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The Gearboat Chronicles

Beautiful Wallowas weather…forty-minutes at a time

Hells Canyon whitewater trips and river journeys Wallowa County-style stick to your memory for lots of reasons. Unique terrain on and off the river, the charm of that little hamlet of Joseph, gourmet riverside eats … the list goes on.

If you live here in the Wallowa Valley, river trips are memorable because, well, you remember them. You have to focus on something while winter drags. Then springtime arrives, lasts for 40 minutes and reverts back to snow showers. So you start another fire in the woodstove, pretend it’s 80 degrees outside and think about those days on the river, counting down the days a lot like how you couldn’t wait for Christmas as a kid – but had to.

The Wallowas like to ease into gorgeous weather. And as any commodities trader will tell you, relative scarcity just ratchets up the precious nature. Well, I don’t actually know what a commodities trader would tell you, but work with me here.

We’re getting glimpses of the good stuff. Birds are getting frisky. The time between snow showers is lengthening. And a sure sign of spring is talk about summer.

Don’t you poop on that bookshelf, bird…don’t you…great. That’s just great.

Just talked with my sister to make plans for my nieces and nephews to come out here for Chief Joseph Summer Camp this summer.

Last time around my nephew Joe was a shade too young for the camp, so instead he went along with Uncle Jon and the Winding Waters crew on the Grande Ronde River. Joe has his priorities straight because he mentioned he’d like to do that again, rather than camp. Atta boy, Joe.

Here he is helping Morgan introduce kayak techniques before the float.

Paul, Morgan and Todd are busy in the boathouse, getting the armada outfitted for the season. Fishing guide Tom Farnam has been working on his time machine to turn the calendar back to the start of steelhead season – let it go, Tom. Just let it go. Trout season is coming.

But we are going to give it one last hurrah, going out to make some casts on the last day of steelhead season this week. I just got off the phone to check on my new waders, which should arrive just in time for the end of the season. Perfect. I’m starting to get used to having wet legs, so maybe I should cancel the order.

I stopped along the Wallowa River for some fly fishing yesterday on my way home and geared up for the last hour of light. Picked up a whitefish and was wondering if there was a steelhead holding in the pool or not when I noticed movement nearby in the shallows – and I’ll be ding-donged if there wasn’t a dorsal fin poking out and a steelhead hanging out right there in 6 inches of water. I snapped this picture and let him be. He looked a little on the tired side.

Loch Ness Wallowa River steelhead.

I know the feeling, steelhead. I’m tired of snow flurries. Tired of leaky waders. So bring on the sunshine. Let’s get this rafting season underway. As a special promotion, the first person to call Winding Waters headquarters and mention ‘Gearboat Chronicles’ will win my broken snow shovel that didn’t make it through the winter.

Nothing a little duct tape won’t fix.

It’s a collector’s item, folks. A one of a kind. Call now for northeast Oregon whitewater vacation planning. Operators standing by.