As the expedition season drew to a close, Miss Adventure and her bold party headed to the far north of California to survey the Trinity River by canoe.
As always, the true point of the excursion was to find something incredibly trivial to debate around the campfire.
Thus: Whether Smokey, the bear, is named Smokey the Bear or Smokey Bear.
Miss Adventure was of the unfortunate opinion that his name is Smokey Bear. The F.B.I. (Federal Bear Institute) tried to settle this years ago, ruling that she was correct.
Nobody asked Smokey, who was incarcerated
at the National Zoo (1950-1976)
Smokey was married to Goldie, whose married name may or may not have been Bear.
Shiver me timbers
1. A river.
2. The swirling maw of death.
3. Friendly, formerly sea-going fishes
jumping out of the water to
Our lucky streak again held up as there
was more water in the Trinity in October of 2003 than
there has been in more than 40 years: Since the
Somehow word leaked that the bold
explorers needed water for canoeing, so the salmon and
the Hoopa Indians teamed up to sue the
The diversion is not undone but a lot
more water was released to the
Which is what we did. Or at least it is
what Brushy Bob did. Miss Adventure
"Why don't you go," she said. "If you
This idea had merit; she could take care
of the shuttle back to camp,
The part of the river in question
was between Lewiston dam and the Trinity
The rating system is not perfect because
rapids change with season
The intended camp at Steel Bridge was
unacceptable because it was
This was also a car camp but we found a
site facing the river that offered reasonable
The campground host - the source of
firewood - was in a very unhostlike
places where Brushy Bob had not seen even a stick of kindling.
The day following our arrival we set out
to find a place to launch
We schmoozed them into a better mood. Miss Adventure and I parted ways then and I approached my first rapid about 30 feet downstream.
This rapid split between a low-water
rocky stream and a deep-water, wooded
undercut bank. I boldly chose neither option and landed
After that it was apparent the art of
river running involved instant
Suckered by Scenery
was beautiful and the woods displayed their fall colors. Downstream
in a current requires little paddling. One need only to keep the boat
straight. Seeing over the bow from the rear seat is tricky though,
especially since I spent most of my time gandering at the woods and
Which had the effect of suckering me into
the next rapid while I was
The first minor capsize occurred at the
end of a long rapid where
I threw my leg out and kept the boat from
going completely over, and
middle of congratulating myself on having chosen the correct channel
and was confounded by a last-second, submerged boulder at the end
of the chute.
This was almost exactly like the first
incident with worse consequences.
Or most of the gear. Some stuff was
busily floating downstream, which
This would have probably been a comical
sight had any onlookers been
I was also wet but pressed on down river because it was the only choice available.
I regained my courage and things went
pretty well for awhile. Despite
Sure Hon, I'll be careful
faster and the rapids nastier. I prepared for this with the bold plan
of portaging anything I could not be sure of.
There is a wonderful rapid just below an old bridge abutment left
from mining or ranching days. The channel divides here. The deep water
channel undercuts a bank about eight feet high. To keep in the clean
water: Shoot over a two-foot drop, let the current take you into the
undercut and then kick out right at the last second into the backwash
and the main channel.
I executed this perfectly and was just
full of myself. I expected
Into the Abyss
Rapid, named here for events which had not yet occurred.
Had I kept my courage and just zipped straight into this abyss, everything would have been fine.
Instead I tried to backpaddle into the
eddy and get a better look
That instant was an eternity: The moment
when I realized this was
Hang on to your hat!
being washed down the rapid. My first memory is of floating down river in very deep water with the bow loop of the canoe in one hand and a wide-brimmed fedora clutched in the other.
I must have been a little disoriented. I
knew where I was but some
I tried to kick toward the bank of the
river but the current was too
by Tippy. My only hope was to land on a rock in the middle of the
river, but I needed to do this without being pinned against the rock
in fast current by an upsidedown canoe.
I already had enough problems.
I managed the landing and got the gear up
on the rock, and the canoe
Being a little chilly and marooned, I was
highly motivated to resolve
Squish, Squish, Squish
I drifted downstream a bit then paddled upstream to a little beach
that was less than a half mile from our camp. I dumped the boat on
the beach, got the soggy camera from the drybag, put on a soggy jacket
and hoofed it back to camp in my soggy river shoes.
Miss Adventure wasn't at camp but I got dried out a little and went to find her. She was stationed at the final rapid near the take-out at the bottom of the campground waiting to take a photo when and if I got there.
We went back to the canoe, where she
helped me get sorted out. It was too far to portage, so
I negotiated the last three rapids without incident. For
reasons that escape me, Miss Adventure declined my
invitation of a ride
Miss Adventure's Viewpoint
I was relieved that Brushy Bob was okay with going it alone and I would be the shuttle driver for this adventure. I drove him and Tippy to Indian Creek put-in. Then worry set in. Telling myself the fact that he had much more experience with boating and water didn't quell the worry completely. I considered it an omen that he was so willing to strap on his life vest. As I pushed him off and snapped a picture or two. I thought, this is the last time I'll see this man in one piece.
Not knowing how fast he would be traveling, I stopped at the little store and found out they don't sell firewood.
Not wanting to miss the grand arrival, I hiked to the area we had visited the day before. It had a nice beach, picnic table and a large, graffittied rock smack in mid-stream (The very same rock he was marooned on later).
A Kodak Moment
will be merrily floating down any time now.
Watching the sun's rays dance upon the ripples mesmerized me - it was so alive! Movement is constant and changing. Then suddenly the dance was over, the sparkles gone, shadows covered the water. The sun had dropped behind the ridge.
"Any time now," I said.
I counted the number of partly submerged rocks in the little rapid. "Don't ask," I whispered to the river. "He's just being careful."
What part of Woof dont'ya understand?
Suddenly I heard a bark behind me. There she was, but without the sandwiches.
“What is it girl?” I said.
“Woof, woof, woof,” said Abigail.
"What is it Ab," I repeated. "Is little Bob drowned in the river again?"
"Woof !" Abigail replied.
Of course, this is an embellishment of
what really happened.
Hearing a noise from the path, I looked over and coming down the trail was a very soggy, wet profile of someone slightly resembling Brushy Bob!
My jaw dropped as I took in the sight of
dripping shorts and disfigured
Doing the Math
And, he was laughing! Later I learned
that if I had stayed at the first beach to photograph
him, I would have had front-row seating to the disaster.
Funny how things work out.
Brushy Bob becomes
Miss Adventure used her magic to fetch up enough wood for a fire. This was good because it was cold at night, and a certain person in that vicinity was in a damp condition.
Miss Adventure did get some canoeing in the next day when the pair mounted a salvage expedition upstream. Below lost shoe rapid is a graveyard of lost shoes, Bic lighters and other paraphernalia. The only thing they recovered was the hose from the bilge pump. The pump, the missing shoe and the canteens were sunk or gone. Someone else will find them.
We spent the rest of our holiday hiking on the cliffs overlooking the river. Although there were salmon resting or feeding in the pools,the camera could not record this from so high above the river.
The Trinity joins with the Klamath River downstream of where we were, so the fishes somehow know who's a Trinity fish and who's a Klamath. This is both heartening and sad because it is a one-way trip. The fish that are caught along the way do not get to make it home.
Sure she will!
Notes on Smokey the Bear:
1. Smokey the cartoon bear was born in 1945.
2.Smokey the real bear cub was rescued from the Lincoln National Forest fire in New Mexico in 1950.
2. Goldie, his mate at the National Zoo, was a cub orphan from New Mexico. She was sent to the National Zoo in 1961.
3. The pair did not beget any little smokeys but they adopted Smokey ll who filled in as Smokey after the original bruin died in 1976.
4. We do not know the fate of Goldie
5.Smokey was actually rescued by soldiers from Ft. Bliss, Texas who were pressed into firefighting on the Lincoln Fire.
6. Since 2005 is cartoon Smokey's 60th anniversary, there is an abundant supply of Smokey knick knacks for sale at federal ranger district offices. Much of it is really cool.
7. Before Smokey was named official spokesbear in 1945, there was considerable debate in the Dept. of Agriculture about whether the spokescritter should be a wide-eyed, Bambi-style doe or a cute bear.
8.Had it been the doe, think of the impact this would have had on Southern Law enforcement.
9.Federal Rangers (and Smokey) look the way they do
because the U.S. Army originally managed the first
national parks. Hence the uniform is pre-WW1 Army field