Lower Salmon River Trip

Lower Salmon River Trip

It's a big trip, this wild and scenic "River of No Return."

There are lots of pictures I didn't take, mostly because (a) white water rafting is not all that compatible with cameras, and (b) I'm a big chicken and paranoid about drowning electronics.

Lower Salmon River Trip

The story starts in Portland with me, my Dad, and a big white rental van.

We loaded in the boat, the rowing frame, oars, cooler, dry boxes, dry bags for clothes and sleeping bags, emergency and repair equipment, food, water, and beer for seven days on the water. We then drove to Walla Walla, and on to White Bird, Idaho.

Once permits and car shuttle what-not were handled, we drove to the Hammer Creek Recreation site. We inflated the boat, assembled the rowing frame, strapped in the dry boxes and cargo net, met up with the rest of our group (1 uncle, 3 cousins, 2 girlfriends, 2 family friends accompanied by 2 kids and 1 dog) and got ready to go.

Lower Salmon River Trip

Here's what the boats look like. They're tougher than you might think. On day 2, my dad and I got "wrapped" on a rock in the middle of a rapid called "The Maze."

All the marked rapids have names, including such notables as "Lorna's Lulu," "Bodacious Bounce," "Demon's Drop," and the ominous "Bung Hole" and (even worse) "Lower Bung Hole."

"The Maze" was tricky to negotiate with lots of shallow areas and big boulders, and we got stuck on a submerged boulder. The raft tipped forward at an alarming angle, there was a rasping sound as the coated fabric of the raft scraped on the rock, and suddenly we stopped moving.

(Insert huge adrenaline rush here).

Attempts to use an oar to pry the raft off the rock failed, and getting out and pulling on the front rope (while standing in a very strong current on precarious slippery rocks) failed as well. We missed two rope-tosses from another boats in the group, and with the help of a quick current, were quickly beyond the help of others.

Thus began the comical part of the self-rescue: the jumping up and down bit. Since the raft frame is rigid, you can increase the amount of water flowing under the raft by jumping on the low side. After lots of jumping up and down and heaving and hauling of the cargo net, we were off and moving again.

Lower Salmon River Trip

After a day of excitement and panic, it's nice to enjoy the comfort of an awesome camp kitchen, courtesy of the very excellent Uncle Ralph.

The Lower Salmon is a great river for camping because of its beaches - soft grey sand that mostly uninterrupted by rocks and boulders. The wilderness in the area is close to pristine. Rafters are generally good about the whole "leave no trace" thing, and the BLM makes sure you're packing out everything you brought. Including your poop. No joke.

Lower Salmon River Trip

There is lots of nature to enjoy along the way, especially at the camp sites.

Lower Salmon River Trip

I took a bunch of macro photos of various flora along the way.

Lower Salmon River Trip Lower Salmon River Trip

We saw some fauna as well!

This was the first trip where I've seen mountain sheep so near to the water.

Lower Salmon River Trip

The trip was an absolute treat - Good people, beautiful weather, beautiful country.

I hope to do it again next year!