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Old 05-31-2013   #31
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
Great Story Schutzie, thanks!

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Old 05-31-2013   #32
Avon, Colorado
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 38
Carvedog, Dingle....spill it! I'm an inquiring mind. Another post to read?

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Old 05-31-2013   #33
Pugetopolis, Washington
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 767
That's up to Carvedog. Wish i could spill it. I'm sure he tells it better anyways.

There are several lines,in life,that you do not cross. Things got crossed on the Middle Fork.
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Old 06-10-2013   #34
pocatello, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 471
2 years ago I drew a selway permit. July 2. I invited my uncle who taught me to row on the main salmon, his wife, my older brother and a couple other boaters. I had a couple slots still so after a few postings to the buzz a random internet stranger and his wife were suddenly along for the ride.

I also gave a little speech about rafting and climbing to our local civitan club. After the event an older gentleman approached and said he had rafted a billion miles in his prime and if I had any permits he would be very grateful for a spot. the discussion that followed involved him saying he wanted 1 more big trip before he died. I think he was 82. Imagine mountain man from duck dynasty, minus 30 lbs and add all grey hair and beard. it was almost painful to have a conversation.

He offered his fully rigged 14' cat, fire pan, trailer etc. I planned a shake down day trip a few weeks out but he was unable to attend. suspicion was high. But he was supposed to handle himself, row alone and deal with his own shit. I can ignore anyone for 5 days and I am a nice guy.

The selway ended up cranking to 6'+ and I decided to pull the plug on the trip. My group was not up to the task. luckily a Middle fork salmon cancelation popped up and we launched at 5.9'. The group was my 14'cat rowed by my uncle, a random buzzard in an 18' raft and 'howard' in his 14' cat. I kayaked as a probe. Many of the experienced boaters I had lined up saw the selway spike and canceled their vacations. So I was left with only 3 boats for the middle fork. My brother was Howards passenger as there was no where else for him. the raft he was to ride in bailed.

I did all of the food planning, shopping prep etc. we divided up group gear at the launch and it became obvious Howard was not going to pull his weight. his cat contained: lunch cooler with no ice, 2 personal dry bags, fire pan, 2 day bags and 1 large drybox. the food, real coolers and kitchen, groover, table...etc were divided among the other 2 boats. I asked about his big drybox and he evasively said it contained "group and emergency gear".

The day grew super late and it took forever to get rolling.
This was partially due to the fact that Howard had thoughfully rolled up my windows and locked my truck for me at the ramp. My keys were on the seat and my spare was in the shuttle company's possession. My day bag was also in the truck. camera, sunscreen, book, snacks, favorite warm layers, pogies, hat, all locked away. I wrote it off to trying to be helpful. This despite the fact that I had specifically announced "please do not lock the truck until we are all clear and the keys are safe. I am leaving them on the seat if anyone needs to move the truck while I am down rigging.

we launched at 5:30pm from boundary intending to go to dolly lake. 19 miles. Immediately it became clear that my uncle in his 14' cat was quite overloaded but Howard was outclassed in these rapids so there was no redistribution possible. The buzzard who shall remain nameless had the water, 2 big coolers, 1/2 the food and lots of misc group gear. he was quite loaded.

I probed ahead and signaled left at Murph's hole. Buzz made the pull but the cats did not. uncle pounded through and Howard hit at about a 45 degree angle with no momentum. Murph's hole was merciful this time. they surfed out after maybe 2 seconds. Howard kind of smiled and managed to sputter out "pretty good line there" We scouted velvet and opted to punch center. everyone nailed it. we soul trained towards camp. My brother was sitting on Howard's cooler front and center and not long after velvet I noticed my brother rowing. He does not row. His last WW trip was 20+ years ago as a 14 year old.

Howard was kind of gasping and taking the sticks through the bigger stuff. He wanted to stop and rest but we had to make some miles. it took almost 40 minutes to scout velvet and it was getting dark.

we made camp and I quickly setup dinner while everyone else set up tents etc. Howard was exhausted but managed to dig deep enough in his reserves to bitch for 2 hours about going too far, not stopping enough and being tired. He did not lift a finger around camp. he said he had taken enough people on the river in his life and that time was over. he was done lugging gear, etc. I made burgers on his grill while he whined about getting grease on it (it was brand new) and it would never be clean again. I served him up and the attitude was something like "what, no avocado?"

the next day we headed to sunflower hot springs. It was fairly uneventful day as far as rapids. Lake and pistol were largely washed out. sideways worked just fine.
I paid more attention and saw that Howard the veteran river hardman in story was wearing jeans and a cotton cowboy shirt under a farmer john wetsuit. The wetsuit was really tight so he mostly took the suspenders off and let the top flap. approaching a big rapid he would pull it up and snap it in place. the cowboy hat would cinch up too. I never saw a proper wetsuit top that trip. he generally latched his PFD for really big stuff.

I will say that the random buzzard + wife pulled his weight, was quite nice and generally helpful. he basically was invisible as far as the group was concerned.

on that day he basically ran everything sideways and again managed to stay upright. My brother rowed increasing proportions of the miles while Howard would practically collapse after each rapid. He had a mesh floor in his cat and his basic M.O. was to head towards the approximate line, hit the first wave, drop the oars and crouch on the floor grasping a bar until the rapid was done with them. The whine was constant "too many miles each day" "not enough days on the river" "not enough stops" "cold" "we were pushing too hard" "I don't like peas in my stir fry" "every breakfast should have bacon and sausage, not just 1 meat"

I really wanted to give howard some of the weight as my uncle was struggling with a severely overloaded boat but Howard couldn't handle what little he had. There was nothing to do but push on.

My brother became increasingly agitated with the lines and even as a relative neophyte knew things should be straight and the oars might want to be in hand occasionally. My uncle became increasingly agitated at the fact that Howard's photography was primarily directed at his wife at all stages of the day, particularly hot springs and changing time.

day 4 was relatively easy and my brother rowed the bulk of it. Howard alternately being cold, tired, bored, hot, hungry, tired, sore, tired and too full. After watching them ping pong through haystack and Bernard I paddled over to talk to my brother.
"you ok"
"I'm fine except I'm a little sick of going through shit sideways"

We arrived at elk bar intact but everyone was sick of Howard. We sat around the camp fire at dusk and Howard slowly wandered over to his boat and cracked his drybox for the first time.

He pulled out a full size plastic pink flamingo of the lawn variety. He plunked it in the sand and made a small prepared speech.

"This is Gertie. She has been my companion on many river trips but only comes out on the last night and only if it has been a good trip.
This has been one of the best trips of my life.
The company has been good. The food has been excellent and everyone has been so positive and happy. That is what makes a trip. so come have your picture taken by Gertie to commemorate the trip. I hope we have many more together."

I got up to look in his drybox. Gertie was literally the only thing in his drybox.

To say I was pissed is the wrong term. I was confounded. he was the most clueless, inept, socially deranged boater I had ever been with.

We took off the river on day 5 after perhaps a dozen near flips. I drove and we quickly did the math at the ramp so team buzzard could head another direction. the trip was $175 including shuttle and gas. Howard thought that was a bit high and that perhaps he should be compensated for the wear on his trailer. I disagreed.

We drove to the scat machine. I was tired but decided I would drive since of the 5 of us I looked the least wrecked. My bro and I chatted as we drove. Howard faded in and out of sleep.

Someone (cough cough howard) had left a big gulp in my console and ruined my ipod touch, phone and some misc items when the cup disintegrated over the course of 5 days. I was a bit grumpy.

I took scat duty and in between cycles Howard pulled me aside "you are one of the best trip leaders I've ever know and this was a perfect trip but I'll tell you this... I have never been more scared for my life than the last 40 minutes on this road. you need to slow down or someone is going to die." I was not happy. I tossed the keys to Howard "would you rather nap or drive?" he declined to drive and returned the keys.

We wanted to eat in Salmon but Howard knew a special little place half way to mud lake that was excellent. A real hidden gem. we pushed on hungry and grumpy. a couple hours later he identified the roadside diner and we pulled in.
It was the dirtiest, saddest, worst place I have ever considered eating. the lady at the counter wrangled the dogs back into the kitchen. the ancient booths (2) were disgusting. luckily 'Tom is out hunting and I'm not allowed to use the stoves so you have your choice of anything in the fridge that doesn't need cooked' There were a couple of ancient gas station style prefab sandwiches in the fridge that nobody wanted to roll the dice on. We walked out empty.
"Howard, when was the last time you were here? It seems to have gone downhill a bit."
"I wasn't born yet the last time you were here. And we passed the Salmon brewery based on your 40 year old memory"

He still calls every May to see if I drew any permits because he would like 1 more big trip before he dies. I do the nicest thing I can think of and say the trip is full.
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Old 06-10-2013   #35
Redmond, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1973
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,031
A collection of short stories.

I'm printing a selection of these for light reading on the river.

This last one looks like the final chapter.


I've never owned a pink Flamingo.
I now know why.
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Old 06-10-2013   #36
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 65
We used to have a guy that owned no equipment, including a boat, car or trailer tell us his only job on river trips was to heat water for coffee. I miss him
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Old 06-10-2013   #37
Learch's Avatar
Dundee, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 655
I got a call from my Dad last week, we were planning a float for my wife and kids that went off great yesterday. He told me our favorite Rogue boater "Steve" was already looking to go with us again. He said the cold weather made him grumpy, so he wanted to go with us on a warm day. I told my Dad it would be a cold day, as in cold day in Hell, lol.
That said, I took my 2 year old girl, 5 year old boy, and my wife on the lower Clack yesterday. It was the first trip all 4 of us have gotten to do together. My little girl did pretty well, even though Daddy splashed her at the bottom of Mciver park. (There is a pretty good wave/ hole there right now) My Dad, his wife, and my stepsister went too. It was one of the best trips of my life. My wife wanted to row, as it is a skill she is still learning. She did pretty well. My boy helped rig the raft and row, not bad for a 5 year old
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Old 06-11-2013   #38
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 141
I take a lot of strays on the river. I have had mostly good experiences, and some bad ones. I got one guy who assumes that just because I post a trip it means that all he has to do is to "sign up" and he is in.

On my last Grand Canyon trip one of the rafters brought a friend. He was unable to deal with silence. If there was quiet he would have to ruin it. He came up to me one day as I was packing up, and started some rhythumic chanting that consisted of him saying "hey, hey" over and over again. When he stopped it was clear he wanted me to repeat it back to him. I just called out "Joe, come get your friend; he's broken." Joe came and got his friend. His friend did the same thing to Joe, Joe did it back, and the friend ran off giddy.

Towards the end of week one, as the friend was recounting all 300,000 of his most fascinating drug experiences from the 60's, he mentioned how he discovered that if one clucked like a chicken and drew out the last note it lent itself into what he called a mouth trumpet solo. This began his new favorite passtime. Within two days it had devolved into just regular chicken clucking.

This would have been bad enough, but at Phantom one of our rafter's fathers hiked out. This left the immature rafter looking for a father figure. He found the chicken clucker.

That's pretty much how the rest of the trip went. The sounds of chicken clucking drifting through camp. I would watch were they were setting their tents and go as far away as I could. At some of the more walled in areas it would reverberate off the walls making it sound like there were half a dozen of them.

I ran into the kid the other day. He has mostly returned to normal since the end of the trip.

Goddamn chicken cluckers!

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Old 06-11-2013   #39
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 311
I got on a grand trip thru mtn buzz a few years ago. Had a great time but towards the end of the trip the TL wouldn't speak to anyone but me. I had to take him dinner cause he wouldn't even enter camp. He slept across the river from us (he was a kayaker). Funny how some folks get some times.
Last Dec I went down the ditch, 25 days, with a couple from Germany I met thru the buzz, great folks, we had a spectacular time. 1raft, 1 kayak, 1 sup.
This sept I'm on a grand trip, invited thru mtn buzz, should be fun.
Soon I'll be looking for participants for my jan 2014 grand permit.

Mtn buzz has been very very good to me!
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Old 06-11-2013   #40
Redmond, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1973
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 1,031
Originally Posted by Wiggins View Post
his most fascinating drug experiences from the 60's, ............
This left the immature rafter looking for a father figure. He found the chicken clucker.
....towards the end of the trip the TL wouldn't speak to anyone but me. I had to take him dinner cause he wouldn't even enter camp. He slept across the river from us (he was a kayaker).
It seems appropriate with these two posts back to back that a strategy be suggested for those in need.

Isolate issues.
Perhaps if the kid could have found another father figure and the brain drugged chicken clucker would have less influence on the kid/trip.
Isolate issues.
If a way to place the brain drugged chicken clucker across the river wasn't available could any campsites near ripples or rapids have been found?


Not to be missed here is earplugs on your checklist.
A couple sets. Perhaps a couple pairs in a small ziplock in a tent pocket as SOP?

= = = = = = =

These are funny to read about but on a long trip in a place as special as the GC I feel bad for your loss.

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