Day 2:    Singing the Muddy Waters Blues

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Feeling like a Yo-Yo: Back and Forth ! Forth and Back !!, and Back and Forth !!!

The next morning the boys spoke with Earl on their travel options. Which according to Earl, were few since the road was still closed, so he suggested that the boys charter a plane from the Missoula Airport, where they could charter a twin-engine for $180 bucks a piece.

More Nonsense. Upon arriving at the Airport, the boys discovered that because of the fog and smoke, that only planes and pilots that could fly by instrumentation (IVR) above 10,000 feet would be allowed in the air, unfortunately the twin engine planes could not fly that high, and the four engine planes would cost $400 bucks per person!!!

Saying the heck with that, Mike and Bone decided to try their luck on the road (again !!) in their rental car. Twenty minutes later just the boys were on the edge of  town, Bone received a call from  Earl's son Cody stating that there was a six-seat charter plane that was going to take off in 30 minutes, and that the boys could fly for $100 bucks each. Performing a U-turn the boys high-tailed it back to the airport,,, again,,, to jump on a 1960's vintage six-seat Cessna with no time to spare.

Fire Flight

Taking off felt to Mike and Bone like flying in a washing machine in the spin cycle. Flying up to 11,000 feet in a non-pressurized cabin gave Bone the same kind of light-headed nausea he had experienced the prior summer on Mt. Rainer. As the boys flew through the Lemhi Pass, in the Bitterroot Mountains, they could see the fog and smoke caused by the forest fire. Finally the Salmon Valley came in to range and Bone could breathe both figuratively and literally again. 


Once they landed they were met by Earl Keating and his wife, a very nice older couple in their sixties. They were much relieved to see Mike and Bone, and since it was pushing Noon, quickly shuffled them into their beat-up pickup truck, and headed to the river for the rafting trip. Mike and Bone were under the impression that the Keating's would be taking them both on the river and horse back riding. Both Mike and Bone were taken aback when Earl unexpectedly dropped them off with total strangers, and said he would see the boys the next night. As it turned out, two of the strangers were simply set-up men for the rafting trip, a third older gentleman was named Clark Duncan, an owner a trailer park lodge on the North Fork of the Salmon River, who sub-contracted the river trip with Earl Keating, unbeknownst to Mike and Bone, the first sign of pending trouble.  As Mike and Bone bid a bewildered farewell to Earl Keating, Clark introduced the boys to a  very annoying child that was the the ill-advised progeny of his daughter (his grandson), stating that "The boy is coming along for the ride."  The notion of spending the rafting trip with a troublesome eight-year old, along with the barely audible musical strains of the banjo from the movie, Deliverance, and the boys realized that they were in big big, trouble.

Riding the One Rapid on the Salmon River's North Fork

Mike and Bone have faced big white water many, many times before, for example, riding the Gauley River in West Virginia, however after two hours of "floating" past beautiful mountains, but no white water, they began to wonder if the North Fork had less rapids than the Rouge River. To their disappoint Clark said, that is was a very safe river "without too many bumps".

 However, to occupy the time Clark tried to "sell" the boys on coming back to the North Fork for a fishing trip. After telling Clark 5 TIMES that they did not like to fish, he kept telling the boys about all the fun and fish they could by returning for a fishing trip, thereby making the boys nauseous, but not due to the (lack of) river rapids.

A Regular Chip off of the old Bloke

Since this was the Lewis and Clark Adventures, Bone kept asking questions about Lewis and Clark's trip in the Lemhi Valley, Sacagawea, the Bitterroot Mountains, things one would expect a guide to know, but nope !!!! Clark didn't know nor cared about that stuff, he kept talking about fishing, "the boy" (his annoying grandson), his Son-Law's motor-crossing, and his campground, which led to the next debacle .. . ........... . ..

On a Lark in Clark's Trailer Park

Having started the rafting trip so late in the day, Clark stated that they were not going make the distance to the campground, where they had planned to set up the tents and grill steaks. SO,,,, Clark said that the boys would stay at his camp in one of his very hip "guest" trailers, so he wouldn't have to set up the tents. To make it even more exciting, they could eat with the Duncan's !!!!

Meet the Duncan's !!!

Landing at Clark's Property on the river, the boys found a rambling group of buildings which included a shop/restaurant where the Duncan's live, a bunch of dilapidated shacks and buildings, along with three vintage 1960's travel trailers that the boys were given for the night. As the boys walked around pestered by the Duncan's Grandson and dog, Clark cooked dinner for the boys and his family.

Gee!! ain't this fun ?!?!  As the boys slowly drifted into despair, Clark called them for dinner. When Mike and Bone show up to the picnic table for dinner, they met the rest of the Duncan clan (derogatory allusion intended). There is nothing quite as uncomfortable than having to sit in front a family of total strangers, eating steaks and baked potatoes, while the Duncan family  had to eat hot dogs and potato chips, staring at you in stony silence.

Mercifully, Clark finally offered the boys the beer that was supposed to be a part of the camping trip, and Mike and Bone gratefully began to drown their sorrows due to the: the fire, the travel hassles, the boring river trip, and now,  THE DUNCAN's !!!!!

Take a Hike !!!!  After dinner, the boys wanted to hike the surrounding hill side to both see the beautiful country and get the heck away from the Clampett's  .. err..... Duncan's

Panther Creek Merging into the North Fork of the Salmon River by The Clark Park

During the hike up the hills the boys observed that the surrounding hillside was very dry and dusty from the prolonged drought.  You could see where the one of the many forest fire's had come down the surrounding hillside and almost hit the Duncan's property.


Despite the drought, the surroundings, were stark and beautiful. After a hour of hiking the hills around the Clark's property, the boys were duly impressed by the natural beauty of the hills and mountains. Having had enough heat, beer, and climbing, the boys decided to go to sleep early as it grew dark due to an approaching Rain Storm.

In their "luxury trailer", Mike and Bone were lulled to sleep to the increasing patter of rain on the metal roof,,,,, little did they know ,,,,,,,,

Trapped Like Rats !!! Natural Disaster 2 - Land Slide

SAY WHAAATTTTT ?????!!!!!!! With the patter of rain and the brewski's, Mike and Bone were soon out cold. While in a deep, deep sleep, Mike and Bone were awakened abruptly with Clark, bursting in the Trailer yelling that this float trip was over, scaring the feces out of the boys.  Apparently while the boys were counting sheep in la-la land, the steady rain increased to a complete downpour, soaking the charred hillside which caused the mountains to give way in seven different landslides, choking the river with mud and downed trees, and worse yet, wiping out the only road from the Duncan's house on the mountain, and the town of Salmon which is upstream, thereby trapping the boys for who-knows-how-long.

River o' Mud

After changing their shorts (only figuratively), the boys walked down to the river with Clark to a surreal site. The river was less than half of its normal size, being dammed upstream from debris, and what was in the river, really could not be called water. It was a thick, viscous mud with huge trees (bigger than telephone poles), and rocks churning through the water. As Mike an Bone looked onto the churning mess, they were told by Clark that not only could they not raft for several days, also based on the fact that the road wasn't just washed out, but gone, that they all might be stranded for 4-5 days !!!!

Unfortunately for Mike and Bone, the Duncan's house was halfway down the only road that followed along the Salmon River. Twenty miles downstream the road ended and it was over 120 miles until the Salmon River came back into "civilization".

As Mike and Bone trudged back to their "luxury trailer" they faced the dawning horror that they were trapped, like rats, at the Duncan's !!!!  With that horror on their minds they drank a few more beers  to calm their nerves,  and went back to sleep.