thornburg said...

Slightly crazy, yes. But seeing the stars, and all the rest of it, must have been worth it!