MAIN SALMON RIVER, IDAHO
26 Jul – 15 Aug 2017

So, a few weeks ago my friend Dave M. from the Dayton, OH area asked if I was interested in a rafting trip in Idaho. His wife can’t make it this time and he is between projects so I must have been his last choice… I used to work on a defense program with Dave for some foreign customers and we have traveled together to a number of meetings all over the US and world. Since all I have been doing so far this summer is working a lot on some property I own and my house, I said yes, I was interested.

All the permits for the summer were already taken so we started trying to nab a cancelled permit. Most days a permit or two would be cancelled for the upcoming weeks. The only way to get the permit is to log on, and at exactly 11:00am the next morning, they would open the permit to be taken. Well after 2-3 weeks, Dave managed to grab one for August 2, 2017 for the Salmon River, Idaho.
For those familiar with the things I have done, this is borderline Glamping. The closest I have come to something like this is doing Mt. Kilimanjaro last year where we had 20+ Porters and Guides for 5 clients! Most of my hiking experiences have been solo or small self-supported groups.

While we will be self-supported, the amount of room to bring stuff is staggering to me! Luckily, Dave is really into rafting and has all the gear. We will have two boats/rafts and will pick up enough food for 7-8 days on the way to Idaho. At the last minute, he convinced another friend who we both worked with on the same program to come…so, Jay and is daughter Beth joined us.

More details on the river, etc. are at this link:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/scnf/recreation/wateractivities/?cid=stelprdb5303132
On Wednesday, Jul 26th I drove (around 7 hours) to Rochester, NY to stay with my buddy Don and his girlfriend Holland for the night.

On Thursday, July 27th I drove (7+ hours) to near Columbus, OH and saw some cousins and my Aunt and Uncle who I hadn’t seen in years.

On Friday morning, July 28th, I drove (1 hour) to Yellow Springs, OH to Dave’s house. I also found out that Jay and his daughter Beth were going too be joining us for the trip. Most of the day we packed gear into his trailer and Jay’s pickup. From the pictures you can see we have a lot of gear and supplies!
Friday afternoon, after packing gear all day, we started driving two vehicles heading West. The plan was to take both vehicles and dump mine in Cheyenne, WY so on the way back I could stop in Fort Collins, CO (about 45 minutes south of Cheyenne) and see my sister before working my way back to NH.

We stopped for dinner at a Culver’s (similar to a Five Guys) around 7pm and then drove straight through to just east of Yellowstone National Park. We drove 29 hours straight from the Dayton, OH area to a camp site near Yellowstone with the only stops being for bathroom breaks, snacks and to get gas. We also spent a little time in Cheyenne setting my vehicle up in a storage facility. Our goal was to get breakfast in Cheyenne but when we got downtown we found out it was the Cheyenne Frontier Days festival and we just caught the end of it. The picture below shows the old John Deere tractors from the 1930’s.

7/29/17 Saturday night we arrived at the Buffalo Bill campsite, about 30 miles east of one of the Yellowstone entrances. As a bonus, they had restrooms with showers. Imagine how good a shower feels after packing all our gear for 7-8 hours and then driving for 29 hours! 
7/30/17 On Sunday, we drove into YellowStone National Park from the East entrance and stayed at the Indian Creek campsite. Hot showers, 45 seconds for each quarter. Nice! On the way in we stopped for a late breakfast/early lunch on the shore of Yellowstone Lake. We spent the day driving around the park and exploring the hot springs and other sites.
These next pictures were taken on the way out of Yellowstone in the town at Mammoth Hot Springs. After buying a couple things we noticed a bunch of people near some buildings taking pictures. As we pulled up, we realized there were 20-30+ Elk hanging out right in town.

7/31/17 On Monday, we left Yellowstone and drove to Idaho Falls and stayed at the Snake River RV campground. They had showers and laundry facilities which was nice since I have been wearing most of the same stuff for 3+ days. In Idaho Falls we also picked up more gear and provisions. I was able to take 2 hot showers and they had an all you can eat pancake breakfast for $3.00!

8/1/17 On Tuesday, we drove to the Corn Creek campsite and boat launch which is where we will put the rafts on the Salmon River. We camped for the night and started prepping gear for Tue morning. As you can see from the picture below, it was clear that Dave was not building the raft right so I had to correct him.

8/2/17 On Tuesday morning we were up around 6am to set up rafts and gear. We took a break around 9am to listened to the rangers talk and to see what campsites we were able to reserve on the river. We snagged the first night and last night sites but lost the second night and picked something else. As you will see later it didn’t really matter. The other nights we were just winging it depending on where we ended up and what was open. 

 e got on the river around 12:30pm after spending the morning setting up the rafts and loading all the gear. The first night we camped at Upper Lantz Bar at 10.6 miles. It was a tough day trying to get used to rowing facing forward (hopefully forward but sometimes sideways or backwards) and doing some class 1-2 rapids and a couple class 3 rapids – interesting!

As you can see in the ramp picture, we are not the only ones getting on the river today. Some of these are large guided groups with 20-30 people. There were probably a few other small groups like ours. 
For some nights we reserved a camping spot and other nights we took what we could find. If you reserve a site, you are the only group that can stay there so you don’t have to worry about other groups moving in. Only some of the sites can be reserved, the rest of first-come, first-served. So if you take a site that can’t be reserved, nobody else is supposed to stop there. This is nice because we had a lot of nice beaches to ourselves!
8/3/17 On Wednesday we were up and rafted to mile 30.8. We missed the Hancock campsite. Jay and I could not get the raft over in time and shot by. Soooooo, we all had to raft another 1-1.5 hours to find a campsite. We ended up at Hida campsite which was pretty nice but another 5-6 miles further than expected. It was a long day but a great campsite. We had an excellent cheeseburger & Mac and Cheese dinner. We also did a difficult class 3 rapid that we scouted before. Exciting! Check out the 2 videos. A tough day tomorrow with 3-4 class III-IV rapids. Should be interesting!
This picture is one of the rapids we actually scouted before going through it. I think this might have been a class IV rapid. If you go to my video page, you can see 3 nice videos of this rapid. The first video is from the bank where we scouted the rapid. The second video is Dave and Beth going through from the same vantage point. The last video was taken by Dave looking back up into the rapids as Jay and myself come through.
Salmon Videos
8/6/17 Woke up with lots of ashes on my sleeping bag due to the forest fires. Rafted to mile 73.9 and stayed at Upper Sheep Creek campsite. Nice day. The forest fires are throwing lots of smoke in the air and helping to obscure the sun which is keeping the temperature reasonable. We are ahead if schedule and plan to do the last 4-5 miles tomorrow. Below are pictures of our campsite and prepping for dinner.
I used a tent for the first and last night of the trip but didn’t bother the other nights since it was so nice out. I also was lucky to see some shooting stars and a orbiting satellites for a couple nights but the last 2-3 nights were obscured by smoke from the forest fires.
8/4/17 Thursday we ended at mile 46.3. It was a tough day due to multiple class III – IV rapids. Jay and I broadsided a hole and dumped and I fell overboard in the first one. I have a distinct memory of hitting the hole, and then looking up and seeing the raft above me as I fell back… I popped up out of the washing machine action and was lucky the raft was close by. I grabbed the side and held on until we hit calm water. It was disorienting and tough to get back on the raft. Not a big confidence builder for the rest of the day. In fact, I wouldn’t say I had fear, but, I like to consider it “nervous anticipation” for the harder rapids the next 2-3 days! We ended up at Gaines Camp for the night. It was a pretty cool old homestead for the Wolfe family for many years. The pictures show the area and our campsite for the night. Got in around 3:30pm today so we had some time to relax.
This next picture is the “Groover” which is a mandatory item for each group to carry on the river. You shouldn’t pee in the Groover…you are supposed to pee in the river at all times. This is to make sure the campsites stay clean and fresh and don’t attract excess bugs and vermin. At each camp we tried to set it up with a nice view of the river. Pictures below show a couple sites.
8/5/17 Had a nice day and rafted to mile XXXXX and camped at XXXXX Creek campsite. A very nice spot. Had a great kitchen area in the trees as you can see in the pictures below. Only 2-3 class II-III rapids and a number of mellow areas. Stopped at Buckskin Bills museum for a root beer float. This guy was a character who lived along the river for many years. The picture below shows a building he built. It’s incredibly tiny…in fact, I would not be able to lay flat on the bed. This building had a bed and fireplace. He also built another building and built his own guns. A pretty amazing character.

We ate like kings on this trip. I have never been anywhere with this much food. But, it was fun and tasted great.
8/6/17 Woke up with lots of ashes on my sleeping bag due to the forest fires. Rafted to mile 73.9 and stayed at Upper Sheep Creek campsite. Nice day. The forest fires are throwing lots of smoke in the air and helping to obscure the sun which is keeping the temperature reasonable. We are ahead if schedule and plan to do the last 4-5 miles tomorrow. Below are pictures of our campsite and prepping for dinner.
8/7/17 Sunday we got up early and focused on breaking camp and getting to the boat ramp before the crowds got there. There is limited ramp space and it’s hard to break down all the gear when it is busy. We were there first and pretty much had our gear off the rafts before another small group showed up. We had plenty of time to break everything down, load the pickup and trailer and move on just as other groups were showing up.
8/8/17 After getting off the river we took our time driving to Boise, Idaho for the night.

8/9/17 Up early with breakfast at the Super 8 in Boise. We then drove all day to Cheyenne, WY where I was let off at the storage facility for my vehicle around 9pm. I then drove about 45 minutes south to Fort Collins, CO where I saw my sister Brenda and niece Jessica for a couple nights.

8/10/17 Drove east to somewhere around St. Louis, MO where I spent the night.
8/11/17 Drove east to Yellow Springs, OH where I stayed with Dave and his wife Kim for a couple nights. Helped to break down and clean up the rafting gear.

8/12/17 Drove east and stayed somewhere just west of Gettysburg, PA.

8/13/17 Drove about 45 minutes to Gettysburg and visited the museum until around 3pm. Then drove straight to Hampton, NH and got home around 10:30pm.
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