Three days before this trip I was lying in bed at 10:30 p.m. waiting for a text that would let me know if the river was re-opening to commercial traffic or if it was going to remain closed due to the Teepee wildfire that had been burning in and near the drainage. I was scheduled to fly out early the next morning from Greenville, SC and if it was a go then I was getting up at 3 a.m. to start my journey. If the rangers decided to keep the river closed we were going to cancel the trip and, I suppose the positive to that would be that I would get to sleep in. The ladies who had booked on the trip had been incredibly flexible and were also waiting anxiously to hear the decision.
When I finally heard the ping of a text coming through I sat straight up in anticipation. It was my friend Kim who works in wildland fire management letting me know that they were opening the river the next day. I was amped up so I didn’t really get much sleep before my 3 a.m. wake-up call, but that was ok with me. I would rather be a little tired and get to go on the trip than get to sleep in and have to miss it.
My travels went smoothly and I got there in time to help pack the trip, hang out in McCall, one of my favorite towns, with some of my favorite people. Everyone arrived into Boise safely and we got to see some beautiful views of the Beaverhead mountains covered in a dusting of snow as we flew to Salmon in the puddle jumpers. The snow was a little disconcerting as we heard it was going to be chilly the next few days, but I was prepared with my drysuit and warm layers. The good thing about the cooler weather was that it was helping to contain the fire and to clear the smoke. The first day was chilly, but it warmed up throughout the week and we enjoyed sunny, clear skies!
The water was on the low side which gave definition to the rapids and crystal clear water. The down side was that we had to make a lot of mileage every day, especially since the condition for allowing river traffic back on the water was that everyone had to take out at a lower take-out. This meant that we paddled 20+ miles per day for a total of 100 miles. Since we were the first group on the river after it had re-opened, it felt like we were carving fresh tracks and getting to stay at camps that we normally pass by. Our bodies were sore, but it was all worth it for the beauty of the landscape, the connections made with each other, the disconnection from the outside world that is so rejuvenating and the wisdom of the river.
Here are photos from the trip. Enjoy and please join us in 2017 for our next Main Salmon adventure!