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The Gearboat Chronicles

Back to sch . . . still rafting!

How about all those first day of school photos populating Facebook right now. Young scholars bubbling over with excitement about facing 9 long months of sitting through fractions and The War of 1812. Yessir. The tracks of their bitter tears are barely visible because the camera tends to focus on the brand new outfits and backpacks.

Listen, kids. Enjoy those Number 2 pencils. You could be out in the work force instead. Like young Linden here, seen hard at work packing coolers for the family business.


It’s like something out of a Charles Dickens novel. “May I have some more porridge?” “NOT UNTIL YOU LOAD THAT GEARBOAT!”

Nah. Linden’s as happy as ever and no children were forced to carry things in the process of taking that photo. She volunteered, of all things. Here’s another photo of her, taken at Maloney Creek camp on the Lower Salmon where the Arentsen brothers and family hosted a sleeping pad-insulated sumo wrestling tournament that really should have been available on pay-per-view.


Speaking of the Lower Salmon and back-to-school time, here’s an inside tip: now is a great time to be on the river. Lots of folks have got their rafting in for the season so you don’t see as many rafters on the water, plus the weather is generally pretty great on account of things cooling off a touch in the evenings. Wallowa County gal Andi Leuders knows what we’re talking about. She’s organizing a locals trip down the Salmon coming up real soon.

That goes for the Snake River in Hells Canyon, too. Morgan, Todd and co. just headed for the ramp to enjoy the September conditions in Hells Canyon.

2014 had some fires out in these parts, but not to worry, appropriate caution was taken and no harm done. Well, there’s a few trees that may disagree about harm done, but also a lot of grass and such that’ll bounce back next year greener than ever. Here’s a shot above Skeleton Creek on the Lower Salmon, showing a panorama that distorts things some, but shows what it looks like to round a corner from blue sky into smoke. Two wildland engine crews were down there off the Eagle Creek Road to protect houses and those folks were sure earning their beans.


Music For Inhabited Places

Our Wild Places musical river guide pal Kai Welch played the Juniper Jam music festival at the fairgrounds in Enterprise over Labor Day weekend. And did a smash-up job of it, I might add. Rafters who have been on a Music For Wild Places float would recognize his Superman theme trumpet rendition to start his set. Looking forward to hearing who Kai lines up for wilderness concerts next year. Here he is tuning up before his set.


Coming up, I’ll be volunteering on a bull trout spawning ground survey this fall, hiking into the Imnaha headwaters. Should see some awesome country. But the real draw, of course, is that this event is catered by Morgan Jenkins, wilderness chef supreme. I’ll hike any distance and wade through icy streams for that guy’s cooking.

Here’s a parting shot of WWRE guide Robin Pace’s brother Anders, pulling a sweet Hells Canyon handstand on that blue boat in the distance.