May 7, 2012
We're finally done. I can see Diamond Peak from my tent and know that we're so close to take out that I could run there in my sleep!
Today kind of summed up the entire trip. It had its ups and downs. We made paddled about 23 miles on the river; some good and some bad. We had a period of intense doldrums with crazy hot heat and then another period of crazy tail winds. Then, just when we thought we had it made with those tailwinds, they changed the hurricane gusting headwinds that caught us off guard around mile 212.
All and all, it was an appropriate finish to an epic trip of a life time. I jumped off the cliff at Pumpkin Springs with my completely worthless Kelty "Good Nite-Airbed" to punish it for being such a piece of crap. It's a good 20-feet drop and as we collided with the water it gave a final pop and deflated. Then we dunked it into the nasty greenish-colored water of Pumpkin Springs as a final insult.
I paddled the rapids from river miles 200-212 including a very random one called Little Bastard. It was challenging and fun. We stopped before the 217 Mile rapid and I hiked down below along the rocks and waited for the rest of the group to run the rapid so I could photograph them. Andy and Cathy were able to cheat it and get in the eddie below where they picked me up and returned me to the Flower Power.
Later in the day Kathy was knocked out of her boat in a small rapid with no name when she was caught off guard. She was promptly carried under the boat and popped up on the other side where Andy reached down and pulled her back aboard by her life jacket. It was the first time she had ever fallen out of the boat and what a surprise it was! Speaking of which, Robert and I are actually very surprised that we didn't fall out during this trip.
Tonight Butch had a bottle of Jameson (Irish Whiskey) that he told us was meant for a "tip-over" party that never happened. If any of the boats were to flip on this trip then this bottle was to be our reprieve. Since we never flipped we drank it on the final night.... tonight. Henceforth, I'm a little drunk right now so please excuse my poor writing.
We actually missed our intended campsite tonight by probably a mile and that puts us a lot closer to our take out spot at Diamond Creek. However, when we got to camp tensions were high so it was perfect timing for Butch to break out the bottle and pass it around. After dinner we sat around a huge bonfire and burned up just about everything left we deemed "burnable," including Robert's mollky set. It's been absolutely amazing to here some of the stories that Bob and Butch have told around our camp fires.
I couldn't even do them justice with words trying to describe their knowledge, experience and characters. Tonight was absolutely great! It's been such a honor to have run the river with these individuals and to have gained the knowledge I've gained.
Tomorrow morning we take out and I'm ready. I've used eight AA batteries to charge up my cell phone and I can't wait to call Jenny and tell her how much I love her as soon as we reach cell phone reception. I'll probably make one more entry after this, but for now I retire... one last night in my sleeping bag in my tent set up on top of a borrowed air mattress that's too big to fit inside.