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Nineteen Years Coming

It all started with a magazine article. In July of 1988 I read a story in Gourmet Magazine, "Rafting on the Salmon River", describing a trip down the Salmon River, complete with descriptions of scenery and good food. That article was to stay with me (mentally and in a file drawer) for 18 years before I acted on my dream. Last summer Harry Karn and I were talking about it and when he indicated he, too, had always wanted to do the trip. The decision was made - in 2007 we would raft down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, known for it pristine wilderness, stunning scenery, great Cutthroat Trout fishing and fun rapids.

A recommendation from a parent at school provided an outfitter, Mackay Wilderness River Trips (no, not the outfitter mentioned in the 18 year-old article) and my year-long relationship with Jackie in Mackay's ofice began. She could not have been more helpful, answering all sorts of questions that continued to pop up right up until the trip.

July 7, 2007, after a year of anticipation, the McCurdys took off - Julie, Heather, John and I from Hartford, Patrick from New York. We flew into Boise, had our trip orientation that night in the hotel, met our fellow rafters, and got our wetsuits and waterproof bags for the trip down the river. The next morning we headed of to the airport again to fly over the mountains to join our guides.

Harry Karn and Sandy Washburn joined us for the trip.

Safe to say, we were all excited.



We spotted Indian Creek, our launch site, from the air (note the dirt airstrip).

and from the ground.

There were a few steps to go down...

or back up to fill our water bottles (thank you, Joey, for all those lunges and squats).

Guy, our head guide, told us about the boats and gave us saftey tips for the "duckies."

A word about the boats: there are three ways you can get down the river. First there are the paddle boats with a guide in the back and up to four people on each side of the boat whose job it is to paddle when the guide says "Paddle hard!" and stop when the guide says, "Stop!" Second are the oar boats - the guide uses oars and sits in the middle of the boat with two people in the front and two in the back. This boat is for people who want to fish or those who want an easy cruise down river without having to paddle. Next are the "duckies," the inflatable kayaks that take those brave enough to tackle the rapids on their own. The duckies follow a paddle boat, Mother Duck, and stop before each tricky rapid to get directions on how to paddle through them.

A paddle boat, John and Heather up forward.

The duckies. You are instructed on what to do if you or a fellow duckie get dumped by a rapid.

Oar boat

There are two gear boats that head out in the a.m. with the rest of the boats and go straight to the overnight campsite, set up and wait for us to arrive. These boats are loaded with everything for the week.



We start off together, Harry, Sandy and the five of us, in a paddle boat.

Our first view of the spectacular Middle Fork. The scenery of the Middle Fork will change daily.

Another outfitter's gear boat heads down the river also. Note the pirate flag. It becomes an important part of our week.

We started out with Guy, the Mother Duck for the first day.

The ducklings follow.

First stop - The Pungo Mine - mined by Ed Budell for fluorspar.

Tight fit....where is my headlamp when I need it?

Guide Kacey gives us the history of the mine.

Then it was back to the boats to get to our lunchsite. But first...

Patrick saves a tired squirrel swimming across the river.


We stop for lunch at Little Soldier and the guides set up the tables. This will happen daily...a different, delicious lunch that is prepared at the same time as breakfast.

Sandy and Kathy (photo by Julie)

Some people take a rest....on rocks and stones....

tree trunks...

or the rafts.

After a brief nap Heather makes like a salmon and tries to swim upstream. Click on the arrow:

Then we're off again til our next stop - the hot springs!

(photo by Julie)



We then set off for our campsite, passing the Middle Fork Lodge and the other outfitters' (remember the pirate flag?) camp at Stateland Left and finally reaching our destination at Stateland Right. We disembark, grab our waterproof bag from the beach as well as our sleeping bags and pick out a tent for the night.


Heather decides sleeping in her hammock is the thing.

While Bobby starts dinner...

Guy teaches Kathy the elements of fly fishing.


Meanwhile Pat fishes downstream.

The ladies get to know each other.

We have dinner and get to know the rest of our rafting family and guides.

Pat Kohnke, Chris Welch, Tony Bushi, Bobby Seaman, Kacey Montgomery

More about the guides and Day Two in my next post.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 22, 2007 5:20 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Take Me to the River.

The next post in this blog is The Games People Play.

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