July 22, 1997
Montesano, Washington, USA
This morning I was on the river by seven. The black river remained slow. In some parts it was almost swamp-like. At one point, I came across a massive log jam - completely blocking the river. I had to take everything out of my boat, carry it across the jam, and then put it all back in again.
Zing... Crrraaaacck... Thump! The only downer of the day was encountering an area where clear-cutting was taking place a few hundred feet up from the river. Zing... Crraaacck... Thump! Tree top after tree top disappeared from sight beneath the canopy as I passed - shaking my head in disgust.
By 10am, I hit the much faster flowing Chehalis. I thoroughly enjoyed the quicker pace, but at times, manoeuvering around shallow spots got a bit tricky. It felt like I was trying to race a limousine around a go-cart course. In many places, the river became over a hundred feet wide, but half a foot deep. The challenge, was to find channels of deep water, and get to them before being pushed into areas with less water; which would force me to get out and drag the boat - an obvious inconvenience.
In some places, the river got narrow, and the elevation descended rapidly. I had to be careful not to get sucked under fallen trees hanging out over the water; especially on the outside bend, where the water is the deepest and moves fastest - the place I usually like to be.
I saw lots of wildlife this afternoon. I encountered two deer, two great blue herons, three beavers, and one raccoon. I saw the two deer first. I came around a corner, and found them walking in a meadow 30 feet from the river bank. I had my camera nearby with a 300mm lens attached, and was able to squeeze off a few before they wandered back into the forest. Seconds after the deer disappeared, I found two Herons wading in the grass at the waters edge, and shot them as well. A short time later, after putting my camera away, I had an up-close encounter with a raccoon. I passed within eight feet of him, but the little fellow didnt seem a bit afraid. Lastly, just before pulling in to camp for the night, I saw three beavers.
I was still on the water when the sun went down this evening. I had not seen a suitable a place to camp for miles. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a beautiful home with a big lawn appeared.The owners invited me to be their guest for the evening. Within an hour later, my tent was set up in the yard, and I was in the home of my new friends, Dallas and Joy, watching TV and eating dessert.