Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gettin' Lucky in Idaho

With the flows dropping in Idaho, we decided to head there for a quick tour en route to Hood River.  The main objective was the South Fork of the Salmon, but we also wanted to get on something in the Payette drainage on the way north.  After burning a little too much time getting supplies in Boise we decided to hit the South Payette Canyon run.  It was 7 pm on July 4th when we got to the take out, and fortunately we were able to quickly wrangle a shuttle driver.  The dramatic evening light in the deep canyon was a great way to celebrate 'merica, enough so that we skipped the debauchery down the road in Crouch to enjoy a quite campfire.

The next morning we headed up to McCall with one objective, find a shuttle driver.  We tries every connection we had and every outdoor shop in town, but a few hours later we still hadn't found anyone.  It turns out the day after the forth of July everyone in McCall is either working or too hungover to want to earn some shuttle cash.  Without other options, we headed to the ranger station for out permit, deciding we could hitch back to McCall and then hire someone to drive out towards Yellow Pine on the back end.

We were rolling out of town past Little Payette Lake when three kids in the road flashed a brown claw at us.  After a few chuckles, we made a U-turn to see if any of them were interested in helping us get our rig back to McCall.  By the time we made it back, two of them were in the bushed purging their previous nights' mistakes, but the third was game to ride out to Yellow Pine with us and drive the jeep back to McCall.  On the ride, we found out she was guiding near Riggins for the summer and would have no trouble driving the Jeep down to the take out.  Sometimes things just work out perfectly when you least expect them too.

Chill canyon section on day 1.  Photo JJ. 

Dinner with some freedom brauts.  Photo TJ. 

We ended up putting in on the East Fork of the South Fork near Yellow Pine in the late afternoon, which was a great roadside section of class IV before continuing past the South Fork and Secesh confluences into the overnight section, camping shortly above Devil's Creek Rapid.  Great splashy class IV with a touch of class V spice at the end continued for the remainder of the South Fork.  We found a great campsite under huge pines at the confluence with the Main Salmon.  The next day we made quick work of the twenty miles down to the take out through lots of flatwater with the occasional beautiful glassy wave.  3 days out on the river was just what the doctor ordered and the great but not threatening whitewater on the South Fork was perfect for licking our wounds after some rough days in Durango.

Some mighty fine creek boat surfing out there.  Photo TJ. 

And more glass... Photo TJ. 

Beautiful canyon scenery as well.  Photo TJ.

It was only noon when we arrived at the take out, so we decided to get some more boating in for the day.  After resupplying in Riggins we headed up to the South Fork of the Clearwater, which unfortunately didn't have enough water.  Instead we decided to head up to the Lochsa, arriving at 7:30 pm for a quick evening run.  It had been a long time since Tom and I had run the Lochsa but its rapids were just as good as we remembered with big powerful wave trains with the ocassional big hole.  We finished up just in time to hitch a shuttle and find fantastic riverside camping just before dark.

Idaho had treated us well, even serving up a breakfast of waffles, berries, and ice cream in Lewiston on the way out, but it was time to head to Hood River for our cousin's wedding and a little time on the Little White and Green Truss.