Wednesday, July 29, 2009


July 17th

Drove to Missoula, one of my favorite towns. We met our travel companies for the Selway trip at the Southgate Inn. Although, the pool looked mighty inviting in the 90 degree heat, we had some serious packing up to do. Eric built up the raft frame and we laid out all of our gear on the lawn. We weren’t really sure what equipment would be provided and what we would need to remember. In the end, we probably could have brought our own pump, but other than that we did pretty good. The rafting outfittiers had just got back from another trip and had some serious work to do that kept them packing until the wee hours. Eric and I managed to tour the riverwalk of Missoula, eat Mexican food, and snuggle into TV watching in our hotel room. TV is so ridiculous. You don’t miss it when you don’t have it, but when you get to watch it . . . very mesmerizing what is considered entertainment. I watched several episodes of CSI before turning off the lights.

July 18thi
Today was a big day! Dan and Stacey tied the knot in beautiful sunny Colorado in the presence of well behaved family and friends (I only saw the tame pics on facebook). Eric and I put on the Selway. Our day started with a 4 hour drive to the put-in in a 16 passenger van. Not to worry though, we had several stops to get fishing licenses, random gear, and of course, more beer and liquor. Once passed the final town, we made the long haul into the river. What started out as a creek tracking beside the road, quickly grew into a river. The Selway is one of the most technical rivers in the entire country and is famous for its unique beauty and remote location. The water is crystal clear, which makes the shallows appear really shallow and the fish have no place to hide. After a long, tedious, rigging of the boats, we pushed off the shore and started the great adventure downstream. The water level was at 1.5 feet, which is still good for full size rafts, but we knew there would be a lot of rocks to dodge. The horse flies were deadly! They would wait until a rapid to bite and then you couldn’t do anything about because you couldn’t let go of the oars in order to swat them. It was clear that the fish don’t see a lot of action because they bite anything, even bad casts and sunken flies. After a long stretch of rock dodging, we pulled off to camp at Running Elk (aka Archer). For dinner, we enjoyed lasagna followed by brownies. If we thought the horse flies were bad, the mosquitoes were above and beyond bad. They were miserable and relentless. I am not sure I have any blood left. What kinda mosquito bites your eyebrow? I mean, come on! Eric and I hit the hay early and itched until morning. kI have never been so excited to get on the river.

July 19

After leaving the mosquitos behind, we floated our longest day. Nothing too tricky, although Goat Creek rapid was pretty cool. Eric and I are use to scouting rapids that we have never run before (and ones we have) in order to plan a good route and not get into trouble. We were lucky our guides have been down this river before because scouting Goat Creek wasn’t possible, too bendy. The river increased in volume with every creek that dumped into the Selway. We were happy for more water. One interesting maneuver required getting out of the boat to drag the boats through Ping Pong “rapid” because there wasn’t enough water running to carry them. Whatever gets the job done! There was a bear sighting, but I didn’t see it. On the last trip, they saw 5 bears! We had ham and pineapple for dinner at the Roots camp. Thankfully, the bugs were nearly extinct for the rest of the trip. We slept on the sloping beach down by the boats without our tent. The sky was so dark and the stars were twinkling. Several shooting stars whizzed by before we drifted to sleep.

July 20

Good morning! Today is the day we head into the canyon and where the majority of the class IV rapids await. It wasn’t long after we pushed off that we got to our first major obstacle called Double Drop (named appropriately so). We watched several boats go through before punching in. The first drop shot us around on a smooth tongue of surging water. We had enough time to get set up for the second drop, which was turbulent, but not really scary. Immediately after, Eric told me to grab the camera to see if I could get a good shot of the next boat coming through. Just then, our boat got stuck in a hole and we nearly lost our oar. I guess we should have made sure we cleared the entire rapid before turning photographer. The hardest rapid of the river is Ladle, which was only a little ways further. This one, we did scout, well, most of us. The route was not obvious, but has proven successful at getting large rafts through with minimal problems. The first boat through was unfortunate to hit a rock and got spun and pinned in a bad spot. It took careful placement of ropes and bouncing by the passengers to unstick the stuck boat. After that episode, each boat took their turn through Ladle. Every boat had to do some bouncing to get through, but we all made it. After Ladle we had a series of fun drops and rapids. It truly was an exciting day! To finish, we had an awesome camp (Tango bar) with a giant sandy bar. The horseshoes were a hit among the present crowd. We had Pad Thai for dinner. In addition to a perfect camp, we were also serenaded by an amazing guitarist who was capable of playing anything . . . and knew all the words too. We got out the S’more making materials (only adding to the perfect day) and made some tasty morsels. Eric and I slept out under the stars again because setting up a tent just seemed unnecessary given the perfectness of everything.

July 21

This was our shortest river day. To make up for it, we floated a mile away from camp and pulled over for a hike. We saw a rattlesnake that had about 6 rattles. Scary. I ate a ton of huckleberries. I also learned that thimble berries are also eatable and had my fair share of those too. When we arrived back at the boats, lunch was ready. We had Rueben sandwiches. I didn’t think I would like it, but I did. I guess that’s why we should always try new stuff, you just never know. While we sat munching our lunches, a bald eagle flew down the river. I haven’t seen one of those in a long time. It was neat to see it out in nature. We had seen several Osprey along the way too and ducks with baby ducks. We finished the canyon off with Meeker and Osprey rapids and got to camp in the mid afternoon. This camp was also very nice. It had a large peninsula sand bar that Eric and I opted to sleep at the far end of. It was steak night and we had awesome potatoes and salad too. Althoough many aspects of the campfire were the same as the previous night, the vibe couldn’t be recreated. Eric and I drifted towards bed before it got too rowdy and watched shooting stars until we fell asleep.

July 22

We only had about 3 miles to go. I guess that technically makes this our shortest day, but we had a ton of down-rigging and driving to get back to our car, so it didn’t feel like it. We strapped most things down before pushing off, but their weren’t any rapids left, mostly just flat water. In a deeper section, Eric and I saw a large object swimming upstream. Most of the trout being caught were between 10-14 inches max. This massive creature was a good 24 inches. It was a salmon who had swum all the way from the ocean to the middle of Idaho. That is truly a miracle of nature. We took out, packed it up and jumped in our 16 passenger van for the long haul back to Missoula. I managed to stay awake for most of the ride. We quickly loaded back into the Explorer to continue our 6 hour drive back to Stanley ID where we had ditched our motorhome in the woods. We arrived around midnight and were happy to find she was a-okay. Planning to drive to Boise tomorrow.

July 23

We swung by a cabin in Stanley for a hot shower before hitting the road. Five days on the river is a lot of suncreen, bugspray, sweat, dirt . . . you name it build up. It makes you crave shampoo. We started the drive to Boise, but couldn’t help getting excited about the Payette river. It was only a 7 mile stretch, which we could easily do in the mini-me. We shuttle the cars and hit the river. I gotta say, for white water, this was way more fun than any rapid we had on the Selway. Part of it was, we were in a smaller boat, which makes the waves bigger. Secondly, the Payette had a lot of water. It was a blast! I wanted to re-run it in the Ducky, but Eric said we had to get to Boise. Next time. We jumped off the river, rolled up the boat and headed into Caldwell ID for the county fair. We caught the end of the Little Big Town concert before heading back to Boise for a couple days.

July 24

Omelets for breakfast! Did 4 loads of wash, showered, cleaned all our water bottles and dishes (thoroughly), went grocery shopping, went to Home Depot to rent a tool for the plumbing repair in the motorhome, had a BBQ with Lisa and Ross’s friends, played pictionary man, ate drimsticks, crashed. It was a busy day, but kinda fun too, especially the second half.

July 25

Well, it’s time to scoot out of Boise again. This time we left our Explorer for Lisa and Ross to look after. Eric and I are back to driving the motorhome together, which is highly preferred over driving separate. Eric toyed with all the sprinkler settings and I tried to cram everything back into the motorhome. We finally pulled away from the curb around 10? 11? Does it matter? We were planning on leaving at 6, but we knew that wasn’t going to happen! We drove all the way to Virginia City, NV. My favorite stop was in Winnemucca, NV.

Friday, July 17, 2009

June 11 Continued

We put on the river in the afternoon and had a lovely time floating. The section of the Salmon was Yankee Fork to Torreys and was fast and fun the whole time. Nothing too terrifying, but Eric and I both ended up in the bottom of the boat at some point during the trip. At least we managed to stay in the boat! We are just getting warmed up for bigger waves later.

June 12-14 – Elk Mountain-Boise

Early the next morning, we arose to ride at Elk Mountain (Meadow?). We were planning on driving to Boise to see the McCanns and the Meyer family, so we hit the trail as soon as we could climb out of the warm bed. It was a good thing we did! We ended up seeing a lot of wildlife. First, we came across a grouse that was behaving a bit unusual. Instead of flying miles away from us and our quick (not quick enough cameras), it flew into the closest tree and cooed at us. We were able to get some sweet pics, but then we saw who she was actually cooing at . . . a little baby grouse. It was sooooo cute! Then when I was riding out of a meadow and back into thicker forests, I spooked a herd of elk (Elk Mountain, yeah baby). I thought Eric could catch them, but I ended up sending him on a wild goose chase (but we didn’t see any geese). Then we came across a giant owl! It was pretty photogenic, so we stayed with him until the misquitos just about sucked all the blood out of me. Then, we rallied home and on the road. We drove the scenic 3 hour trek to Boise along Highway 21. I learned how to knit (again) in the company of Eric’s grandma, mom, and sister. It is easier with 3 generations of knitters to guide you. We celebrated Joyce’s (grandma) 79th birthday on Monday. Lisa (sister) and I made 2 angel food cakes. They turned out great (if I must say myself)! All in all, we did a lot of relaxing in Boise and were pretty much refreshed by the time we headed back to the motorhome, which we had abandoned in the woods up in Stanley. We figured she could handle some alone time too. We arrived back at the trailer late on Tuesday.

June 15 – Potato Mountain

Eric and I like to make things hard on ourselves. Instead of riding the trail the direction everyone else does, we ride it in the opposite direction. It was alright. Our climb was gentle and followed a creek, which we crossed half a dozen times. I got new bike shoes in Boise and broke them in with a water ride. These new shoes dry out a heck of a lot faster than my old ones. We passed several other surprised cyclists who asked why we were riding up the trail? We love to go against the grain of course! Our reward for riding up the whole way was a steep loose and rocky downhill. It wouldn’t have been fun to ride up it either, but the rest of the ride would have been sweet. Next time, next time. Along the way, we crossed through an amazing meadow and the creek was clear and cool. I would say it was a great ride. At the end, we saw the same folks sitting around enjoying a beer. It turns out they were newlyweds with a few straggler wedding guests enjoying their honeymoon. Then the other people we ran into on the trail came by. They worked at the Redfish lodge, which was where the couple had gotten hitched. Everyone seemed to know everyone already. There was a rope swing rumored to be awesome about a 2 minute hike up a trail from where everyone met. Apparently, it swings out about 50 feet over the canyon. Sounds cool, but Eric and I passed. We ended our ride and headed back to base camp. We made a small fire in our fire pit and enjoyed s’more after s’more. It was pretty much perfect.

June 16 – Beaver Creek

So this might have been a bad decision. We got to the trail, which was not easy for the Explorer and would have not happened in the motorhome only to realize that what might have been single track at some point was actually a well-used ATV trail. Given the time of day and our lack of creativity, we rode it anyway. Again, we crossed numerous creeks and some muddy bogs. The trail was not epic by any means, more entertainment on an otherwise uneventful day.

June 17 – Drive to Missoula

I know, I know. We were supposed to be driving to Colorado, not Montana. Unfortunately, Eric and I can’t control every aspect of our trip with grace and beauty. Instead of making a mad dash for Breckenridge, we are putting on the Selway tomorrow with a commercial outfitter that is allowing us to tag along with their trip. The only permit we could get on left on Saturday, which means we had to make a tough decision. Eric was furious that the timing was so perfectly bad, but couldn’t resist turning down the Selway trip to spend 2 fifteen hour days in the car. I am sad, but I realize I have to spend the next 2 months in the motorhome with Eric, not Dan and Stacey, so I guess we’re floating a river. We will try to take lots of pictures, but it will depend on how long our camera batteries last. We will be on the river 18th-22nd. Check back in then!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

June 8—Baker Creek, Galena Lodge

This morning was especially chilly. It was only 36 degrees inside the motorhome when we woke up to start the day. Needless to say, we didn’t start the day very quickly. Instead, we decided to drift in and out of sleep until it was at least 45 degrees inside the motorhome. We made hot cocoa like normal and started the practiced routine for bike riding. Only, I jumped back in bed and delayed the start by another hour or so. By 10 am the clouds were looking a little scary and we questioned whether we would be able to ride at all. We took extra precautions of rain coats, long sleeves and plenty of food and water. Baker Creek is a ride that has a leisurely uphill along an old forest service road. At the top, there are lovely views, but nothing too special. At first, we were super psyched about the winding downhill, but it soon got very steep we had to stop to let our braking hands have a rest. At the end of the ride, both Eric and I felt like we hadn’t accomplished much. The climbing was so easy and the downhill was over in minutes. Not to worry, Eric had heard of another area near by that promised fabulous single track on looping cross country ski trails. Galena Lodge has a nice little cafĂ© and picnic tables. There is camping around the area, which we did not utilize. Eric chatted with the staff while I took a nap in the car. Eric returned with a map showing many loops that were all 10 miles or less, but could be linked to cover a lot of ground. We opted for a 10 mile loop that had the most single track riding. We hopped on the bikes and took off. Once riding, we realized much of the trail was actually double track or unmaintained dirt road. We were a little disappointed. We have found that the Ketchum, Id area is not very good at putting in switch backs to avoid long rocky, unsustainable climbs (and decents). There is a race on July 25 around this trail system, but Eric and I thought it would be a strange place to hold a race. We ended up truncated our planned route because neither one of us was really into it. Back at the motorhome, we cooked up chicken and rice with pineapple. We followed up this meal with ice cream!

June 9 – Prairie Lake hike

My neck has really been bothering me. Last night I couldn’t sleep because every time I turned over my neck shot pain through the top of my head. Very strange. I got up in the middle of the night for some pain-killers and jumped back in bed. It is going to be another very chilly morning. Instead of riding, we decided to hike a suggested ride that visited 2 lakes, Prairie and Miner. It was pretty cool, starting with a couple creek crossings. The whole time, Eric talked about how easy the ride would have been. Why didn’t we bring our bikes? I was happy to be walking. The lakes were your typical alpine lakes with emerald green water and some picturesque mountains as landscape. Bugs weren’t really that bad either, but were pretty much the only wildlife we saw. The “downhill” section was a ragging rock garden that was super steep with water problems. Again, I was pretty stoked not to be on my bike. What was supposed to be a ~9.6 mile hike, was actually 11.2 miles based on our GPS. Always a nice surprise. My favorite part of the day was riding the motorcycle. We left the camper at the campsite and drove up to the trailhead on our scooter. I drove Eric! This had to be hilarious! It was to me! I was very pleased that Eric trusted my driving abilities, but I did turn over the wheel when we reached the highway. One thing that was awesome about the hike, we didn’t see a single other person the entire time on the trail or at the trailhead. No one.

June 10 – Fisher Creek

Last night, we committed to driving away from the Ketchum area and drove North to Stanley, ID. We had one bite on our signs, but nothing all that promising. It was worth a shot. Although Stanley is much smaller than Ketchum, the amount of people recreating was exponentially higher. Stanley is a hub of rafters, fishers, bikers and campers. Finding a campsite proved much more difficult. We ended up camping at the trailhead for our ride in the morning. We figured, we aren’t really camping, we’re just parking. It was fine. This morning we awoke once again to chilly temps and proceeded to get ready for a ride advertised as Idaho’s best bike trail. All 3 times we drove past this parking lot, it had been jam packers with cars and trailers. Needless to say, we were excited. At first, we put on long sleeves and cycling tights to fend off the cold, but as numerous other groups showed up and the sun announced herself, we found we were over dressed. The first stretch is on the highway for 2 miles and then a dirt road for several more. Eric and I considered shuttling to avoid boring riding, but when children were out there doing it, we decided we couldn’t shuttle it. Reluctantly, we headed out on the pavement, which as it turned out was pretty pleasant for me. I think I miss road biking. Soon we saw a sign for Fisher creek road and turned off to start our climb up to the trail. Shuttling would have saved us over 1500 vertical feet of dirt road climbing. We passed pastures with grazing horses and people out waking their dogs. We traveled next to a creek and butterflies scattered as we rode up the path. It was actually pretty nice even though we were climbing on a road. We hit one long miserable steep section before arriving at the trail. A fellow cyclist was taking a break at the top before the awesome, Idaho’s best, trail. He was a PE teacher from CA. His wife taught the first grade. Eric thinks that is the coolest thing ever and is now considering going back to school for some sort of teaching certification. Having the summers to travel, wow, that would be amazing. We pushed off down a windy single track that twisted and turned smoothly through a burnt forest. It was really fun and beautiful in a creepy sort of way. At the bottom of the hill, Eric, myself, and Greg (the school teacher) discussed how cool the decent was and chatted about other rides in the area. We decided to do a short out and back that goes to the biggest meadow ever. Greg came along too. The meadow was actually 3 miles away and required crossing a couple creeks. We came to an intersection to either Robinson Bar or Born Lakes (or back the way we came). We decided that it was early enough in the day to do some exploring. We chose the route to Born lakes because it is closed to motor cycles. The trail was great and led out into the open meadow. We had to cross a serious looking creek. There was a little log, but neither Eric or I felt real comfortable crossing on it. To be honest, I don’t really feel all that comfortable crossing on much larger logs either. Eric found another log to add to the bridge and we continued on our way. Amazingly, the trail wasn’t much more than some pushed over grass through the meadow, but we managed to follow it for several miles. We thought that is was an unused trail due to the lack of a trail and several down trees that Eric and I took effort in moving out of the trail. Eric wishes he brought a small foldable saw to do more trail maintenance stuff. We have ridden so many trails and many of them could use our help. It was the least we could do and I got to feel exceptionally strong, moving trees all on my own. We ended up running into 5 other people on the trail that had come from 4th of July road and were making a loop of it (so the trail is actually ridden much more frequently than originally thought). If we were to continue out on this trail we would eventually come to a trailhead and have to take forest service road back to our car. That didn’t sound like much fun, so we turned back towards the Fisher creek loop. We were glad we did, because the next section of Fisher creek was awesome. Although we had another little climb, it was fun and beautiful. It really was an amazing trail. Once at the top, we had a screaming fun decent with views of the Sawtooth Mtns to boot. We could hardly bring ourselves to stop and take pictures. By the end, we had covered over 29 miles and both felt like we could have had someone. It was that fun. We had hamburgers in the motorhome and took a quick trip on the motorcycle. We ran out of gas, which I thought was terrifying, but as it turns out, we have a reserve tank, so we really hadn’t run out of gas. Funny, huh? We then took to town, grabbed groceries, checked the email and headed out in search of a new campsite. We are really testing our ability to sleep crooked. We are parked a little sideways, but we didn’t have a lot of options.

June 11—Rafting the Salmon

Today, we did laundry in town and are planning to run the Salmon. I will keep ya posted on how that turns out. Signing out!