February 5th, 2017, Austin Creek from Cazadero to Russian River Confluence

February 5, 2017: Austin Creek — Cazadero to Russian River confluence

7 Participants: Alan , Kate , David , Eileen , Patrick , Joan , Chris .

Austin Creek is a stretch of class 1 1/2 water which is completely dependent on rainfall that flows through a forest of Redwood trees and rustic homes along Cazadero Highway. Due to winter storms in the region, it was decided to forego the planned Russian River paddle above Healdsburg. We met at the Old Duncans Mills Grade steel bridge site over Austin Creek on a chilly, overcast Sunday morning. After scouting possible options, a decision was made to take out at Cassini Ranch, largely because it did not require a machete or a trek through poison oak. The small but intrepid group, in three canoes and two kayaks, agreed to launch at the Fire Station in Cazadero and paddle Austin Creek to land at Cassini Ranch, across from the confluence of the Russian River, approximately six river miles. There was plenty of water coming under the bridge – about 1,000 cfs. We launched on Austin Creek at 11:00 a.m. The run was through a magnificent forest of giant Redwood Trees. We encountered islands of brush and some rapids, one which required scouting from shore with a passage on the right-side. The group stopped for lunch at the confluence with the East Fork of Austin Creek. Two more more challenging sections were encountered after the lunch stop requiring maneuvering skill–narrow passages between brush with no scouting from shore required, and also one downed tree which was passed without incident on the right. At one point, Alan’s rain hat abandoned ship, but Eileen Nolan, seeing something floating in the water, recovered it. In a light, drizzling rain, the group reached the confluence at the Russian River, which was swollen to at least 100 yards wide. The brave little band ferried across to Cassini Ranch Beach and reached shore at 2:50 p.m. Upon beginning the ferry to the beach across the Russian River, Dave was overheard saying, “You just did something that very few people have done”.

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Anybody out there?

At the recent POST holiday party it was suggested that we need some kind of manual for potential trip leaders. I have tons of material that I could share but my big problem is that I get terribly bogged down in minutiae. I can publish details on how to brush your teeth on a wilderness canoe trip! What I desperately need is someone who can take all the material I have been writing up over the years and convert it into a short 1-2 page checklist for trip leaders. Maybe with subsets of how to pack and set up the kitchen, or river leader responsibilities, or groover use and maintenance.
I see too many details and no one really needs them all.

Anyone interested?


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Postdated POST

I somehow managed to forget to post Alan L’s trip reports. They went out to the Club on the elist but for more permanent offerings I am now posting them to the website:

POST Labor Day Trip Saturday, Sep 5, 2015 (one day) –
Middle Fork of the American River – Greenwood Bridge to Mammoth Bar (6.6 miles – class 2 – intermediate)
John D(solo KC1);
Vince G(solo KC1);
Fred F(solo K1);
Don J/Karen J (tandem OC);
Alan L/Kate N(tandem OC)
Participants arrived at Raley’s supermarket parking lot at 11:00 a.m. (Auburn, CA) and ran shuttle to Mammoth Bar; and then on to the launch below Greenwood Bridge (site).  Participants met and had lunch at Ruck-a-Chucky campground and waited for the river to come up, which it did at approximately 1:45 p.m. (1,000 cfs from Oxbow Powerhouse Dam upstream).  The group paddled through a beautiful and scenic area, punctuated with numerous mostly unnamed class 2 rapids with large boulders requiring skill in boat handling from all participants (Cherokee Bar)— further downstream the largest standing waves were big, but not big enough to swamp an open canoe (Maine Bar and Poverty Bar)—just very quick and wet.  The last major rapid (Kennebec Bar) over a ledge extending across the river was the only one which was scouted; by three of the participants—Alan, Kate, and Fred; who watched Don/Karen, then Vince, followed by John – all of whom chose an open passage, and passed through without difficulty.  Alan/Kate then followed on down and over the ledge staying to the left of the big boulder at the right side, with Fred F  closing the show by taking the far right chute—a difficult route!  Everyone had fun, and no one was injured, nor was any equipment damaged or lost.  There was much camaraderie throughout the day, and John D, and Vince G made their unique solo canoes available to those who wanted to try padding something different.  After dining at a local restaurant, the group parted ways and all headed on back to the Bay Area/Sacramento.
 Alan and Kate did camp at Folsom Lake (25% capacity, with the remnants of Folsom Lake off in the distance, totally removed from any access points by 100’s of vertical feet now dry, and no boats were out there on Folsom Lake—please hope for much needed ran and soon; and, on Sunday, Alan and Kate hiked to Hawkver Limestone Cave from the Quarry Trail parking access on the Middle Fork of the American River, and then on to the Murderer’s Bar rapid to see what a Class 5 rapid looks like from the shore, the Sunday dam release eventually reached this point around 5:00 p.m.)
Event:    Lower American River – River Bend Park to Watt Avenue
Date: Saturday, June 20, 2015.
Present: (3 solo) John A, John D, Fred F 
              (2 tandem) Alan L/Kate N,     Eric F/Amy S & A (almost 7).
We got onto the water at 11:00 a.m., and upon reaching “Clay Banks”, John A led the way down for all but Kate and I who took a side route into the ponds and just below Clay Banks rapid.  And then Kate and I waded back into the ponds for more exploration, with Eric F, Amy S, A7, and Fred F joining us through the traverse route into the ponds to the main flow at Arden for some moving water excitement.  John A and John D went on to Grist Mill from Clay Banks and waited for us to join them for lunch, before all proceeded to Watt Avenue Bridge, where we disembarked from the American River at 3:30 p.m. Today, I was surprised to see the water level had been increased to 2,700 cfs for our Saturday run, which seemed just adequate for the ponds, and “Clay Banks”–any with less and it would not have been possible.  

With 2750 cfs running, everyone made it down safely From River Bend Park to Watt Avenue.
January 3-4, 2015:  Day 1: Russian River Monte Rio to Jenner;
                                Day 2: Cloverdale to Geyserville
7 Participants:  Fred F, Roy and Sally B, Vince G and Shauna C, Alan L and Kate N.
Due to access issues at the confluence of the Wheatfield branch and South Fork of the Gualala River, with signs posted for “Private Property” and resulting parking issues, the January 3-4 trip was moved to the Russian River Watershed Area.  The float plan to do Austin Creek on Day 1, and camp at Cassini Ranch at the Confluence with the Russian River at Duncans Mills was contingent on more rain to charge Austin Creek.  Without enough rain for Austin Creek, a contingency plan was proposed on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. at the Austin Creek Bridge at Duncans Mills, when all seven participants assembled there to examine the flow on Austin Creek.  The contingency plan was to launch at the bridge at Monte Rio, and paddle to Jenner.  Cassini Ranch staff allowed an early check-in (normally 2:00 p.m.) so our Saturday overnight camp was set up early before embarking out onto the Russian River at Monte Rio.   We embarked at 11:00 a.m., and I was pleased to see the current moving at about 3 miles an hour at the Monte Rio bridge, not launching out onto the flat water.  The group stopped for lunch at the sand bar at the east end of Cassini Ranch.  Fred F and Kate and Alan did paddle up Austin Creek as far as the SR-116 Highway bridge, just to see the crystal clear water of Austin Creek joining the green water flowing on the Russian River.  With clear weather and virtually no wind at all, the POST-sponsored group reached Jenner around 3:30 p.m.  After retrieving our vehicles from Monte Rio, dinner was prepared and served–Fresh Salad, Fresh Bristol Farms Sourdough Bread, Roasted Chicken, Chicken Tortilla Soup, and a fresh baked big Apple Pie.  Although Alan’s eyeglasses went to the ground in the dark on Saturday evening after dinner, and were located early the next morning next to the table by Vince.   Day 2 started early with a crackling fire in the fire ring, and a breakfast by Fred F. The breakfast of Eggs Californiano, and Pancakes with fresh Berries, hot maple syrup, and hot coffee prepared us for the day ahead.  We got the camp taken apart, and proceeded to Geyserville to examine the take-out access at the bridge over the Upper Russian River, the water was flowing deep and moving right along, around 450 cfs.  We proceeded to the Cloverdale River Park, and launched at 11:00 a.m. onto clearer water–not the brownish water associated with high flows on the Upper Russian.  The river course was chiefly class 1 1/2 moving water with class 2 brush most of the way, with some pools which were interspersed between the brushy drops, turns, blind corners, and swift water sections.  One spot was lined by everyone, as there was no clear channel and the water was churning into a particularly brush-choked drop on river right.  Before reaching the Asti Summer Bridge Abutments, Roy and Sally set up a lunch table and everyone had sandwiches, fresh fruit, ‘fiddle-faddle’, fruit juice, and cookies.    About one mile beyond the Asti summer bridge abutments, we all saw on river left a Boston Whaler motorboat who started up his outboard motor.  How the Boston Whaler got there is a big question–it may have been stuck there for several weeks since the recent rains in December, as there was no boat access for anything of that size anywhere at the flows we experienced below the Cloverdale River Park.  Slightly further on, the river course split into three channels, the right being choked with brush, the center being too shallow for anything but lining, and the left seemingly open, but leading to a sharp right corner and five-foot drop over 10 yards down a swift chute.  Vince led the way with Shauna, and Fred F  followed, leaving Roy and Sally in the pool above the chute, blowing whistles thinking that Alan and Kate were caught somewhere.  Alan and Kate had taken the center option and lined their canoe, per Alan–to avoid a boat pile up down there on river left.  After walking back up to see how Roy and Sally were going to manage this little bit of trouble, it was decided that Vince and Roy would take Roy and Sally’s ‘tripping’ canoe down the Class 2 drop, and that Sally would walk down with us, as we knew the way through all of the brush to the bottom of the rapid.  The last two hours on the water were marked by bright sunlight glare which made visibility difficult when paddling along the sunlit glare.  All seven participants reached the bridge at Geyserville at about 4:00 p.m.    
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October – Tuolumne and the Stanislaus

By Eric R.

10/17/15 Turlock Lake Campground

The cheerful music of Alan’s concertina carries easily through the screened window of my camper. The campfire where he plays illuminates his and another paddlers face: a glowing conclusion to a lovely day on the Tuolumne River that we canoed from the old La Grange bridge to this campground.
Here Bob and Joan prepared our dinner. As part of their 5 star service Joan delivered the plates of pulled porkwiches, potato salad and beans to each diner. We helped ourselves to the three bottles of wine. Without help, Kit and I emptied a porter and most of a Newcastle Brown Ale. Joan also delivered dessert – rich, gooey brownies she’d made, and, just in case those didn’t yield enough endorphins, a package of Costco cookies, chocolate chip.
During the meal most of us, including surprise arrivals Charlie and Kit, talked about the events of the day, as well as various occurrences during the late Middle Ages. They happened near rivers.
One person worked through dinner. Treasurer Jan Lockie, who would otherwise have to deal with it once she gets home, wisely chose to figure out what each participant owed and collect it between bites.
“It’s all done!” she exclaimed with a smile about the time Alan started playing and Kate built and started the fire.
“I’ve always been a firebug.” Kate confessed with a grin.
Alice gave the day’s paddling a touch of class by rakishly sporting a wide-brimmed black felt hat. Bob reminded us of the season with a plastic jack-o-lantern affixed to the prow of his canoe.
“What’s in it” I asked.
“Candy.” he replied.
Of course.
Ever energetic Vince asked late in the day if he could paddle my XL13. I instantly said yes. At that point I was tired with trying to keep the little Mohawk in a straight, speedy line. Vince and Shauna were sweep and I’d spent much of the afternoon being dust. It was a relief to get in the bow of their boat and just paddle, needing no j-strokes or prys to stay on course. Shauna easily aimed us into every Y and avoided all rocks.
The lovely and mostly serene day was enlivened by, new to POST, but experienced sea-paddler, Katarina. She’d been encouraged not to bother getting a river boat, so she brought her very long, keeled, bright yellow, tippy sea-kayak. By the end of the trip she was dreaming of going down river in Alice’s short, but very stable bathtub shaped Kopapa.
Bob got out of his boat to pull Katarina’s boat free of one traffic jam, and Joan gave her company and coaching most of the way. And she showed great spunk, emerging from her inevitable spills with smiles and good cheer. Instead of complaining, she continued to express delight and gratitude for being on this lovely river, seeing the Osprey and noble Great Blue Herons and being with us.
Katarina’s third tip didn’t change her attitude, but it did take most of her breath away. She found herself upside down and couldn’t get the spray skirt to quickly release.
All her travails persuaded the rest of us that Katarina’s got what POST requires: an ability to laugh when wet, hurt and embarrassed. Repeatedly. And she brought two bottles of wine.

10/18/15 Looking back
Today the sun came up early – no overcast. We left camp early, but somehow got divided. Most went right on Lake Rd. That was right. Some, though, went left. That was not right.
All managed to get to Knights Ferry and most elected to paddle upstream past the old covered bridge and warm up in the wave trains. No surprise that Vince and Shauna deftly moved from one to another, enjoying apparently leisurely stays mid roiling water. Not expected by some of us was Jim’s ease at doing the same thing. Our appreciation increased as word got round that Jim is 82. Evidently paddling is healthy.
Also riding those waves were Kate and Alan. Had you noticed what good paddlers they’ve become?
There were some changes at Russian Rapid. Proving that she also has sense, Katarina chose to walk the left side path, totally dry this year. Kit and Charlie used the same route to rejoin us for lunch, which Bob and Joan served on the river left beach. Continuing their “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it.” service, they forced nobody to fix sandwiches between bites of breakfast, but brought lunch to the beach. We gladly took their tasty wraps and ate them. Thank you Bob and Joan.
There was some mystery in the woods between the river and that left side path. Always enthusiastic, Vince and Dave set off up that way carrying the big red Legend, I think it was. After awhile voices were heard to wonder where these men were. We of course expected to see them come splashing any minute through the waves to have lunch. But many minutes passed, and wraps were eaten. Eventually they did re-emerge, out of the brush, not the river. Something was said about the impenetrable berry vines. It’s not just the bears that can get you in these riparian thickets.
After we left the rapids, we found some others adequate to excite us, and in time there were a lot of musical boats. Early on David and Peter traded with Shauna and Vince to try out the for sale Legend. After Katarina’s second Sunday swim, Karen asked if she’d like to paddle with Don. “Yes!” she replied with maybe even more than her usual gratitude. For her to become Don’s bow paddler, and student, Karen partnered with Shauna, Vince got to paddle my Mohawk again, and I got into the tippy sea-kayak. Not wanting to become breathless, I didn’t fasten the skirt.
Soon Bob led us ashore at Horseshoe Bend, Upper Horseshoe Bend it was. After we all stretched and snacked, as suggested by Bob, we got back into our boats and paddled for a full 8 to 10 minutes to Lower Horseshoe Bend, where Bob again bade us come ashore. Sure enough, nobody felt the need to stretch or snack. We were all ready to put boats atop quickly shuttled vehicles, and clear out, after promising to meet on December 12 for the POST party. Let’s.

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Labor Day on the Trinity

I messed up and failed to post this on the POST Canoe Club wordpressblog. Jan, hope you don’t feel like I left you out on purpose. – Kit

After all that mishegass there was a trip on the Trinity. Apologies to Alan for all the trouble and uncertainty. I hope to hear from some of the Middle Fork paddlers and I wonder what other boating adventures happened over this weekend. I stayed home and the only water I swam in was a tiny swimming pool in the Berkeley Hills.  I guess you can see why Jan stopped leading the Labor Day trip a couple of years ago – its just too stressful. This year’s trip was only possible for her because its a short drive from Arcata and Jan’s willingness to take the chance on the drive. That’s something Alan, who lives in the bay area, didn’t have available to him…

From Jan D.
The flow was up. The air was clear. We missed our paddling friends.

The salmon were too hot, so the bureaucracies involved decided to give them water and let them live another year. The judge quickly acted to deny the water agencies request to save the water for crops. The Trinity has been flowing at 1150 cfs for a couple of weeks now. It should last for a couple more. For us whitewater boaters, that means the Trinity is the finest place to paddle in California. It just happens that 1150 cfs is a delightful flow on our favorite runs.

The lightening caused fires created a lot of smoke in the Burnt Ranch Gorge. The smoke traveled down the New River to the Trinity. Some days it blew upstream, Some days it blew downstream. Some days the wind roused enough to break the inversion layer, but many days the smoke kept accumulating. The air quality board issued daily warnings of unhealthy air for communities up and down the river. Then, rain came. It calmed the fires and broke the inversion layer. Some fires actually went out. The big fires blew back the way they came and found little fuel to burn. The air cleared. On Thursday and Friday before Labor Day, there were zero health advisories issued along the Trinity River.

My family decided to venture out to the Trinity and test the air. It was mildly smoky on Saturday between Hawkins Bar and Hayden Flat. Jake, Ruth, Yukon and I put on in the C1 and the Canyon. The flow was fun! Enough water to cover rocks, enliven waves and speed us along our way. The wind picked up a little early, but it mostly was noticed because it blew the smoke away. The air was a pleasant at 80 degrees. The water was a bit chilly. We stayed dry and appreciated not having to stop to drink water. Jake and I ran the tandem down the left side of Picket Fence. Jake paddles so fast these days that it felt like a roller coaster over the waves. He caught a lot of air in the bow. I did not bother to paddle and just steered whenever my paddle could reach the water.

Skunk Point remains a good campsite. The shade reaches it about 5 PM. The traffic on the road died down about 6 PM. It was fun to watch the fire crews use the parking lot as a rendezvous for several hours. The picnic tables along the cliff continue to have a splendid view of the river and the stars. There was bear scat on the beach, deer swimming across the river, ospreys floating by and otters splashing in the night. We saw few bats, probably there were no bugs. Sleeping without a tent was an excellent option. Sunday and Monday, Jake ran Pigeon Point with kayaking friends. After a late start, and missed meetings, Ruth and I stayed in camp. It was warm enough to swim and sun and drink cold fluids. Monday, we broke camp and got on the river by 10 AM. The interesting part was organizing shuttle for two runs with only two cars. Fortunately, the Pigeon Point people were willing to paddle on down to Skunk Point, where the class II paddlers were happy to start. We all met at the French Bar takeout to exchange passengers and boats. We even timed the arrivals perfectly.

The only problem was too few people to camp with. We missed all our POST friends. Next weekend, Pigeon Point will be run again. Let me know if you want to make it. We will try to make it worth the drive. We also hope to see some of you at the Nugget Slalom race Sept 19-20. It really does improve your paddling skills. This year, maybe I will even attempt all the gates.

I hope to see you on the water soon.

Jan Dooley

PS Thank you again to the many paddling friends who came to Chuck’s memorial. I wish I could have spent more time with each of you. My family felt, and continues to feel, very loved. Now, make the long drive again to enjoy the river with us.

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Trinity River Camp Out and Mindfulness Exercise

by Eric R.

One of the outcomes of the cancer that was discovered on my tongue last year, then excised and radiated, is that I began meditating regularly.  At Stanford where the radiation was delivered, an eight week course in Mindfulness is regularly offered.  I took it twice.  During the first session I became convinced that meditation is a powerful practice. During the second I began to do the practice, and so to enjoy the uncommon delight of noticing and keenly perceiving the wondrous interest and beauty in which we always live,

Paddling down the Trinity River this past weekend with 8 other members of my whitewater canoe club,from Steel Bridge Campground to Junction City, was an opportunity to be mindful.  Floating along in my solo boat was, I realized, like watching a well-done nature film.  From my spot in the canoe, a rich array of natural treasures passed before me.  Sometimes dragonflies would hover just overhead, their blurred wings shimmering as they darted about.  Distant views of forested slopes and ridges alternated with the thick willows and alders crowding and overarching the river. Trees miraculously grew out of steep rock walls  At times Don and Karen or Eric and Arvid pulled close to shore to snatch clumps of grapes off the vines that grew right into the river.  It was fun to follow Eric and Arvid when they wove through foliage hanging near the bank.

Better than arm-chair travel was the adventure afforded by sitting in a boat.  Breezes, scents and splashes gave the experience a sensuality rare in living rooms.   And the frequent appearance of rocks and rapids, most capable of capsizing my chair, added suspense.  And then, when the movie ended, all of us gathered in the kitchen to share pasta and stories, mostly true.

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Memorial Day Weekend (not the Eel)


A River with Water

5/22/15 Indian Creek Lodge 11pm

John M. and I got rolling toward Weaverville from my Castro Valley home a little after our noon plan, but at quarter past one the traffic was light on this Friday of the Memorial Day weekend. We were ahead of commuters, and of most weekend vacationers, but not all. As 680 neared 80 by Suisun, the distance between bumpers shrunk, and the odometer showed no speed. When we finally crawled onto 80, we were ready to exit.

John typed in “Winters” and selected “non-highway” for route.

“Take Exit 43.” announced the phone.

It was just ahead and we turned onto it. Immediately we shifted from stopped to speeding. Until a red traffic light appeared. It wasn’t the last, but there were welcome gaps in between as we rolled between Fairfield suburbs and woods just north of 80. We were happy. The views were good and motion constant. Sometimes these things aren’t about getting there faster, just about being sane and happy upon arrival.

Then our road turned away from town and we saw signs for Lake Solano, ten miles distant. Now there was no traffic and we often topped 50. Plus we were in the country, passing farms, fields and vineyards we’d never seen before. If we’d had champagne, we would’ve toasted Google.

Crossing Putah Creek we saw boats and discussed returning with ours and our grandkids. They’d put up with a two hour drive.

We stopped briefly in Winters, then drove without traffic to Redding and on to Weaverville where we entered Marino’s Italian restaurant well before their 8 o’clock closing.

5/23/15 about 8pm, a grassy strip about 10 miles downriver from Lewiston

For the 17 of us to be on this remote stretch of scenic river with our nine boats, ten gallons of home water and food and lodging for two days and nights is a miracle that deserves very honorable mention. Eric and Amy doing their first trip have done a fabulous job putting together this biggest trip of the year. They credit Don for making the vital change from the Eel, flowing at about 200cfs, to this Trinity beside us which is moving ten times that much water. We put-in at 1:45, took out by 4:30. Our average speed was 5.5 mph, and our highest rate over 9, according to Don’s GPS. And Don came up a week ago to scout and found this fine site. Thank You, Don!

Part of the logistics was the shuttle. Six of the seven vehicles we needed to get all our bodies and boats to the put-in were driven down to Junction City via a new to us road to Highway 3 and then through Weaverville and parked as usual high up on the take-out beach across from the county park. Getting out of his red VW Dave uttered several expletives. He had just secured his car with one of the family steering wheel locks. One his key didn’t fit. His beautiful car could now not be driven by thieves, or him.

In Don’s packed Toyota lively discussion ensued. Dave called home and laid out the dilemma and the possible solution of wife Debbie or son Eric making the 10 hour round trip to bring the right key. Both were sympathetic, but neither volunteered to spend their holiday in that way. These locks, several of us knew, could be quickly cut with a grinder, at least one connected to an outlet. But the campground was some hundreds of feet away.

In Weaverville we detoured to the True Value hardware store where a likely and reasonable option was presented. For under a hundred dollars Dave could buy a battery-powered Sawsall and 3 carbide blades that would cut the hardened steel, according to the hardwareman. It was not certain the tool would make the cut in the 15 minutes its one battery, which the store would charge before Dave picked it up on Monday, provided. So Dave might need to get more than one shuttle between beach and store, for recharging. We decided to check with the local locksmith, too.

His shop/antiques store was on our way back and required a very brief visit. On its closed door were its Monday-Friday hours. None on weekends. And probably not on holiday Mondays. we assumed.   Well, we had a workable plan, but things at the take-out might get complicated.

Here at our first campground spirits are high. Ruthie and Arvid laugh as they fight playfully. The 2000 cfs lap loudly among the shoreline rocks and willows. Campfire conversation carries like a warble. The general generosity even extends to the few drought-stricken mosquitoes, Some suggest we just let them enjoy their small meals. Most continue to slap.

5/24/15 Steel Bar Campsite

All of us around the campfire have just learned a new paddling acronym. We now know there was an OBE today during our paddle past Indian Creek and Douglas City. Those familiar with this stretch from our Fall Trinity trips recognized the scenery today, though the landscape was greener and dotted with wildflowers, but the river was new – with trains of huge waves where there’d before been ripples. Several times we stopped to return hundreds of pounds of water to the river – from each boat.

With one exception there were no OBE’s. “It was almost pleasant.” Lena says, with laughter in her eyes and voice.

“There was this big boulder that we went close to and then tipped over. It was very gentle. I was afraid of hitting a rock, like with my head, but I remembered to keep my feet first. I also kept hold of my paddle and the boat, which I stayed behind.”

Neil added a little more of the set-up, as he saw it from the stern. “There were a lot of rocks and we tried to cross through them toward river left. We hit that boulder with our nose and spun around so we were going backwards, then went up on it and flipped.”

With Neil and Lena’s spill revisited, we moved on to the adventure awaiting Dave at the take-out with someone announcing, “You know, I’m not sure those carbide blades will cut that hardened steel, and those sawzalls go through batteries awfully fast.” So we don’t know if or how fast the cutting will go, but Jan has agreed that she and Ruthie will shuttle Dave up to Weaverville to get the tool and blades. At least once.

There’s one more development that I think I can get down before sleep, as it may adversely affect that sleep.

While I lay in the shade of willows near the kitchen before dinner, about to nap, I heard a strange for this area sound. It was the thump, thump, thump of a helicopter’s rotor. It was there again on awaking. Excited paddlers were watching it dip its bucket into the river just downstream, then flying off toward 299, the area where there have been recent big fires.

This continued until about sunset.

“They can only fly with visual guidance.” said Don, a safety expert.

So it wasn’t a surprise that the chopper, followed by another, soon headed off toward Redding. But it was a worry. We all had hoped they’d leave when the job was done, not just because of the rules. Common sense, and firey imaginations, suggest that flames may now be racing up nearby canyons, soon to engulf our remote, cell signalless camp.

Not exactly the peaceful refuge we expected.

5/25/15 Dunnigan Rest Area

When I looked out of my tent in the middle of the night I saw no red glow, nor smelled any smoke.

Don asked that we be on the river this morning by 10. Yesterday we broke camp at 10:30. John looked at his watch as the last boat left Steel Bar. “9:15.”

The paddle to the take out was calm and lovely. There was no excitement until people walked up to their cars and found their gas caps on the roofs, their doors unlocked, and some windows broken. We’ve parked in this place every Fall for many, many years without incident. We likely won’t park here again.

Some lost cash, a tablet and other prized possessions. We later learned that the thieves broke into cars along a long stretch of the river. It was an unhappy conclusion to a very fun trip. Much was said on the beach and via e-mail as we worked through our pain.

On the positive side, the carbide Sawzall blade zipped right through the ears of Dave’s Club, and since the thieves didn’t want his diesel, he, too, soon joined the homeward drive.

Eric R.

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