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The Gearboat Chronicles

Fancy Clothes

Rafting guides have a fairly relaxed dress code. Shorts. Torn-up shirts. Flip-flops. That works out well for me, since my wardrobe is heavy on those same items.

But I did gussy up over the weekend for the thrift store formal, a fancypants sort of affair held out here in Wallowa County every year. The idea being to wear your finest Sunday-go-to-meeting threads that came into your possession via somebody else.

I cheated a little bit, as my sweet checked smoking jacket came from my dad instead of a thrift store. But it was bound for a thrift store if I didn’t snatch it, so I give myself a pass on a technicality.

Nothing like a bunch of hillbillies and country folks all polished up and out on the town. Costume jewelry, bolo ties, bearskin coats and heirloom apparel mingled with a faint essence of mothball. Very classy.

My favorite part of the evening was talking to Alyssa, who I used to work with at the radio station here in Enterprise, and her friend as they discussed how odd it was to be wearing high heels. Ten seconds later they both stilletoed through the permafrost layer of the lawn and their heels sunk in, dropping them down three or four inches. They moved over, sunk through again and then just gave up and kept visiting, rocked back on their heels a little bit.

So that’s the last I’ll be needing my one necktie for another year. It’s back hanging on it’s nail and I’m back to wearing jeans and an old t-shirt.

While we’re on the subject of apparel, I’ll help you get packed for your rafting trip with us this summer. Here’s the usual inventory of my drybag for going on a trip through Hells Canyon:

Torso related items: Old t-shirts, one for every day on the river. I also throw in a few longsleeve button-down shirts, good for sun protection when it’s blazing hot and nice to have when it drops a few degrees around sundown.

Fleece. Always bring a fleece jacket. Just nice to have. Also a light jacket. Definitely a raincoat.

What else . . . couple pairs of shorts. Chaco sandals. Baseball hat. Sunglasses. Maybe a pair of jeans for the evening. A towel. A bedsheet to put over the sleeping pad. Sleeping bag. And that’s about it.

In the spring or fall I’ll throw in warm socks, polypropylene underoos, extra rain gear and more warm stuff in general.
For the most comprehensive gear list, you have to talk to Morgan. He outfits himself with the idea that a pleasure trip down the lower Salmon River may detour into a year-long exploration of the Antarctic. The guy is prepared. We’re thinking of getting another gearboat just to carry his various hand drums, guitar and the sporting goods aisle of clothing he carries with him.

There’s a happy medium in there somewhere, and our comprehensive What To Bring list on the main site can help you find it.

I saw a green shoot of vegetable matter poking out of the ground here today, so boating season approacheth. Get your sunscreen together folks, there’s rapids to run.