Monday, July 1, 2013

Middle Salmon Part 2

Shannon, tanning her legs, as kayakers, we have white legs!!
 After hiking up a mountain and surfing the crap out of the wave at Marble, I was beat. We slept under the stars that night and I woke up at one point to just see the true beauty of mother nature. The stars were out in a full force and all I could do was be in awe of them. I was so tired, I was only able to keep my eyes open for like 45 seconds but it was amazing. In the morning, Shannon and I heard that it was going to be a pretty easy day so we were happy to sit on the raft and be princessess again. 
River otters
 One of the things about rafting is, you can sleep and still make progress downstream! It was brilliant, we went like 6 miles and we slept the whole way. Along the way we did wake up to see these cute river otters having lunch on the side of the river. It was so cool to see wildlife. 
Campbell's Crew on the Middle Salmon
When we made it to camp that night we heard rumor of some awesome hot springs. It was the Loon hot springs, about a half mile up the creek. Since we had such a hard day of laying on the raft, instead of walking up there before dinner, we spent the afternoon plucking each others eyebrows and painting nails. Yep, I just said that. It was also tequila night for dinner and I definitely could not miss that!
Camp at Loon
 After dinner that night, the "young" crowd all rallied to the hot springs in the dark, using the light of the moon and the lightning storm going on. Luckily, I had the foresight of setting the tent up before we left camp that night... We had a great time at the hot springs, sipping on whiskey, loving on mother nature, and taking periodic dips in the freezing water of Loon Creek. It was a great way to spend a late afternoon with the girls. That night, we awoke to some very loud crashing and then sheets of torrential down pouring. A massive thunderstorm had rolled through, Shannon and I happily just rolled over and fell back to sleep, while listening to many people at camp struggling to put their tents up :-)
The first half of the day started off amazing and we were happy to be back on the river. It was cloudy and had cooled off considerably with the storms coming through. We didn't have very many people in the duckies and even the kayakers were a bit cold. 
My best friend.
When we stopped for lunch, the sun came out, the clouds broke, and we all stripped down to our bathing suits. I took off my drysuit and was running around in just a bikini top and some underwear for a while! 
A normal outfit for me
 Everyone was hoping this wasn't a "sucker hole" but no one wanted to talk about it. After lunch, I tied my boat up and got back in the raft with Tessa and Rachel for more "princes boating". That lasted for about four minutes when I noticed some very dark looming clouds ahead and I promptly found my drysuit to put on. 
Rafting in a hail storm, in June??!!!
 Literally 3 seconds after zipping my trusty drysuit all the way, we looked downstream to see a wall of water coming towards us. We thought it was water, really it was hail, and coming down hard! The wind picked up very quickly and suddenly we found ourselves hunkering in the middle of the river for warmth. It was pretty miserable, the only consolation was that I knew it would end at some point. 
Not a pretty sight
 This deluge of rain/hail made all of us pretty cold for the rest of the day. We got to camp at a reasonable time but we were all pretty beat from the cold weather. Shannon and I crashed out on our paco pads without even letting them blow up! We woke up to dinner being made and a whiskey tasting was going on, we can't miss that. We also got to witness home made tiramasu being made with some very nice chocolate and whiskey.

Waterfall in the gorge
At lunch time the next day we were able to stop at this amazing, sacred, place. It is a round "bowl" with water flowing out of the top of it, that comes from the bottom of a tree, and falls down to where the people are sitting in the picture above. The fall moves with the wind and, once again, it is truly magical to watch mother earth work what she can do.
 We also got to see our first pictographs of the trip in this same place. I can understand why the "Sheepeater" indians wanted to stay here so bad. It is green, lush, easy to hunt long horned sheep from,  there is fresh water, and easy river access. 
Dated up to 8,000 years old
I could have stayed here the rest of the day and been completely content. I also knew what was ahead, the Impassable Canyon. 
Entering the Impassable Canyon
I was paddling my play boat most of the day and I was so exited to surf some massive waves. As the day went on, more water entered into the river. I had been surfing all day long but I was looking forward to the Impassable Canyon the most. 

I'm going to leave it at that for now. I'm sitting next to the Nantahala River, finishing my coffee at Rivers End, about to go train for Worlds in freestyle. Time to go kayaking! Make sure to check back periodically for the last part to my Middle Salmon series. 

Happy kayaking!!