Well, summer is trying to show its face around Idaho and we had a fantastic weekend filled with high 80 degree weather :) I decided on Thursday to head down to the Lochsa River with a crew from work to do some BIG WATER boating. We usually do a Lochsa trip the end of April or the first week in May after the water has been big and has started to come down. Well, this year with spring being so cold, there has been a very slow snow run-off.
The Lochsa is generally run by kayakers and rafters when it’s at between 3-5.5 feet which has a pretty short 3-4 month window. The window is going to be a bit longer this year and the river is going to be a lot higher for a lot of the time. We had above average snowfall and its just now starting to melt.
I usually row a cataraft and haven’t been on the river above 5.5 feet. At that level the waves are usually huge and there are monster “holes” that you want to stay clear away from. Many rafts and cats flip and I’ll show at the end of this a video where people just sit up on the road and watch boats flip going through a rapid called Lochsa falls. There is a huge wave at the top of the rapid and it surges and if you catch it at the wrong time, you’re toast.
I drove down Saturday morning with the puppas and was meeting the crew at the “put-in.” I checked the river gauge at Lowell bridge and it was just above 7 feet. I got butterflies in my stomach, got back in the car and started up the road along the river. What’s really neat about the Lochsa river stretch that most people do is that there are between 15-18 rapids in less than 9 miles. That makes for some back to back to back FUN then you can do twice in a day if you want. The road also follows the river which makes for some good spectating and also if you feel like you need to get out, you can just walk up to the road and someone will pick you up.
I stopped along the way and “scouted” some of the rapids to see the lines that needed to be taken and to see how big the water really was. The ironic thing about rapids is they NEVER look that big from the side of the river compared to when your in the middle of them in a boat. I thought a lot of the technical stuff was washed out at this level and the waves just looked big. I decided to definitely run it.
We had a paddle raft with 8 of us including our guide, one cataraft with 2 people, and 4 kayakers. We got suited up in neoprene, fleece, and drysuits and began to do some serious sweating in the 80 degree heat. That might sound crazy but the water temps couldn’t have been above 40 degrees, and if you take a swim you better be prepared for those temps, or you’re not making it back to the boat.
We pushed out onto the river and I couldn’t believe how fast the water was moving. My first thought was, if I swim, I hope I fall out behind the boat otherwise I’m going to be moving downstream a heck of a lot faster than this raft. We had a few “warm-up” rapids with some wave trains that were pretty straight forward. These waves were probably about 10-15 feet high and we coasted up and over them without too much trouble in our 15′ NRS raft. By now the butterflies were gone and I was just plain ecstatic. I realize now that if I’m not rowing a cat with passengers I’m able to enjoy it a bit more because I don’t have the responsibility of safety on my shoulders. I like being a passenger myself who just needs to worry about me for the most part.
The afternoon went great without a hitch. I don’t know how we all managed to stay in the boat, but we did. We had some people fall into the center of the raft and on each other, but no one was ejected. I wish I could really capture in words how big the big rapids actually were. They didn’t end up being as technical like I thought when I looked at them on the way up to the put-in, but I underestimated how big the waves were. Many of them were easily 20-25 feet. I’m sure many of you reading this will think, yah right, that’s like someone saying they caught a 4 foot fish. But seriously, when you’re in a raft that is 15′ long and you’re traveling up the face of the wave with water on top and below you, you realize you’re in a frickin HUGE wave.
Since I was boating I don’t have any photos of our raft to post yet, but will. I’ll post them in my picassa album when I get back from a work trip. There were a few people who followed us down the river and took photos.
So the boating was amazing and it was the biggest water I’ve ever been in. It was a great start to the rafting season and I look forward to getting on the water as much as I can this summer. The best thing is that I drove 2.5 hours to go rafting, but when you travel in Idaho, there is always so much more than the destination. The drive is a windy river road which follows the Clearwater river until you get to a junction where the lochsa and selway rivers merge into the clearwater. It is such an amazing drive especially with blue bird skies, windows down, warm weather, good tunes, and my puppas in the back. We stop along the way so Zoe can get out and swim. I already mentioned in another post how she gets claustrophobic and car sick, so swimming in 35 degree water numbs her up, and she calms down :)
After boating it’s off to camp up along the amazingly beautiful Selway River. Camping was filled with lots of work folks, multiple 4-legged friends, and an almost full moon. After boating I stopped into one of the river outfitters to visit a friend’s friend who I’ve met recently and had some dinner. He then came to camp later that evening and we hung out and chatted under the most surreal lighting. The moon was so bright that it lit up the river, mountains, and beach surrounding us. Truly amazing.
Sunday we hung in camp for awhile and enjoyed the warm morning. We decided to play it safe and not boat the river knowing it would be close to 9 feet if not higher. We drove up the river a ways to watch some other boaters and I took some videos of kayakers paddling through Lochsa Falls.
There were very few boaters on the river and it was high enough that the forest service stopped all commercial outfitting trips. I’ll leave you with some photos of camping on the Selway and a video taking today of some kayakers. Again, I’ll do another post when I get some photos of us in our boats taking on the raging Lochsa!
As always, you can click on a photo to enlarge it, then hit your back button to come back to the blog.
This is pretty much how I feel all the time out in nature, especially in Idaho. I’m so thankful for the beauty I’m surrounded by.
Zoe and her sticks. I don’t know how she can swim in water so cold, but I had to eventually say, enough is enough.
Happy dog, happy dog!
My two little angels, sitting afar. The sun is almost gone, and at this point, I’m trying to soak it all up.
On my drive to see a friend, the sun was just dancing off the water. I stopped to view and snapped a few photos, knowing that would turn out like this, but wanted something to capture the moment.
Driving back to camp the sun was long gone, but the light was hanging in the sky. The moon started to appear and I knew it was just going to be a night filled with amazing light.
Till next time …
Wisdom is knowing how little we know.
So I was looking through some photo pools on Flickr and came across this amazing photo of a Southern Live Oak tree. These trees are all over the southeast of the US, and were regular scenery where I lived back in Florida. I miss these trees and every time, I visit I stand in awe of their massive size, strength and beauty.
I started looking for more photos on Flick of some live oaks and decided to do a post. I hope you enjoy and stand in awe of these ancient beauties, as I and so many others do.
Below: This is how they look before they get really old and their limbs start bowing.
Below: Some of the most amazing oaks can be found on some really old Plantations. This is always bitter sweet for me. To enjoy such beauty on land that endured so much pain is something that I will always struggle with.
Note: The title of this blog is from a Jennifer Nettles’ Song.
“Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can
disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to
every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel like there is
something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your
optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best,
and expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on the
greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give
every living person you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, and too
strong for fear, and too happy to permit the
presence of trouble.
Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.