2012 Lower Main Salmon Trip Report
August 18, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Sumbitted by: Naomi Paine
On Saturday August 18, my husband Chris and I joined 24 people at the Hammer Creek put in on the Lower Salmon for a six-night, seven-day adventure on the river headed by the OWA’s very own Scott Ogren. The group was eager to hit the river early on Sunday morning because a fire on the Main Salmon had caused two other groups of 30 to share the put-in.
Once on the river, it was easy sailing. Four others joined our group that evening at the Lower Pine Bar Camp and most of the evening’s discussion involved how to obtain the coveted camp spot, Lower White House Bar, the next day. Being able to claim this white sandy beach was very important for our layover plans because of the camp’s great area to wade in the water, and play water volley ball. Three boats left early Monday to make sure the spot was ours.
With great anticipation, the rest of the group left after a hot breakfast and set off with high hopes. Our fellow river mates followed through and White House Bar was ours. We hit camp early, and set up two large tarps, river volley ball, and a camp shower. Two others joined our group to make it complete (29 people and two dogs). We spent the evening in the lap of luxury, and by Tuesday night everyone was rested for Toga Night.
When Wednesday morning rolled around, we were nice and relaxed for our next day on the river. This was the day we went through the Class IV Rapid – Snow Hole. Everyone ran it like pros – even our West Virginian guests who were enjoying their first time rafting and kayaking.
That evening, we found camp at very long strip of flat sandy beach; Eagle Creek. While not our first choice, it was a great place for another layover day where there was plenty of exploring to be done, and wildlife to be seen. Our second layover day was spent swimming and kayaking across the river, hiking and kicking back. In the afternoon we were joined by another OWA group of over 30 people. Our camp site had become an OWA city.
Friday morning it was off early to make it to Confluence where the Lower Salmon River merges into the Snake River. We made it to Confluence in good time, under a haze of smoke. A police jet boat stopped at our camp to inform us that river left (the Oregon side) was off limits due to a wildfire. It was a good thing we left early, because it allowed us to obtain a camp on the Idaho side. Our friends just downstream from us had to leave their camp and float downstream until they found something habitable on the Idaho side.
Saturday was our last morning, and we awoke early with big plans on how to go 20 miles and make it to the take-out early. We had a secret weapon. After a quick easy breakfast, and minimal packing (since we did not put the tarps up), we headed off before the sun was over the canyon. We oared through a few miles of fast water before bringing out our secret weapon: a jet boat engine. In about a half hour we assembled a barge or “floatilla” out of our six cats and seven rafts by strapping all of our boats together. The engine found its home on a cat on the back of the barge.
Our last few hours on the river were spent in great relaxation as we sailed effortlessly along “Lake Snake”. Other rafters we passed were both intrigued and envious by our contraption. Members of jet boat tours eyed us with confusion and took many pictures.
Sadly, our glorious adventure came to end as our take-out, Heller Bar, approached. We unstrapped all of the boats in moments and drifted to the chaos of the take-out.