ELC junior instructors continue on the Gataga River
We woke up to more rain and mosquitoes. The bugs were thick. We were swarmed instantly when we left the tents. We quickly packed our gear, had a short breakfast, and left camp.
After paddling for a minute or two Brad realized he forgot his fishing rod. Everyone pulled over to the river bank as Brad hurried back to recover his rod. Brad returned with his fly rod and we continued paddling.
The rain continued for most of the day, but fortunately it never became a long downpour or a thunderstorm. We paddled about 20 miles though some slow, calm water. We didn't go through any rapids or even a riffle.
The weather broke as we floated past a hunting shack. We stopped to stretch our legs and check it out. We scrambled up a muddy trail to the shack. It was made out of plywood and small trees, and it was pretty beat up from the weather, but most of us wanted to stay in the shelter anyway.
Unfortunately, the shack was owned by an outfitter so we were not supposed to use it. We paddled a quarter mile down from the hunting shack to a gravel island. The sun was shining when we stopped there to make camp.
It turned out to be one of the best camp sites on the trip. We put the tents up quickly in case more rain came, but the sun continued to shine. We built a fire and hung up our wet gear to dry beside it.
Some of us started playing cards when Alex had an idea. He wanted to pan for gold. Matt though this was a great idea so they both spent half an hour in the river, panning for gold with their bowls. Nobody was too surprised when they didn't find anything.
We spent the rest of the day hanging out around camp, playing cards and exploring. After eating supper we went to hang our food bags. There were no standing trees on the island so we had to wade across a shallow, muddy channel to get to the woods.
Matt and Justin discovered bear tracks and wolf tracks on our island when they crossed the channel. After taking a few pictures of the tracks, we went back to the fire for a little while before crawling into our sleeping bags for a good night's sleep.
Today we arose well after the sun was up, ate a very lazy breakfast, packed up our canoes and began floating down the river. We paddled past many rugged peaks capped with snow. Throughout the day we were watching storm clouds gather behind us.
So far, it had not rained on our trip, so we were all pretty optimistic about it until they just didn't seem to go away like the other storms we had seen brewing on the horizon.
Because of this we hastily made camp and rushed to set up tents and hang bear bags. About the time when we were hauling food into the tree the storm hit and beat down on us hard.
Most people crawled inside the tents and hunkered down ready to wait it out. A few of us who were already fully dressed in our rain gear decided to go make a fire and sit around and watch the storm.
These clouds that looked ominous turned out to bring nothing more than a heavy rain -- which was very lucky for us because we had read that hail and snow were to be expected at all times in the region.
After a few hours it finally let up and everyone emerged from their tents and began cooking and eating their wonderful meals. Once dinner was consumed we cleaned up, hung our food bags, and played cards in our tents until we went to sleep.
We woke up this morning just like any other day. After breakfast, we packed up camp and headed down river. After paddling down river for a bit, we decided to stretch our legs, so we got out and went for a hike.
As soon as we got to the top of a hillside, Chad found an elk antler. Anticipating that there would be more antlers in the area, we split up and went looking in different locations with high expectations.
About an hour later we regrouped and several members of our group came back with armfuls of antlers. Everyone found at least one antler with the exception of Alex, who unfortunately, didn't find a single one.
After this little adventure, we strapped the antlers into our canoes and paddled the short distance to camp where we would be camping for the night. After setting up camp, we ate supper and retired for the day.