Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Salmon, Idaho and the River of No Return

We left Hagerman driving to Salmon, Idaho and saw some beautiful sights along the way.

This is Craters of The Moon National Monument and Preserve

All the black stuff is layers of lava.  It is a very desolate area.

The Salmon River on the left.

The Idaho mountains have a lot of rock slide areas that often reach onto the highway.

A craggy bluff along the way.

Heading down into a canyon.

The rocky mountain is often right behind homes.

When we reached Salmon our RV park was in town and it was right on the Salmon River allowing us to see a lot of different birds and deer roaming around.  The land across the river from the campsite was rugged and basically undeveloped so the animals would come down to the water in the evening.  One of these days we may have some of these pictures to share with you if we ever have our cameras ready at the right time!

Downtown Salmon.  Lots of trucks with dogs and drivers with cowboy hats.

A red sun over the campground due to forest fires burning in Idaho. 

A view of the Salmon River from our campsite.

 Watching birds of prey looking for fish from the river.   They were often successful.

Since we had recently become white water rafters, and we also carry an inflatable boat in the RV, we decided we would get the boat on the river and ride the rapids again.  The river length is almost four miles from where you launch into the river until there is a landing area where you can get your boat out.  We were parked at neither end so we decided to haul the boat to the river launch and inflate it there.  It was a lovely park in town where people are allowed to let their dogs run and swim in the river and meet other dogs.  Lucy and Max thought the park was grand!  After we inflated the raft Brett drove our car down to the other end of the river to park it where we would disembark.  I stayed with the dogs in the park and guarded the boat.  Then Brett biked back 3.5 miles to the RV park to drop off his bike and walked the half mile to the launching area so we could begin our journey.  I continued to guard the boat.

Pretty view of the mountains from the Salmon River

Confidence is a given!

Captain Brett is in control.

Rock formations near the river.

Max jumped in hoping he could swim out of his yellow life jacket.  He was embarrassed. 

The pups kept wondering when it would end so they could chase deer again.

Doesn't look like much but the rapids can get you moving fast.

Once in the boat we started floating down the river as the waves picked up.  We came around a bend which was near our campground and there was a fallen tree hanging in the river.  Captain Brett started paddling to get us out of the current and around the tree.  I had a paddle too, but I was now watching the view.  The captain started muttering something about the current and the tree and we were heading right for it.  The next moment he yells for all of us to duck into the bottom of the boat as we are swept under the tree trunk and limbs.  Well I certainly hit the deck quickly and Lucy was right with me.  We all got through okay and were pretty proud of ourselves until I looked down at Lucy, and the boat, and my clothes and saw that we were covered with a few thousand little worms that we must have dislodged when we met the tree.  Yuck!

A short distance downstream we found a quiet area where we were able to get out of the boat and lose the worms.  Back in the river again we continued our journey.  I was attempting to use my oar with little success as I heard the captain yell, "row now", "don't row", "forward row", "row backward".........well you can imagine my confusion.  Our second waves took us to the right bank and some large boulders jutting up out of the water.  I'm not sure how we did it but I rowed my little fanny off (captain's orders) and we somehow or other went up over the top of the boulders and sort of sashayed our way through.  Pretty impressive!

Building confidence now we continued the trip even though I was no longer speaking to the captain.  We went left and we went right and all over the river as each wave guided us to places we didn't want to go.  We hit a few more banks, got stuck in rocks where the water was too shallow, and basically schlepped our way down the Salmon River until we came to the place where the car was parked.  Wiser now, we stayed real close to the side and grounded the boat 30 feet before we had to but no wave was gonna mess with us and our exit point.

Did we tell you the Salmon River is called the River of No Return?   It was given that name back in the early days when boats could navigate down the river but could not get back up through the fast waters and numerous rapids.  And you thought we were just goofing around!  Well, we had such a good time that we decided to try it again the next day.  This time we launched right after the fallen tree, learned how to paddle into or around the rapids before we got caught up in them, communicated proper oar procedures (the captain was more polite) and we had a great time with only one big wave where I got scared and thought we were going to flip the boat (the boulder in the water, again).

A monument in the town of Salmon representing the black bear and salmon jumping up the river to spawn. 

Max on a cold Idaho morning.  He has a delicate nature.

Sitting out by the Salmon River enjoying wine.  This is our new friend, Peg Freeman, who was showing me photos of her cats.   She was staying at the same park with her big black lab, Bruin, while her husband was on a rafting/fly fishing trip for several days.

While at the park we also met Scott and Dee Charlton who were staying at the same campsite.  They are from Sarasota, Florida and we hope to see them again this winter when we meander down south for the warmer weather.  After several fun days we pulled up stakes and headed back to Helena, MT.  On the way we caught some spectacular scenery we wanted to share with you.

Leaving beautiful Idaho behind.

Smoke in the mountains of southwest MT caused by the Idaho fires.

Cliffs along the Big Hole River in MT.

Our Lady of the Rockies outside Butte, MT.  The statue is dedicated to women everywhere.

Our Lady of the Rockies is a 90 ft statue that can be seen as far as 100 miles.  It was built by volunteers starting in 1979 and completed in 1985.  The statue was built in sections in Butte and members of the Montana National Guard, the Army Reserve and civilian workers cooperated together as the statue was lifted into place by an Air National Guard team from Nevada using a Sky Crane helicopter. 

So now we are back in Helena to spend a few more days with family.  After that we will be sprinting (yeah right, in an RV) down to Pueblo, Colorado, which will take us a few days to get there.  In the meantime we are giving all you good folks a little break until we have more Pueblo misadventures or beautiful scenery to share with you.  Peace to all!

For our trivia buffs:

How far will a salmon travel from the Pacific Ocean to central Idaho to spawn?

The chinook and sockeye salmon will travel over 900 miles upstream against strong currents and rapids and climb nearly 7,000 feet to spawn in the fresh water streams of Idaho.  The Salmon River is one of their favorite places.

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