A gully washer upstream of the Middle Fork’s put in of Boundary Creek the night before our launch didn’t bring the river up, but it did wash a lot of ash from an old forest fire into the river. The unusual silt in the river made it a challenge to read the water where shallow rocks lurked invisibly just under the surface.
With the challenges of those first 12 miles behind us, we settled into camp at Sheepeater Hot Springs. With a walk of about 300 yards from the kitchen, you can bet there was a hole lot of soaking going on! Nothing better than waking up in the hot springs with a cup of hot coffee in hand!
Day two was the fourth of July and we were bound for Marble Camp. The river was still turbid but more channelized so it was easier to navigate. This stretch provides a good warm up leading down to Pistol Creek, the key rapid of the day. From there the rapids ease and it is a nice paddle to camp.
Marble is home to one of the finest surf waves on the river. It’s nice to camp there because if you don’t have the energy to surf at the end of the day, there is always the next morning. We don’t always luck out and get Marble camp, but when we do, we make the most of it.
The wave at Marble is, for many, their first high speed surf. Once established on the wave you feel as if the water is racing by at 60 mph. The challenge is getting on the wave. While there is a great eddy on river left to stage from, it is unforgiving if you are unable to scramble back into the eddy before you get washed downstream. Once below the wave it’s either a tricky ferry from the opposite side of the river, a carry back up above the wave or, if the level is right, a human rope tow whereby someone stands in the water and pulls people past a surge of water that guards the eddy. The water level was right and with one of us positioned on a submerged rock in the eddy itself, we were able to push people onto the wave if they needed an assist. Between a session in the evening and another long one the next morning, everyone was giving it a go, including a 72 year old Henry. What a surf!!
Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of the trip, I’ll let these photos tell the rest of the story. Lets just say this group was into having a good time, from playing and learning on the river to hoola-hooping in camp, we all had a lot of fun. Special thanks to the crew at ECHO who provided great support; Anika, Zack, Tessa, Colleen and Dewi plus Chris Lewis, our third kayak guide. Great fun everyone!
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