Learning about our thresholds.
After parting ways with Chris Harjes and the Icicle/Tye area, we drove down past the Ohanny/Clear Fork region near Mt. Rainier to check the levels there. Finding things a bit high, we booked it on down to Hood River to catch some action on Little White. When we left Little White last season it was after a solid week of running the creek, during which we had gotten pretty comfortable out there (trip report here). This year the river was full of wood from a seriously snowy winter in the lower elevations (they got several feet in Hood River), and Andria fell victim to a tricky move around some wood right at the start that has tripped up quite a few boaters (including me last year, and one of our paddling partners for the day a week or two before). After a trip under some logs, she decided to hike out. I continued downstream with the rest of the crew, even though I was starting to get a bit intimidated by the wood as well. What followed was for me a harrowing journey of nonstop whitewater action weaving in and out of the abundance of new wood on Little White. By the end of the run, I realized that by themselves these rapids with which I had become so familiar last year would have been an almost mind blowing exercise. With the wood added into the equation, I simply didn't want to go back in the next day. I'm glad I had the opportunity to get a run on one of my all-time favorite creeks, but this wasn't the year for laps. Although I had paddled 7 out of the last 11 days, I surmised that my lack of paddling in the months leading up to the trip due to work on the River Gypsies ' Guide was the culprit for my lack of comfort. After all, a quick 6 days of paddling after months at a desk is hardly preparation for intense whitewater. It was still strange for both myself and Andria to adjust to stepping back a bit on what were going to run, but we assumed in a week or two we would be back to our old selves.
The following day we had an awesome run down the Middle White Salmon with our friends Allen, Jess, and Scott - who all piled into Scott's mini-me raft while we kayaked along. It was hot sunny fun, followed by an evening partying on a sailboat in the Hood River marina with front row seats to the 4th of July fireworks! I'm still feeling the burn from Allen's habanero margaritas.
The next morning before leaving town we had a chance to visit Jock Bradley to catch up a little and see the new house that he's been working on for a long time. It's a photographer's dream, with views of Mt. Hood, the Columbia Gorge, and Mt. Adams. If you haven't checked out Jock's photography you should - www.JockBradley.com. We took a few photos of his views, but you should check out his gallery to see them really done justice. I've gotten a lot of photographic inspiration every time I've hung out with Jock, and this time was no different. It was great to see him, and big thanks to him for his hospitality!
After that we hung out for a few days up at Rainier where we spent a rainy day exploring the National Park a bit, and then got a run on the Ohanny before heading to BC where we heard the water was running out much earlier than usual.