River Trip on The Lower Salmon River
One of the things on Ellie’s and my "BT Wish List" was to do a multi-day river trip. It didn’t really matter where or when, we just knew we wanted several days on the river. The Lower Salmon River was the perfect fit!
When we packed for the BT, we knew we couldn't take all our toys, so our raft "Pegasus" had to stay behind (not that we really thought about lugging a raft around)!! A lot of the gear we use to camp in our rig we also use on river trips. We knew we would have to rent the big stuff (raft, cooler, dry box, etc), but we hoped we could swing the rest. I’m happy to report, our gear did a great job overlapping from land to river! In fact, the simplicity of our gear and food made the trip even better! The rigging and de-rigging of the boat and camp set-up was quick and easy. We brought the basics and it was all we needed!
We started our trip at the "local's put-in" in Whitebird, ID, three miles up river from Hammer Creek (the actual put-in). We were told it was a a great place to rig the boat and get ready for our trip without the congestion of Hammer Creek. The locals put-in was perfect! It was mellow, quiet and we had the place all to ourselves. Arriving in the evening, we got to rig the boat peacefully without rushing and we got to camp right next to the water - falling asleep to the sounds of a small rapid.
We got up early the next morning to finalize rigging the boat. We strapped on one of our SUPS and the sit-on-top kayak for added fun. When we were set, John and the girls rowed to Hammer Creek while I drove down. We needed to leave our rig at the put-in so it could be shuttled to the take-out. We also needed to fill our water jugs. When I got to the boat ramp, it was packed with private and commercial trips. Immediately I was psyched we got to enjoy the peace and quiet of our spot the night before. It wasn’t long before I saw John and the girls floating down to pick me up. I always love to watch John behind the oars and with both girls bouncing around with excitement at seeing me, it was a picture I won’t forget! Our river trip was about to begin!
We spent five fantastic days floating and rowing the 73 river miles from Hammer Creek to Heller Bar (on the Snake River)! We were treated to crystal clear water, beautiful white sandy beaches, and lots of fun rapids. We saw all sorts of birds (bald eagles, golden eagles, osprey, wild turkeys), deer, big horn sheep and even four river otters. We were harassed by yellow jackets at some of the beaches, and Isla was even stung, but we tried to live in peace with them and eventually they were no longer an issue. And, although we passed other rafts and groups along the way, we got to enjoy a lot of the river and its canyon’s on our own.
Most days we played frisbee on unbelievably big beautiful beaches, had water fights and swam through rapids (on purpose). Ellie swam in a class II rapid (not on purpose) after falling off the kayak. She actually made it through most of the rapid, but nevertheless she swam, but she came up smiling and ready to do it again! Phew! We definitely had to keep the raft close and keep a watchful eye when we had a “duck on the pond” (one of the girls on a kayak/SUP in the rapids). This was definitely the biggest water they had every kayaked and it was great to watch their skills and confidence grow.
For me…a river trip isn't a GREAT river trip unless it’s warm! And it was. In fact, we had been warned about the heat. With temperatures in the 100’s in the surrounding areas we almost bailed on the trip altogether. Nevertheless, we stayed the course and we’re all happier for it! Although it was HOT it wasn't stifling. At night it cooled off and we enjoyed great sleeping temperatures. Every evening we skinny dipped in beautiful, clear (relatively) warm water, which was also a great way to cool off before going to bed. The only shade we had was the bimini on the boat (we were planning to buy an umbrella, but forgot). We spent the hotter afternoons lounging on the boat having happy hour, playing music, and singing songs until we had shade at camp.
There wasn’t a moon while we were on the trip, so it was great for star gazing. The Perseids meteor shower was happening so almost anytime you woke up or got up to go to the bathroom in the night you were treated to shooting stars! One night while I was stirring in my sleeping bag with my eyes closed, I saw a flash so bright I thought someone was shining a light on our tent. When I opened my eyes I caught the tailed of a shooting star that lit up the entire canyon. I’m not kidding! I couldn’t believe it! I looked over at John to see if he was up to say, “OMG, did you just see that?” - and he was! He had actually been up watching the sky and got to see the whole thing.
It’s been almost a week and half since we were on the river. We’re in Canada now, it’s raining often, it’s cooler (in the 50’s during the day) and the river trip seems so long ago! Sometimes I wish I could write sooner after our adventures. I think I would be better at sharing the emotions and details. But there are a lot of factors that need to come together in order to get a blog post out when you’re on the road in Rigiculous! It feels good when a blog post finally comes together. Not really being a writer, getting words and thoughts down (that other people are going to read!!) doesn’t always come easily! It’s so fun to know that people are reading this! I share all the comments with the fam and we all feel such a great connection to our community of family and friends in Durango and around the world. Thank you!
PS - I forgot to mention that in our first week in Idaho we made a point of stopping and putting our feet in the headwaters of the Salmon River. It was three feet wide and four inches deep! If you’ve ever seen any pictures of the Salmon, you know it gets far bigger then that!! Funny to think these raging rivers we enjoy on rafts start off so small!
With love until next time.....