23 stitches. That’s how many were needed to patch-up one of our oarsman/solo boat trip members before we even left the launch, and coincidentally the same years of marriage my wife and I were celebrating. He slipped getting out of his truck and onto the trailer his left shin went, kicking in our WFA plan. We evacuated him to Craig’s ER with the help of the NPS Ranger. These are the reasons why you train, prepare, and punt when needed. So we punted.
Well past 10 am, our launch finally went at 4:30 pm after a terrible night of mosquitos. Yes, a full-body net would have been a great idea. The sand and cart system (take some WD40 for the rollers) was better than hauling rafts and gear, but not the easiest. Great experiences like these take some hardships, however. First night at Wade & Curtis turned out to be a prescient decision. A wonderful evening and opportunity to regroup and talk about the next day – a big travel and rapid day down to Rippling Brook II.
We read and ran everything but scouted Hell’s Half Mile, and at 2000 +/- cfs the river pretty much pushed me right and away from Lucifer but close enough to earn it’s rating. We camped at RBII knowing that we had some play time and a beautiful spot to SUP, enjoy a casual morning, and push towards Limestone. Not the camp I chose but that’s how it ended up. At 10:45, a commercial trip pulled into the RBII and announced “This is our site tonight” and immediately began off-loading and setting up tables. One of the guides moved towards our groover spot when I asked them to wait as we had until noon. It was not what we expected and the commercial trip clients were just as surprised. The Outfitter has already responded to my request to provide feedback. The right thing to do would have been to pull in downstream, leave your unpacking until we left, and graciously share this beautiful canyon.
Limestone was a decent camp, but it gave us a long day to Island Park in the direct sun but fun read and run rapids all along the way. A Red Fox burgled a bag of peanuts left out at night, and we spotted the beginning of the Dollar Ridge fire directly to the west. We used the refuse containers at Rainbow Park and met some day users there. Thank you to the NPS for providing and taking care of our public lands. The Takeout at Split Mountain came with great SUP opportunities.
Great wildlife viewing along with an overall great trip – Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep, a Moose above Rainbow Park, raptors, beaver, and of course mosquitos but the launch at Gates was the worst. FYI no fires or fire pans allowed, complete ban. Propane fuel only.
If you have the opportunity, this is a river trip and experience you want in your bucket list.