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The Gearboat Chronicles

Thanks, summertime…welcome back steelhead

We here at Winding Waters strive for a perfect Leave No Trace camping record for each whitewater trip on the Snake River in Hells Canyon, Idaho’s Lower Salmon and our Wallowa and Grande Ronde backyard rivers . . . every patch of water we row we want to leave pristine. Sadly, this summer our rafting season was marred by one error. Here it is, pictured below.

We picked this image up via satellite. After our crews sweep the camp and brush away footprints before pushing on down the river, Penny engages the uplink with our orbiting camera on Satellite XV411 back at headquarters and scans for anomalies. Rest assured, the person who left this trace has been relieved of duty. We run a tight ship.

Todd Kruger can be thanked for much of the ship-tightening. In the past he stayed closer to home, running the boathouse until he had things so organized on land there was no choice but to do more river trips so he could find more things to organize.

Here he is excavating for the new Winding Waters squirt gun bunker, where all Super Soakers are bored out and retrofitted to provide maximum flow during water fights.

His crew is a little on the young side, but Brady Brown is widely regarded as the finest Tonka operator in the Northwest.

The rafting season is winding down and some of the crew are back at school. Patrick and Dane are climbing the rungs of higher education. Mike Baird’s back to teaching high school. Joseph is attending high school. And Linden is learning her ABCs.

For the rest of us, we gaze fondly at our college degrees and are thankful we don’t need to sit in classrooms anymore or ever buy another three-ring binder. Except for Morgan. He’s fond of Trapper Keepers and buys a new one every September.

This time of year, the crew that isn’t in school reviews game tapes from the whitewater season much like a football coaching staff, drawing little circles and making comments. For instance, Paul, Morgan and myself spent two hours analyzing this next photo, trying to plot how we might have adjusted the entry angle of the raft to disperse water droplets in a more efficient spray pattern, splashing the passengers who desired to get splashed while leaving the one passenger dry who wished to stay that way.

So as Fall teeters and we look back on another sweet summer, we thank you for rafting with us and look forward. . . .

Wait, what am I saying . . . there’s steelhead arriving already. If you haven’t caught a steelhead on a flyrod you’re missing a particularly strong trigger to the adrenaline delivery system.

Our fishing guide Tom Farnum turned me from a reluctant steelheader who doesn’t care for being cold into someone who doesn’t notice the chill because there just ain’t nothing like catching a steelhead on a fly.

Give us a shout if you hanker for a first-class multi-day steelhead float down the beeeeutiful Wallowa and Grande Ronde, or a day trip to get you warmed up.

Okey-doke. Be seeing you.