Last summer, I got a call from a friend who works for OPB as a rigger (setting ropes to get cameras into remote places, along with the rest of the crew), saying that they were doing a story on kayaking the Salmon River Canyon. He said I should come along, and asked if I know a couple of the other guys that would be there, he thought their names were Luke and Ryan. I said "oh yeah, Luke Spencer and Ryan Scott?" Of course his response was affirmative, Luke and Ryan are essential figures in the Columbia River Gorge pedigree, with a combined tally of over 20 runs down the canyon.
I stated simply "I'm in."
In the weeks that followed, we firmed up the group, which would include Luke, Ryan, Keel Brightman (another SRG veteran), and Willie Illingsworth. We emailed schedules, checked weather and flows, tried to confirm a date, and finally pulled the trigger. The OPB crew spent the better part of a week getting the shots lined out and putting a good plan in place. All us kayakers had to do was show up and get it done, with about 8 go-pros that they lent us.
The result was fantastic! OPB did a great job with their shots and the edits and all the interviews. I was highlighted a little more than expected, mostly after I had the worst ass-kicking of my life. It was the first time I've ever been on the recieving end of a rope, and it's on five cameras. The OPB crew felt bad and super excited at the same time, cause the footage is great.
Without Further Delay:
One thing that was overshadowed by my massive wipe-out was a general discussion amongst all of us, boaters and crew, about the spiritual aspect of kayaking. The episode touches on the subject, while not really delving in too deep.
For me, boating is the ultimate experience of nature, or at least one if them. Whether you're running the Salmon River Canyon or canoeing down the John Day, boating allows a person to commune with nature in a way that's quite rare in today's world. There's an element of meditation, of pure presence that comes with sports in the wilderness that really brings us closer to ourselves.
Again, in a short, it's hard to capture this element. I think the guys who put together "Why We Go" which detailed the late and great Curt Joyce's final river trip, did a damn good job of explaining the spiritual aspect that I'm talking about. Curt, you're so loved, and so damn missed!
Much respect for the guys who put this together, it must have been really hard. Such an expressive piece.