I hope this picture tells you a thousand words:
My son is quite a character. He’s a VERY BUSY three-year-old, and great user of his mom’s extra time. If I am sporadic in posting here, you now know why.
But anyway, let’s get back to the Middle Fork. I believe we were just finishing lunch below Velvet Falls. Just so you remember the Falls, here it is again:
The river eases up just a bit for a few miles, so we have a little more time to talk and enjoy the scenery. Here we are, floating along with full tummies:
We’re not too far above the Trail Flat hot spring, and perhaps if no one is using the pools, we’ll stop for a bit and soak. This is one of my favorite hot springs, as it is free-flowing and clean. The pools continuously flush themselves out and they are right next to the river for easy cooling-off.
Well, darn. There is a group already at the spring. Oh well, not to worry. We still have several more opportunities for a hot spring soak along the Middle Fork, and we’ll probably even camp near one. Round the corner to the Chutes Rapid! Hang on!
The Chutes is just what it sounds like: a narrow chute with big boulders we need to miss and not a lot of room to do all the necessary maneuvering. We drop in, again, with not too much speed-we’ll have plenty of that in a moment. The water is high enough today that I can enter to the right of the nasty round rock at the top, which makes the whole rapid easier and safer to run. I keep my oar strokes shallow and fast and we “shoot the chutes,” as any fan of A River Runs Through It will tell you (“You can’t shoot The Chutes, Paulie.” “You can try!” “You can DIE trying!” “They’d bury you with full honors, tell ’em Norm!”)
A quick check over my shoulder tells me everyone else is bouncing through nicely. Around the corner we go.
Since the water is higher and faster, we have enough time today to stop at the Powerhouse cabins. Yes, they burned in a forest fire a few years ago, but again, we’re dreaming. We’re remembering some of the historic places that make the Middle Fork such a special, unique place. This cabin and waterwheel are remnants of a gold-ore processing station that was operating from 1913 through the 1930s. Here’s a great photo of Bill Bernt sharing this special place with some lucky guests:
It’s a shame this cabin has burned. It was so cool to stop in, get out of the sun for a bit, and see how folks lived and worked along the Salmon River.
Let’s run Powerhouse Rapid, my absolute favorite on the whole Middle Fork. It’s a long, three-part, twisting, rocky, frothy, sharp rapid. The mile that encompasses this rapid drops 73 feet–owing most of this descent to Powerhouse. I love it because it involves my mind and body for a much longer period that most rapids, it just keeps going. And since I love to run whitewater more than almost anything else, what’s better than a really long, tricky rapid? Not much, in my book.
It’s a great run. I can’t wait to do it again next week. But it’s 4:30pm now, and I’m starting to feel ready to be in camp. I’m already thinking ahead to the things we need to remember: make sure the steaks are thawed for dinner, and get the wine chilled down a bit.
We pull in, unload the boat and folks scatter to find the perfect tent site. About an hour later, everyone is regrouped, relaxed, and ready to spend some time getting to know the others who were not riding in their boats during the day. We all gather in the river-side dining room, sharing chilled drinks and stories.
Sounds like I am on steak-grilling duty tonight. How do you like yours? I’m a rare-side-of-medium-rare gal myself. I’ll make sure to get your steak just the way you love it.
Sorta looks like I’ll fall in the river if I turn around too quickly, here, doesn’t it? Well, I managed to keep my feet dry and enjoyed a great meal. Which makes me realize I better stop here for the day and get started on my family’s real dinner. And fold up two loads of laundry. And get those darned Christmas presents wrapped! And hide the stocking stuffers I picked up today before Wesley gets home with his dad…
See you tomorrow! We’ve got another 88 miles of Middle Fork to run…