Day 6 - Wednesday July 12
More rain. No one is in a hurry to get up. Finally, Wayne bravely ventures outside, uncovers the wood pile and starts the fire. We are on the river at 10:30 which is almost an hour earlier than yesterday, fueled by corn meal pancakes and syrup. Finally, the clouds seem to be breaking up in earnest with a gentle breeze to push them (and us) on the way. Blue ‘sucker holes’ dot the sky. A quacking mom with her brood of ducklings then an osprey feeding on its nest brighten my mood.
By lunch, the sky has cleared. We stop at the Sunblood Mountain warden cabin for lunch. A lovely treed clearing with huge pine tree and picnic table on the porch. Evidence of bear scratching on the outhouse and porch posts. The muddy soft river banks up to the cabin make for interesting entry/exit from the canoes!We paddle/drift towards the Virginia Falls campsite, our destination for the next 2 nights, having ‘reserved’ them in advance (as required). Still, I was not prepared for the amount of development in the area - floating docks, numbered campsites, common raised compost toilets, food cache platforms, helicopter landing pad, fuel drum storage, amphitheatre, signs, wardens tents - wow. And the place was full! So far, we had seen 2 canoes on the river - when and where did all these other people come from?
I enjoyed the park facilities nonetheless. That evening, park ranger Adele gave a short guided walk, pointing out various features (height of the Falls, Bill Mason rock, etc etc). What caught my attention was the death camas, a lovely but deadly flowering beauty, not to be confused with the wild onion as my field guide has earlier pointed out.
Virginia Falls were as expectedly majestic as in the many fine photos I had seen over the years. What was truly astounding was the sluice box! The thundering, violent pulsating water, with foaming waves leaping at irregular intervals was horribly exciting and unexpectedly powerful...the true essence of a wild and untamed thing rather than the predictable drop of a well behaved falls....the roiling waters beckon, calling me to dip in a finger or a toe: just a touch! Sitting on the slippery rocks, mesmerized by the Sluice box call, I struggle to regain balance ... finally, I feel some connection to this waterway.