Friday, September 18, 2015

Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River–Getting There

Sunday Aug 30th- After dropping Brian and Rebekah off at the airport in Jackson, Wyoming at 6 am, we headed back to the campground, packed up and were off on our next big adventure. About 6 weeks before we were leaving for this trip, we had gotten an email from ROW Adventures about availability on a 6 day rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. We had talked about rafting the Middle Fork before, but the timing and convenience of this particular raft trip was too good to pass up!

Those who have followed our travel adventures know that we have been on several multi-day rafting trips and have really enjoyed them. Our most recent trip was last year rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon with Outdoors Unlimited. The year before that, we rafted the Snake River through Hell’s Canyon with ROW. Our fist multi-day trip was in 2012 in Alaska on the Copper River with Copper Oar. Each river and each trip had its own unique character, but the one thing that was shared was the wonderful sense of being totally immersed in the remote outdoors. That, plus the luxury of not carrying a backpack and of being so completely pampered by our guides.

With an air of excitement, we hitched up the camper and headed to Idaho. Our first stop was Salmon, Idaho (about a 5 hour drive) and the Stage Coach Inn which would be our end point for the raft trip. Here we left our camper, securely parked in their long term parking area. This could not be more convenient. Then we drove a scenic 2.5 hours to Stanley, Idaho where we would meet our trip guide and our rafting group that evening at the Mountain Village Inn. The next day, we would be on the river! note- our truck would be shuttled to meet us at the Stage Coach Inn when we got there.

Monday morning Aug 31st – We woke up early, excited to start our adventure, had a quick cup of coffee and a bite of breakfast, and were ready, dry bags packed and waiting at the designated 7:15 am pick up.


We had a short bus ride…..


Where everyone seems equally excited/nervous. At this point, we are all relative strangers (having only met the evening before) and aware that we will be traveling companions for the next 6 days.


Our first destination is this small airfield overlooking the rather small town of Stanley. At this time of the year (and especially this year with the drought) the water level of the Middle Fork gets too low to raft the first 30 or so miles. The plan was to fly into Thomas Creek Airfield and begin our raft trip around the 35 mile point.


It would take 3 small airplanes to fly the 11 guests and our trip leader out to the river. The other 5 guides and the rafts and all the gear had been flown out and assembled the day before. No small task!


A tight squeeze in the airplane with 6 of us - the pilot, our trip leader Kirk, and Fred and I and another couple – sitting, I think, according to weight distribution.


We flew up and over a ridge of mountains – just a short 1/2 hour flight- and landed on this dirt runway out in the middle of nowhere (actually, in the middle of the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states – the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness).


There, we found our guides and our rafts waiting for us


And, before 10 am, we were heading down river……

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