Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I took a cold bath in the Klamath River this morning. It is refreshing to be in a body of water that I know and trust. After my bath, I started my drive back up river towards Happy Camp, keeping an eye out as I went for the yellow SOTAR rafts that the JH Ranch uses. My vigilance was rewarded when, just above the class three rapid that we know as Rattlesnake, I saw Tyler Kempf a fourth year river guide who was around when I was on the river. I yelled to him, and in shocked voice he told me to meet them at Wingate. I did meet them at Wingate, but not before I took pictures of him and the other guides guiding Rattlesnake with varying degrees of success.
I had planned on heading straight to Ashland, Oregon, but Tyler convinced me to stop by the ranch, and I am glad that I did. It has been incredible to see so many old friends, but the best part by far was the trampoline. The JH Ranch is a place steeped in tradition, and one of those traditions is for random staff to congregate on the trampoline in a horse pasture, directly in front of the director’s house. We all lay there, covered in blankets, staring up at the night sky in search of satellites and shooting stars. The Ranch has the best stars of any place that I have ever been.
For the sake of not ratting out my friends, I won’t say who all was on the trampoline with me, but I will say that I felt really at home as I lay there spooning for warmth between two of my male friends. Gradually as the night wore on, people started to migrate away until it was just there were just four of us, a couple on one end of the trampoline, and a really cool girl and myself on the other side. Before, anyone gets any ideas, I was a gentleman and this is the Ranch, where people are exceptionally well behaved.
It was so nice to cuddle up next to someone under the stars and have a real conversation with them about things that actually matter. We talked about dreams, and the future, and travel, and how important it is to know and love people.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Happy Camp is an exceedingly poor name for this town. The only kind of Happiness that you find in Happy Camp is the drug induced high of meth or marijuana. The town is settled in one of the prettiest places that I have ever been, the Klamath River Valley. The economy here used to be fueled by logging, but now I don’t know what people do, besides the occasional construction job. Happy Camp was, and probably still is, one of the crystal meth capitols of the United States.
As I drove through town today, I was greeted by a kid walking down the street carrying a small marijuana sprout in a decorative flower pot. This is an upgrade from the usual people that I see around this town, people with no teeth and jittery, malfunctioning motor skills.
I came here for two reasons. The first and lesser reason was that I used to have a crush on a meth head that lived here named Felisha, but the second and real reason that I came to this small town in the middle of Northern California is that this is the place where I used to guide rafting trips for the JH Ranch.
As soon as I got to town, I went to Parry’s grocery store to inquire about Felisha, who now has a child and has not been seen much around town for the last 6 months. Having failed in that goal, I went to search Curly Jack Campground to see if any JH Ranch river guides were still in the area.
I found their camp deserted, so I went to check the usual haunts to see if they were out having adventures. I did not find them at Ukinam, the bi-furcated waterfall dumping into a basin off of a beautiful mountain creek, nor did I find them at Clear Creek. Clear Creek is a large creek at the end of several miles of trail that lead off of an 8 mile, rock strewn dirt road that winds its way up the side of a mountain. The water freezing cold water winds its way through narrow alley ways of stone that form fantastic 15 and 20 foot jumps. I spent a couple of hours sunbathing at the creek before returning to camp at the Wingate pull out where most of our rafting trips ended.