Sunday, May 30, 2010

Yakima River - Day 3 - May 26, 2010

We break camp and get on the river by 8:30. We are both hoping for more paddling and less lining and wading and scouting around logjams and debris. Yesterdays spill pissed me off more than anything; it was a bad error on my part and I intend not to have a repeat performance.
But, it is more scouting, lining and wading. We are safe except on one sharp bend where we get crossed up with a powerful eddy on one end of the canoe and a powerful current on the other. We swap ends, tip just enough to add an inch of water to the inside of the canoe, and then squirt out upright into a calm spot where we can catch a breath. We see hundreds of white pelicans.As we approach the town of Granger, we get to paddle longer between scouting - sometimes even a half mile! The northerly meanders in the river run us up against beautiful 30 foot tall mud cliffs dotted with swallow nests. The cliffs are a good sign because there never seem to be any log debris below them. At Granger (river mile 83), we pull out at the town park and go looking for drinking water. From now one, there is inflow to the river from irrigation, so we need to find potable water. We ask the first person we see and we get access to a faucet... love small towns. Below Granger, we find that we only have to scout a few more bends and the river slows and opens up into safe flat water paddling. The sun comes out.

We paddle out into open land in a meandering river.

A mink runs along shore next to us. Stopping to glare at us. The size of a kitten, it imagines itself to be a wolverine.

We make camp at 6pm across the river from the Sunnyside Refuge. We can legally camp over there, but this side, where cows have been grazing, is nicer. We just stay out of sight of the nearby farm house and leave a clean camp. Mike sees a mammal in the water. I throw a cow chip at it and the beaver slaps his tail. We laugh.

Coyotes sing in the distance.

Mike watches three beaver while I write my notes in the tent.

We figure to be at mile 62. I do have a GPS, but I do not really enjoy knowing exactly where I am in a global sense - I know where I am and that is good enough.

32 miles for the day. From about mile 80 it has been beginner level water, but with almost no obvious road access. I don't know which river gauge would apply to this section - you'll have to figure that out on your own if you want to paddle here.

Upstream of Granger, the warnings from Day 2 apply. Downstream from Granger, there are still had a few bends that required scouting and some lining and wading. It was flat water with some current from that point on.

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