Notes on a Wild River

Me enjoying the scenery

The Salmon River in Idaho is the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48.  Its unpolluted waters cut through rocky canyons dotted with white sand beaches, and peppered with exciting rapids and a plethora of wildlife.

Earlier this Sept. my spousal equivalent and I had the privilege of joining other family members to spend 4 nights and 5 days on this lovely river on a fully guided raft trip courtesy of Salmon Raft based in McCall, ID.  A fully guided trip means that a group of lively 20 somethings take care of all your needs- among them navigating the rafts, cooking fabulous meals, doing the dishes, and loading and unloading your gear.  Our crew were champs, always smiling and gracious even after a long day of rowing. I was a raft guide as a young woman one summer in Arctic Alaska so I know how hard a guide can work.

Jack, one of our fearless raft guides

The gear boat went ahead in the morning so when we arrived at our campsite everything was set up including our tents. Our job was to enjoy the view from the rafts, learn about the geology, wildlife, and history from our guides, swim, and fish.  Two small inflatable kayaks called “duckies” were available for the more adventuresome. We are kayakers so paddling these little “sport car kayaks” were a highlight of our trip.

With a knee injury, I had to pass on a hike to a historical cabin and a bit of cliff jumping but I did get to a waterfall close to the river.  We spotted several bands of big horned sheep and a golden eagle overhead. I read the stories of the rocks in the canyons of columnar basalt and serpentine imagining their formation during volcanic time millions of years ago as we floated past. Then the ever changing river was captivating, from placid swirls of current and eddies to raucus rapids. Going through them were like wet bucking bronco rides waves spashing over us as we hung on laughing.

In camp, we read, napped, and enjoyed pleasant conversation during meals and over cards and games of dominoes.  There was no cell phone service. We were blissfully unplugged and relaxed.

Columnar basalt on the river

I so enjoyed the comradery of this trip, the chance to be fully immersed in nature, kayaking through rapids, poking around on the beaches for interesting rocks and treasures, and the opportunity to just BE. It’s a treat to go to sleep to the lullaby of a river and wake to the call of canyon wrens announcing a new day. Why go on a cruise when you can enjoy the magic of a wild river?  I highly recommend it.

a farewell gift I made for our guides

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