The Dream Trip: Camp 15, March 18-19

Breakfast the second morning at Whitmore was egg, cheese and spam muffin sandwiches with grapefruit after a cozy sleep in. While I cleaned up and broke camp down Lee went walking up Whitmore Wash in the morning cool. By the time she was back I had most of the rigging done and we got on the water by 11:30. Happy Birthday Lee.
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We spent the day drifting in a rather lazy fashion. There were no rapids to speak of and we were in no great hurry. I’d stroke every so often as needed to keep us more or less in the current. We talked some and did a lot of looking. We stopped to check out a cave in the lava at about mile 190. It is a place where lava likely flowed out over sand and the sand has long since blown away leaving a cavity that is amazingly cool in hot weather. Lee had not seen it before and I wanted a break from the grind of letting the boat drift. We talked with a couple of groups we met along the way. Most have a keen interest in the kind of trip we are running. Though not unheard of a one boat trip is still a bit out of the ordinary. We talked for a while with a small group of men camped at Parashant Wash.
Above Parashant we pulled over and took a nap in the shade after a floating lunch. It was actually nice to have it warm enough to feel like looking for shade in the afternoon. Lee slept on the boat. I went ashore and found a very nice spot that probably never gets sunlight and was very mossy and soft.
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We took camp at mile 202 on river right where there is a nice beach next to some basalt cliffs. The evening was very nice and we had a fine dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, avocados with lime juice and french fries. Dessert was leftover apple crisp from Whitmore camp.

With the trip now a week from finishing time actually felt like it was spreading out instead of compressing like it usually does at the end. Usually by the time we are at 202 we are a day or two away from the takeout. When we launched we thought we might have to go all the way to South Cove at mile 297. We called out with the sat-phone earlier in the day and found out that the new boat ramp at Pearce Ferry is now open. That means we would take out at mile 280 so we were fat on time. Below Diamond Creek (mile 226) we would have 3 days. We also would not have to run Pearce Ferry Rapids which have become pretty nasty though runnable.

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We decided to layover again at 202 since the time was not an issue. We got up at 7:30 and put together a breakfast of eggs, ham, corn bread and grape fruit. Just as we were pulling the corn bread out of the dutch oven the boyos from Parashant came by so we called them over and gave them fresh hot corn bread with honey and butter on it. They were OK with that.
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After our breakfast Lee and I went exploring down stream. We hiked up on top of the lava cliffs and followed game trails through what can be accurately described as a desert botanical and rock garden. The heavy rains in January had greened things up and it was a route that probably sees very little traffic. It was splendid. The rocks all had a great dark shiny desert varnish on them. We made our way up a little drainage that terminated in a dry waterfall where we found some shade. It was really starting to act like March in the lower canyon and the shade was welcome.
On the way back we watched a small group drift by from the cliffs above them. They were all very young and trying to get as darkened by the sun as possible, a habit most thinking boatmen get over after a few years on the river. They never new we were up there watching.
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Back in camp Lee made a pizza while I baked a cake. The evening light was wonderful and the moon set as we bedded down in the open air. As the moon set the stars began coming out in ernest.
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“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.”
Psalm 19:1-2

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