Since the majority of the people in our group wanted to paddle the bulk of the time, everyone had to bow out and take a rest day at some point and hang out on one of the oar boats with a guide at least once during the six days. Given my slightly traumatic swim and strange narcolepsy experience from the day before, I decided Wednesday - the halfway point - was the best day to relax in the oar boat.
My guide was definitely nervous but totally rocked it. She went a slightly different route than others had cut and it actually felt very smooth! I filmed that too . . . it is also in hyper fastforward playback mode.
That night we camped at my favorite spot of the trip - Camas Creek. It was beautiful in every way. The camp was situated where Camas Creek ran into the Middle Fork of the Salmon which means we were at the widest part of the mouth of an incredible canyon cut by this powerful creek. The camp "kitchen" was set up beneath the low-hanging boughs of a giant Ponderosa Pine. I had an ideal tent spot backed up against the smaller shrubbery and trees running along Camas Creek with just a few short steps down to the creek. Meaning - private loo!
Since I spent the whole day lazily sitting on a boat, I decided I needed a big hike. The guides told us we would be taking a hike back into the canyon and after I set up camp I told them I would set off early. He explained where the path was and I was off.
I returned to camp with enough time before dinner to stretch my legs and feet in the sand on the bank of the Middle Fork and cool my feet in the river. People inquired as to how far I had gone and I estimated a 10-12 mile circuit. I was exhausted but I believe that was one of the absolute highlights of my trip.
After lunch - fortified by EL Fudge - I jumped back in a kayak. And much of the afternoon looked like this:
That afternoon we set up camp on a beautiful sandy beach. And I decided it was time to do something about the greasy mop that was masquerading as my hair. As I was getting situated at the river's edge for my "bath", Sam and his parents were preparing to do the same. I observed as Sam's dad soaped up in the river and then stood on the rocky shore to lather shampoo into his hair as I tried to figure out the best way to go about this. Sam acted as shower assistant and dumped buckets of water over his dad's head (and down his back). He then offered to assist me as well. It was still sunny on the shore but that didn't seem to have much effect on the icy water so my time in the river was more of a quick plunge. I stood on the rocks and lathered up my hair with my eco-friendly shampoo bar as Sam laughed at me for washing my hair with a bar of soap. His rinsing skills improved dramatically with me as I was his third customer. Having clean hair for the first time in days was remarkably refreshing.
The music was good and my belly was full and I felt clean and really wanted to get back to my book. So that night, I went to bed while others remained at their posts around the fire and continued to call out requests to the lone musician. My reading didn't last long as tiny flying bugs continuously flew at my headlamp. By this point in the trip our altitude had dropped so much that a tent was superfluous for anything but a changing room the nights were so warm. There was a full moon that night and I tried to count the stars before drifting off hours before the rest of the group called it a night and continued singing softly next to the fire a dozen yards away.