2013 Lochsa Memorial Day Madness

May 27, 2013 at 8:27 PM

It is 440 miles from Portland to Three Rivers Resort in Lowell Idaho at the confluence of the Lochsa and the Selway Rivers.  That’s 9 + hours travel plus 20 more miles to the put in.  Go to You Tube and type in Lochsa River Madness 2013 and watch the 8+ minute video to decide if this craziness is for you.  Most of the video is of Lochsa Falls and parts are from the surfing rapid known as Pipeline. Not everyone flips or swims at the falls ( 90+ % don’t) and those who don’t, well they don’t make the video.  It is possible to cheat at the falls and run about 4 feet left to miss the maw.  But did you really drive 460 miles to cheat?  The falls is the rapid that causes most, but not all of the flips and swims.


I traveled in a group of 7 including Ann Stevenson, Josh Hollander, Steve Oslund, Julie Nathe, Tara Haug and Skip Currier, who assumed the role of fearless leader in Steve’s absence.  Other OWA members traveling separately included Mark and Bee Tyree, Jesse King, James and Theresa Haworth, Stacey Parrott, Nick Soorholtz, Greg Babikoff and Dave Breidenbach .You have options at Three Rivers, 4 person cabin, 8 person cabin, hotel room, A-frame cabin or you can camp out.  We had one of the large cabins.   Brian and Candace from the Couv (and future members, we hope) camped next to the cabin and became an integral part of the crew.  They and Steve are the only members of our group on the You Tube video.  More on that later.  There were other friendly faces around but I am not sure if they were OWA members.  Hope I did not forget anyone.

Our group left Portland about 7:15 am on Thursday.  The plan was to boat the 10 mile section on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and that is exactly what we did when we finally got there.  Steve brought an inflatable couch.  More on that later.

The cabin was right on the river and very nice.  It included a small kitchen and a bathroom with a shower and limited daily room service.  Some slept in the beds and some outside on cots.  The drive to the put in was 20 miles, then a 10 mile run to the take out. There were very few people or boats on Friday but there was LOTS of rain. The river was running in the “friendly fours “(between 4 and 5 feet) where it is the easiest.  But the paddle boat flipped in what we think was Horsetail.  The crew under Julie’s leadership had the boat rigged to make it easy for swimmers to climb back on the upside down raft, flip it back over and then climb back in, all in almost no time.  Very impressive work.    Being cautious, I cheated a little left on my first run through the Falls.  The paddleboat dump trucked all but one occupant at Termination.  That nasty one knocked me off my rowing seat and I landed on something very hard (oarlock?) almost fell out and 10 days later still had a monster bruise to show for it.

The rain stopped just as we reached the take out.  Back to the cabin and a well deserved sit in the hot tub followed by a great dinner.

Saturday was a different story.  Lots of people and boats and sunshine.  I know we had at least one swimmer (who swam both times in the paddle boat on Friday) and a paddle boat with 7 souls travelling with us dumped six in the Falls.  There were lots of spectators at the Falls, some with referee shirts and score cards.  I was in the paddle boat and we punched the hole in fine fashion so no video for us.

Sunday there were maybe one third as many boats and a mix of clouds and sun.  And the river had dropped to about 3.5 feet, and was very much less friendly.  The huge holes were deeper and sharper. Julie was tossed out of the paddle boat at Bloody Mary and the same paddle boat that dumped 6 in the Falls on Saturday dumped all 7 on Sunday.  I am pretty sure they are on the video.

The big decision for Sunday was what to do with the inflatable love seat.  After much discussion, it was tied on top of and at the back of Bryan’s cat boat and Candace and our own Steve Osland sat in it above and behind Bryan, who was at the oars for the run down the falls.  Go to 7:26 on the video to see the results.  It’s worth it.  If you are a road warrior into wild crazy whitewater thrills and fun, the Lochsa is the place to be on Memorial Day weekend.

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