As with most of the surrounding land, much of this stretch of river is owned and ran by the Bureau of Land Management or BLM. They lease the land to cattle farmers for ridiculously low rates so that beef cattle can be raised and sold at premium prices making the local cattle ranchers very wealthy. To appease people who might object to these practices, they promise to rent out canoes and do some car shuttles. We took advantage of this and after saying goodbye to our car, ate our last food that would be cooked by someone other than ourselves for the next two weeks and decided that we would do an easy paddle in the couple hours remaining of daylight to a more secluded camp spot down river.
After loading up the boats and tweaking the weights to get the boats to ride evenly, we set off down the river drifting often to inspect the flocks of birds that were everywhere. Finally we pulled off only an hour later because we had already gone eight miles, eight miles more than had originally been planned. The reason was that the recent rains had caused the river to be at its highest level in awhile and the current was rolling. In fact, the rest of the next ten days would be spent doing everything but paddling. We just stuck a paddle in the water tilting it this way or that to push us toward one bank or the other. On one particularly dull stretch of river, we even went so far as to lash the boats together and tie a plastic ground sheet to our paddles which we held up in the air. Although we dramatically increased speed, we soon gave it up as it was much more work holding up the paddles and in the end, we wanted to slow down, not speed up.
Being it was a paddling trip with no portaging, weight is not as big an issue as when backpacking. Thus we brought along books that we sometimes read from, we took naps, we watch the scenery go by, we stopped and took long hikes at about every likely side canyon and we did lots of retracing the steps of Lewis and Clark and the settlers that soon followed them. The BLM had compiled a book that detailed events and people and places that occurred at various miles along the river. So with a detailed 7.5 minute topo map and the book, we could read about something interesting that occurred there, pull over and check it out. We tread through former campsites of the corps of engineers, found Indian buffalo jumps, checked out the remains of log cabins of long deceased settlers and many more things. When we grew bored of that, we merely stepped into the canoes and drifted a few more miles downstream to the next likely spot. Once or twice, we even gave up the canoes for an entire day devoting it instead to exploring our surroundings and perhaps catch a few fish, which ever seemed easier.
Because this is pre-journal keeping days for me, I have nothing but a photographic record to go upon. So I will probably make a series of posts as time permits that shows you some of that photographic record and will expound upon a place or two. By the way, I'm not sure what is on top of the cliff in the picture below. I suspect that is why the picture was taken though.