Ranger Danger Dave

Alzar School | 28.06.11

As a start, I’d just like to say hello to the outside world!  I hope all of you reading this are well, especially since I haven’t talked to any of you recently.

But, I’d like to blog about what I at least think was the coolest day on the trip so far.  It was three days ago, on the 24th and it was a bit of a change of plans.  Originally, we were supposed to drive to our next campsite and then spend the rest of the day paddling a section on the Cal Salmon river.  But a local ranger asked us the night before if it would be at all possible if we could stay an extra day on the Klamath River and help pull invasive weeds called scotch broom.  In return, he’d take us on an “adventure hike” to a waterfall swimming hole.  As a group we took a vote and it was pretty unanimous to spend an extra day with “Ranger Danger Dave.”

The ride down was fairly uneventful.  There were a few swimmers but we all made it to the beach where we were going to pull scotch broom.  A lot of the guys in particular got really excited when Ranger Danger Dave brought out the “extractors” for pulling the big bushes whole root system up. It was hot and tiring but we made a pretty big dent in the forest of scotch broom.

We continued down the river to another beach just before a creek.  We all got out ready for our hike, but Sean made us all go back to our boats to grab our PFDs and helmets.  There was a bit of complaining because we didn’t want to wear them on a hike, but by the end we were all glad we had them.

Now I’ve been on some pretty cool hikes, I have bushwhacked the forests in McCall, I’ve hiked Glacier National Park, and if anyone ever goes down to Arches NP the Fiery Furnace hike is amazing.  But this had to be the most amazing hike I have ever done.  The first major obstacle was crossing the fast flowing Ukononum Creek.  In fact, it was going so fast that Dave had to get an impromptu wilderness survival creek crossing lesson.  We literally had to team up in groups of three, holding onto each other and slowly walk around as one of us was the anchor.  There were some close calls on slippery rocks and a lot of adrenaline but the hike had only begun.

Next we walked along a hillside of loose pebbles.  Mini rockslides were caused by each step and our guide Ranger Dave even had to pause for five minutes so a larger rock slide would settle and even after it did, only one of us could cross this section at a time.

Then we entered this canyon, sometimes with the walls so steep we had to get in the water and wade upstream before climbing back up the slippery rock.

The scariest part, though, was when we once again needed to cross the creek, but by this time it was moving so fast that even mountain man Ranger Dave was nearly swept off his feet.  I thought the leaders were going to call the hike off at this point, but I was shocked.  They sent one instructor across in his kayak and tied a rope across the river on two trees.  We all grabbed the rope and held on for dear life as we crossed the current, some with better success.  I know some were over taken by the current and had to stop just to calm down and catch their breath before continuing.  Some marched their way across while others just went super fast and got momentum to do some of it for them.  Getting everyone across while others one at a time took a long time and by now we were behind schedule.  But to make matters worse, as we were cheering everyone on, no one noticed where Ranger Dave went.  In our attempt to find him on the slight trail, we took a lot of wrong turns, had some communication errors, and wasted even more time.  We finally lost the trail for good at an amazon looking waterfall, which happened to not be the one we were looking for.  We regrouped, took some Alzar group photos and Ranger Dave finally came back to find us.  It was at this point the leaders called the hike over because we still had to get back to our boats, boat down the river, drive to our new site, set up, and make dinner.

We never made it to the waterfall, but this hike was a perfect example of the journey being so much better than the destination.  It was an adventure and we even saw a different waterfall.  And even though I was really disappointed that we turned around, I will always imagine the waterfall.  And I can always hope to go back and do the hike again.


On the 24th of June the Alzar School spent the day with river ranger “Danger” Dave.  We started with some paddling and service work, pulling scotch broom, an invasive species.  After that we were rewarded with an amazing hike to a secluded waterfall.  Now I’ve done some hiking in my day, and I’m not the biggest fan.  But this hike was awesome!  We crossed a creek three times, and one of them we had to set up a safety line across the river to hold onto because the current was so strong.  At one point, part of the group got sidetracked and climbed up a rock face and some rocks fell but no one was hurt.  Then, when the whole group caught up and reorganized we realized we had lost Ranger Dave.  After we took a few pictures at a beautiful smaller waterfall, Dave came back and showed us the way to the main falls, but it was getting late and so we turned around and made our way home.  So, no we did not make it to our destination, but we still had an amazing day with Dave.



In Happy Camp, California, we met the ranger and helped him with pulling plants that are invasive species to California.  The day before we had pulled the mustard seed plant.  We decided as a group to raft and kayak down the Klamath River with Ranger Dave and helped pull another kind of invasive species.  Ranger Dave told us about a really cool waterfall up a creek and we all decided to hike towards it.

When we got to the confluence of the creek and the river, we got out of our boats and began to hike.  About 300 yards into our hike, we found out we had to cross the very fast and cold creek.  One of our instructors, Dan, aka Lt. Dan, gave us a lesson on how to cross a creek properly.  We all found a partner or two, grabbed onto their PFDs and waded across the creek while rotating in a circle.

Once on the other side, we had to walk along the creek where the gravel was really loose and rocks were constantly rolling down.  Ranger Dave was in the front making and following the trail as we followed like a herd of sheep.   We climbed rocks and logs, getting scraped by thorns and wading through the water and then climbing back up slippery rocks to the trail.  At one point in our hike, we saw a rattlesnake and quite a few of us freaked out and hurried past it as quickly as possible.

A ways further upstream, we had to cross the creek again.  Ranger Dave went out half way and came back because the water was too fast.  Two of our instructors, Dan and Sam (who were going to kayak the creek) set up safety, a throw bag to a tree on the other side so we had a line we could use to get across.

When most of us were across, Ranger Dave told us to follow him, and he set off up the creek.  We didn’t hear what he said because he spoke so softly, and the creek was so loud.  We realized that we should have followed Dave instead of waiting for the instructors to cross, so we all started walking in the direction we saw Dave go, looking for him.  We had to stop at a rock wall that we couldn’t get around or go over.  We took a few pictures and waited for Dave, who made it to our waterfall only to find out our swimming hole was too fast.  He came back with pictures and our instructors decided that it was too late in the day to continue because we still had about two miles of river to continue and we needed to drive to the Cal Salmon to set up our camp.  Hiking out was almost as cool as walking in towards the waterfall in my opinion.  The creek was harder to cross and the snake was still there.

We got to the takeout and loaded our trailer with hopes of getting our dinner at Wendy’s, which we did not receive, and headed tp the Cal Salmon River.