Posts Tagged ‘water’

Idaho: Expect a Lot of Logs in the Middle Fork Salmon Next Year


By Zimo – Idaho Statesman Edition Date: 10/03/07 Forest fires burned along the Main Salmon and the Middle Fork of the Salmon in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness this summer, and whitewater rafters should see evidence of that when they start floating the rivers next May.

Whitewater boater Scott Elder saw the effects of the fires on a recent Middle Fork trip. “We just finished a lower Middle Fork of the Salmon River trip this past week and saw a fair amount of wood in the water,” Elder said this week.
“Some of it still smoking,” he said.
The U.S. Forest Service told Elder that there are over 100 trees in the water from Boundary Creek, the launch site on the river, down to Thomas Creek.
Boaters will probably see more mudslides and logjams next year.
“Just a word of warning for those boaters who are going to venture out there next May,” said Elder, “Be prepared for wood and possible portages.”

Fall kayaking Can Be a Rewarding Experience…


…if you’re ready for the cold Idaho Statesman – Edition Date: 09/11/07 By Dr. Collins – Link to article is HERE

The days seem so short now, and there is frost up on the peaks in the Frank Church. Winter is coming on strong, and we all hope for a great snow year, both for the critters, the farmers and the skiers. For the kayakers, the season is still going strong.
Gone are the rafts full of screaming people, gone are the crowds at the put-ins, and gone are the lines at the favorite waves. What has not gone is the pure joy of seeing the river with a different face the fall face. It is a very pretty one indeed, but beware of the smile; there are still dangers out there.
In fact, most people think low water means safer water, and this is definitely not true. Low fall water means not only cold water but also bigger rocks and tighter runs. All those routes you used down various rapids just won’t work with low water, and new rapids surface that you may have never seen before. As an example, just below Mike’s Hole there is a rapid that is pretty much washed out all spring and summer, until now. If you stick to the left, that hole that sprang up just might give you a surprise. The message is clear: This is a new river at lower flows. Rocks pop up, logs become problems, and even things like cars in the river start to surface!
After adjusting to the low water changes in the river, you also need to consider your own preparation and how to prepare your boat. It is definitely a team effort out there. For starters, the main Payette will soon be about 50 degrees. Not freezing, but not warm either. Spending several hours in 50-degree water will definitely chill you out, so you need to dress appropriately.
Start on the skin level. The first layer should be a non-cotton, sweat-transfer layer like polypro. Even though you are mainly concerned with the cold, you need to have a way to get rid of skin moisture and sweat in order to stay warm. Next, a thicker synthetic fleece vest or shirt will help keep the warmth you generate in and the chill from the water out. For the outer layer, either a paddling jacket with a tight neck and arm closure is the ticket. Gaskets on a dry top work great, of course, as does a dry suit.
If you are going the gasket route, make sure you take a close look at them before you head up. The cold weather will make them less flexible and will encourage them to split. If you see cracks in them at home, you can count on these cracks failing when you try to slip your head through in the cold. Duct tape does not work to fix them either, not even temporarily. People have died from a duct-tape repair to a dry suit that failed and allowed the suit to fill up during a swim. The answer is to get them to the river shop and get them fixed before you find out how much water can leak in through a small split in a gasket.
Since the head is like the radiator for the body, you need to pay special attention to heat loss there. There are great inner head liners that will fit under most helmets and provide enough of a head-seal that you won’t get that “ice cream headache” when you roll. They are great stocking stuffers, by the way. Really, spend the bucks to get one of these and you will never boat without one in the cooler weather again.
Ear protection is also important in cold water. There are special ear plugs for boaters, and they do work well. Dousing your ear canal with cold water is not only painful but can lead to overgrowth of the canal. In some cases this may require surgery to repair. Since the water is lower, and there is a chance of scraping against a rock if you flip, some folks are using face-guards on their helmets. These can protect against kissing a rock and having dental work done. Consider them.
Finally, the hands are especially vulnerable to the cold, and, lucky for you, there are paddling-specific gloves out now that can solve this problem. They work great and are pretty lifelike. The old standard pogies are always an option. They don’t work as well as the new gloves, but with them, you keep your hand directly on the paddle. It is your choice.
What about the boat? Trying to get one of those newer, tighter spray skirts on can be a real chore, and almost impossible when it really gets cold. Think about using a skirt that is not so tight around the cockpit. Try leaving it on the boat to stretch it out a bit, too. Also, a dab of Vaseline may do wonders to help them slip on and off. Inside the boat, pack a few items that you might not otherwise take. Consider an extra throw rope and carabiners, maybe even a pulley. The lower water exposes more rocks and the channels are tighter, so you may be dealing with a higher chance of getting the boat caught. At home you might also review Les Bechdel’s River Rescue book and bone up on z-drags and so on.
As for creature comforts, consider taking a hot beverage in your water bottle. It will not only heat the inside of the boat a bit but will really do wonders for your core body heat. Another safety item is a few bags of “instant heat.” These packs of chemicals heat up when you smack them and stay warm for hours. If you are really cold, pack them under your armpits and you will heat up like a gas grille.
This time of year, signal devices like whistles are very helpful to keep in contact, especially where the rocks might hide a trapped boater. Again, they are easy to carry and easy to use. Finally, penguin boaters should be on the lookout for ice jams as the season gets later. They can show up in the most unexpected places, and getting swept under one is no one’s idea of fun. If there are ice rims on the shore, be alert to the jam possibility.
Having said all this, know that boating in the fall and winter can be like snow camping all the beauty plus the solitude we rarely see these days. Just make sure you are prepared, and you will be rewarded many times over for your efforts.
Paul Collins, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at Orthopedic Health Care in Boise. Collins is an avid participant in many of Idaho’s outdoor activities. Send your sports medicine questions to  outdoors at or to the Idaho Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.

Dealing with Swimmers ear


-Idaho Statesman : Edition Date: 07/17/07 LINK TO ARTICLE.The antidote for the heat for many people is dipping in the pool or in the river, and it works wonders. If you dont believe it, take a look at the river on any sizzling day, and you will see folks using the natural coolness of the stream.

It seems the more time you spend in the water, the better you feel on a hot day. One thing you can get from all this time in the water is an ear problem called “swimmers ear.” I was talking with Dr. A. C. Jones, a local ear, nose and throat doctor, about this, and he had the following tips about how to handle this side effect of too much time in the water.
What is swimmers ear?
Swimmers ear occurs in the ear canal and is usually the result of an infection along this canal. The official name for swimmers ear is otits externa and it is usually a result of bacteria or viruses that get through the bodys normal protection against infection in this area. These defenses start with the physical formation of the ear canal, which usually keeps a bubble of air in the passage. This itself keeps most of the water out of a splash or a shallow dunking. Second, the ear canal is coated with a waxy substance appropriately called ear wax. This very water-resistant material keeps the tissue of the inside of the ear canal protected from moisture. Removing this with a swab or cotton tipped applicator takes away this protection. So unless the ear canal is blocked, leave it be. On the other hand, if there is a complete blocking of the ear canal from excess wax, an infection can set up behind this. You need to keep your ear canal open but not completely clear of earwax. Finally, it is unusual to put enough water in and around the ear canal to get the inner ear wet, unless you stay in the water for a long time or get a blast of water to the ear. On that note, a shot of water from a hose or a spray gun can have enough force to literally wash that protective layer of wax out of the ear, and in some cases even cause enough trauma to rupture an eardrum. Be careful with those water jets.
The dreaded ear infection
If the inside of the ear canal does get injured or unprotected, an infection can set up in there. Usually, the first thing you get is a sense of itching in the ear. You cannot scratch it out, though, and attempts to do so just make the pain worse. As the infection gets worse, the pain becomes more intense to the point that just touching the ear causes pain. A fever may also be part of the condition, as well as a watery yellow drainage out of the ear. Even your hearing can be reduced if there is enough swelling to completely close the ear canal. By this time, you know you have a real problem with the ear.
Treatment and avoidance
Once you get to the infection stage, Dr. Jones said that you have to clear all the pus, wax and skin debris out of the ear canal. This will not be fun and may need to be done by a physician. After it is clear, or at least open enough so that it can be accessed, you will need an antibiotic eardrop. This will help the body clean up the infection and reduce the swelling. Once the antibiotics are in, the ear will have to be kept clean and dry between applications. An earplug made of cotton and Vaseline will keep further moisture out while being soft enough to be tolerated. At this stage, the ear and ear canal can be very painful. With time and treatment, the pain will go away as the infection is cured. The swelling will subside as well, and you can move into the prevention phase.
Once the infection is gone, you can still get in the water. What you have to do is keep the ear protected, dry and clean of irritating material. Cleaning the ear canal can be done with a home remedy. Mix half rubbing alcohol and half white vinegar, and use this as a cleansing agent. Put a few drops of this in the ear, and let the excess wash out. The alcohol dries out the ear canal while the vinegar acidifies the canal and keeps bacteria from growing. However, do not overdo this treatment, as too much of a good thing can backfire. Do this after swimming or boating when you know you have water in the ear canal. You do not need to use this treatment unless you get water in the ear. Also, do not use this mixture if you have a perforated eardrum or ear tubes. This will be very painful.
There are great earplugs out there that can help stave off swimmers ear without having too much of an impact on your hearing. These are especially good for kayaking, where frequent blasts of rushing water can cause permanent damage. In the end, listen to what your ears are telling you, protect your ear canals, and treat them quickly if an infection starts. The good news is that even with an ear infection, if you give it proper and early treatment, you can be back in the water sooner than later.
Paul Collins, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine at Orthopedic Health Care in Boise. Collins is an avid participant in many of Idahos outdoor activities. Send your sports medicine questions to  outdoors at or to the Idaho Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.