Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.