Throughout the entire trip Eric has been wearing this smelly old baseball style hat that he got while he was a wildland firefighter in the Crater Lake National Park years ago. You might call it his lucky hat. It is well past its prime but like any lucky or favorite piece of clothing that that people may own, it is not easily given up.

After we had a two day battle of trying to assemble a pair of new 14 ft river rafts, an exploratory float on the Rio Negro was in order. As the rains poured down, we made two trips hauling each boat down to the river, through in out rods and gear and saddled up. The river itself is fast and narrow and no place for an inexperienced paddler to learn to row especially with the rising water levels. This opinion comes after the fact. Nobody had ever floated this river before. So when Eric volunteered to man the oars, nobody could argue with him especially since that meant that Tianna and I would be fishing. For the majority of the day we floated safely through the numerous hazards of fallen trees and shallow waters. It wasn´t until the the end of the day when we got into some trouble.

We had pulled over to scout out this huge log jam that was blocking the river. There was only a small channel in which one could get through. Jordan and Dan went through first in their boat and then Eric made his turn. We weren´t so lucky. Swift water slammed us up against the jam and in slow motion I watched as the left side of the boat began to rise out of the water and then it, the three crew members and our gear flipped over into the deep churning drink. Eric and I, having the good sense to hang on to the raft popped up right away. We glanced quickly to make sure that each was okay. Tianna on the other hand was still under as Eric grabbed her and brought he to the surface. I lunged for my cameras and gear that was floating away and was just able to grab them. By this time the other guys had come over to help and slowly we were able to get everyone to shore and all the gear recovered unharmed. Except for Eric´s hat. It was a pretty sketchy situation. But everyone was okay.

Once back at at the lodge, Tianna had decided that she had had enough of the great outdoors and left to head back home. Days passed and the fact that we still hadn´t caught any trout on the Negro, we opted to have a another go on the river.

Long story short, this picture is of Eric who after insisting that we have another look at the log jam, gave a battle cry of excitement as he saw his had hanging on a branch of the fallen tree. A boy and his hat are reunited once again.



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