National Geographic : 1936 Jul
DOWN IDAHO'S RIVER OF NO RETURN channel would probably spell disaster; to use the north one almost certainly meant a hang-up on protruding rocks. With a creak and a groan the boat slid upon the bowlders and stopped short-stuck fast! Two placer miners, who had come to watch the fun, dashed to the rescue. With a long pole they pried while the boatmen tugged on their sweeps. Williams, lying flat with his shoulders against a rock, shoved with both feet (p. 115). Grudgingly the boat gave way and then, like a fallen warrior running the gauntlet, it was off again with a rush between lines of bowlders. At Barths Hot Springs a copious flow of hot water issues from joints in the granite. Its temperature, about 134 degrees Fahr enheit, is hotter than we could stand. The river was 54 degrees Fahrenheit, too cold for comfort. Where a big stream of hot water joined the cold, we underwent the peculiar sensa tion of standing in a bathtub in which the water chilled our feet and at the same time nearly scalded our shoulders. Flint felt better after his bath, but dur ing the rainy night he somehow rolled out of bed, and before he was thoroughly awake was wet to the skin. In the morning he was weak and we decided to rush him to a hospital. Reed walked ahead to a Forest Service phone. The rest of us broke camp, carried Flint to the boat, and set out in the rain. Arrangements were made for a plane piloted by Dick Johnson, Flint's buddy on many a hazardous trip, to fly from Mis soula, Montana, to Mackay Bar, a flat ter race which is the only emergency landing field in the canyon. Even that was 25 miles away-two days by boat. Everything else was forgotten. We had to get Flint out! THE RIVER BARES ITS TEETH A mile below Allison's ranch we escaped disaster. All except Dave Chard, Flint, and the boatman had unloaded for a rapid which, except for being shallow, did not look particularly bad. However, as the boat swung to avoid one bowlder it smashed into another with enough force to throw it partly out on the shore. For an instant it perched at a dizzy angle and then glided back into the water. We touched at the Ayers ranch only long enough for Captain Hancock to say hello to his wife and then on we splashed through the Big Mallard and Little Mallard Rapids to the Growler Rapids. With Flint confined to his sleeping bag, we could take no chances. Hancock chose the safer but shallower channel, toward which the heavy boat plunged at top speed. Then a sickening creak and groan, and we were stuck, this time on a three-point sus pension that held with viselike tenacity. For two hours we pried and pulled, to no avail. The dean cut a long pole while the rest of us tediously unloaded the boat over a slippery bridge of saplings. Then, with a rope tied two feet or so from the bottom end, we applied the tree-trunk lever and, led by Representative Clark, pulled as never before (page 123). The boat moved inches. Again we pulled. It moved a foot, then two feet, then slipped free. Though darkness was upon us, we pushed on to the hospitality of Joe Zunmiller's ranch, where Flint was given broth and placed in a warm bed. The early-day trail to Thunder Mountain crosses the river at this place, known as Campbells Ferry. Near it we found hun dreds of dikes cutting the granite. They line up with the dike zone of the Edwards burg district, where they are closely as sociated with gold deposits. AN AIRPLANE TO THE RESCUE In the cold dawn we carried Flint down to the scow on an improvised stretcher. On through rapids and polished water we hur ried. At noon we chatted a few minutes with Mrs. Jones and Mr. Painter. On the previous day, this fine old gentle man had celebrated his seventy-fourth birthday. Years before, he had hired Cap tain Guleke to float from Salmon nine boat loads of machinery, which is now installed at his mine. Although one boat was wrecked, Captain Guleke had delivered all the machinery. The moment the boat touched shore at Mackay Bar, we climbed to the landing field, to find Dick Johnson, who had just landed, looking for us. While he was cruis ing about, seeking a place to land in the depth of the canyon, his gasoline supply had run low and he had made a side trip to replenish it from a Forest Service cache in Chamberlain Basin. After seeing the landing field, we could well understand why this small, powerful plane had been selected. We arranged an improvised bed in the front cockpit, bun dled Flint in his sleeping bag, and fastened two safety belts securely over all (page 124).