Monday, November 15, 2010

Squirt Boat Self Support and some exciting news

Scott Sills and I sitting around the fire.

This year has been an interesting year for kayaking for me. I have been on numerous new runs including several that I have wanted to do for a long time now. Early this spring I was fortunate enough to get on a high water Illinois River trip in Oregon, and 2 months later a West Fork Bureau trip. In fact, every month this year I’ve done at least one multiday kayaking trip. All were unique experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Scott getting a sweet ender in the eddy line in his fully loaded squirt boat.

August probably saw the most unique multi day I have ever heard of anyone doing before. My buddy Scott Sills and I came up with this crazy idea to take our squirt boats out on an overnight trip. Now for those of you that don’t know what a squirt boat is, they are ultra low volume fiberglass kayaks that are made for sinking in eddy lines. In fact, when you are in a squirt boat, you are approaching neutral buoyancy and oftentimes find yourself all the way underwater getting swept down in whirlpools and disappearing through waves. Some think that this is incredibly scary, but to me, it’s just plain fun!

Me surfacing from a mystery move at this great spot we found on the way down stream.

So anyways, back to the story, Scott and I decided that we would squirt boat the Birds of Prey section of the Snake River in Idaho from below Swan Falls Dam to Centennial Park, roughly 10 miles. To run our shuttle we took our mountain bikes and rode upstream from the takeout to get our kayaks, stopping at old stone homesteads on the way and riding onto and off of the large melon boulders scattered throughout the ride.

Me riding the Mellon Bolders

Scott cruising down the trail to the squirtboats

After goofing off for several hours riding the boulders, we got all loaded up in our squirt boats and pushed off down stream in our FULLY loaded squirt boats. In fact, in mine I had a sleeping bag, ground pad, tarp, 3 ears of fresh sweet corn, 4 summer squash out of my garden, 5 - 24 oz beers, a full bottle of Patron tequila, fishing pole, worms, fishing tackle, 2 water bottles, and numerous other, smaller items. Oh, and I forgot to mention, a 20 oz steak for dinner. So, needless to say, when I pulled across the eddy line the first time I sank over my head and cruised downstream on the underwater currents before resurfacing, only to get endured several times in the eddy line. I looked back, and Scott was having the same results. It was great fun!

Scott playing at a fun spot we found in his fully loaded boat.

We cruised down stream for a ways, playing as hard as we could in the continuous eddy lines and boils, pirouetting and mystery moving in every feature we could find (which were many) before the up-canyon wind started, causing us some havoc and discomfort trying to fight it. There were several times that the wind was blowing at us so hard that 2 foot waves were breaking upstream and we struggled to get to camp.

We decided to camp inside an old homestead, taking advantage of the shelter it provided from the wind and rain.

Our camp.

Scott fishing for his dinner using a willow stick. He caught the biggest fish.

We spent the afternoon fishing for the surf portion of our surf and turf dinner and Scott caught a very nice bass off of a willow stick and a piece of string while I caught several smaller bass off of my pole I brought in my squirt boat.

Course #3 of dinner. Scott caught the big one on the right.

After catching enough fish for dinner, we decided to start cooking. Our meal consisted of summer squash, potatoes, and corn on the cob, followed up by juicy steaks and bass seasoned to perfection with fresh lemon and limes and cooked over an open fire. All washed down with Margaritas made with Patron Tequila. We were living in the lap of luxury. No freeze dried meals for us on this trip; everything was 100% fresh as could be.

That night, we stayed up late and hung out around the campfire, enjoying the full moon and the awesome experience that we were having less than an hour from our homes, finally falling asleep inside the old homestead, listening to the rain patter on the tin roof.

We woke up in the morning, nice and refreshed, me realizing it’s my birthday and I couldn’t think of a better birthday morning than waking up and loading my gear back into my squirt boat to paddle down to the take out.


Scott and I have been doing a multiday self support kayaking trip every month of the year so far. It all started in the parking lot of Banks, Idaho after doing a winter kayaking run last January, and its just kept going. Well, the year is about to the end and we have one final trip coming up. Our December trip. All year long we talked about what the ultimate self support kayaking trip would be for the final trip of the year. We tossed several ideas out there, the Main Salmon, the Main and the Lower Main Salmon, something in California, the Rio Grande, we even kidded around about the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. Well, last month we finally decided what we were going to do for our grand finally. We are going to spend 15 days living out of our kayaks on the Grand Canyon. We were fortunate enough to draw a December 3rd permit. It will only be Scott and I on this trip and we will both be taking large whitewater kayaks and plan on taking lots of photos.

Also, while we’re on this Grand Canyon trip, I plan on wrapping up the filming of Campfire Stories and when I get back, I will be sitting down and editing the film from the last few years into an hour long film for release this spring. I will have more details on that soon although I will tell you that the film will have some great footage of high water North Fork of the Payette (8000 cfs), high water South Fork Salmon, some great flows on Succor Creek, high water on Bear Creek in Montana, high water on the Milner Mile, a few adventures in Wyoming, a lot of flows on the Middle Fork of the Payette Steeps, and some pretty cool waterfall action including the 2nd decent and first successful descent of the Charlie Beaver Drop on the Malad Gorge directly under I-84 by Seth Stonner. Plus there are going to be a few other surprises along the way including some roadside creeks here in Idaho with some really fun class 4+ rapids and ledges as well as some gnarly carnage and broken boats! It should be fun.

Well, I'm off to go pack for the big ditch and then get down to some serious editing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Winter Middle Fork of the Salmon

Author on another winter multi day on the South Fork of the Payette

The Middle Fork of the Salmon is one of the United States most popular wilderness runs, mentioned in the same breath as the Grand Canyon and the Rouge River. This March I had the opportunity to run the Middle Fork in a truly interesting way for my first trip down that river corridor. The plan was to park at highway 21 and ski in 40 miles to Little Loon Creek over 3 days, then paddle down 60 miles of the Middle Fork of the Salmon where our cars will be waiting.

On Sunday morning, we drive to the Seafoam pull out for the start of or Middle Fork journey where we bust out the skis and grab our packs and began skiing in while our shuttle driver takes the car down to Salmon, Idaho. The weather is nice, clear, and sunny and not too cold, only sitting in the 20’s, which is great travel weather, especially this early in the year.

We are on the trail for several hours, not making great time and decide to discuss our options. We have roughly 40 miles to ski and are making pretty poor mileage. We decide that our best chance of finishing the trip is to go back to Marsh Creek near the highway and put in there, adding an additional 60 miles to our river trip, but we figure we can make up for it in the additional 4 days we’ve got to move on the water.

Once we reach Marsh Creek, we blow up our pack rafts and put into what we think is an open channel with 3 foot snow banks on both sides. It is clear of snow bridges as far as we can see with roughly 20 cfs in the creek, enough to float our packrafts.

We make pretty good time until the first snow bridge, about ½ mile downstream where we have to hop out of our boats, lift them up onto the top of the snow bank while standing in the creek, then climbing up after it. Sinking waist deep into the snow, trudging for 20 feet, and climbing back into the boats we continue down stream, hoping that we don't find too many portages. Shortly after we got back into the boats, after maybe 100 yards, come to our second portage, followed by our 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc… This continued on until nearly dark when we decided to quit the punishment and camp for the night.

Making camp consisted of wading through waist deep snow, digging out a place for a campfire. packing our sleeping spot, and flailing through the snow to try to gather enough wood for a campfire so we could make dinner as none of us brought a stove to cook on to try to keep weight down. We also left behind the water filter to lighten our loads further. The trips to the Marsh Creek to get more water for hot drinks and cooking was quite an ordeal in itself, the snow shelf overhanging the creek made it hard to get down to the water without getting your feet wet. But we make the best of it, cook up a few steaks in the coals, and drink some hot tea before going to bed under the tarp over the boot packed snow.

The following morning I awoke to frost in my beard and a cold clear sky. We broke down camp early knowing that we had a long day ahead of us if we wanted to make it down to the confluence in the remaining 6 days. Once on the water, the morning started off similar to the way yesterday ended, with multiple portages and dragging the boats through the shallow, cobble filled creek because of low water, only instead of a nice clear day, the clouds had rolled in and it was spitting snow. Some of the portages were short, but most of them were long affairs up to a third of a mile with every other step supporting our weight teasing us into a sense of security until we’d take our next step and fall through the snow waist deep and struggling to pull ourselves out of the snow to make the next step.

At some point during the morning my dry suit begins to leak and cold water leaks in every time I finish another portage. My feet go numb, then my ankles, eventually up through my knees. I try to wiggle my toes and I can see them move through my shoes but cannot feel a thing. I can’t even feel the water sloshing around below my knees in my dry suit. I start to get really cold and tell Forrest and Moe, my partners in this trip, what is going on and that I am going to need to stop and build a fire or I will become hypothermic. We discuss our options and decide that we are making such poor time that we need to keep moving and that we will stay communicating about my condition and keep pushing on, dealing with the consequences later or once they get too severe. My motor function gets weaker and weaker as we continue struggling down stream hoping to make some mileage.

It gets to the point where I can’t really talk that well without slurring my speech and I am shivering uncontrollably. I do some jumping jacks to try to get blood flowing again and we decide to keep pushing on. At this point, I am looking forward to each grueling portage so I am out of the water and working hard, dreading the occasional boating that we are doing other than for the fact that we are making even some distance down stream. I start thinking to myself about the severity of the situation and that we are 2 days out from the road at least in any direction. I hit the proverbial wall, my thoughts turn very negative and I begin wondering what the hell I am even doing in this situation and why I would even consider being on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in the winter. I think about how I have a very awesome girlfriend at home and how I could be at home with her sitting on the couch watching a movie or eating an awesome dinner, instead I'm freezing my ass of in the middle of nowhere in a landscape full of snow. I think about how much I just want to lie down and rest, but the thought of Tara at home keeps me moving. I am cold, tired, and hating every moment of this trip. I have decided that I hate snow, I hate boating. I hate wilderness. I hate snow. I want to be home.

At one point while I'm in this negative mindset we make the longest portage yet. Only this one doesn’t warm me up at the end. We get back into the river and continue down stream, Forrest first, followed by me, followed by Moe. As I round a blind corner I see this ice bridge directly downstream and catch a micro eddy at the lip and struggle to portage the bridge, falling into the creek on the downstream side of the 3 foot wide bridge into waist deep water and struggling back into my boat to signal Moe to eddy out. He misses the eddy and pins, Forrest is nowhere in site. I watch downstream as Moe pulls himself through the ice bridge and pulls his boat off. I am shivering uncontrollably now and can’t even string together a sentence. As Moe gets back in his boat and we round the corner we find Forest in his boat. He just swam in the same spot. We discuss the situation and decide to camp for the night.

Forrest digs out the snow and builds a fire while Moe sets up boot packs and sets up a shelter while I take care of myself, changing into dry cloths and moving in close to the fire and sucking up the hot drinks to get my body heat up still wishing I was anywhere but where I was and questioning my judgment for ever wanting to go on this trip in the first place.

I am still cold but no longer shivering when we call it a night. It is snowing big giant flakes and we are hoping that it will bring the temps up to near freezing for the night.
I can’t sleep much during the night because I'm worried about not being able to feel my feet still. The morning brings about clear skies and very cold temps to start out the day. My feet are still numb but they don't hurt and aren’t black from frost bite so I figure that it can’t be too bad. I'm still cold but no longer shivering.

While inspecting my dry suit, I notice that all my seam tape has pealed off the seat and legs of the suit. I also have a 2” tear in the leg where I can only guess some ice cut the suit. I repair it the best I can by drying it out over the fire and trying to duct tape up the seams. I also put my dry bags over my feet and roll them up into my waterproof rain pants and duct tape those seams as a second dry layer under my dry suit. At about 10:00 am we bust camp and put on only to immediately portage the first of many snow bridges of the day.

The dry suit layered with dry bags and rain paints works well, only allowing a little water in as I finally warm up a bit. The portaging becomes a little better too although we have a new 5-6” of fresh snow from the night’s snowstorm and the number of snow bridges doesn’t ever begin to let up. Soon after leaving camp we get water from a side creek and it nearly doubles our flow, allowing us to make better time but also making stopping above the ice bridges more critical. We do not want a repeat of yesterday’s incident. Something like that could be fatal if it led into a 15 foot snow bridge let alone a ¼ mile one.

At about 3:00 pm we make it down to Dagger Falls where we discuss our options. We are making horrible time and we know that downstream there are still some major snow bridges across the river. When we hike up to look at Dagger Falls we find snowmobile tracks with snow on top of them and we figure that the whole hike out of Dagger will have a snowmobile packed trail. We opt for the hike out, figuring it’ll be an easy 17 miles from the falls. We decide to hike for a few hours and make it to the top of the ridge and down the other side, maybe 3 miles before we set up camp in the dark, camping on snow for our 3rd night in a row. Only my feet are numb at this point and I can still wiggle all of my toes. We are all glad of a change of pace from the paddling/portaging Marsh Creek offered. We melt water for snow; eat a big meal and go to sleep in relative comfort, using our packrafts as extra ground pads to keep the cold out. During the night we hear whooping cranes flying overhead, going who knows where in the starry night.

The next morning sun sees us with high spirits with us figuring we have only about 15 miles to the highway. We are getting out of this damn place today! We fry up some bacon, eat a few pop tarts, and melt some more snow for water before breaking camp at 8:30 am to begin walking through the boot deep powder along the snowmobile tracks to the highway. The going is easy and good and we all go at our own pace. Forrest up ahead followed by Moe and then myself taking up the rear. The sun is shining and the air temp isn’t bad. I even strip down to my t-shirt at one point to take advantage of the bright sunlight radiating off the snow.

At about 2:00 in the afternoon we reach Bear Valley, I notice the sign says that it is 33 miles to Stanley, I know that there is quite a bit of that 33 miles on highway 21 so I'm stoked. I take a bit of a lunch break and take off with high spirits. I can even move my feet and they are no longer cold. Although I still cant feel them.

Just past the airstrip I notice a mile marker buried in the snow. It says 8. My spirits drop, but only a little. I now starting thinking about spending another night out, sleeping on the snow and I promise myself that will not happen. I will not sleep on the snow another night.

Hiking along a road give a person a lot of time to think about things. For a while I think about life and my mindset two days earlier. I think about how negative I was and decide that I was being overly negative, but that there is some truth in the things I felt. Being selective of expeditions isn’t a bad idea. Being comfortable and warm at home is a good thing, and most of all I couldn’t wait to see my girlfriend Tara. That was the strongest motivating factor throughout the trip up to this point and the reason I kept myself pushed so hard.

At milepost 6 I reach to grab my water bottle only to realize that I lost it at some point. I use my cup and fill it up out of a spring, getting my feet wet in the process.

At milepost 5 I run into Moe and Forrest resting in the road. It’s starting to get towards evening and we discuss if we are going to camp out or push on. We all vote to push on to the highway tonight and maybe hitchhike into Stanley if we can and get a motel room. Forrest blazes on ahead with Moe following behind and me pulling up the rear, each going at their own pace.

Milepost 5 to 4 was the most brutal of the entire trip. It consisted of hiking up to the Cape Horn Summit, probably a 1500 foot elevation gain. It hurt. Bad. I made myself go without stopping or resting, taking 6 inch steps and keeping my head down, trudging along. Not wanting to see how slowly the terrain was passing by.

The remaining miles went by quickly and in the dark. All down hill I nearly jogged down the trail until I got to the highway where, to my surprise, Forrest and Moe had found a snowmobiler warming hut fully furnished with wood where I stepped inside out of the cold.

That evening was great, drying all of our gear and drinking a toast to a successful trip down Marsh Creek in early March and our 23 mile hike out we had that day. I fell asleep snuggled up next to the wood stove, truly warm and dry for the first time in days.

Waking up the next morning, I can barely walk. My feet were about double in size, swollen and painful. I pop a couple of Ibuprofen as we prepare to hitchhike over 200 miles from Banner Summit to Salmon Idaho.

The hitchhiking goes so smoothly, I’ve spent more time trying to get a ride 5 miles up the road at Banks than I spent trying to hitch the 3 different rides we got getting to Salmon. The last leg of our journey was anticlimactic after all the hardships we’d faced over the last several days. Once we reached Salmon, we all shook hands, laughed a bit over the misdirection our trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon took and went our own ways with mine being a 5 hour drive back to Boise where I have never been happier to end an expedition.

I have never felt like I’ve failed so badly at something I’ve set out to accomplish as I have in the days following this attempted Middle Fork Salmon trip. I have recently come to realize that although the trip didn’t end the way we had initially planned by navigating down the Middle Fork Salmon, it was not a failure. We did successfully paddle down Marsh Creek during the first few weeks of March and hiked from Dagger Falls back to Highway 21, a fair expedition in itself. I still can not shake the feeling that it was possible to paddle all 120 miles of the Marsh Creek/Middle Fork in a 1 week period if we would only have pushed downstream instead of picking the already traveled path. I still sometimes feel like a failure in this expedition and don't really enjoy talking about the trip to friends or family. I have written this trip report mostly for myself to help understand the things I have discovered about myself through this journey. This experience has been one of the hardest I have had in my life and I feel that it was unsuccessful. I still am trying to wrap my head around this trip and all the lesions I will take away.

One thing I do know is that I’d like to try to do the Middle Fork in the middle of winter again, learning from the various mistakes I made and the various lessons I learned. Maybe not next winter, or even many winters from now, but at some point I would like to self support the Middle Fork of the Salmon in the winter using all human power, putting in at Marsh Creek and taking out at the confluence with the Main Salmon, over 120 miles down stream. Overcoming all of the shortcomings that I feel I had this trip, portaging the many snow bridges and continuing downstream at Dagger Falls where before I did not have the courage or the willpower to follow the difficult path, even further into the wilderness and overcome the shortcomings that I have had in the past.

Until then, I am going to recline in my chair with a blanket and a warm something to drink and enjoy being in comfort just a little more.

*NOTE: The swelling in my feet went down after about 4 days, and the numbness has gotten better but still persists in the toes. It turns out I have “Trench Foot” or “Submersion Foot” which is similar to frost bite but without the freezing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter multidays in Idaho

Entering the Murtaugh Canyon

Well, it’s official. Everything is frozen here in the lovely state of Idaho. But just because it's all icy doesn't mean that there isn’t an adventure to be had. After a weekend trip to Hood River and having some fun over there, I was really digging getting some good paddling in, the only problem is that the Pacific Northwest was experiencing on of the coldest spells in years. Rivers all over were icing up left and right. Even here in balmy Boise Idaho where temps never really get THAT cold we saw 4 or 5 days in a row with sub zero mornings and below freezing temps for days on end. But, given all that, there wasn’t enough snow anywhere to get any snowboarding in. So there was only one thing to do. Go paddling, no matter how cold.

Camp 2

Now I had been tossing around an idea for a while to do a winter multi day somewhere and I decided that this was the weekend to go give'r a shot. There were only two problems. First off, where was I going to go? As far as the classic multi days here in Idaho, everything was locked down as solid as Fort Knox in this cold snap we were experiencing and it wasn't looking like it would be over until spring. The second problem was that it was Thursday night and I had no one that was remotely interested in going paddling in the dead of winter on a multi day, especially if they had to call in sick to work on Friday to do it. So I decided I would go solo, something I've always wanted to do anyways, just not necessarily in the middle of winter. Regardless, the second hurdle was avoided...

Back to the first problem, where to go? My mind instantly went to the South Fork Salmon, probably my most favorite run anywhere, but reports of the Main Salmon being frozen over down by Riggins made me scratch that idea really quickly. Same with the Middle Fork Salmon. My next thought was golden though as I started putting together a plan.


Put in at the lower Milner on the Snake River where they divert the water back into the river from the Milner Bypass. Flows were sitting around 1800 cfs and I have never seen the canyon above Star Falls before from a boat and I heard it's really pretty. The plan was to then continue down stream through the Murtaugh stretch, portage Twin Falls and Shoshone Falls and continue down stream through the Sewage Run and take out below Auger Falls. I haven't ever done the Sewage run and thought it would be a cool end of the trip on Sunday. So with those real loose plans, I left town Friday to go check out my portage route around Shoshone Falls.

When I got to Shoshone Falls I decided that it looked like I could get around the waterfall on river right, but I wasn't sure. I figured I'd wing it when I got there. I drove up to Twin Falls reservoir to check out the ice situation and found it completely iced over. The ice looked just thick enough to walk across but just thin enough that I didn't want to. Especially for 2 miles. I damn near scrapped the plans until I remembered that some of the Twin Falls locals will hike down at Hansen Bridge for after work runs. Well I decided that if they could put on there, I could take off there and continued on to the put in.

It's cold in that canyon

I opted for the regular Murtaugh put in because I was a little nervous about the ice and the shuttle, which I was hoping to hitch on Sunday. Plus it was starting to get late and very cold (15*F according to my truck). I loaded up my boat will all the warm gear I could cram in plus my camcorder and camera, hoping to get some really cool shots of ice from all the springs and waterfalls inside the canyon and started off down stream. The first splashes to the face froze instantly and right away I had a headache from the cold water even with a skull cap. I paddled about a mile down stream and found a camp just as it was starting to get dark. Luckily there wasn't any wind to speak of, but there wasn’t any firewood at this camp either. I cooked some dinner and heated up my tent as best I could with my butane stove while climbing into my sleeping bag and reading a book of more adventures on the river (Huck Finn) by the light of my head lamp before going to sleep content and very happy as only a river trip can make you.
I woke up sometime later that night to the sound of wind picking up and I flipped on my headlamp to find the entire inside of my tent covered in frost. It was cold and I was cold. I tried to warm myself up by doing crunches in my sleeping bag and tossing all my extra cloths under my ground pad. It seemed to help but my toes were still numb. I eventually fell back asleep again. I woke up constantly throughout the night, keeping up the same routine. Crunches in the sleeping bag, careful not to bump the sides of the tent to avoid the spray of frost, curl back up and sleep for a few more hours. Eventually it got light.
Ice formations were amazing
Once the light didn't seem to be getting any brighter, I got out of my tent and found that during the night it had snowed a few inches. But the sky had cleared and the sun was just peaking over the canyon wall. Which was way more than I ever hoped for and really sparked my motivation so I hurried to break down camp and get on the water, anxious to see what I would see in the canyon below, and knowing that some of my favorite rapids were just down stream.

More ice

I put on the river in the sunshine, but it quickly turned overcast and begin to snow. Each of the rapids was the same as they have always been, but completely different because of the cold and the ice undercuts along the shore. The consequences were much higher too, and for some reason, harder to push out of my mind. But after the first few rapids I forgot it was winter and started enjoying myself, focusing on each swirling current and playing in every whirlpool, enjoying the way my fully loaded boat stuck to the water and crashed through the currents. In the flat water I found myself not just paddling through. Instead, I just sat there reflecting on the river and the amazing canyon with all the ice sculptures formed by the many springs coming in through the canyon walls. Noticing for the first time small things about the canyon, like the many beaver dens, or that most all the springs come in from the river left, or an old man made shelter located on river right. I got to watching the ducks and the geese, just floating along hoping that they wouldn't notice me and I could just float by. The river was filled with special moments that I've never taken notice in before.

I got to second camp, just a couple of bends upstream of Hansen Bridge. The only place I could find level enough to set up a tent was a pothole that was filled up with ice. I cleared off the snow and set up the tent directly on the ice, laid out all my gear on the bottom of the tent to absorb the cold and started to collect drift wood to build a fire. My feet were still numb from the night before.

After getting camp all set up, I settled in and watch my fire burn, enjoying the quite evening and the dull rumble of the small rapid right next to my camp. I watched as ice flowed down through the rapid and disappeared in the foam, popping back up into the eddy below. As I was sitting there the snow stopped and the sky cleared, and I watched as the last rays of sunshine crawled up the canyon wall and disappeared. It started to snow again.

Looking upstream at Camp 2

Later in the night while I was in my tent, I heard rain pattering on my tent and the wind whipping through the canyon. It was a long cold night with many more crunches and changing positions to keep anywhere from getting too cold. I felt like a rotisserie chicken slowly turning around and around. Eventually it got light again and was still drizzling.

Loading up the boat

I packed up all my gear and made a big breakfast of mashed potatoes, rice, steak, and hot water to wash it down, counting on the carbs to keep me warm. I filled up my water again in an icy spring, loaded up my gear, got back into my already cold and wet fleece, got back into my half frozen dry suit, put on my completely frozen gloves and skull cap, got in the icy water and paddled down the icy river.

When I got to Paradise Rapid, I didn't even look at it; I just got out of my boat, drug it over the snow around the rapid, and got back in. I was cold. I paddled down stream.

Just after Hansen Bridge before Hooker Rapid was a large ice dam, which was fine, it was where I planned on getting out anyways. I started carrying my boat up the cliffs, trying to find a way out. I didn't make it more than 40 feet above the river before I decided that I would have to carry out all my gear in stages. I unloaded my boat and made two 1 hour trips with my dry bags up to the top of the canyon, finding multiple sketchy spots where the climb out of the canyon felt rather exposed with the ice and snow and the melting temptures. I think that it was probably because I was cold and that my motor skills weren't 100%, but I felt off balance and very tired. I decided that it wasn't safe to be carrying my kayak out of the canyon, so I made one final trip down to the river and stashed my kayak in some rocks hoping that some rednecks don't decide to shoot it before I go back in to get it. I then hiked back out with a few odd pieces of gear I didn't want to leave behind.

Once I was back up to the top of the canyon rim, I stashed all my gear in some bushes and went to the road to try to hitch a ride. After a lot of waves, smiles, and a bunch of break checks (they slow down until you start walking back to the car, then they speed away), a car goes by with kayaks on top. Just randomly it's my buddy Davis Gove from Pocatello driving by on his way back from a swift water rescue class and he gives me a ride back to the put in to get my car. Defiantly a lucky break.

The winter multi day is something I will be doing again. It has to be one of the more rewarding experiences of my life being in that canyon for two nights. It wasn't so much about the whitewater or the paddling, but the entire experience of the three days. From having to do crunches in the middle of the night to try to keep warm, to watching ice crash down and smash on rocks below, to just floating and watching the world spin round and canyon walls all around me, knowing I was never any more than 1/2 mile from a house, but still feeling like I was a tiny little insignificant speck inside this remote canyon. It was a special experience.

A very great experience.