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Sunday, March 6, 2016

If I had a Heart, it Would Probably be Here on this River...

We have an awesome PBS program here called Outdoor Idaho. This episode features a few of the places i've had the joy of working over the years along the river (China Bar, Buckskin Bill's, and also rowing a few trips for Mr. Johnson and many other outfitters over the span of 13 summers [that makes me feel old]). I spent a majority of my time at Shepp Ranch which is featured around minute 44 and my cameo is at minute 48. (The embed code might be kind of wonky, so it might work best to watch it on their website.) I'm a total dork and a ninny and i really hate my recorded voice! (I don't think i up-talk in real life. <egad> I hope not!) But i'm heartsick for this place right now. I'm scheming how to get back there this summer... Happy Sunday you beautiful people.

Edit: Alright, who's coming with me?! For reals, i probably can't coordinate a full lodge-to-lodge, but we'd camp on some beautiful white sandy beaches, and there are no mosquitos. Some years we have a few yellow jackets late in the summer, but for reals. It's delightful.

Also, if you watched the whole video, Steve Gale speaks a few times, and i just have to tell you, he is a gem to guide with. He sleeps on a cot under a table cloth. He brings along fairy-sized tokens and implements on trips with kids and leaves them out near their tents and around camp to stir their imaginations. 

When we get off the river we spend about an hour or two at the ramp unloading boats and gear and loading them onto a trailer. Then we go for one last swim, sardine into the pickup and drive 9 hours back to headquarters. (If you come, we'll hook a ride back on a jetboat.) We usually don't pull in til 1 am. We all stumble out in the dark and hope our sleeping pads and personal bags haven't sifted themselves too deep in the pile. Once we find a flat spot we pass out until reconvening at 8 am for the de-rig, de-sand, sanitize, etcetera. (<< is that really not a word? My spellcheckermabob is underlining that shit.) 

One of these mornings we all coffeed up and slowly ushered our tired bones and steaming cups down to the boathouse through the grass wet with morning dew. Confusion. The trailer was empty. (We have a kitchen box over 250#s and rafts that are about 220. And that's no wild exaggeration because they're weighed routinely for flights into the backcountry.) Anyhow, that sweet, teddy bear, crazy SOB, Steve had unloaded the whole thing by himself while the rest of us were scratching our posteriors and Moe, Curly and Larry'ing it up at the house trying to find coffee.

I don't think they show Heinz' wife Barb, but she spent a winter all by herself on the river in a teepee. Heinz had gone back to Germany, and they wouldn't let him return to the states with his current visa.  They're legendary.

We pulled a dead body out of the river near Mackay Bar. She'd floated nearly 300 miles down from where she was swept away a week earlier. (Alcohol was a factor in the tragedy.)

On that note (jk), you make it to Idaho any summer with a week to spare, and i will take you down the riv! Generally trips are 5-6 days, but there are other sections we could do in fewer. You'll love it, i promise; it's awesome.

Also, i can't speak more highly for the folks who create the Outdoor Idaho show. We didn't know they were coming, and hay hauling days are some of our busiest. All of our cabins were occupied with guests. We initially told them we weren't going to be able to give interviews. I can't remember if they stayed in our bunkhouse or if they camped on the beach, but i know they stayed an extra day so they could find times to track down the harried cast of the incredible Shepp Ranch.

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