Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 34

34

V I A | M AY+ J U N E 2 0 2 1

" The real beauty of a river trip
may be in the roller coaster
ride of emotions that strips
away the trivial to make room
for gratitude. "

CREDIT HERE
PAMELA
ADLER / ALAMY

cal doctor, has brought along her two daughters,
Tatum, 13, and Piper, 11, who is the same age as my
daughter, Evie. Also joining us is my friend Scott
Aycock, a regional government director who once
paddled the 75-mile lower section of the John Day
in a canoe. Heidi and I vowed to become river
people after we captained our first raft together on
Montana's South Fork of the Flathead in 2016.
But experience is no substitute for preparation, and the next morning we're faced with a
crisis for which I'm horrendously unprepared.
The day before, Evie was rather lethargic, which
seemed more curious than alarming. But this
morning, her face is swollen and she's in excruciating pain. Kari surmises Evie has suddenly
developed a severe sinus infection or maybe even
a tooth abscess.
Had we come with an outfitter, a guide would
have immediately used a satellite phone to call for
help. I have no such device, and no cell service, so
we can do nothing.
" We have to get Evie out, " Kari explains,
quietly expressing concern that the infection, if
left unchecked, could spread into her eye socket.
" There is no other option. "
By 8 a.m. we have a plan. Thanks to sheer,
merciful luck, a canoeist and his daughter have
made camp nearby and miraculously left a truck
at Priest Hole, one of the few areas accessible
by public road, about a mile downstream. It is
almost never used as a takeout, but luck is with
us today. They graciously agree to drive Heidi
and Evie from Priest Hole back to Service Creek,
where they can begin the long journey to help.
Meanwhile, as the de facto trip leader, I still have
two boats and four friends to shepherd to safety.
The rest of the trip goes by in a blur, and not
knowing what's happening to my daughter gnaws
at me inside. Even so, the John Day is too beautiful not to tinge my mood with joy.
We float past magnificent topographical wonders such as Byrds Point, a dramatic outcropping
near Shaw Canyon, and breathe in the juniperscented air at Pat's Cabin Wilderness Study Area
that unfurls to the south. We get out of the rafts
to scout big rapids, and then make a clean run
through them. By early afternoon we're camping
on a horseshoe bend, watching the sun splatter
across a rock wall the size of a small moon. I float
on my back in the cool pinwheel of an eddy.
On our last full day on the river, the heat that's
been building since the launch snaps, spawning a
sudden, violent storm. We scurry off the river as
the sky blisters with freakish green clouds and



Via Oregon - May/June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Via Oregon - May/June 2021

Contents
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - Cover1
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - Cover2
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 1
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 2
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - Contents
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 4
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 5
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 6
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 7
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 8
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 9
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 10
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 11
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Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - 48
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - Cover3
Via Oregon - May/June 2021 - Cover4
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