The night was chilly, so we rose as the sun cleared the ridge behind us. We got warm quickly. Steve pulled out his fishing rod while I heated water for coffee. As the family fly-tier, I decided to try tying a few flies in the field, to better match what we saw hatching along the river. I was surprised how easy it was to do this, having previously only tied flies at a little Ikea desk at home. I had prepped a lot of materials ahead of time, which made it easier to pull out an already prepared feather or bit of fur for dubbing.
Breakfast was the usual: coffee, juice, yogurt, granola, an orange. Before completely loading the boat and pushing off, Steve tied my newest fly onto his line – but, alas, still no nibbles.
Not far below camp, we ran Whitehorse Rapids: 1/2 mile long chaotic jumble of rocks. We threaded our way through, ending at a series of rock gardens with grassy hummocks. Steve landed us on river right to fish. I didn’t rig my rod right away – I waited to see if there were fish to be caught. The skies have been unpredictable so far, and so have the fish. Steve has tried various caddis, and prince nymphs and hare’s ear nymphs. Still nothing. But, Steve did find several piles of crayfish shells, both on the river bank and out on the hummocks. We have seen a fair number of great blue herons this morning – perhaps they are the shellfish diners.
We had a decision to make: just go four or five miles a day until the last day, or we could stop at the last nice camp before the BLM fee area, and layover for a day. We checked a few campsites as we went, and checked in with other boating groups we had met in the past two days. Around the bend, we came on Davidson Flats camp – long, riverfront property, with 3 large sites below: plenty of room further down the river if others wanted to land and camp. We tucked up under some hackberry trees with our lounge chairs and lunch, and pulled out the cribbage board.
Late in the day, a large group (about 15 people) landed at the top end of our camp. River etiquette says that when you run across another group in a camp, you move on. Or, you make polite contact and discuss the options. Granted, just two of us had a rather large piece of real estate, but there were plenty more camps just below us, separated by distance and shrubbery. But, this group’s attitude was river etiquette be damned. One of the group walked right into our camp and blurted, “You don’t have any problem with us camping here, do you?” No hello. No pleasantries. Steve expressed what would be the polite thing to do is to move down to the next camp. But, this person rebutted with, “We stayed here last year,” and, “We paid our money, too.” It was clear that they were determined to stay in the same spot they stayed last year, and started unloading their boats, including more than a dozen coolers.
We kept playing cribbage until we were ready for dinner, when we essentially reoriented our camp to place our backs to the interlopers. As we feared, they were loud and they were up late, and there was no vegetation to provide a visual or audio screen. But the sky had cleared, the moon was wrapped in the wispy clouds remaining, and somewhere in the night I woke up to see a shooting star streak across the sky amid the tree branches above our sleeping bags.