This morning near Hells Canyon was another cold one, though not as bad as Wyoming. Once the sun came up, the temperature rose quickly, a dry desert heat befitting the wild canyon.
I scheduled a ride through part of Hells Canyon on a jet boat with a tour company called Hells Canyon Adventures. Since the previous two weeks of driving went more or less perfectly, I arrived there with plenty of time to spare and the experience was wonderful.
Between Idaho and the northeast corner of Oregon, mountains tower up to a mile and a half above the wild Snake River that flows between them. It is home to mountain goats, black bears, rattlesnakes, trout, salmon, and giant prehistoric sturgeon lurking at the bottom of hundred-foot-deep pools. To read more about the canyon, click here. You could also read about the Snake River, which is really cool. And then you could click on more links and follow the articles through the tunnels of Wikipedia until you end up reading about Wankel engines.
Speaking of engines, the forty-foot jet boat I rode on (blue one in the picture below) had three 5.9 liter Cummins engines producing nearly a thousand horsepower.
I have many pictures from the gorge, and video going through class four rapids. Plenty of good stuff from the entire trip will be up soon on my Flickr account. For now, one picture of the southern end of Hells Canyon:
And now I’m home.
I drove around the long curves of I-84 into the Columbia River Gorge and for a moment it was another pretty landscape in the long series of new sights. An in-between place, like those where I spent long lonely hours with music, podcasts, and my own thoughts.
But that changed as I got to the evergreen trees, moss, and ferns that blanket the western end of the gorge. I rolled down my window and smelled the moss, the mold in it, the trees, the smell of pungent greenness. The outside temperature was warm but in a pleasant way…an average summer day. It felt like home.
I stopped at the small brewery in Stevenson, called Walking Man, for a perfect beer and a perfect burger. Then I went home.
I started unpacking and putting away souvenirs. Now I’ve personalized a paper bag. This is how lonely I’ve become…everywhere but nowhere, gone as soon as I come, a passing ghost in a cloud of tourists. Not that I feel bad about it, just keenly aware of the existence of a series of past events, points in spacetime at which I was present, 3.96% of 2016, all of it a 348-hour story that only I really know.
But going home is pretty good when home is the Columbia River Gorge.
Day 15 Statistics
States: OR, ID, OR, ID, OR, ID, OR, WA
Daily Miles: 387.7
Total Miles: 9101.1
Total Squashed Pennies: 22
Total Mechanical Failures of Truck: 0
Total Flat Tires: 0
Total Flat Air Mattresses: 1 (but immediately fixed because duct tape–that was use number three)