7:05 p.m. September 9
We explode out of the mist, roaring up River X, careening around skeins of fog snagged on old-growth sentinels, banking hard, skidding through empty air to charge up River Y, rocks, trees, all reality blurring beneath my feet. A mostly gone bottle of Crown clutched between Kate’s knees and the hammering rotor slap tear at our ears. We cut the corner on a sweeping oxbow and rise, the carpet of model-railroad spruce and incandescent yellow cottonwoods zooming past, racing darkness back to camp. I am… I am Superman and I can do anything. Rick in the backseat hunched over his video camera, peering into the playback screen, his voice crackles over headset static—Dude, I double punched it!—followed by rising, maniacal laughter.
6:27 p.m. September 9
If a camera adds 15 pounds to its subject, I’m going to be an easy 260 in the film. Red lights blink. A drone zooms past, hovers, then shoots away, its robotic eyeball pivoting to devour the scene. A school of GoPros swarms around 37 inches of luminous quicksilver fish in our hands, a roiling photographic feeding frenzy. Kate and I climb out of the river hugging and dancing. We all are. A voice from my self-conscious subconscious: Get a grip! Act like you’ve caught a freaking fish before! But fuck it, we got our fish, give me another hug, give me some knuckles, give me a drink of that Crown and throw away the cap. Todd looks up at the darkening sky and mouths something that looks a lot like thank you…