Day 5 started a bit slower than other mornings on the river. By retiring early I apparently missed a very late night of carousing. But I was grateful for the sleep because Day 5 was the longest day on the river. We paddled against a head wind the bulk of the day and while we did have a long pre-lunch break, most of us spent it on a hike under the bright noon sun.
Somehow, the scenery was even more spectacular that day:
I found them fascinating, even if all I really know about them is they were made by the Sheepeater Indians.
After our hike we were back on the river paddling against that headwind and encountered a remarkable sight:
We stopped at this beautiful sandy beach:
My only complaint there was how quickly I kept losing my shade. It was a hot afternoon and I was pretty engrossed in my book so I spent the lunch break moving further and further up a felled tree trying to escape the sun.
Our last camp site for the week was on another beautiful sandy beach. And by this point, the only reason to put up a tent was to create a private space to change and provide a place to dry wet clothes. I no longer bothered with the rain fly and I don't think I shut my tent door and I know I did not actually climb into my overly warm sleeping bag.
That night the guides hit it out of the park for dinner and created an amazingly sumptuous feast. When I collected my dinner plate I claimed there was no way I could eat it all.
My last night was difficult. For whatever reason my muscles ached and ached and sleep eluded me. I tossed and turned and made a number of attempts to stretch my fatigued muscles. I would have done anything for an ibuprofen. It was sheer misery and I blame my position as lead paddler pushing against the headwind on an extra long day. And maybe the fact that my muscles just weren't prepared for so much paddling all at once.
A community that felt comfortable enough with each other to leave surprise photos like this on my camera:
I had one more chance to say goodbye to my fellow river trip paddlers at a farewell dinner. My parents joined us and caught a glimpse into why my trip was so enjoyable. It was hard to say goodbye to the guides and I'm disappointed to say that here it is December and I have not made good on any of my promises to stay in touch . . . or send photos. I guess that is the next step, right?