Wild and Scenic Rivers Part Two with Greg Hatten and Pendleton

We continue our series with Greg Hatten’s Woodenboat adventures on rivers protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers act. In this installment, Greg’s team approaches the run of a lifetime. 

Greg Hatten's rig packed for adventure, including a Pendleton Chief Joseph blanket. Photo by Greg Hatten

Frank Church Wilderness

In June I took my wooden boat down the River of No Return in the Frank Church Wilderness of Idaho. The Middle Fork of the Salmon was one of the original eight rivers inducted into the Wild and Scenic program and the bill was written and championed by Senator Frank Church of Idaho. This trip was special for so many reasons – mostly, because I got to row it alongside some of the best guides and woodenboat river runners on the planet…the Helfrich crew.

Greg Haten in his wooden boat on River of No Return in the Frank Church Wilderness of Idaho. Photo by Greg Hatten

The degree of difficulty of rowing this river in a fragile wooden boat was at the high-end of anything I had ever rowed. From the very first oar-stroke, the extreme gradient drop and rocky rapids provided non-stop rowing action the entire first day. For the five mile start through Sulpher Slide, Hell’s Half Mile and the Class IV Velvet Falls, I had just enough time to catch my breath between rapids and cast an occasional glance around at the beauty and rawness of the river wilderness and steep canyon walls we threaded our boats through.

The absence of dams on this river gives us a truly wild river to run – where the river level and conditions are dictated by the weather, the snow melt, the vertical drop, and the rock slides which change sometimes every year. Nothing controlled or contrived about the Middle Fork – it is in it’s natural state – rugged and raw and almost “untouched” by a human hand.

Greg Hatten and crew in Greg's wooden boat.

Middle Fork

After ten years of unsuccessful lottery applications, my usual band of river runners finally drew a permit to run the Middle Fork in 2017. We planned for months and made preparations with more excited anticipation than any trip we had ever planned. A week before the June trip we got word that the unusually heavy rains and spring storms caused a river that was too high to run safely and an access road that was too littered with downed trees and rock slides to open in time for our trip. River was closed and the permit revoked.

Greg Hatten makes camp on the banks of the Middle FOrk of the Salmon RIver, with his cot, Pendleton blanket, and boats in the distance.n Photo by Greg Hatten

Looking beyond the disappointment, we appreciated the fact that the river is subject to the changing conditions of Mother Nature – which means that sometimes it’s just un-runnable.

A collage of campfire cooking and chow. Photo by Greg Hatten.

A dam to tame it and provide easier access is a terrible trade-off – even if it meant that we would have to return to the river of no return to run it one day when the conditions were more favorable and mother nature was more cooperative. We have the Wild and Scenic Act to thank for that – and we were all grateful for it.

“The great purpose of this act is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it… It is a great spiritual experience. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust.”

Senator Frank Church (1957-1981)

A stunning photo of the Chief Joseph blanket by Pendleton, against the backdrop of a snowcapped peak and a river. Photo by Greg hatten.

Featured blanket: Chief Joseph

First woven in the 1920s, this USA-made wool blanket has been one of our most popular designs ever since. Chief Joseph led the Nez Perce tribe native to northeastern Oregon in the late 1800s. Widely admired for protecting his people and speaking the truth, he is honored with this design, symbolizing bravery. Bold arrowheads represent the chief’s courage, strength and integrity.

The Chief Joseph blanket by Pendleton Woolen Mills.

See all the options here: Chief Joseph blanket

Wild & Scenic Rivers Part One with Greg Hatten and Pendleton

Note: Please enjoy this guest post from Greg Hatten, of WoodenBoat adventure fame. He took some Pendleton blankets along on his latest river runs. Here’s his write-up!

The Painted HIlls blanket by Pendleton, at Oregon's Painted Hills. Photo and hand-built wooden boat by Greg Hatten

Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

“The great purpose of this act is to set aside a reasonable part of the vanishing wilderness, to make certain that generations of Americans yet unborn will know what it is to experience life on undeveloped, unoccupied land in the same form and character as the Creator fashioned it… It is a great spiritual experience. Unless we preserve some opportunity for future generations to have the same experience, we shall have dishonored our trust.”
Senator Frank Church (1957-1981)

In 1968, Congress passed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and President Johnson signed it into law. The primary goal was to “protect and preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”

Eight rivers were inducted in the original group and, now, fifty years later, there are over 200 rivers in the program. The state of Oregon has more protected rivers than any other state by far – with over 50 included in the program.

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of that legislation, I’m running several of the classic rivers that are under its protection in 2018.

Buffalo National River

I started in the Midwest with a spring high water kayak run down the upper section of the Buffalo National River in northern Arkansas. It’s 153 miles in total but I only ran a short section where it runs through the Ozark National Forest.

Greg Hatten's wooden boat on the trailer at the entrance to Lost Valley, before he takes on the Buffalo River.Greh Hatten's wooden boat waiting on the banks of the Buffalo National RiverA woman stands on a rocky outcropping, taking in a view of the Ozark Mountains. Photo by Greg Hatten

This run features a steep gradient drop, whitewater rapids and dramatic topography that includes sink holes, caves, beautiful limestone bluffs, numerous hiking trails and spectacular views of the Ozark Mountains.

Running the Deschutes River

In late May, I went out west to join up with my river running buddies for a fly fishing and camping trip on one of our favorite Wild and Scenic Rivers in the north central part of Oregon – the Deschutes. On my way through the state, I stopped just short of the river to see the Painted Hills in the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument. The Pendleton blanket I had chosen for the trip was the Painted Hills blanket and I was amazed at how the accent colors of the blanket matched the vivid hues of the hills so perfectly.

Painted Hills in the A pile of Greg Hatten's gear, including the Painted Hills blanket by Pendleton, at the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument

A rafter on the rapids of Oregon's Deschutes River. Photo by Greg HattenThe attraction of this river is the incredible native redsides that come alive in May when the hatch of large salmon flies sets off a feeding frenzy that is amazing to witness–and so much fun to fish.

A redside in the hands of a fisherman. Photo by Greg Hatten

It also features the Class IV White Horse Rapid which is the scene for probably more boat “wrecks” than any rapid in the Pacific Northwest. Another attraction of this trip? The elaborate meals cooked beside a rushing river on open fires and Dutch ovens by some of the best river chefs in the great outdoors.

A collage of campfire cookery delights. Photos by Greg Hatten.

 

RIver running gear in Greg hatten's wooden boat, including the Painted HIlls blanket by Pendleton. Photo by Greg HattenI have several more Wild and Scenic Rivers to run in 2018 – stay tuned for periodic updates.

Greg Hatten

See the blanket

Thanks, Greg! Here’s the Painted Hills blanket.

See it here: Painted Hills blanket

The Painted Hills blanket by Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Rising from the dry plains of Eastern Oregon, bare earth undulates in folds of scarlet, ochre, and yellow. These are the Painted Hills, whose brilliant stripes inspired this design and were created by oxidized mineral deposits in layers of volcanic ash. Adventurers who want to take a road trip into the past can see the hills, visit the nearby John Day Fossil beds and explore the ghost towns of this remote part of Oregon’s landscape. 

• Unnapped 
• Ultrasuede® trim; twin is felt-bound 
• Pure virgin wool/cotton 
• Fabric woven in our American mills 
• Dry clean 
• Made in USA

Greg Hatten and the Great Outdoors: Moved by the Wallowas.

An icy Wallowa River.

National Park Week

Ed. Note: It’s National Park Week, and in the spirit of outdoor adventures, we’re sharing excerpts from a post by our friend Greg Hatten of Wooden Boat Adventures fame. He  took a trip into the snowy Wallowa Mountains this spring (or what’s passing for spring here in Oregon), and experienced nowcats, fly-fishing, Pendleton blankets, hot beverages and lobster tails. Read on below.

Greg’s Wallowas Story

Six hundred pounds of Oregon Elk thundered up the small freestone creek in a desperate dash for life as a pack of gray wolves gave chase. In a final powerful move to avoid the wolves at her heels, she wheeled left and attempted to jump up the six foot bank from the bottom of the creek bed. Her fate was sealed when her front legs sunk to her shoulders in four feet of deep snow. The trailing wolves, running lightly on a thin layer of crust, caught her quickly and ended the struggle for life at the top of the bank in a flurry of fangs and flesh.

Snow prints told the story.

Snowcats on the trail in the Wallowa Range.

It was a solemn moment in the middle of a remote area that had taken us several hours and a variety of vehicles to reach. Our destination was a cabin by the river…We reached the little cabin, started a fire, unloaded gear, and propped our wet boots by the stove to dry out.

Boots dring by the woodstove with a Pendleton Buffalo Creation coffee mug in the foreground.

Clearly this was going to be a steelhead trip to remember… but the Pendleton Whisky after dinner would challenge us to recall the details.

The Next Morning…

… was clear and crisp. I slipped on my waders, slipped out the cabin door and hiked to the pools upstream.

Wadrers, a wool shirt, and a Pendleton blanket on the front porch of a cabin.

We fished hard all day – upstream, downstream, swinging, nymphing, plunking….. we tried it all with the same result. A fishless day – not at all uncommon or unfamiliar to steelhead fishermen…. and so, we headed to the cabin for ribs and lobster.

After another elegant dinner I grabbed my Therm-a-Rest cot, my sleeping bag, and my Pendleton blanket and headed for the river to do some open air winter sleeping down by the river.

Greg Hatten sits on the banks of the Wallowa River, sipping a warm drink.

I explained it as a field test for winter gear – but I really wanted a closer connection to the river, the valley and the Nez Perce tribe of Native Americans that called this place “home” more than two hundred and fifty years before us. I looked up at the stars in the night sky and thought of them in this place.

Snowy riverbanks, and a cold river.

My breath was heavy and my nose was cold but the familiar sound of running water over rocks and the rawness of the night was something I’ll never forget. The image of the slaughtered Elk was something else I’ll never forget and a few times during the night imagined I was being surrounded by the Minam pack of wolves that patrols this valley and did my best to snore loudly hoping to be mistaken for a hibernating bear. When I woke to the first light of dawn, I was pretty glad I hadn’t been eaten by wolves and figured either they thought I was a sleeping bear, a mad dog, or a middle aged fly fisherman that wouldn’t taste very good…. or maybe the wolf pack was only in my dreams. I hiked up to the cabin and made coffee.

A bright fire in the woodstove.

A plaid wool Pendleton shirt hangs on a pole near a snowy riverbank.

Catch of the day; a nice trout displayed by a fisherman.

…it was time to pack up and leave the valley. We made our way back up the steep narrow trail and near the top we stopped for one final look down at the river snaking it’s way between the mountains of the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

History

In 1877, 800 members of the Nez Perce tribe and their 2,000 horses fled the valley and headed Northeast in a desperate attempt to elude the pursuers hot on their trail. They were searching for a new home and chased by the U.S. army for over 1,000 miles and three months across Idaho and parts of Montana before a final bloody battle less than 40 miles from the safety of Canada. It was the battle in the foothills of the Bear’s Paw Mountains where the Nez Perce were finally forced to surrender and Chief Joseph is said to have pronounced to the remaining Chiefs and the U.S. Army “Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

A Chief Joseph blanket hangs on a tree by a riverbank.

As I looked over the raw beauty of the Wallowa valley with the steep dark green Mountains on all sides dusted with a fine layer of white snow tumbling into the river below, his words took on a depth that made me ache for his people and the way of life they gave up. I was moved by the Wallowas.

Icy riverbanks, frosty vegetation.

Read the full post here: Moved by the Wallowas

All photography courtesy Greg Hatten

A khaki color Chief Joseph blanket by Pendleton.

See product here:

Chief Joseph blanket (tan)

Pendleton Buffalo Creation mug

Men’s wool shirts by Pendleton