Memorial Day Weekend

Let’s Beat the Wind

by Eric Rassmussen

No matter how deep into the wilderness we paddle, we immediately try to civilize the place.  Alan and Kate did this our night at Basin Creek.  The hit of this site is the waterfall, and immediately after we got there Sunday afternoon, kids were jumping from its top into the pool.  Neither Kate nor Alan leapt in; they sat in the shade below to watch and cheer the kids.  Then, a little later, they brought up their tent and provisions and set up housekeeping a few feet from the pool edge.
As they’d served breakfast Sunday morning, I walked to their poolside site during the Monday breakfast, when we were on our own and I needed whitener for my black tea.  The main kitchen was on the beach beside the Eel, so to get to Kate and Alan’s, it was a trek across sand and big gravel to the narrow cleft the creek cuts after its fall, then a few steps up to the compact tent.  Between it and the pool Kate and Alan sat comfortably, in chairs, and on the table by them was the quart of Half and Half I sought.  They generously shared it.
On this trip a dream came true for me.  My son, Krag, and his children, Collin, 13, and Delaney, 12, paddled with us – their first POST experience.  I assured Delaney this would be “Better than Disneyland.”  The kids were in Kiwi Kayaks thanks to Eileen, and Krag was bow in my venerable Blue Hole that Kit and Charlie gifted Jane and I for our 2002 Oregon wedding. Jane and I paddled that boat away from our Alsea River nuptials.
Since then it’s been on many POST runs. Originally it was used in a recreation program at UCSF, where it was effusively fitted with D-rings, making it perfect for canoe camping trips like this.
Krag and I tested the rings a mile or so before our first campground. I let the heavily laden boat get pushed up against a rock, but remembered to “Kiss the Rock” and so returned the boat to a dry level.  Krag is new to canoeing, but a powerful athlete and had provided great strength in moving our freighter along the river. He, too, saw the rock, and just after I kissed it, he did the instinctive thing and leaned away from it. The bags of gear were already listing to the same side, so we flipped right over. We were in no rocky rapid, and soon walked our craft to the opposite shore and righted it.
Thanks to those aforementioned attachments, our bags and chairs were still snuggly secured. I began bailing the hundreds of gallons of river out with my half a bleach bottle. With a snort, Krag went to the high end of the boat and rolled it. The river inside immediately flowed home.  So we soon got back in, kept paddling, and talked about kissing rocks.
There were seven kids on this trip and as soon as we all got to that first campsite beside the mountain of a rock, they, likely following Arvid, immediately ran to the top of the steep, sandy slope above the big eddy, then tore down it and leaped into the pool. Since first putting in, we wise elders had been concentrating on staying dry.  Had we missed the point?
Soon the kids divided themselves into teams and scrambled all over the rocks to capture the flag.  And when they finally tired, they went, or were called,  to the rocky beach point where the kitchen was in full operation and hot pasta and sauces, thanks especially to Roy and Sally, were ready for scooping.
The rocky point was a good site.  It was close to the boats, so no long cooler carries, and it was surrounded by rocks and water, substances that did not get into our eyes or mouths when the wind came up.  And it did.  It was still blowing after we got into our tents, and slapped fabric sides.  In between its slaps we heard the crickets.
In the morning we were reminded by Roy that the wind would likely come up again on our way to the takeout, so we would paddle beyond Basin Creek this day, after a brief play stop there.
Journal, Sunday, 5/27, In tent, 10pm
Tonight there’s no wind.  Some crickets, but mostly falling water sounds.  Not pre-recorded or virtual.  Totally live. From the cascade about 50’ away.

I’m happy.  This is by the waterfall ledge I sought whenever POST used to stay on this side, years ago.  I always wanted my family to experience it too, and now they are.

It wasn’t leader Roy’s plan to spend the night here, though others of us, as John Garvey, also cherish this place.  But Roy wants to keep us from the nightmare wind that often wreaks havoc on the paddle to the McCann take-out in the morning, so he planned to stay farther downriver.  But first we’d stop here.
Immediately, Collin leaped off the ledge by the fall. Delaney soon scrambled up to the same spot and stood ready at edge of the ledge.  After a couple of minutes she scratched her side.  Five of so minutes later she said, to no one in particular, “I really want to jump, but I’m scared.”  Then took a couple of steps back and sat down.  Soon she was back at the ledge.  She made this circuit a half dozen times, convincing we several adult fans that she was almost as determined as scared.
I knew the feeling.  Some forty years ago I went through the same motions and agony about twenty feet above a Santa Barbara pond.   For a half hour, before finally jumping.
Then I got a grandfather’s idea.
“Delaney, how about jumping from that spot over there?”
The ledge I pointed to was about half as high.  She went to it and jumped.  Then got out of the water, climbed to the top, and leapt.  We were all delighted, and clapped and cheered loudly.
You’d think after such adventures this girl would exclaim how great the trip was, but about two o’clock on Monday, our last day, she said, loudly and clearly, “Papa, this ISN”T better than Disneyland.”
Laney does notice when things aren’t going well, and there had been a couple of imperfections that anybody would regret.  Though she’s a star athlete, and often travels far to competitions, she didn’t find paddling the Kiwi compelling.  The primary problem wasn’t the boat, but the paddle, which when lifted, as it must be every stoke, let water run down and onto her, soaking her clothes.  Her paddle happened to be missing a washer that usually keeps the water from running down the shaft.  She didn’t complain every stroke, but had reason to.
Collin had gotten a complete paddle that didn’t drip, and perhaps because of his greater size, and recent wrestler conditioning, was easily able to keep in the middle of the canoe pack.
Despite her strength, and prowess in track, basketball and soccer, paddling tired Delaney, and probably bored her. Late Saturday her Dad and I attempted to give her some relief and started towing her, she still in the kayak.  This went well for a long time, and I began to let go of my nagging misgivings.
Then Krag and I careened into a small boulder.  We both kissed it and went quickly past.  Delaney’s small craft slipped behind the boulder, then caught in a wedge between two rocks just ahead.  Our Blue Hole jerked to an abrupt stop, and we swiveled to see Laney swimming.  We’d swamped her.  Our mission to keep her dry was suddenly all wet.
Maybe because she had gotten a couple of hours of relief, she took the swim in stride, and wasn’t upset.  But she probably stowed it in her random memory.
The real win for Disneyland came, as all knew it might, on the day after we stayed at the Falls. Thank you, Roy, for letting us do that!  Not long after lunch on that fateful Monday the lazy holiday ended, and not so very far from the take-out, the wind came up.
Normally paddling a canoe on a river is optional.  It helps us avoid obstacles, and makes us feel we’re being useful.  The real power is the current, as is found whenever you turn around and try to go up-river.
On Monday at one-thirty another power arrived.  At that moment Laney happened to be my bow paddler.  Krag had given  her a break by trading seats with her, so he was in her Kiwi.  She was kneeling in my bow on the other side of the hundred or so pounds of gear that rose in a broad mound a couple of feet above the body of our boat.  In this suddenly significant mountain were the tents, chairs and sleeping bags for the whole family.
The wind began to play with our oh so heavy boat. Whatever combination of strokes I used, the canoe went broadside, and upriver. Something had to be done.
Greg, from the Seychelles, pulled near and Delaney got into the front of his inflatable canoe. For him bow weight was a need. For me it was bow power. I was useless in the stern, but soloing in the front of the boat, paddling harder and faster than ever before, I was able to keep the ship straight, and make, if very slow, progress.
But every time gravel appeared on the shore, I jumped onto it and began towing canoe and cargo toward our distant destination. “Going canoeing” was once again becoming memorable by out of boat experiences.
Meanwhile Greg and Laney moved steadily; everybody else, including Collin and Krag, did too.
We had had wind until tent time our first day. We knew there’d be no relief until we got to the cars. So we slogged on. And on.
And made it. But celebrate we didn’t. Putting a seventy pound sail on the top of a car in a 50 mph gust isn’t child’s play.
When an empty, beached boat was caught by a gust and whipped back into the river, a kid quickly chased and caught it. But this bit of play didn’t change Delaney’s mind.  And we were all relieved to leave.

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July River celebration – Klamath Class III

4th of July on the Klamath 2018

by Jan Dooley

POST hosted a small group of class III paddlers for four days on the Klamath River June 30-July 4th. Our group consisted of John M, and Bob L in inflatable kayaks, plus Ruth V and Jan D in open solo canoes. Curly Jack campground in Happy Camp proved quite pleasant with spacious, shady spots. With town close by, we could get ice cream, gas and supplies anytime. The daytime highs started in the low hundreds the first two days, and then dropped to the low 90s.

The North West Rafters also camped at Curly Jack and we combined groups the first day. We paddled the Savage Ledge run with 4 canoes, 3 inflatable kayaks and one cataraft. Cecil lead in his canoe. His wife Mary Ann paddled her canoe. Many of you may remember Cecil from when he taught with CCK and Red Cross in Sacramento. Since this was Ruth’s first class III run, I guided her down the rapids with Bob sweeping behind her. Greg in the cataraft picked up any pieces at the back. John M joined us the second day. We scouted Savage Ledge on the drive and found the class II+ route on the right. The two miles between Savage Ledge and Fort Gough Falls contained several fun class II and III rapids. Savage Ledge started with a long lead in with no landmarks. Once you saw the slot, it was straight forward, but you want to be in the right spot. The narrow rock slot below the ledge created large, powerful boils. Cecil found out that turning your back on them to check on the rest of the group caused an out of boat experience. At Lower Savage, the water converged from several angles into a large wave. You could aim for the flat spot on the right that pushed you toward a rock wall, or try your luck on the shoulder of the wave. The shoulder worked best the first day. The flat worked better the next day. Ruth paddled directly over the wave the first day for a spectacular ride with a gunnel grab, but she ended upright and mostly dry. Cecil, a right handed paddler, chose the flat spot and discovered that you need a place to put your paddle in order to maintain control. The flow dropped a bit the second day and made it a little easier. Otter’s Play Pen contains a hidden narrow slot you must go through. A sweeping left, then right, turn creates a wave train that you have to cross as you approach the slot. An eddy above and to the right of the slot catches you if you are not alert. Scary, but the water goes through the slot. The trick is to end up aligned with the flow. Just below Otter’s Play Pen lies Fort Gough Falls, a river-wide wave with big boils beyond it. The easiest route runs on the right edge, but a hole was there the first day. Bob L made it over the wave, but the boil just beyond stopped his boat as he continued downstream. Greg picked up Bob and had a long chase to reconnect him with his boat. We took out at Seattle Creek the first day. The second day, with just canoes and IKs, we shortened the run by taking out at the primitive take-out at Tim’s Creek.

Monday found us on the Ferry Point Run. Jan led based on her distant memories of running it previously. The first rapid called Ferry Point lies just around the corner from the put in. We failed to find a good place to scout it. We heard a raft guide yell something to his group about which route to take, but could not clearly hear the instructions. Jan started down the left based on the road scout and an old memory. As she came over the lip, she realized she had no idea where to go. She prayed that she was not leading her daughter in to another “but I don’t want to die” experience. (A long story involving Blind Falls on the Grande Ronde River. We weren’t close to dying either time, but tell that to a scared, young paddler pushing her limits). Gratefully, Jan recognized a landmark and saw a sneak route on the far left. Ruth paddled nimbly and made it look easy. It turned out that the easier route was on the right. The rapids came at a relaxed pace after that. The flow kept us moving quickly, assisted by a downstream wind. How often does that happen? Independence Rapid was scouted from the road. We went left using canoe sneak routes, but right was probably easier. This run is known for the class IV Dragon’s Tooth rapid. The water piles into a large boulder in the middle with rocky channels on either side. One look was all it took to know that the relatively easy portage was the best choice for our group. The boats we watched run it included river guides in hard shell kayaks and rafts. They all played pinball with the rocks but managed to stay upright. The remaining rapids presented a series of fun, challenging rapids. I mostly remember big grey rocks and beautiful water with glass tongues intermixed with whitewater and waves. An option on this trip is to beach your boats above Ukonom Creek and hike up the very cold stream to a spectacular waterfall. The air temperature and our already earned pleasure combined to encourage us to keep on going.

Tuesday saw John and Bob packing up camp in order to leave after driving 60 miles to the Tree of Heaven run. This lovely run was lovely once again. Ruth and Bob took turns leading. Dutch Creek was easier than usual and could have been paddled down the center, and on the far right. We took the usual route on the left and choose different slots to paddle through. At the Schoolhouse wave, we found a swimmer enjoying the hole on his river board. We wanted to run the left side of the island at Honolulu, but could not see the entire run. We decided to take our chance on the lower half, also known as “Lulu”. This rapid continues to get rockier. Jan and Ruth chose to hit one of the rocks padded by a pillow broadside with our sterns so it would turn the canoes back downstream. John and Bob bounce along just fine in the IKs.

One of the best things about POST trips is the opportunity to hang out together at camp. Sharing risks and relying on each on the river builds for rapid trust. The long hours spent in camp builds friendships. Sharing campsites, meals and chores encourages long exchanges of stories, dilemmas and hopes. I treasure these times with my river “family”. I especially want to thank Bob and John for supporting Ruth in her first class III runs. And thank you POST for creating trips like this.

 

 

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The Trusty Ole American River June 16th

Lower American River, Sailor Bar to River Bend Park and Watt Avenue Bridge. June 16, 2018
Participants: Alan/Kate, Ray, Vince/Shauna

The June 16-17 Cache Creek Wilderness run was replaced, as the Cache Creek area had reportedly been seriously scorched in several fires of September 2017. An increase in wood debris and other fire-related impacts caused the trip to be moved to the American River.

The day was sunny, the wind calm. The Lower American water release at Nimbus Dam was around 3,500 CFS, which provided more than enough release for a swift water experience.  Three canoes were on the water at Sailor Bar on the Lower American River at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 16th, for a one-day paddle to Watt Avenue bridge. Numerous fishermen lined the riverbanks, and the summer raft rentals provided obstacle course practice.  After some eddy-exit-practice (S.A.I.L.S.) above Sunrise Blvd. bridge, reaching San Juan Rapid the group had lunch on river left overlooking San Juan Rapid.  The big waves and spill-overs did provide some large standing waves for anyone willing to venture forth. Our group marveled while eating lunch at the one solo Kayaker in top form in the largest of the waves, Rafts were also splashing through.  We continued on, proceeding along channels on river right to Serra Court and Riverbend Park, where several of the group decided to disembark. Kate and Alan continued on to Watt Avenue bridge, through Arden Rapid, and through some new channels below Arden Rapid which now bring a larger amount of water into the ponds at Hoffman Park. Taking the right channel around Bill’s Island below Grist Mill/Harrington’s river access provided some protection from increased headwinds, and the breathtaking serenity of paddling the lower American River.  We reached the Watt Avenue Bridge river access at 4:00 p.m.

The members of the intrepid party reconvened at Burt’s Ice Cream, and all’s well that ends’ well, updating each other on the details of the trip.
Alan

 

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Another Joyful Day on the Russian River

From  John Marold, Trip Leader,

On Saturday morning, 11 paddlers met at the Geysers Road exit from 101, north of Cloverdale at 10 AM: Don and Karen, Kate and Alan, Eric and Julie, Jan and Ruth, Keith, Ray, and John.

After looking at the weather forecast a week in advance, we changed the trip to be a Saturday-only trip instead of a full weekend.  We got it right on two counts: the weather on Saturday was beautiful, sunny and in the 70s, some wind in the afternoon, but nothing too hard to deal with. (Sunday was much cooler with rain in the afternoon.)  And Jan and Ruth were already planning to head towards the bay area on Saturday.

It was great to see Ray – he hasn’t been on one of our trips in a long time.  Special thanks to Linda for bringing Ray and for being shuttle bunny.  (I hope she is not offended by that term.)

The Russian River had plenty of water.  The flow at Cloverdale was about 650 CFS and in Healdsburg was about 1200 CFS – 50% more than Alan and Kate had for their trip two weeks earlier.

After looking at the river, Eric and Julie thought it was too high and were going to give up for the day.  We suggested they meet us at Cloverdale River Park which is just past the area with the narrowest/fastest stretches.

After shuttling, we got on the river about 11:40 and headed down through a great narrow class 2 stretch with 4 solo canoes, 2 tandem canoes, and one kayak (Ray).  This is such a beautiful run – isolated from the nearby roads and houses.

When we arrived at Cloverdale River Park, we found Eric and Julie already in their boats ( a C1 and a K1) on the water and practicing.  They had already eaten lunch, so they got a lot of practice while the rest of paused to eat.

After lunch, we headed downriver to Geyserville.  From our put-in at Geysers Rd. this is about a 13 mile run.  It took us 6 hours including our lunch stop and several knee breaks.  6 hours on such a beautiful river makes the long drive worth it for a day trip.  Along the way we passed the Crocker St. bridge and the location of the summer bridge at Asti.

We also had some entertainment from 4 OBEs (out of boat experiences).  At one point we thought that a paddle had been lost – caught in brush upstream of where the group congregated.  But the paddle managed to free itself and come down to us.  One hat was lost – permanently, I believe.  And a sponge was lost a couple of times and found both times.

The river flattens out after Asti and the wind became more of an issue.  If we want a shorter trip in the future, we might want to explore taking out at Asti – shortening the trip by about 5 miles.

After reaching our takeout at 5:40, there was much negotiation about a location for dinner.  The decision was for El Farolito in Windsor.  Ray and Linda headed home, but the rest of us stayed for a good dinner.  Definitely a place to keep in mind for the future.

Thanks to a great group of paddlers for a wonderful day on the river.

-John

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Russian River in the Spring

Russian River – March 31 – April 1, 2018
Participants: Alan and Kate, Jeff and Conrad

Day One: (Steelhead Beach to Gureneville) (gauge at Healdsburg 1,000 CFS) Kate /Alan and Jeff and Conrad (new POST members) met at the Steelhead Beach parking lot in Mirabel Park off of River Road. At approximately 1 ½ mile down Sunset Beach County Regional Park, we located the one channel which was open through a brushy area just below Sunset Beach on river left and continued on. Many cottages and summer homes dotted the Redwood Tree-lined shores of the Russian River, and there was one spot where pilings for a summer bridge were punctuating the water course-way, without any weir, where we made a lunch stop. Upon reaching Guerneville at 2:30 p.m.; we took out at Johnson’s Beach, just above a weir, separated by iron posts extending across the river. We loaded both canoes onto Jeff ‘s big canoe racks and headed out to Cloverdale to set-up our camp at the KOA Cloverdale facility. After setting up camp, we scouted some alternative launch sites for the following day, along with some sight-seeing at Squaw Rock. We then went to Cloverdale and had dinner at McGowan’s Bar and Grill, where an electrical power outage was on-going throughout our dinner—not hampering our appetites or the kitchen’s expertise, and not hampering the guitar strumming entertainer there at McGowan’s, who sang and played for the customers there at the bar.
Day Two (Geyser’s Road to Geyserville) (guage at Healdsburg 800 CFS) After breakfast at the campground and driving the shuttle vehicle to Geyserville, the group proceeded in Jeff’s truck to the previously agreed upon launch site at Geyser’s Road one mile further upstream from Cloverdale River Park, We did not trespass along a nearby private road to put-in and launch, instead we made the 150 yard hike on uneven terrain to the water’s edge just downstream from the new Highway Bridge on US-101 north of Cloverdale along an abandoned and overgrown fire road. The first river mile was exciting with a scenic canyon water course-way with rolling wave trains and Class II rapids. There was one portage where brush and a fallen tree limb completely blocked the river channel before leaving the narrow scenic canyon. Passing the alternate boat launching site at Cloverdale River Park, we continued to the first Bridge at Crocker Road where we made our first rest stop. From there numerous brushy passages required precise maneuvering in swift moving water. The channels soon became wider and required good judgment in route selection and brush avoidance. Stopping for lunch at the summer bridge abutments at Asti, we carefully studied the approach. Kate and Alan did chose to run this Class II turn to the right which required catching the last eddy on the left before going through the concrete abutments in swiftly moving water. In the final mile, a second portage was necessary due to a dividing wall of thick brush and trees only allowing water to pass. The portage was about 15 steps over stones, with all four persons carrying the two boats consecutively to the water beyond—in previous runs here this passage had been open with a two-foot wide chute, however the chute was no longer wide or deep enough to allow a canoe to proceed. Being Easter Sunday, we saw no other boats but there were people along the shore enjoying the day and the warm sunshine, We took out 4:00 p.m. at the Geyserville Bridge with easy access to SR128 on a short footpath and recovered the shuttle vehicle from the “free parking” in Geyserville SR128 at the ride-share parking lot, returning to Geyser’s Road for Jeff’s truck, and hence to load up at Geyserville Bridge at SR 128 and were all homeward bound after a very satisfying 2-days on the water.
Alan

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Musings on School and Courage

Yikes, I posted this on the post canoe club page by mistake.

go to Kithewitt.wordpress.com

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Trinity River 10-6 to 10-8, 2017

Calamity Made Perfect
by Eric Rasmussen, Trip Leader
POST Trinity Trip, 10/6-8/17
Everything went wrong,
At exactly the right time and place.

River trips I lead sometimes start out sleepily.  I forget they’re going to happen,  and then someone says “I want to come.”
That someone was Carol E. this year; her 9/9 e-mail was like a cup of coffee.  She’s a “professional” paddler, always well-prepared with a smart boat and skills to match.  On a winter Eel trip a few years ago we needed a good lead paddler.  She was perfect.  That she was coming calmed my enthusiasm.
The next day Alan L. logged in to request places for he and Kate N. These college sweethearts, regulars on our trips, always warm me with their generous affection and ever-improving paddling.
Newlyweds (didn’t you know either?) Shauna and Vince soon fortified the roster, and increased my calm, by signing up and offering to do their Oatmeal with Everything on Sunday morning.
When Don signed on with Karen, he mentioned the fire that had aborted the Labor Day trip and devastated on to burn 20% of the homes in Junction City.  As the trip grew nearer, so did the fire and its effects.  By Friday 10/6, when the now 20 paddlers would convene at Steel Bridge Campground, we’d learned that while the fire no longer threatened and smoke levels were tolerable, the Junction City Park would be closed, so we could not leave our vehicles there until our take-out, something we’ve done since several were broken into on a recent Memorial Day trip on the Trinity.  Fortunately, Don had located another, slightly upriver, site we could use. Unfortunately, Don got sick the Friday morning the trip began and couldn’t join us, or lead us to that site.
But Alan had a printed map that showed the site and Vince got it on his GPS at the Steel Bridge put-in Saturday morning.  Veteran that he is, Vince was in his vehicle in good time and honked to spur on the rest of us.  Soon all the drivers were behind him, ready to set up the shuttle, and off we all headed from the day use site unto the windy road to the highway.  I, in my blue pick-up, was last in line, not a problem since, while I didn’t know where we were going, I did know that once we got there, I would ferry all the other drivers back to the campground where my vehicle would stay the night.  My truck started right up and bounced over the bumpy non-paving almost to the end of the parking lot, then died.  Dead.  I honked, to let the others know,  but nobody slowed.  I watched the last car disappear ahead.
Since Don wasn’t on the trip to personally shepherd us quickly along, so we’d get to our on-the-river campsite in time to prepare dinner in daylight, I’d been trying to push myself to play that role.  But at that moment, I surrendered, got out of the truck, and dialed Vince on my Verizon cell.
“That number has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”
I then tried Dave LaD. number and reached him.  It might have been better if I hadn’t.  You see, even though I had Verizon, the service from that beautifully remote site was imperfect.  Dave heard that I was stuck, and from his mid-pack position was able to slow and stop several of the other cars, but not Vince, who got to Junction City before Dave and I communicated, after several call drops and very few understood words, that I would not join the shuttle.
Fortunately somebody else at the put-in had Vince’s number and I reached him somewhere in Junction City and managed to communicate even less with him than I had with Dave.  Miraculously, all the shuttle drivers found each other, a reasonable take-out, a safe place to park (in front of a fire station), and a way to get all the drivers back (in Alan’s car).  All this heroic effort did take some time, and they did not get back on time for our desired 10;30 put-in.  No, they got back to Steel Bridge about 12;30.  The trip was not off to an auspicious start.
Several cool heads suggested that, since a downriver lunch stop would only delay us even more,  we ought break with POST tradition, and not eat lunch after the first turn, but immediately.  Breaking with POST tradition is a capital crime, usually, but that’s what we did.
So we pushed out into the river not so promptly at 1:30, vowing to not stop until we got to the Douglas City bridge where we would not break for ice cream at the nearby store.
This plan did not flow freely at first because I, in the lead boat with Jane, eddied out after each ripple, making sure our newest paddlers, John and YaYa (not her real name), didn’t fall out, drown and delay dinner.  Soon other smarter paddlers disregarded my pauses and plunged ahead, so we did get to the no ice cream bridge in good order, about 3;30.
After brief stretches and walks to the bushes, plus some gloomy conversation about the likelihood we’d soon be paddling by headlight, long before we reached our favorite Steel Bar campground where Eric F and company would have to prepare dinner in the dark, we got going again.
While everybody was concerned about the possible dire consequences of our delayed start, Keith G, used to making do on outings with scouts, had maps showing likely campsites, and he shared those at the bridge.  We’d never visited these new sites and the maps offered no details, so we had hope for, but no certainty of, decent camping before dark.
Beyond the bridge we began to encounter more challenges, and about half an hour after we resumed paddling, what I’d dreaded, happened. There was a huge log intruding on river right.  It was a partial strainer, and difficult to get around, and John and YaYa didn’t. They didn’t yet know about “Kiss the Whatever” and so let their upstream gunwale stay low when they slid up on the log.  Instantly, water flowed in over the low edge, and they were swimming.  I watched helplessly from the eddy below, and saw a strange thing happen.
Quite quickly they got their swamped boat into shallow water just below the log.  One scooped, the other pumped.  And both laughed. And laughed.  You’d think, being soaked with icy river water and trying to empty a couple hundred gallons of the same stuff was the funniest thing ever, that this accident was better than Disneyland.
While all this hilarity was happening, Keith, who on his outings with scouts is used to looking through fun toward its consequences, declared, “They’re all wet, and it’s getting dark and cold. We should camp here.”
Here, was the Douglas City park, a campground sometimes used by other POST leaders, like Charlie Beazell.  It’s normally for car-campers, not for the all-over-the-beach camping we were set-up for.  But it was potentially perfect, so we stopped and sought out the host to see if we could stay.
The host, Steve, is a friendly guy who likes his job, and knew an inspection was unlikely.  To be acceptable we would have to sign up and pay for two regular sites, and use them, but the rest of the gang could camp on the beach by the boats.  We could prepare our meals in the group dining area, on a level overlooking the rapids below, and sporting ample tables and bear boxes.  And we could use the bathrooms, including the hot showers.  We had, by accident, fallen into 5 star accommodations. The price?  $30 for the two sites.
All fears and complaints vanished, and soon appetizers, then a big, hot meal, appeared.  We’d have a long paddle next day, and we’d be ready for it.  And we’d re-found a great campsite that may become our regular choice, all due to mishaps.
The morning came, we got our fill of Vince and Shauna’s oatmeal with all the trimmings, and plenty of coffee thanks to Dave LaD, and headed downriver.  It was a long paddle just to the campground we were glad we didn’t have to stay at, and a good ways farther until we realized we’d missed the take-out.  This discovery came just before a bridge that marked the spot where Don and I had thought we’d take out.  It was a short walk from the fire station where the cars were, and gave easier access to them, once they were driven near.  I.e. we’d made another fortuitous mistake.
As far as I’ve heard, everybody else drove happily home, after making sure that Jane and I had lodging, at Indian Creek, which became our base not only for getting a new fuel pump in the pick-up, but for enjoying the shops and cafes of historic Weaverville, which we did easily thanks to Carol E’s taxiing.  She also spent two good nights at the fishing lodge, our last multi-star consequence of lucky accidents.
ER

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