The prettiest part of the river was definitely before Ioni Creek, along the 7 miles between it and the Hwy 16 ramp. The mountains were steeper and greener. They spread out after that and seemed to get drier, but it was still interesting, rugged, blissfully quiet except for bird and bug sounds, and beautiful. Shortly after Ioni Creek we were taking a detour around a sandy island and saw a large campsite on it with several tents and a smoldering firepit. Since no one was around, we thought that must be the fishermen’s camp whom we met on the rapids. There were also 5 gas cans by the bank. As we threaded through a narrow section we heard a loud helicopter sound coming from in front of us. For what seemed like several minutes it got louder and louder and sounded like it was coming towards us at water level. A large airboat with two men in it and “Air Ranger” written on the side, suddenly appeared turning into our inlet and quickly waved as they went past. Their wake splashed over the side of my boat. So that’s the way to quickly navigate the shallows around here. I imagined they were going to go help or at least meet the fishermen, and wondered if it was planned or they were somehow alerted (with no reception, unless some other carrier does have coverage) to rescue them.
On a more peaceful note, through one long stretch a kingfisher played catch me if you can while he was fishing. Rachel has studied her bird identification and recognized it and later an Osprey pair. Other than that we encountered our usual jumping bass which can startle you when they pop up with a big splash right next to your boat, a group of cows staring at us as we went past their watering spot, hitch-hiking light blue dragon flies keeping us company, several great blue herons and white egrets. We passed about 3 mansions very far apart built on the sides of hills, some house sized rocks sticking out of the river that had rolled down from the cliffs when the water used to flow up there eroding their underpinnings, a couple of guys pulled over in their canoe who were camping in the rocky overhangs, a father and son looking kayaking pair who watched us scoot down a rapid and maybe gave up trying to go up it. Perhaps they came in from the Boy Scout ranch with a zip line that we later passed.
Towards the end of the trip we heard the Air Rangers coming back down on the other side of an island bend from us, thank goodness. We also encountered another camouflaged airboat going upstream through a wide part of the river. It was at this part, about 5:30pm that I heard my texting notification. It time stamped when it came through instead of when it was sent. George was confused at my texts and said he could leave in an hour. I yelled in my text that he needed to leave right now or sooner! It would take him over an hour to get home and get his key, another hour to get to our car and trailer and leave his, and then another 20 minutes to get to Rochelle’s. A few minutes later he called me while we were still in the same spot, and that’s when he said he was stuck in Arlington traffic and would have to go home to get his key. Thank goodness he’d already left.