Upper Missouri NWSR Canoe Trip 2009


Day Seven

I woke up early, around six, and took the opportunity to shoot some dawn pictures of the White Cliffs. I then started annoyingly chopping wood which had the desired effect of waking dad up. Another freeze-dried breakfast, this time bacon & eggs. We broke camp at Eagle Creek early, knowing we had a long day ahead of us; 25 miles and an attempt to reproduce the guide book's picture of Hole-In-The-Wall with someone standing atop the formation with arms spread.
We were, as usual, the last to leave even with our early start, and paddled the five or so miles to the formation. When we arrived, we encountered the family with the redhead again as they returned from their climb. I grabbed a water bottle, GPS, and a radio, and headed up the hill below the formation. It was a quick climb, and I was at the rocks before I knew it. The climb up through the rocks was very steep and I was looking up the entire time, forgetting to look back over my shoulder periodically.
When I got to the top I discovered that the ledge I would have to walk out on, hundreds of feet above the river, was only three or four feet wide and uneven at that. I walked about halfway out on the little outcrop and spread my arms for a moment before returning to safety, but dad told me over the radio that I wasn't far enough out. I had to walk out a second time, and I was as scared as I've ever been. When dad confirmed that the picture was good this time I was still shaking like a leaf, and decided to get down as quickly as possible.
I headed down the trail over the top of the formation, only to realize that my inattention earlier left me unable to remember which way I had followed up. I tried the most likely looking one, but the crevasse dead-ended in a drop of several hundred feet down the cliff face, so I clambered back up. I was still so jacked up with adrenaline that I panicked a bit, but when I radioed dad he said he was on his way up anyway. I waited for him to show up and we headed down together.
It turns out that the way down was one I had rejected on  sight earlier. I was mad at myself for not recognizing it and not looking back frequently on the way up, but we made it down unscathed and had a nice lunch and some vodka / Crystal light / river water cocktail under the shade of a big tree. When we were having lunch dad told me that the redhead had offered to dunk his shirt in the river to keep him cool on the way up, and I wondered whether that was some kind of outdoorsy chick come-on.
After lunch we resumed paddling, stopping once more for firewood. We had 25 miles total to go that day, and combined with the hike it was an exhausting day. We arrived at our campsite, The Wall, only to discover that both fire rings had already been taken. We ended up setting up camp off to the side of the actual campsite, but it was a disorganized and shoddy camp that reflected our disappointment at being surrounded by so many people, and not being able to stay up late with a good fire.
One of the other campers lent us his binoculars, and showed us the prairie dog town behind the campsite. This was the primary reason for us being there as I wanted to see it, and perhaps slaughter some of the critters in the morning. I sauteed our last bell pepper with some crab meat, spiced it up, and added it to a packet of rice and vegetables. It was perfectly good, but we didn't enjoy eating in our messy little camp and dubbed it "Camp Slovenly."
After dark we decided to take some star pictures but were unable to get a good shot. I suddenly remembered that I hadn't seen my GPS for a while and we looked for it without result. Finally we went to bed, and not in the best of moods.

Jacob Saunders | Create Your Badge
Jacob Saunders