Day 12 – Aug 16 Rest and Wash
Day off. What a fabulous idea. Rising late, as late and the heat from the sun would allow us to remain in our tents, we ate breakfast in the shade of the outcropping, an when the sun rose to light us, we scrambled deeper into what was nearly a cave to read and sleep until the afternoon.
Shaun and Bruce went for a swim to cool off and while getting out of the river, Shaun drove his shin into a sharp rock, severely lacerating and bruising it.
In such condition, he chose not to join Bruce and I in our scouting of the upcoming rapid. Powerline could be easily run middle to middle right, however there were two nice surfing waves on the left side that we made plans to run and videotape the next day.
Rejoining Shaun in camp, we rested for an hour (days off are so exhausting) then walked upriver to where we had seen a small clear waterfall come into the river. Bringing our soap and shampoo, we had high expectations for a natural shower and were not disappointed. Although cold, the water cascaded down the cliff into a few pools before running down a gulley to spill into the Fraser.
On route back to camp, we found the recently deceased bones of a mountain sheep, in all likelihood taken town by a cougar, as this wasn't bear territory yet.
Day 13 – Aug 17 Powerline-Bridge River Rapid
After loading the raft, we headed into Powerline, a constriction in the river causing holes along the cliff on the left and haystacks through the centre. Spent a little time filming before we continued downstream.
We knew that one of the most significant rapids on the entire Fraser was coming up, Bridge River Rapid, where the river flows over a 18 foot drop, creating an obstruction to spawning salmon, and inevitably, us. We pulled to shore quite a ways upstream so we could scout this two sectioned, near-kilometer long rapid. The local indigenous population gather here during spawning seasons to catch 'Fraser turkeys', better known as Pacific Salmon. They use a variety of seemingly 'too simple to work' contraptions to catch the fish, but catch them they do... simply due to the vast number of fish resting up for their assault on the rapid. Buckets with a rope attached, thrown into the river then pulled in, sometimes with 5 salmon thrashing about in it. Dip nets with 15 foot handles to reach down from the rocks. Even catching them by hand was possible during this amazing show of nature. It was honestly like a National Geographic special.... so many fish that the water was black with them, all attempting to make it past the nets and pails, into the swiftly moving current, jumping over holes and bouncing off of rocks. We must have spent an hour just watching this spectacular event.
The Natives cut the head off, gut and filet the salmon, however they leave the filets attached at the tail. Then the meat is cut vertically to the skin every half inch or so. The skin (with the meat still attached to it) is pulled, stretching the skin and creating half inch gaps between the red meat. Then the fish is hung over a pole under the shade of a tarp for 5 days, as the strong southern wind naturally dries out the meat, preserving it for the coming winter.
Day 14 – Aug 18
On the move again, we filmed our runs through Powerline and a few surfing waves before beginning another long float.
Waking to the sun once again beating down on the tent, we rose to head into town to breakfast and purchase fresh supplies, including some items to help repair the oars on the raft.
On the river by 1:30 (a little later than we had hoped) we cruised at a good pace until the headwinds picked up and slowed our progress considerably. At 7pm we found a nice campsite near a roaring creek on river left where we hoped would also provide fish for dinner. Good thing we had pasta as a backup.
Day 15 – Aug 19
Early day 6am leaving our campsite by 7:30 - campsite was next to a creek that was clear, making it easy to see the salmon resting in the eddies.
Pulled in to chat with a few naive fishermen, pulled the raft onto shore, shared in some Tswen (wind dried salmon strips) when one of them asked if that was our raft floating away downriver.
I ran to the river's edge, went to go get in my kayak to make chase, but realised that my paddle was on the raft. I stripped off my spray skirt and dove into the current, trying to make progress on the raft. Bruce was close behind me, Shaun on shore without kayak or raft. The in our blind pursuit of the raft we failed to notice that it had caught on an eddy line and we were now drifting past in in the current. Now we had to swim upstream in hopes of catching the raft. I managed to reach the raft first, climbed aboard and sat down behind the oars. I picked up Bruce and turned over the captains chair to him.
Traveled about 70km - floated on the raft sometimes
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