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The Gearboat Chronicles

Solar storm shelters

Bright sunny weather in Hells Canyon, along the sandy lower Salmon River beaches and in the Grande Ronde River roadless corridor is one big reason whitewater rafting in northeast Oregon is so almighty beautiful and enjoyable. Love that vitamin D. SPF 30 is my favorite cologne.

Best use of oars right after rowing a boat.

But too much of a good thing can make shade worth ten bucks a square foot and that’s where river wings come in. Possibly my favorite piece of gear in the world of river equipment, wings are lovely for kicking back in the shade or riding out a rain shower and if no weather rolls in that you need to dodge, well a wing just looks cool. With the oars for uprights and tied off to a boulder here, a hackberry tree over there.

Wing setup has given me a whole new perspective for looking at a campsite. You roll in with the gearboat, look around for the best kitchen spot, dining area and likely wing placement.

I’ve seen some high degrees of creativity in setting up one of these shelters and you can use anything from sticks and rocks to sand anchors, to tying off from the boat . . . a wind gust is a sure test of structural integrity and it ain’t no fun to have a wing blow over on you when you really need it.

So I just got back from Mexico and here are some shots of the many innovative sun shelters I spied along the beach in Mazatlan.

Mexico Street. I want to go to there…again.

I saw guy lines tied off of rusty nails in the seawall. Posts made from palm fronds. One wing made from a twin bed sheet with the Jetsons on it.

The ol’ umbrella/bedsheet combo…very nice.

Little intrusive to be taking pictures of a family kicking back on the beach, so these were covert photos snapped while walking by, holding my camera down at my hip. Not trying to be intrusive, beachgoers … just admiring your handiwork is all.

Bracing off a taco wagon and a handrail. Superb use of surroundings.

So the Winding Waters gang will soon be setting wings up again. Paul got the first river time in with a trip down the Owyhee last week. Check the Winding Waters Facebook page for pictures … and sign up as a Winding Waters friend if you haven’t already.

Had a look at the schedule today and it looks like a whole bunch of good times. We’ve got openings, so round up the friends and family and come floating with us, why don’t you. Hells Canyon wildflowers should be gearing up for their annual show and the white sands of the Salmon River are replenishing themselves as we speak. And the Grande Ronde seems to be very popular this year for birdwatchers…then again it’s popular for river watchers, big ol’ tree watchers, fishermen, good-time folks…it’s got broad appeal, that one. Call Paul and talk over all the options.

Do you hear that? It’s the river. And it’s calling.