I hunt Hells Canyon every year in August for Bear, so if anyone can appreciate your use of the propper adjectives, I can. And I must say, you are quite accurate with them.
As some of us know, the local populace are a different breed. This is Ranch country. Towns allog the Snake mould tough, & hearty souls. Lewiston, Asotin, Halfway, Cambridge etc. Some of the best cowboys come from places like these. So, when the man said you could make it in a 12' rowboat, he wasn't kidding. He was right. You "could" make it. He probably just figured that you already knew what would happen if you "didn't make it", & that being common knowledge, he didn't bother wasting any words on the subject. Besides, incentive like being 3/4 of the way accross before things go from bad to worse, can be quite powerfull, & you did make it afterall....
I lived in Halfway, & Richland for a time, & some of my buddies were from Cambridge, & I rode at a college rodeo in Lewiston, & we all grew up with the same frame of mind. Hard country mould hard folks.
Even with all that, I still 100% completely agree that crossing the river was just the start of a "what was I thinking moment". Brutal, grueling, unrelenting... There's a reason its called Hells Canyon, but once you've been bitten by it, you just gotta go back for more.
Anymore, I trade rattlesnake & heatstroke for flash floods, & rockslides. I don't like watching my tent tumbling down the raging river anymore. Hells canyon is a double edged sword of irony. I think seeing the river down below while your suffering from heatstroke at 118* is about as ironic as freezing to death from being poured on & watching your tent & gear float away. I truly think that the hysteria of it all adds to the allure. There's no place in the world like Hells Canyon.
I loved your story. I was laughing all the way through. I can see myself in your shoes, & I can relate completely.
Thank you for taking the time to write about it. It was an entertaining, & pleasurable read. Congrats on your success. Both on the Bears, & on living to tell about it..... & dreaming of conquering it again someday......
Best of luck to you, & if you ever want to compare notes, fling me a P.M. Id be honored to have another hearty soul in my camp.
Oh ya, in my signature below is a pic of a hill in Hells Canyon.