Rafting the Main Salmon River

So, I wanted to test whether I'd like river rafting and camping, before we embarked on our reserved two week trip through the Grand Canyon next fall.  Using the same company, OARS, we took a 6 day/5 night trip down the main portion of the Salmon in Idaho.  I chose this one for several reasons - length seemed just about perfect; time of year was similar; and probably most importantly (for Steve) we could choose each day what craft we wanted to float down the river on.  There was a dory (~20 ft long wooden boat similar to the craft that John Wesley Powell used to first explore the Colorado River); paddle boat (the typical rubber raft to run whitewater rapids, which the guests get to paddle in); oar boats (that the guides do all the paddling using super long oars resting in metal oarlocks, and the boat is loaded down with lots of gear); and even inflatable kayaks and a standup paddleboard.


That picture was taken from the paddle boat, with a kayak just in front of us, and an oar boat in front of that.  The dory was always in the front, and you may be able to barely make it out in this picture.  There are several other pictures I'll share, which have the dory much closer.


The canyons we floated through were so awe inspiring, and could sure make you feel small.  Apparently, we were in some of the remotest country in the lower 48, and were warned to always be mindful of safety, as an evacuation could be monumental.


The granite walls were so beautiful in their asymmetric geometry, and the contrast of the sky, canyon walls, river and trees never ceased to raise "ahhh's".  


This was the scene when we would make camp each night.  We'd pull up to a large sandbank camping area with enough room for 21 (16 guests and 5 guides), and unload the boats.  Everyone would pick out a flat spot for their tent, and proceed to set up their home for the evening.


I took this picture of one of our tent sites because it was so picturesque:


... and yes, I handled the camping well and LOVED the rafting!


Even though I had purchased an inflatable mattress (that even had some down in it!), and an especially cozy down sleeping bag (thinking ahead to the Grand Canyon in Oct. next year), I still woke up with sore shoulders and hips from pressure points.  I was happily never cold at all, and in fact, even woke up sweating several times.  The days were so gorgeous, both in scenery and weather, that interrupted sleeping just didn't bother me. 


That picture is the closest I got to getting a good image of rapids.  I had to get my camera out of the dry bag, that was latched into the boat, take the picture, and get it back (staying dry) into the bag and latched, before we hit whitewater where I either was paddling, or holding on.  I did take my underwater camera along, but it doesn't have any zoom, and the few pictures I took with it were disappointing.

One day we saw a male bighorn sheep at the edge of the river, which stayed kneeling as we floated by.  As you can see, it was very emaciated.  We were afraid it was near death, but after we went by, it stood up and walked off.


Our last camp had a great show for us to watch.  A bald eagle directly across the river was initially perched in a dead tree.  He swooped down to the river, but he came up empty.  He tried again, but still no success.  After sitting on a large rock and studying the river, he launched once more and came up with a fish in his talons, and then flew off to enjoy his dinner.  Sadly, I didn't have my camera with me.  I did get this very long distance shot later:


Steve tried his hand at kayaking on our last day (despite never being in one before) and loved it!  That's him on the left (with the blue floppy hat under his helmet):


We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and reveled in the peace and quiet of the absolute solitude, as well as whooped and hollered our way through every rapid.