Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2016

Our Own Private Idaho. . . River - Part 1

“The Selway, between Double Drop Rapids and Ladle Rapids, has averaged one drowning per year, over the past 8 years.” the veteran Selway River guide intoned.  “Don’t take it lightly.”
As if we needed additional angst prior to boating one of the most difficult rivers to get a permit for in the country and one of the most remote rivers to navigate.  Our long drive to the put-in carried us deep into the forested Idaho wilderness. 


It was springtime.  The weather was gorgeous.  The skies were the kind of blue poets wax over and writers fawn on and on about struggling to come up with an original description.  The river itself was flowing at an optimal level for a party that had never seen any of its whitewater.
It’s not that we weren’t loaded with experience, we were.  Just not loaded with experience on the Selway.
Our group consisted of a paddle raft, a cataraft, two kayakers and a bevy of oar boats.  What we discovered at the put-in on the morning of our launch was that we were critically s…

Pain and Suffering in Patagonia - Part 2

(A little over halfway around the circuit trail of Torres del Paine, running short on food, running short on patience, our intrepid adventurers, having moved on to a camp safe from falling timber, discover ‘el sendero’ - the trail - might just get worse. . . )
The night following the lunch communication fiasco we camped away from the forest of quaking, due-to-topple-at-any-moment behemoths, enjoyed a final cookie and began dreaming of being anywhere but on that godforsaken trail.  The winds off the glacier were sporadic, but always prevalent.  As we tromped the western portion of the trail most exposed to the glacial torrents, we started encountering ravines with lively, splashy streams.  




A few posed no challenge to cross but one was especially treacherous.  Other than the slippery footing due to algae on the surface of the stones, gusts of wind with enough power to fling you backwards were palpable against our bulky backpacks.  At one ravine, the winds were so strong we were forced to…

Pain and Suffering in Patagonia - Part 1

We utilized a half dozen modes of transportation to wend our way to the end of the South American continent - train, plane, taxi, rental car, ‘chicken bus’ and foot.  When we reached Puerto Montt, we mulled over taking a ferry to the ‘earth’s end’ but airfare was so enticingly inexpensive and, as an added bonus, it included complimentary cocktails on a spacious jumbo jet. 
We felt like dirtbag jet setters. The ‘end of the earth’ was gorgeous and windswept.  The glaciated mountains to the north were stark beckoning sentinels on the horizon.  We were in the land of Patagonia and the Argentinian Fitzroys - famous climbing destinations and mountain ranges.  Tricia, Robert, Kent and I came to Chile for river adventures, but we journeyed to the southernmost end to exercise our legs. The jagged peaks we could see from the hostel were called the Torres del Paine, part of the region’s most noted national park.  “Towers of the Pain,” I thought, “Great.”  Actually the origins of the name Paine …

Big D Little A Double L A S

We called him Heavy D.  Because his gait was reminiscent of Bigfoot and carabiners were a part of his stock and trade.  
We called him Dilly Dally.  Because his concept of time was warped.  Skewed more toward the Latin American version than the northern European version.
I called him Big D, little A, double L, A, S.  Because that was how the radio station I listened to growing up spelled Dallas, and I liked repeating it.
He was noted for absolutely not wearing a dirndl despite our most determined efforts.  He was also noted for - begrudgingly - donning pink bunny rabbit ears to emcee Dinner Theatre on guide training despite feeling under the weather.
On that night, we called him ‘Angster Bunny’.  It has taken him more than a decade to laugh about that.
A story Dallas loves telling about me occurred during his weekend training.  He accompanied me in the company van from the greasiest of greasy spoon cafes in the slumbering lumber town of Darrington to a county park located twelve miles out …