Monday, June 29, 2009

Trip Report: June 22, 2009

The June 22, 2009 launch lived up to many a boatman's expectations with some of the more consistent and predictable water levels. With a week of sun shine in the forecast and the Middle Fork dropping to the 4' mark, we shined up the Sweep Boat, and busted out the fly rods.

It was great fun to see so many familiar faces step off the bus at Boundary Creek. Kevin Learned was back with another great group of friends for his 10th Rocky trip and Harold, Mary, and Margaret's repeat of their June 22, 2008 trip got all the guides hopes up that the three have started a June tradition.

After a warm spring, the first two days of summer delivered a surprising popsicle punch - we actually had snow fall during lunch at Sulphur Slide Rapid on Day-1! Luckily this is Idaho, and the coldest day of the 2009 season was immediately followed by the hottest day so far. By lunch on Day-2 everyone was down to t-shirt, shorts, and a hat.

Wool hats, and rain jackets for guides Jon Green, Big Jim Slaugh, and Emily Beck, on rig-day.

After poking around Joe Bump's cabin early on Day-2 and lunching below Pistol Creek rapid we floated under Idaho blue sky to sunflower hot-springs and enjoyed the first back rub of the season from the hot-spring "shower."

Emily and Ernie spend some right-side-up boat time together in the Sunflower shower eddy, and Jim Slaugh heads to camp at Stateland Left.

Day-3 was a relatively short day on the water which gave everyone plenty of options for the day. Two oar boats took their time and fished every rip, seam, and eddy line. Both crews landed plenty of native Cutthroat Trout. From White Creek camp Sparky and Jon lead a group to the Loon Creek hot springs and a smaller group explored the White Creek drainage directly across from camp. Kevin and Amy returned with three of the many Wolf specimens they encountered on their White Creek hike, and after dinner Birddog explained the difference between wolf and mountain lion sign and their respective hunting styles.

It was fun having Idaho Statesman environmental reporter Rocky Barker along, not only for his telling of "The Wild Bus Ride" story, but also for his insight and perspective on many of his more contemporary stories which center around the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area. Check out Rocky's July 6th Idaho Statesman article about his experience with us last week.

On day-4 we stopped at the Flying B and leafed through their photo album from the 2000 fire season. Rocky was the first reporter to see the Middle Fork after the massive fire season, and he filled us in on all the details that the pictures left out.
On the morning of day-5 Rocky was kind enough to tag-team the Pacific Northwest Salmon story with Birddog. Rocky's recent research and writings center around global warming. Rocky noted that global warming makes saving wild Idaho salmon even more important than before. As global atmospheric and river temperatures rise, the highly resilient and adaptive strains of Idaho salmon stock might be some of the only genetic strains capable of surviving global warming - but only if we give them the opportunity to do so.
Day-5 was exciting and action packed. We explored Waterfall creek, fished Big Creek, and before observing the Sheepeater pictographs at Tombstone wall - well you might just have to ask Emily for a run down on why Ernie's smile is so big and why he kept her cup full of Bloody Marys all evening. Welcome to the Middle Fork Swim team gang.

Mark Wetherington brings more wine and puts the smiles on the faces of Mitch, Rocky, Kent, and Trucker.

Thank you for another great trip. We can't wait to float with everyone again.

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