Leaving Lewiston the weather was cooperating with a downstream breeze. Often a downstream breeze is an indicator of pending weather changes. As we rounded the corner near Chief Timothy State Park the wind changed directions and was now in our face. The wind blew off the 'Columbia Queen,' and announced they were having breakfast. It smelled like bacon, eggs and possibly a hint of french toast.
After stopping at a protected boat ramp for a brief lunch, we got back on the water. Turning back onto the river we were immediately reminded that the wind was still blowing, only harder. With sustained 30 mph winds and gusts of 40+ mph the waves were building. After a couple of hours the waves were in the 3-4 foot range. By the time we pulled off the river at Blyton Landing the waves were over 4 feet and crashing over our bows and heads. Sleep was hard to come by as the winds blew all night and my body was aching from the grueling day from Lewiston.
Went to bed with the wind and woke up with the wind. Trying to beat the wind we woke up at 5:15 and were on the water around 6. We pushed away from shore with a strong wind in our faces. After a couple of hours we stopped to stretch and get something to eat. I mentioned to Kiliii that I was having doubts that I would be able to keep up this pace and make it to the ocean in one piece. We had a great discussion, giving me more to think about.
We reached Lower Granite Dam only to find that I had a flat tire on my portage cart! It was going to be a long portage. Luckily Bob, a local, was passing by and we eventually asked him if he had an air compressor. He did and left to go and get it. Kiliii and I sat down in the parking lot and ate a lunch of bagels, peanut butter, jam, cheese and crackers.
Once we got the tire re-inflated all was good. I decided that we would stop and take a look at the fish viewing room, where you can see the fish going up the fish ladder. I also made a phone call to talk to someone about the pending decision I was going to be making, keep heading down river or calling the trip off.
We made it to camp after another 5 windy miles, sore and tired. We cooked a big dinner and crashed early so we could make our 4:30 wake up call.
Smooth as glass, the river was inviting us to an easier day. Pushing away from shore I had a sinking feeling in my gut, I was exhausted. My muscles and body were slow to react on the perfect river palette. We made several miles before the sun decided to bless us with her presence, but the wind stayed away and my body couldn't keep up.
The video crew from ABC arrived and we did some quick filming of me pulling out of the water and portaging my kayak to the campsite. Later that afternoon, the correspondent Jim Avila arrived to tape a couple of interviews. Jim and I talked first and he then talked with Sam Mace, Inland Northwest Project Director for Save Our Wild Salmon. We made plans for shooting the next day, deciding that the camera man would come down river with Kiliii and I. Sam and her husband Ken also kayaked with us. Conditions were challenging to say the least. We had a following wind, making it difficult to keep the boat straight.
After a short 11-mile day, bringing us to Little Goose Dam, we did a little more filming. After a lift from the Save Our Wild Salmon crew we took a break at Little Goose Dam and watched a gentleman pull in a nice sized Steelhead.
After getting a good nights rest, I woke up the next day unable to move my right shoulder. Decision made. I was right next to a road, not on the river downstream needing a boat to pick me up. My body just made the decision that I have been contemplating for the last couple of days.
I have decided that continuing downstream on the Salmon to Sea trip is not in the best interest of this trip, others or myself. As a professional river guide we are always on call. If an emergency arises you have to be ready to act. Keeping energy in reserve is how you take care of yourself and others. If you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others. I felt that I was very close to dipping into this reserve as the trip progressed. Each morning I woke up a little more tired and a little less prepared with whatever the day may bring. Twenty-one days, four hundred eighty-seven miles, done.