liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Braindump, Clackamas/White Salmon Trip Report

Houseguest Joel left this morning. Midterms ended last week. Spent the weekend mostly hanging out on and around river, which is something I hardly ever do anymore. On Sunday I actually started to enjoy myself, nay, I even enjoyed large parts of the river day on Saturday. For a long time now I've been wondering if I'm depressed because I haven't enjoyed boating that much. But on Saturday we were alone on the Clackamas. There was a big festival and tons of people along the road and at the site and on a certain short stretch of river. But we ran a section that started above Fish Creek--by the power house, and though there was a crowd at the put-in, there was NOBODY on the water with us. The river was up--not too much, just enough for the rapids to be fully developed. Any higher water and they would start to wash out. And any lower and they would change shape entirely, back to the low water conformation. So it was exciting on the river, and beautiful, and I took the first few deep breaths since midterms and my GPA exam and my vaccine seminar and all that stuff that piled up my stress level.

Bash! There's an indoor soccer facility in the cinderblock building outside my office window. When the ball in play hits the metal fence or garage door it makes a sudden violent metal noise. Smash! Doesn't happen often, just occasionally. The other noise here is the kabump of busses and trucks over on 17th Ave. Unpredictable and harsh sounds of the city.

On Sunday we paddled on the White Salmon river in Washington (in stolen photo above). It's a small cold river in a basalt gorge, in a valley that opens up toward the North side of Mount Hood. We went to the put-in--BZ? or something like that--for the Middle WS, and met with others. The gang was Joel, Tommy, Marnie and me. The flow was 4 feet. I have no idea how many CFS that is. I haven't really paid any attention to gages here yet. I guess I should start.

Anyway we dressed out to boat and Marnie's husband was going to run shuttle and take care of their two young ones. I headed for the river first. The trail to the launch at BZ is pretty cool. It's downhill through the forest. In the center of the trail are two parallel tracks made of metal pipe, about waist high. It's arranged so that you can put your kayak crosswise on the two tracks and push it along. So you don't have to carry your kayak on your shoulders. Rafts could be shoved along this structure as well. (It would be the perfect equipment to have at the Chattooga, or any W&S river with a 1/4+ mile roadless buffer.)

When I got down to the river's edge and saw the river, I didn't finish lowering my boat to the bank. The bank was a narrower strip of basalt than I had seen there before. I knew what that meant. I've been on this run when it had too much water for me, and that was lower than now. I could run it, I could make it down without problems. But it is not fun. So I said no thanks, and dragged my boat up to a good parking spot, and then went to take pictures and wait for the others.

Marnie was second one to the river and she had the same reaction as me. She didn't want to paddle it. So she put her boat with mine. Joel came down and went on in a fat little ducky, certain to get spanked. Tommy launched upstream of the big rapid at the put-in like the big dog that he is. Joel saw Tommy and launched, and the two of them ran it together. They did OK. Joel swam at least once but self rescued after a long swim beside his boat.

Meanwhile Marnie and I pushed our boats back up the metal ramp and loaded them on our vehicles. With husband and kids we headed down to a launch spot below the falls. Husum falls is currently jammed up with a big log. We rushed around getting into our boats, and then warmed up some in the eddies. There is a pretty good sized drop just downstream and I was eager to get it over with, because after that I had nothing to worry about. I played in the eddies working my way very gradually downstream. But she just wasn't coming. So I worked my way back upstream to where she was.

She proceeded to tell me all about the circumstances of her first birth, which is quite a story. She says she should have changed midwives when she had an inkling to do that a couple weeks before she was due. But she didn't change horses in midstream, and she ended up essentially laboring alone. Her labor was atypical, and her two midwives didn't think it was time to come yet. Marnie didn't order them to come, but she knew her body, and she made it through the majority of the process without any backup at all. The midwives on the phone told her to have her husband take a nap. By the time the midwives showed up, the child was on his way out. The child was blue and the midwives had a partial container of oxygen. Marnie thinks he was traumatized by being born under water. This whole story unfolded as we sat in kayaks, clinging to rocks and roots on the bank of the rushing White Salmon River.

People are a big part of what makes river running worthwhile. Marnie is pure gold. I am grateful to have met that lady and her husband too, though I didn't spend as much time with him.

A random guy asked from the river bank if he could join us. We said sure, we're waiting for these other guys, come on down. He suited up and was climbing into his boat on top of a tall rock. Marnie and I got to talking and I let her know that I hadn't really understood that we were going to wait for those guys. I had thought we were just going to launch and meet up with them at the takeout. I didn't really know, that's just how I would have done it, and nobody else had told me different. So I talked Marnie into proceeding downstream in the company of the stranger whose name became known as Mark. Mark told me where to run in the first rapid and I ran probe, and the line he suggested was good.

Mark grew up in Baltimore with a Mark I know through school. Small world phenomenon. I didn't tell them but I was conceived in Baltimore. Boating circle overlaps naturopathy circle. Pleased to meetcha. And thanks to Joel for dragging me back over toward the boating circle. I needed my world to broaden again.

I think I enjoyed boating more this time because I said no to the things that I knew I wouldn't enjoy. Getting better at that. Seems simple enough.

So I have a bajillion things to write about but it is time to shut down this machine and organize my folders for tomorrow. And finish making my thermos of tea. Hope you guys are well out there in LJ world. /braindump
Tags: boundaries, childbirth, exams, friends, my life, oregon, river, urban, washington

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