June 21, 2012

River Otters

The sound of overflowing whitewater cut through the densely wooded forest  long before the single track trail led down to the stream.  Walking in our wetsuits,  we moved quickly,  hoping to avoid unnecessary conversations with hikers about our clothing choices and plans to scramble up a high flow stream.

Sliding down the steep banks, we rested on the narrow shore.  Staring at the clear flowing water in anticipation, I pulled the hood flap over my head and secured the zipper of my 4/3 wetsuit on my chest.  Tim and Spencer followed suit,  tightening their hoods around their faces.  Stepping into my knees,  the cold water rushed through a slit in my left bootie.

“Ohhh yahh, it’s cold,”  I said moving further towards the base of a small waterfall.  ”You guys ready?”

Reluctantly,  Spencer and Tim followed suit,  wading into surging stream.

“Bro..this is frio,” Spencer said in exaggerated, Socal surfing fashion. “What do you think the temp is?”

“Ughh maybe mid 40′s,  It’s always warmer than you actually think it is.”

“It’s pretty fucking cold,” Tim added.

Taking the plunge,  I dove forward in the chest deep water.  The cold attacked my sinuses and forced me to surface and gasp.

 ”Shit.  Maybe it’s low forties.”

Keeping our heads above water,  we moved upstream towards the first set of rapids.  Taking turns,  we tried to climb the small waterfalls.  Taking others failures and success as examples we slowly made our way up the stream.

Taking a break from shooting with film,  I took these on my 5d Mark II and an underwater housing.

Wet feet.

As kids, Tim and I hiked the trails by this stream and watched its changing flows.

Cairn Culture.

My brother and I accessing the next obstacle.

Spencer making his way across a shallow section.

“There’s no way we are getting up that,” I said, pointing towards a 12 foot raging waterfall.

“Not happening,” Tim agreed.

Looking up the narrow canyon towards a log jam,  my mind immediately raced, imagining a catastrophic failure of the make shift damn.  A wall of water the height of a refrigerator would charge down the canyon.  Accelerated by the occasional log,  I imagined bouncing down the canyon like a pinball before being deposited on the bank.  That wouldn’t end well.  Looking up and down the walls, I eyed an escape route from the hypothetical flood.  There were none.  Sheer cliffs covered in moss,  extended some 20 feet up towards the canope of the various evergreens.  The only way out of the canyon was back the way we came.

“You guys ready to head back?”

“Yah I’m over it,” Tim said in a tone that could have been explained by a similar conclusion about the surging pile of logs at the mouth of the canyon.

“Lets go.”

Here are some more links,

River Otter (Facebook).

2 Comments



  • June 23 , 2012

    Just love the craziness of this idea and I really dig some of the pictures here, quite a dreamy air. Well done Foster, as usual ! That’s what I love about your stories, always a new starting point and a new view upon America’s marvels.

    Gert


  • June 23 , 2012

    Gert,
    thanks for the kind words man. crawling up this river was a total blast. im sure to do it again.

    foster