Down by the River

View of the river bottom. It’s shallower on my side than on the far side.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

It was a beautiful, but cold, day today. FH and I had planned to go camping, but I chickened out. The temps are well below freezing, and the pipes in my tiny home almost froze last night. It was also really foggy. I really wasn’t prepared mentally to camp in damp, below-freezing temperatures. I’ve lived in the Puget Sound area for eight months, and I’m still trying to acclimate to the dampness. Damp cold feels much colder than the dry cold I’m used to.

Rappelling down the slopeInstead, I headed out to River Song after washing a couple loads of laundry. By the time I hung the last load on the line, the fog had lifted, leaving not a single cloud in the sky. I packed my brand new 4.0 Ah chainsaw batteries and lunch and hit the road. Usually, I grab a burger and fries on my way home, but it’s beginning to take a toll on my body, so I’m trying to eat more healthfully. In addition to a healthy lunch of yogurt, granola, and a banana, I also started a crockpot of homemade chicken soup for dinner when I got home.

Things were a bit drier at River Song. My path down to the river was nice dirt, instead of slippery mud. My tools, except for my chainsaw, were all loaded in my daypack, along with my lunch. I cinched the waist belt tight to keep it secure while I rappelled down. It was a bit tricky holding the rope with only one hand while carrying my chainsaw, but I figured it out and was at the bottom in no time.

First thing was to finish cutting away all the prickly things. I don’t know what those prickly things are called, but they’re as annoying as hell, especially in the summer. Long, thorny stems with huge, green leaves in the summer. They grow all over the place!

Octo tree!Once those were gone, I took my chainsaw to the fallen tree’s branches, clearing them out of the way. I made a pile of brush and branches along the side of the creek. I’ll have to figure out what do to with them later.

The snarl of branches on the other side of the fallen tree looked like a tangle of octopus arms. Long strings of green moss hung down, trapping dirt and pine needles. It was going to be a nightmare to deal with! At least the tree was far enough off the ground that I could walk under it without stooping.

I started slowly cutting branches, sometimes using my chainsaw, and sometimes using my folding saw. It was hard work, and the branches often landed on my head, dumping their loads of dirt on me. I was covered with moss, dirt, bark, and pine needles. It snarled in my hair and got inside my clothes, making me itch. But, I was making progress! I had a nice space cleared on both sides of the fallen tree, and I could see the river just beyond a stand of those prickly things.

Is that a human foot?I attacked it with my clippers and soon was standing at the river’s edge. A white thing caught my attention; it looked like a human foot. What the hell? I took a closer look. No foot! It was a piece of a branch, birch perhaps; I wasn’t sure. I left it there as a warning for trespassers. Ha ha!

The river splits in three places at this point as it went around two small, flat islands. The river channel closest to me was only about six feet wide. Close, but too far to jump. And it was far too cold to wade across.

Beyond that was another narrow channel, and then a bigger, but equally flat island. A larger, deeper channel lay beyond it.

A beachy area was off to my right. It was not a separate island–at least, not at this river level–but it dropped about a foot off the point at which I was standing. I wasn’t sure whether it would be swampy or not, but I had waterproofed my boots, so I stepped down.

Looking south, along the bluffIt squished slightly, but it was solid. This, too, was above the river. It stuck out into the river about forty feet. It was nice and solid and gravelly, covered by a heavy growth of pond weeds and a layer of fallen leaves. I walked out to the end of the point and turned to look. For the first time, I had a good view of the bluff and the river below. The bluff was, indeed, sheer. There would be no climbing that face. And, there was no river bank below it. It was a sheer drop straight into the river. The only way to explore that part would be by boat.

But, I was in no hurry. That could wait until summer.

The river was fairly shallow on my side. The deeper part of the river was on the far side. It looked like a good place to swim in the summer. I looked for fish, but I couldn’t see any.

I could see the zipline crossing the river and going into the trees on the other side. It was already getting dark–the bluffs block the sun in the late afternoon, making it dark earlier down by the river–and I couldn’t see anything other than trees. I think the zipline is simply attached to another tree on the far side of the river. Certainly nothing interesting like a building or platform. Oh, well!

Nice clearing!I turned my attention back to clearing the area around the fallen tree. I didn’t really have any place to put the cut branches or brush, so I piled it on the flat area that stuck out. There were no trees or shrubs in this area, just pond weeds, so it might be possible to come back another day and burn it. I could build a platform using the cedar branches to get it off the ground and away from the dampness so it would burn better.

After about three hours, I was done for the day. The sun was long gone from the river area and about to set up above. I had a good area cleared on both sides of the fallen log and a nice path to the river itself. There was still a lot to do, but it didn’t need to be done today. I had brought lunch with me with the thought of eating it before getting to work, but once I got here, I was all work. It was almost 4:00 p.m. and I hadn’t even eaten. I was hungry!

Lunch hit the spot and rejuvenated me for the climb back up. By the time I reached my truck, however, I was chilled to the bone. I blasted Big Red’s heater all the way home, but it wasn’t until I’d taken a hot shower and enjoyed a bowl of hot chicken vegetable soup before I felt warm again.

But, what a day! The adventure continues.

Mmmm! Nice hot bowl of chicken vegetable soup!