The Snake River
. The Snake is overwhelming. Think of the Deschutes river AND canyon multiplied by 2.
Two pictures need explaining.The blurry sled on the rock bar was the sight that greeted us early the first morning as we started up the river from the guides's lodge. We had heard a boat go by in the darkness 15 minutes before, as is common as there is some competition to get to certain runs first. Just starting our run, with only the slightest twilight I see this sled high and dry, as though stranded by a tide. Mike, the guide, was staring with his jaw aghast. "That just happened, he missed the river in the dark" As hard as it was to imagine, that 24 foot aluminum (not known for sliding well on granite) sled ran onto the boulder bar at 30 mph or better, skidded around and stopped facing 180 degrees from how it started. The driver/guide and his helper were not hurt. We stopped and 18 of us shoved the boat back into the water, where it promptly sank in 2 feet of water. We went on our way as other boats gathered to help. Amazingly, the next day the boat was pounded out, welded, and back in service There was so little light that the exposure was hand held at 1 1/2 seconds exposure.
And then there is Sue Bussard scratching with Bighorns. Bighorn sheep are a common enough site on the Snake. They have been re-introduced and are carefully monitored and managed by the biologists. They generally ignore sleds but are wary of people who look like the biologists who net them and dart them (notice the radio collar on the ewes). We were pulling in to pick Sue off a run when Mike noticed the three sheep coming down to the water downstream from Sue. "In 30 years on the river I've never seen anything like this", he said. I put on a telephoto and started shooting, not knowing when the sheep would notice Sue and spook or shy from the boat. As I ran through a roll, amazingly the sheep moved upriver right behind Sue, who didn't know what to do or whether she might become a target of the ram who was rutty. We idled closer and I kept shooting. These are the result.
However, I realized later I had missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime. I should have yelled to Sue to face out into the river again and lay a backcast onto the ram and gently snag him with the fly and act like her backcast just got tangled. I would have paid for a line, a rod and reel, whatever. Can you imagine what that picture might have looked like?
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