Saturday Sept 5th- This was to be our last day on the river. We would raft just over 5 miles in the morning, then have lunch and get to our takeout point - the confluence of the Middle Fork with the Main Salmon- by 1 pm. Fred joined me, again today, in the oared raft with Koni.
Knowing that these would be our last few hours on the river, we took a bit of time to just soak up the experience. Rafting trips are a unique combination of easy, luxury camping, combined with the realities of outdoor living – coping with weather, lack of toilets, limited clothing changes, no running water, etc. You encounter remoteness, though you experience it with a group. Skilled guides take you down a river that you lack the skills to navigate on your own.You are thrust into an association with people who start out as strangers and quickly become friends.
There is beauty, and wildlife, and nature…….and real danger. And it is amazing!
But, this was not going to be just a lazy float on our last morning. We had some real whitewater left to navigate! There was Rubber Rapids and Hancock Rapids, and the ominous sounding Devil’s Tooth Rapid- where it seemed that every raft but ours got stuck going through. Finally, House Rocks Rapid with huge boulders to maneuver around and through.
With that last bit of excitement behind us, we stopped at Goat Creek Camp for lunch. The weather had continued to be chilly today, and by lunchtime, we were all seeking what little sun and warmth that we could find. We enjoyed a final lunch, and then the guides popped open a bottle of champagne and we all made a final toast to new friends, a wonderful experience…..and to the river.
With just over a mile left to go, we took one last look back at ‘Impassable Canyon’.
At the confluence, we were met by the bus from ROW, and loaded up our personal gear and settled in for a 2 hour drive over some very bumpy gravel roads to the town of Salmon and the Stage Coach Inn. Our guides would take the rafts out a bit further downriver, unload the gear and pack up the rafts, then meet us for a farewell dinner at 7 pm.
As we approached the town of Salmon, we were surprised to see snow on the mountaintops. The weather report had said that the nighttime low temperature in Salmon was down to 39 degrees. No wonder we had been so chilly on the river!
We arrived at the Stagecoach Inn, where we had left our camper a week before, and to where our truck was being shuttled. Everything was there waiting for us – including a hot shower, clean clothes, and a hotel room!We met our group and the guides for supper at the Last Chance Pizza House where we said our final goodbyes over an all you could eat pizza party!
The next morning, we would hitch up our camper and start the drive home.