A few weeks ago was our family’s annual river trip. Typically, the river involved is the Lower Salmon and Snake in Idaho, but this year we opted for the Grande Ronde in Eastern Oregon. If you’ve never floated the Grande Ronde, I highly recommend it. The river rolls through conifer forests in a remote canyon with a touch every so often of high desert. Numerous times we saw Bald Eagles and other raptors, families of otters, geese and ducks, and a beautiful species of bird that none of us could identify. There was also the rather extraordinary episode of a terrestrial garter snake practically jumping out of the river onto the shore with a small bass already halfway down its gullet. The weather was perfect, the water was warm, and the Grande Ronde is, unlike most of our river trips, largely absent any significant rapids.
But there was an unusual challenge. Officially, the minimum amount of water necessary to successfully float the Grande Ronde is 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). The day that we loaded our boats and put on, the cfs was around 700. The day we took off the river, it was 545 … 55% of the minimum! What this meant was that literally from the moment we shoved off our rafts were sliding over rocks and stone shoals and, quite often, getting hung up. This would result in the oarsmen (including yours truly) trying to use the oars to swing or pry the 1,000-pound boats off the offending rocks. Since this technique rarely works, however, and really is just an act of desperate optimism and a good way to damage the equipment to boot, we inevitably would need to jump out of the rafts, stand in the middle of the river, and manually push and pull the boats to freedom. Like this:
Or these fine people:
It was exciting. And arduous: 39 miles of one-part rowing and one-part wrestling to get the boats to the take-out at the Powwatka Bridge near the solitary town of Troy, Oregon. What was originally intended to be a calm three-day float on a relatively benign river turned into a highly technical, and at times harrowing, rafting excursion … one which required every member of the party, including the kids, to be engaged and ready to leap into action whenever the need arose. So, while I heartily maintain my recommendation to float the Grande Ronde, if you’re into that sort of thing, I would qualify: do it at least 1,000 cfs!
Some were better prepared, or perhaps better put, more adaptable to these conditions than others. Even adequate, savvy preparation doesn’t make as big a contribution as having a positive and resilient attitude. Personally, I expected the trip to be like this and found the experience exhilarating, viewing it something of an adventure; and one I’d be willing to repeat.
Like the river, conditions are in the process of changing in the economy and market place. Interest rates are on the rise, the economy is hot, and we stand a reasonably good chance to be in what will ultimately prove to be the longest bull market in modern history. When that’s done with, though, we can count on a recession being already underway. While we’re still fundamentally sanguine about the US and the economy, it’s nevertheless best to talk in advance about if and how to adapt one’s strategy to dynamic circumstances, before you’ve found yourself grounded in a veritable rock garden. Please give us a call if you’d like to talk things over.
Chad Campbell, CFP®, CTFA