Aquarius July 2004

Diary of Linda and my trip to Aquarius, ID in July 2004

7/13/04 Was on the road at 7:30 a.m. and arrived at Aquarius Campground at 9:30 a.m. Both Willingham families were already there with sites. Tim & Barb arrived ½ hour after us and occupied the top site 9 near the river. We ended up with site 4 which has a great view of the river and a large area suitable for campfire activities at night. The outhouse was right across the road. The weather continued on the hot side reaching high in 90’s with high humidity and low in high 50’s.

7/14/04 Lana and I rafted the NF Clearwater from Quartz Creek to Aquarius Campground about 6.5 miles using my SOAR 12’ and 14’ rafts. Lana got off to a bad start, flipping her boat on the very first rapids. I retrieved the boat and Lana made it to shore with paddle. We considered switching boats but continued with the same configuration. Lana gained confidence after an hour of minor rapids and did not have a problem the rest of the run. Lana did not want to run the last class 3 rapids at Aquarius so we decided to line the boats through it. This was a bad mistake as walking the shore line on the slippery rocks was more dangerous than running the rapid. We only used one line per boat, but should have used 2 as the boats kept getting hung up on rocks. After a good ½ hour Lana finally got her boat past the rapids. I decided to get mine up the steep bank a ways and employ some camping partners to help haul it out. The trip took us 4 hours 45 minutes. I was quite tired and Lana was bruised and tired, but it was still and adventure I would not have foregone as this may be the most beautiful river I have or will ever raft. Linda and I had rib eye barbequed steak, salad, and sweet corn for dinner.

7/15/04 Stayed in camp all day recouping from the rafting trip. I made pot roast in the pressure cooker for dinner inviting Lana and Doug over. They brought salad and fresh baked trout for appetizer. The trout and the pot roast were superb. We have been made the designated site for daily evening camp fires each night starting around 8:30 and lasting to 10:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

7/16/04 Did another rafting expedition today. I used the 12’ raft and Joe and Tim used the 14’ raft. Linda drove us up river in our pickup truck carrying the inflated rafts. We put in at same spot down a steep bank to the river. We slid the boats down about 25’ to a flat area, then carried them over rocks about 70’ to the river. We topped off the air in the boats, adjusted the seats, and got off. Joe ejected from the boat on the very first and same rapids that Lana did. He successfully got to shore in a calm water stretch and we repositioned both seats back one notch as Joe said the nose of the raft was porpoising which caused his ejection. Tim did the steering in the rear. Joe was somewhat snake bit after his ejection and hunkered down spread eagle any time a substantial rapids appeared which gave cause for Tim’s hearty laughter. Joe insisted on switching positions after some time as he figured he could steer better than Tim. More rocks were hit with Joe steering. They more or less got it together in time to negotiate the bigger rapids on the river with no ejections or flips. We both negotiated the toughest class 3 rapids at Aquarius with no problem. We completed the trip in 2.5 hours. I was tired so we had left over pot roast for dinner which tasted even better than the night before.

7/17/04 I made Sourdough Huckleberry pancakes for the whole group this morning using fresh berries provided by Doug, Lana, Barb, and Scarlet. Cooked them at Scarlet and Joes site overlooking Aquarius rapids. They were a hit and enjoyed by all. Joe fell a dead tree equivalent to 1.25 cords of wood with his Stihl chainsaw about 12 mile from our campground. It was up a steep single lane mountain logging road. Joe and Tim did the actual cutting. It was on a very steep hillside about 35 yards from the road. Scarlet took video as the tree top crashed across the road splintering the top wood. The rest of the tree was stuck on the hill side. The put a belt around it and connected a rope to it. I connected the rope to my Chevy Duramax and pulled it down into the road. Joe operating the chainsaw with Scarlet and Tim holding the log from rolling, cut the log into nice big rounds which we loaded into the two trucks. The operation observed by Linda and Meghan was quite impressive as it supplied fire wood for the entire Aquarius group. I believe the tree was a White Pine. When the wood was returned to Aquarius and dumped in three separate sites Doug spit all of our rounds for us. The wood burned nicely at campfire this night and the entire logging operation was rehashed by all the participants. The Rooneys arrived about 6:00 p.m. with their 5th wheel and stayed at the gravel pit.

7/18/04 The Willinghams and Tylers went to town in Pierce today. On the way they hauled Lana’s, Doug’s, and my bike up the mountain top. We road down the beautiful mountain road with prolific wild flowers 16 miles back to camp. Virtually no peddling, Lance eat your heart out. I made chicken, ham, vegetable fried rice for dinner. The Giengers arrived about 7:00 p.m. We now have 6 couples in our group from Southern California. We expect two more couples the last couple days of our 10 day stay. I offered the Giengers fried rice for dinner which they accepted.

7/19/04 Took another 6 mile raft trip from Quartz Creek to Aquarius today. I went solo, Lana and Doug went tandem in the 14’. They made it fine with no flips, looking the best at steering of any couple yet. They did paddle way too much in the flat water to suit my leisurely pace. The weather was erratic with rain, sun, and then broken clouds with upstream wind. At the half way point Lana took my boat and I floated with Doug allowing him to do most of the paddling. I almost got ejected out of the back of the boat getting thrown into the back of Doug and bumping his head with my paddle. The beauty of the river impresses me every trip. We saw a Bambi size deer at close range, Ospreys, and one Eagle. Linda and I had barbecued Fillet Mignon steak, salad, and chopped frozen spinach for dinner. The campfire was started but it began to sprinkle. To my surprise most of the group stayed out in the rain with the raging fire. I and Linda watched the fire from under our 5th wheel awning. The weather would be insufferably hot without the clouds we have had the past two days. The humidity feels to be in 90’s most of the time.

7/20/04 Linda and I had sour dough pancakes, cantaloupe, and coffee for breakfast. I charged the 5th wheel batteries and my laptop for the first time today. The solar panel sure keeps them topped off when there is sun. Linda, Lana, Ryder & Meggie dogs, and I did about 5 mile round trip river trail. The dogs had great fun smelling, chasing squirrels, chipmunks, etc. The scenery was lush with frequent view of the river, definitely a 9+ rating trail.

7/21/04 Joe, Stan, Tim, and I did another river float trip today. Tim and I used my 12’ and 14’ SOAR’s. Joe used his Stearns 10’ inflatable, and Stan used his 10’ Sevlor inflatable. All went well the first ½ of trip except for craft bailing required by Stan and Joe. Joe then hit a series of 3 or 4 foot waves taking on lots of water and finally capsizing in the last big one. No one actually saw him capsize and I got to him first but he had pretty much self rescued as he was near shore. He said that it seemed like he was under water 20 seconds and he was quite panicked. Fortunately he only incurred minor bruises on his knees. Scarlet, Joe's wife picked him up at the next rapids as it was near the road. Tim, Stan, and I continued down to Aquarius with no problems. Stan’s very light weight non bailing Sevlor raft did very well on this run. Stan kept it square to the waves and road right over the top of them very nicely.

7/22/04 Spent the first ½ of day drying and storing the rafting equipment away. Took Meghan for a 3 mile hike on Cedar Heritage Trail. Loaned my bike to Stan for the 15 mile downhill. The past few days the weather has cooled and has been very pleasant with cool evenings and warm dry days. Joy Ray, Diana, and Gretchen arranged a total campground birthday party for Lana and Scarlet. Everybody brought appetizers and wine to our camp ground. I fried two fresh trout in garlic butter that Doug had caught and given to me. The main course was pasta, sauce made by Fred, Greek Salad, and really good grilled garlic bread from Costco. All the appetizers and other food was just outstanding. Gifts and cards were given to the birthday girls. Barbara Tyler gave everyone a soap gift from the batch which she made one afternoon with educational instruction by herself and Tim. A campfire was started and fun conversations and spirited fishing and rafting tales continued until 10:00 a.m.

7/23/04 We reluctantly left Aquarius campground this morning for our future trip destinations. This 10 day stayed rated with one of the best trips I have had to Aquarius Idaho. The rafting, hiking, great scenery, and the social interaction.

Last updated on February 6, 2019