SNAKE RIVER DAILY JOURNAL
TRIP BEGAN AT THE SOUTH END OF YELLOWSTONE PARK, 2 MILES FURTHER SOUTH AT FLAGG RANCH7-26 SAT LEFT BEND, OR AT 5:00PM
…... Left Bend, OR at 5:00 PM after 2 weeks of preparing the trailer/boat/kayak/gear and issues with the Class B MH Van. It had a cracked head gasket. So had a mechanic fix it, put 2 new heads on, new clutch fan, new radiator, complete tune up with new plugs, wires, rotor, rotor cap…etc and it made it the 1st 200 miles on the way to Jackson Hole, WY. That was a pretty good test and indication he did a good job. I stayed the first night east of Juntura, OR.
I have set some parameters for myself. Never let the gas tank get less than ¼ full and try to get it full at ½. I do carry a five gallon spare on the trailer in a tool box on the front. All my trips for years have always been Safety 1st, Comfort 2nd and Fun 3rd. I have made a commitment to practice H. A. L. T. Never get to Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. And don’t get in a hurry. It will take me a good week to get in the “Rhythm of the River”. Especially having to trade off with the Kayak and the Cataraft. I expect the 1,000 miles to take me 5 to 7 weeks. The big unknown is the getting back to where I have the Kayak or the Cat to do that segment of the river.7-27 SUN
…… Got up early and started driving before the sun came up. Hot, probably close to 95 degrees. Went South of Boise, ID thru the Birds of Prey area along the Snake just to get an idea of what I was going to be faced with. It is a lot of open, long slow water, but the Kayak will handle it well. Got to within 2 hours of Jackson Hole, WY and spent the night in camp ground along the Snake River. Picked up a hitch hiker who finally plugged some holes for me about the Snake River. The river is known as the Snake River in Wyoming, thru the park. Once it hits Palisades Reservoir and exits the dam it is known as the South Fork of the Snake River. Until it meets up with the Henry’s Fork River in Menan I think it is, then it becomes the Snake River again. There are/is no S. Fork, N. Fork, Middle Fork, just the Snake River. Also the Henry use to be the North Fork of the Salmon until they changed the name to Henry’s Fork. A lot of people must have thought a lot of Henry. Went for a walk and saw a cow moose with her baby on an Island and when I got back to the Van the “Papa” was standing next to my van and wouldn’t let me near it for a good half an hour.
……. Once again got up early and headed to Jackson Hole. Once to town, stopped and arranged the Ice Chest/got some food…ice…drinks…and got the Cat squared away. Stopped at Jackson White Water to find a guy named “Odd Captain Ron” who I have heard is as “odd” as I am. He wasn’t in but I did buy a book he has written about some of his “adventures” and also got weak and finally bought a “Go Pro”, actually was less monies than what they wanted at Dick’s in Bend. Also went in to K-Mart and got a “car cover” for the Cat while it is parked when I am in the Kayak. It made it easy for me to navigate Jackson Hole, because it was in 2010/or 2011 that Ron Bergstrom and I came up here and poured all of that concrete for those curbs/sidewalks on the new bike path thru the Elk Refuge to Moose. I have asked a lot of questions and got few answers. Very few people know, understand very much of the Snake River. The guides obviously know “their section” of the river intimately, but as for “over all” knowledge very few have a clue. I will once I am done. I have got a camp spot at Lizard Creek Camp Ground on the N. end of Jackson Lake and have gotten things as organized as I possibly can. It is raining, but not hard. I anticipate getting up early, driving up to the put in that 2 miles S of the Yellowstone Park Border, get Kayak ready, in the water, tied up and head back to Signal Mountain boat ramp on the S. E corner of Jackson Lake, not far from the Jackson Lake Dam. Park the B in a 3 day vehicle/trailer parking area just up from the Boat Ramp. I don’t see how it can possibly take me more than 3 days to kayak the approximate 8 miles to the Lake, then going to paddle the West side of the lake. They tell me that is the area where they take the “bad bears” they have to relocate and drop them off. I did buy some bear spray, 1st time ever. I don’t know what good it would do, my eye sight has gotten so bad at a distance that the bear would be slapping me up beside the head before I could see him. Last night they had a young grizzly in the camp ground. I also would think, based upon all the traffic on the only road thru the park, that I shouldn’t have any problems getting a ride back to the Kayak, which is about 35/40 miles.
….. Up early in the camp ground. Completely full from everywhere in the world. Got to the put in close to Flagg Ranch. Got kayak in river and all loaded up. Headed to Signal Mountain boat ramp parking area. 45 minute drive. Had to walk close to 4 miles to get to the junction where I could catch a ride. First ride was a couple and their daughter from Shanghai, China with their daughter Co Co. They spoke no English, I was flabbergasted that they would stop and pick me up. We conversed a little bit. He wasn’t retired. 23 Million People in Shanghai. He said we need to get along because the Chinese
have way too many people and way too much money. As for me, I told them my Name was Jackson, Jackson Hole. Now, even though they didn’t speak English, they had this look on their face like who is this guy kidding. Got on the river at noon. Started raining and rained good and steady until I stopped at 4, very wet and tired. Set camp up, had an Oriental Side dish dinner, in tribute to my new found friends from China. Went to bed early to the sound of rain, which really wasn’t all that bad. The only bad thing was the sleeping bag I had was way too small, have no idea where it came from other than I might have bought it in ND for whatever reason. Some of the most beautiful wild flower meadows in the area I have ever seen in my life. Bill Smith’s wife Trish would be proud to see this kind of wild flowers flourishing at the Mill District, even though she has done one hell of a job.
….. Got up early again, which is something I don’t have any problem doing. Everything was soaking wet, but knew I could dry everything out by the end of the day when I stopped again. Got packed up, got breakfast out of cut up fruit, yogurt, and a mango smoothie and got on the water. Beautiful day, no wind and went along the west side of Jackson Lake, right below the Tetons. A few boats on the water, but saw no other kayakers or canoers. Stopped at about 4, got things out and dried out, got camp set up, had a pasta side dinner, with the rest of the milk I had, went to bed early again to the sound of “Jimmy’s” cousin scolding me for invading his space. Saw no animals except deer, lots of young bucks all over the place.
…. Once again got up early, well before the sun came up. Got packed up, everything was dry. Already pretty much had things ready to pack in the Kayak except for the tent, cot, sleeping blankets, refused to use the sleeping bag again. Absolutely beautiful morning. Saw no animals. Had breakfast of Raisin Bran/Yogurt/Smoothie on the back side, west side of Elk Island. Unbelievable view.
Got to the boat dock/ramp at approximately 11. Took an hour or so to get things loaded up, separated and the boat ready to put in the water. Stopped at the General Store and got a few things, stopped on the way to Pacific Creek, the put in downstream from the Jackson Dam and did some emailing and texting. Got the boat in. I did have to take the Kayak off and the back Kayak rack off. I had only about 6 inches of water to put the boat in, the 12 volt winch set up worked perfectly. I will have to remember to blow the boat up tight when using that winch set up, it will just make it easier. Headed to Wilson, which is just a few miles out of Jackson Hole, to park the Van at the take out. Stopped at Albertsons and got a few more things. Communicated with Debbie. Contrary to popular believe, I miss her. A lot. Started hitch hiking, shuttle driver picked me up and took me to the N. end of Jackson Hole. Then a deli worker picked me up and got a ride to Grosse Verde turn off. Then a couple picked me up and got me to Moose. Then a young guy who owns the only mobile RV Service in Jackson Hole picked me up and took me right to the boat.
…..You are not supposed to camp on the river in the park, all the raft trips are a ½ day or day trip event. But, not one to break the rules, tried to sleep in the recliner chair I have on a small island, got cold so got the sleeping pad out, the blankets and got a great night’s sleep to the sound of the river right on the river rocks.
Cooked fried summer sausage, two eggs, whole wheat with strawberry jam and orange juice for breakfast. On the river at sunrise again. Only one group of people passed me at about the time I set off. Got all the way to Wilson by 1:00.
Went to Jackson Hole, got a new large sleeping bag, the one I have is a mummy bag and they don’t work for me. I will take it on the Salmon hike, also got on line and got some things taken care of. Got a veggie sandwich from Safeway, which has to be in the summer time their busiest store. Went back to boat in Wilson, got things squared away and headed to Alpine which is about 40 miles away, the beginning of the Palisades Reservoir. Got there about 4:00 got lucky and found a boat ramp right there at the Alpine Junction. I will have about a mile of slack water to row once I hit the reservoir, but that is ok. Started hitch hiking and got ride immediately from a Lady that was going to Jackson Hole to church, she was Jewish and it was the only synagogue for miles. Nice lady. Retired nurse from Atlanta. Interesting tad bit. The only two known cases of the Ebola Virus that have been determined in the US just got transferred to her unit at the hospital in Atlanta where she worked. She took me all the way to South Park Junction.
Immediately got a ride from a guy who works for the concrete batch plant there in Jackson Hole and he took me right to my boat. He was one of the guys who delivered cement to Ron and I on the work we did there in the Elk Refuge. Goes to show you it is truly a small world. Spent 2 more hours on the river, stopped on a gravel bar, got camp set, had a yogurt, some orange juice a piece of cake and sat on the bank for an hour or so then went to bed.SAT 8-2
….. No problem for this guy getting up at sunrise. There has not been a morning on the river yet that I don’t wake up to the Bald Eagles. A mother is always showing her young how to fly. This morning there were two of them right across the river, chirping and flapping their wings practicing. I have not fished yet, just something I don’t take the time to do, probably should. I will for sure on the Salmon. Taking time this morning to get caught up on this journal, keep things clean, let the sun dry out the tent, send a few emails. Going to be another beautiful day on the Snake River. So far I have this stretch of the river all to myself. It was a good 12 hours down to Alpine. When thru Lunch Box and Meat Loaf rapids with no problems. However, I did have a challenge just before the rapids, got slammed up against a rock wall, and got too close to the hydraulics. I have found out since that I was very lucky to get out of the situation I got into in a split second. This boat does not do well in hydraulics. It was not pretty. Boat almost flipped, the right tube was completely under water, boat full of water. Not good considering I did not have my life jacket on yet for the rapids, had the umbrella on which no longer exists, bent the hell out of the spare oar and it took all I had to get out of that situation. But all in all a lesson and just hurt feelings. Probably won’t get another umbrella, just don’t have any luck with them. As for the spare oar, one would hope it won’t be needed. Hit the reservoir at just when the wind and a storm was brewing. Once to the boat ramp, it didn’t take long for the full force of the storm and wind to hit, just sat in the van and was patient, it blew thru in 30 minutes. Got all the kayak gear out of the boat, kayak and back rack off and loaded the boat. One thing I did not anticipate was if one puts the trailer too far down in the water it “floats” because of all the wood. Got the boat on with the winch which worked perfectly. An hour later the kayak is all loaded, ready to put food in the little white cube ice chest and went and had a dinner at a nice restaurant. Chilled shrimp, house salad, tomato soup and ground chuck steak with mashed potatoes and gravy. Once back to the van, spent some time on the computer and went to bed. My computer is not working with the IPhone, won’t tether. Got woke up couple hours later, group of guides out of Jackson Hole showed up in the dark down at the boat ramp,, having a bachelor’s party and headed to the Saturday night, once a week in Alpine strip club. By the time they got back, they made no noise, barely heard them. Ready to attack the Palisades Reservoir. Probably will take me until noon to get on the water. (Exactly 11:00)
….. Up at the break of dawn, up to the store to get ice and pack the cooler for the Kayak, I expect to be out on the lake tonight. Got it in the kayak and head to Palisades Dam. Got to the dam and found out that in order to get to the ramp that is just on the other side of the dam, with the road being locked across the damn, one has to drive close to 6 miles. It isn’t the 6 miles, it is the fact that everyone is going in the direction to put in, not take out this time of the morning. That is a long, long walk first thing on a section of the trip to have to walk, in order to get to the highway for a ride. So I opted to go back 4 miles to another public ramp. Got parked, got on the road and got a ride from a guy and his wife and two kids. Nice people. Gave me a ride right to the kayak. They were on their way to spend some time watching exactly the place where I go into trouble yesterday. I guess because the water has dropped so suddenly, a lot of people are getting into trouble where I did. I was very lucky. It became very close there to the trip being over. Got on the water about 11 and of course being a Sunday there are a ton of people on the lake water skiing and boating. I stuck to the far West side and it was ok. I got to the van about 4.
So no staying overnight. All the preparing the kayak was for practice I guess. I still am not sure of my capabilities and limitations. What is amazing is just how good of shape I am in to be able to paddle/row/carry this kayak and make this work. My thumbs and elbow don’t hurt any more I am just working it out. I told myself they will either work or fall off because I am not going to let it stop me. I could have taken two bottles of water, some bars, the chair and the umbrella. The umbrella worked well today and saved my bacon. It was very hot. The glare off of the water is enough as it is.
At the boat ramp took my time got everything squared away and the boat ready for the trip/section down to Idaho Falls. I need to do some investigating as to where I should park/and switch to the kayak. I know there is some slack/slow/no channel water. I am having some issue with the van/motor. Hope to find somebody first thing in the morning. Think it is something simple, motor is shaking a little bit but running good. Also thought I would have to find an AT&T store but I think the phone is working, will know here shortly. Will just stay here at the boat ramp, lots of room, not a lot of traffic on the road and everybody has gone home for the night, I am the only one here. Hopefully after the Bachelor party boys last night, I can get a good night sleep without being interrupted. Got interrupted. The camp host from up above at the Blow Out camp ground, is also in charge of making sure no one camps down at the boat dock. Can’t figure out how he knew I was planning on spending the night there but since I was the only one there, he wasn’t too stupid. I explained the van issue and he called Doug, a guy he knew at the Dam Store about 10 miles down the road, the way I needed to go. We made arrangements that I would be at his place at 8 in the morning, and based upon what I told him it was acting like, he thought he wouldn’t have a problem figuring it out. I went up and got a camp spot to keep peace in the family. My Golden Age Passport card has come in handy now several times, space was only $6 bucks and a good one.
Got out to brush my teeth after having pasta with tuna fish and a big Bull Moose came out of the bushes and scared the heck out of me. It was dark and I startled him. MON 8-4…
. At Doug’s at 7:30, got the cover out and low and be hold the “distributor” was loose, evidently Bill, the guy who did all the work on the Van forgot to tighten it. Doug came out and we timed it, he tightened it up and for $50 bucks my “issue” was solved. Great guy, ex school teacher. Mentioned he was having trouble at 58 trying to figure out what he wanted to be or wanted to do, so there is at least one other guy out there besides me that is still looking. I went back up to the boat ramp below the dam and got the Cataraft in the water, everything ready to go, tied it up good, got the kayak back on the trailer and off I went to Idaho Falls. The winch set up is working perfectly, without it I couldn’t get that “cat” off or back on. I have to take the kayak off and the back kayak rack off, but it works great, and not that much more work. Before I hit the dam, went up to the little store and got a dozen eggs, and before putting the boat in cooked another good breakfast, scrambled eggs, sausage, whole wheat with the raspberry jam, banana and orange juice.
Once to Idaho Falls I went to a white water raft shop I know of and the guy was clueless. It was after 1:00 and was getting worried I was not going to get back to the boat today. I headed to Menan where the Henry’s Fork converges with the South Fork of the Snake and once off of the 15 Freeway I crossed the Snake. Off to the right was a public boat dock and a little camp ground. I went another 5 miles to Menan and got gas and ran into a local boy who grew up on this part of the river. He said I would have no problem getting to that boat ramp in my Cataraft. There might be 4 miles or so I had to row if the wind was blowing and that might be the case depending on what time of the last afternoon I get there tomorrow. I might spend one more night and hit it in the early AM, we will see how it all works out.
At the boat dock, paid the $3 day fee (Golden came in again) and started to walk out to the road and hitch hike back to the boat, it is now pushing 2:30. At that moment a truck pulling a drift boat trailer pulls in followed by a van I had seen up at the base of the dam early this morning while I was putting the boat in. It was the shuttle people. After talking to them and them saying that they saw me this morning, they offered to take me all the way back to my Cat for $20. Couldn’t believe it, I never did get a chance to hitch hike. Living right I guess. On the way found out they own one of the two shuttle companies in the Swan Valley. They also own a Maverick gas station/C Store with a Subway Sandwich franchise in it. Knew exactly where it was, confirmed that when we stopped by there and we all got Subway Sandwiches. He had his wife and 3 kids with him. There was also a young boy with them, probably related. One of the few questions I guess I didn’t ask. His family owns 16,000 acres there in the Valley and has 5,500 head of cattle. They also raise crops, wheat mostly I think. They were going to start fall harvest today, but it was raining, that is why he was helping out on the shuttle runs. He is going to BYU this fall, in 3 weeks to study and get a degree to be a better farmer. I found that refreshing. No ear rings, no tattoos, just a good all-around American Boy. I expound up on all of this, because this trip along with the mission of going from the S. Yellowstone Park Border to the Columbia, a good part of the trip is the hitch hiking.
Dwell on this. I drive 800 miles to get there. I have to drive that same 800 miles or more back. Then I have to hitch hike that entire 800 miles again to get back to my boat/kayak. Then I float the river that 800 miles or more being river miles. So this isn’t just “floating a river a 1,000 miles”. It is a 4,000 mile endeavor. No, I never put that in perspective when I planned this. If I would have, might not have taken it on. Because make no mistake about it, being in Idaho Falls today was no “fun”. Everyone keeps telling me to have fun. I haven’t quite figured out yet what is fun about this. Now, when I get on the water, all the stress, the anxiety, having no idea what is around the next bend, the miles, the losing the fold up table (I think it fell out the back of the boat going down the road) , Cam’s life vest he has had for 20 years blowing out of the boat, all the money spent on the van and the trailer getting that ready and of course every single day beating the hell out of my legs getting in and out of the boat, my butt aches from sitting in the kayak for so long and the fact my eye sight has changed drastically, all of the “issues and challenges” just fade away.
Had a good hot cup of tea. It rained all afternoon and I was chilled. I didn’t get wet I have good rain gear. No dinner, to tired and not hungry. It is raining again, but the tent is rain proof, it is the best one so far I have ever had for me. Do wish it was about 1 or 2 feet taller, I can’t stand up in it, but goes up quick and is comfortable.
Considering this is the 7th day on the water/river and it is the 10th day since leaving Bend, so far so good.
….. Up, getting things broke down which is obviously all wet/damp. Won’t take long for thing to dry out, whenever that is. I don’t like things being wrapped up for too long wet, but as long as it stays raining and doesn’t get hot they won’t mildew and smell. On the water about 8, not quite as early as usual. Beautiful part of the river, somewhat of a deep canyon for 20 miles or so. Bald Eagles are prolific. Lots of Moose. Started raining about noon and rained pretty much the rest of the way all the way to Robertson Road boat ramp where I had the van. Got there about 7:30 had to have gone about 60 miles or so one would think. Hard to tell by river miles. Once there, got a break in the rain, got the kayak/rack off, got the boat loaded up. Once again, that 12 volt winch is making it possible for me to get the boat on and off. Will have to take a video of it once I can figure out the Go Pro. I am finding out that the I Phone just about does as good of job with pictures and videos as anything. The camera, which is a FUGI that came found on the bank of the Deschutes I think it was, doesn’t do all that well. Pics are bad but the video is terrible. Might be me not knowing exactly how to use it best. Not going to take it with me anymore.
Once squared away, talked to Brandon in ND on the 72 units. Got some emailing done. Had a bowl of Oyster Soup/crackers and cold milk and relaxed then went to sleep. Rained pretty much off and on all night.
WENS 8-6…. Got with it about 8. Stayed here at the boat ramp, no issues this time with staying overnight. Cleaned up things, got all my dirty clothes ready to wash, squared things away on the boat and headed to Great Falls. Once to Great Falls immediately found a Laundromat and an Albertsons right next door. Washed and dried and replenished groceries.
Took some pictures/video of the falls in town and a power plant which is the reason behind having to go around this section of the river. The further I go south the more it looks like it was going to quit raining. Not so. Went to Shelly, which is about 9 miles south of Great Falls and found a boat ramp at a County Park just out of town. Talked to a guy who sent me to Shane Wootan, who owns an AG Manufacturing plant, think they make parts for Harvest Machines for potatoes, etc. But more importantly he is also the US Rep for Loop Fly Fishing products/equipment/clothing. Imagine that? Great guy and very helpful. Good one to put in the back of my mind. I need to get him on the Deschutes with Cameron as soon as possible, maybe this fall for the Steelhead hopefully. I am invited him on the Salmon, but he said he would probably be divorced if he did. He grew up around Glen’s Ferry and his father still owns a 4,000 acre ranch there. He got on Google Earth with me and pointed some things out. I am going to put the Kayak in here in the morning and should be able to go all the way down to American Falls Dam. Couple potential challenges but I am confident I can navigate them safely and successfully. After that I will take it a section at a time, and it is going to be a Logistical challenge to say the least until I get further on down the river in the area of Glen’s Ferry. After that it is all kayak I believe until I get to Hell’s Canyon.
Back to the boat ramp, can spend the night here, won’t get the kayak loaded up until early AM, get to the boat ramp at the American Falls Dam and start hitch hiking again back and hope I do as well as in the last 5 sections.
It is raining like crazy but probably will pass fairly quickly.
SNAKE RIVER DAILY JOURNAL WEEK 2
THURS 8 – 7 TO SUN 8 – 13 SHELLY, ID TO STRIKER RESERVOIR TO WALTER’S LANDING, IDTHURS 8 – 7
…… Wasn’t in a hurry to get up this morning. Got started about 7. Got the kayak off, in the water, got it loaded and ready to go. Quick trip about 2 miles to town to get a few things and pack the ice chest in the boat and the one in the kayak with ice. Left for American Falls Dam about 11:00. Stopped and mailed Can a Loop Catalogue. Got to American Falls Dam boat ramp on the West side about 1:00. There is a “free” camp ground there, 2 people were there. The first one I talked to was a Charlene, taking a break from her family in a trailer with her dog. We talked and she told me I could park my van/trailer next to her trailer and she would keep an eye on it. Then I asked her what she would charge me to take me back if she wanted to. She did. We immediately left and I was back to the kayak at 2:30 plus or minus. All she wanted was for me to fill her gas tank up which I did, cost me $60.
I just can’t believe how fortunate I have been on getting back to point A where I either have the Cat or the Kayak in the water waiting for me. For sure, the highway going on the West Side thru Blackfoot and getting to American Falls would not have been a fun hitch hike. Lots of ranches/farms and people not going that far. I am estimating it could have taken me all day.
Once in the water, I immediately encountered a “diversion” dam for irrigation that I decided to portage around. Took about an hour. There just was no way I felt comfortable trying to make it thru the rapids as one can see from the pictures.
Once back on the water the next 5 miles got me to Firth, where I knew there was for sure another “diversion” dam. The water/river is very high because of all the rain I am assuming they have had around here and continue to, so it makes these “diversion” areas unpredictable. As I was approaching this area, I could hear the noise of the white water, I ran into “Shane” who is the guy I spent about an hour with yesterday in Shelly. He was teaching someone how to “roll cast”. He told me to be careful because and I could probably “skirt” the left side. I stopped, took a look see and decided once again to portage that situation.
Now, I had about 100 yards this time. I got most of the gear out of the kayak and down on the other side of the falls/white water and a young guy with his wife and kid came thru and I offered him $20 bucks to help me get the kayak around this spot. He did and he also loaded up the rest of my gear in the back of his truck. An hour later I am back on the river. I stopped about 6. Looked like the storm was going to hit me, has passed, but I am glad I did. Another long day and a physical one. Should be a good night, I am in a good spot, don’t expect any wind, here it is 7:30 already and no wind but a slight breeze. I need to figure out something for dinner, I haven’t been eating much. A lot of fruit, fruit smoothies, sandwich now and then and cold cuts/cheese and crackers or a Baggett cut up.
…… Beautiful morning, got up just as the sun was coming up, didn’t take but 30 minutes to get on the water. 15 minutes into the day and another irrigation ditch diversion dam is before me. Nothing good about it, so I decided once again to portage around the obstacle. Little more difficult this time, no help but in two hours I was on the river again. 30 minutes later there is another one. Now this is four, and everyone I talked to told me there was only one. Not good. So I once again manage to get the kayak tied up and go up to a huge metal fabrication plant and finally one of the guys told me to just stay to the right. I got across the river, started down the right channel and spotted a hole where I could
Shoot thru and did so. With a lot of stress and anxiety. I don’t quite yet know what this kayak will do and what it won’t do. I know it is virtually impossible to control it once the water/hydraulics catch it.
I am a couple more hours into the day, it is about 2:00 and for some reason, I am not paying attention I see this huge tree in the middle of the river and try to go river right, instead of just staying to the left which is the way the water is going. I don’t make it. I hit that tree, I am half full of water and tipping over. In the middle of the river. It is nothing short of as bad as or worse than getting slammed into that rock wall before Lunch Box and Meat Loaf rapids above Palisades Reservoir. I immediately lean left, the kayak right’s itself, but I am not thru the tree yet. My hat, once again is floating down the river, the rudder has been knocked out of its hole. I am rudderless and that is a huge problem. Fortunately the current has carried me to the right side of the river and I am approaching a perfect place to stop, which I do. The rudder is fine, just put it back in the hole. The kayak is half full of water in both of the seats. Fortunately the hatch covers work well and not much got in those compartments. I take everything out, get it laid out in the sun and spent a good hour there letting things dry out and go over in my mind a hundred times how I could have prevented that and how I will be more proactive way in advance.
With the water so high, there are constantly numerous channels to choose from. Fortunately, so far I have not picked the “wrong” one. I have arrived at the opening to the reservoir about 6:30. I know it is going to down pour, just don’t know when. In 5 minutes was when. I managed to get the tent up and all four corners weighted down, because the rain is just pouring down and the wind is blowing. An hour later it blows over and I finish setting camp up.
Right now it is still over cast, but very still and warm. Got dry clothes on. Had a pasta side for dinner. About ready to have a tea with honey, a couple of Oatmeal Cookies and go to bed.
I am quite sure, if there is no wind tomorrow, I can get to the van by the end of the day, if not before. I don’t think it is more than 20/25 miles. 11 days on the water. The most stressful and anxiety filled one so far. I have no idea how many miles I have come. Getting to Ontario, headed to Weiser and then in to Brownlee Resevoir is when I will know I am half way or more.
No cell service, so no internet which is fine for tonight. I can get caught up on everything tomorrow late afternoon, while I am deciding how to attack the next section of the trip, which will be number 7.
…… On the river about 8 and the current in the river is carrying me further and further into the reservoir. The reservoir is very low so obviously with all the rain the river runs a greater distance into the body of the water. Lots of birds, all different kinds more than I have ever seen. Finally I reach the north end of the reservoir and have to start paddling. About an hour in to the paddling, the wind comes up blowing up river/up reservoir in the direction I am going and I get the umbrella out and utilize it as a sail. I practically get to the dam with having to do much paddling. I paddle the remaining mile or so.
Once all the gear is put away and the kayak is back on its rack on the trailer, I can relax. I am beat. This last section of the river was not easy. The 3 portages, the confrontation with the tree in the middle of the river and what paddling I
had to do to finish this section of the river has really worn me out. So I got things squared away, everything in its place. I have spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what I am going to do next. Obviously continue down the river, but there is a part of the river between American Falls and Twin Falls that just cannot be done. Numerous rapids, low water, rocks, dams, remote, steep canyons and I am contemplating by passing that section of the river. It could spell disaster, a lot of time doing short sections of the river, hard to get rides because in a couple of place the boat ramp is on the other side of the river, the north side and that means having to do long drives just to get the kayak or cataraft in the river, let alone getting out of there hitch hiking/getting a ride.
So I had a dinner of mashed potatoes, some freeze dried stew with gravy, communicated via text with Debbie and Cam and went to bed.
….. No problem getting up. My left arm was really bothering me last night, but feels pretty good this morning. Continued to work on the gear, get everything really in its place. Had breakfast of hash browns, sausage, eggs and orange juice. About ready to go find a Walmart. The umbrella for the Kayak took a beating yesterday, so that is 3 umbrellas’ in a month that have bit the dust. One on the Deschutes, the big, nice one when I slammed into the rock cliff above Meat Loaf and Lunch Box and now this one here coming into American Falls Dam. I need at least one, because the sun is brutal. I also need to find another straw hat, lost the only one I had in the confrontation with the tree in the middle of the river.
I am going to go down about 100 miles to 3 Mile Island, Glenn’s Ferry. I drove up that way, I know it is much safer, bigger and no obstacles water. I have Stryker Dam and then another one at Swan Falls. There is a resort just around a point from Stryker Dam and that is where I will take then Van and leave it and there is a guy there by the name of Stan I think it is that will give me a ride back to Glen’s Ferry. There is a State Park there at Glen’s Ferry I will relax this afternoon, get all the gear ready to put in the kayak, get it in the river and tied up and head to Black Sands Resort. I am really glad now I took the time to go thru that area on the way up. Once I am by Swan Falls/another Dam also I believe I have a clear, open river all the way to Oxbow reservoir.
It ended up being a little further than I thought, but I have made the right decision. I will stay here tonight, get up early when it is cool and get the kayak in the water and loaded up and head to Black Sands Resort which is a good couple hours down the river. I was buy there on my way up to Jackson Hole a couple of weeks ago and I think there is an old guy there that will give me a ride back up here to Glenn’s Ferry. Very hot here right now has to be close to 95 fortunately there is a breeze blowing but having trouble finding shade so going to just tough it out.MON 8-11
…. Thought about taking today off, can’t count yesterday as a day off. With it being 100 degrees, driving, stopping in Twin Falls at Costco, Wal Mart and gas and the stress of trying to make sure I am squared away, takes a toll on me. I didn’t stay in the State Park but instead stayed in a little RV Park across from a Winery there in town. The winery was built in ’87, the grapes planted in ’82 and it appears to survive. Pretty little place. Meet Mary who works in the Winery/Restaurant when I went in to pay my $15 for no hook ups. Once we got to talking, she told me the Old Man who bought the place in ’97 recently passed away and left it to his four children, I think they are all from Rupert I believe she said. She told me that there was a guy named Jerry who lived at Black Sands Resort just around from the Dam and he might give me a ride.
I got everything ready for the Kayak in the morning, except for the dry good and the ice chest. Barbequed a steak and had some Chavannes yogurt and a pear with it and a cold glass of milk. Had to wait until about 10 to go to bed, because it was so hot. But once it cooled down I went to sleep with the sound of the train hooting across the valley.
I got to the boat ramp just as the sun was coming up. Not my style to sit around. I knew if I got motivated and got moving my desire to finish this experience/adventure would come back. Didn’t take long to pack the kayak. I was going to wash my tennis shoes off, get the sand out of them and slipped on the boat ramp and skinned up both of my elbows and left ankle. It was as slick as anything I have ever seen. Fill in way over my head, it dropped off really fast. The only way to save my self the second time after getting up the 1st time in falling down, was to go head first into the river, which is what I did.
Changed my clothes, stopped and got ice for the big ice chest in the Cat and topped off with gas and headed down river to Black Sands Resort. Just before the resort there is an Idaho Game & Fish office that I stopped at. After a good 30 minutes of conversation with a couple of guys in there that know this part of the Snake well, I have decided to not go from C J Striker Dam to Swan Falls. It is a long ways around from the South side of the Snake in this part of the river to get to the North side of Swan Falls to be able to get out and then no place to put in on the down river side of the dam. It is only about 20/30 miles of water anyway. So this has eliminated a ton of stress and anxiety for me because I knew by studying the map and on line with Google Earth this minor section of the river was not going to be easily done.
Once at Black Sands Resort, Carl was the only one here, the resort is closed on Monday’s. Go figure if I would have showed up without knowing who Carl was. He will let me park my Van/Trailer at his RV spot and he is going to give me a ride back to Glen’s Ferry after noon. That is less than 2 hours away, he has to cook lunch for a couple of the employees who clean the bar and restaurant. Yep. He works here. So once again I have gotten lucky in getting back to my kayak in the water. It is a goo 50/60 miles and will probably take me the rest of today once I get on the water, all of Tues and should be here before Wens is over for sure. I should be back on the water on Thursday, not quite sure yet where I will put in for the next stretch of water to Weiser.
Carl gave me a tour of his “little” Oasis. He has turned a $500 dollar Class C and a couple of lean twos into a little Garden Oasis. He is very much hand. Beautiful garden, flowers and all and everything he has done was out of material laying around the Resort. Couple of little wood burning stoves, man after my own hear. Heaven as far as I am concerned. If I was a sedentary person, this would be as good as it gets. Not me. He drinks a bottle of wine a day, or more and has a toot now and then. He knows he needs to make a change, just turned 69. But all in all, he is in great shape, loves to fish and goose and duck hunt and is in the perfect stop to do it.
We left about 12:15, stopped and had a hamburger in Glen’s Ferry and he dropped me off and I was on the water by 2:00. I paddled till about 8 and got a long ways.
Stopped at a beautiful spot in the canyon, just up river from where the Striker Reservoir starts. There was some kind of hatch going on in the river, because the fish were in a feeding frenzy, never really seen anything like it. They I think, were bass and trout. Didn’t have any dinner, way too tired. Probably got to sleep by 9. Crickets were the loudest I have ever heard. TUES 8-12…
.. Up at way before the sun came over the rim rock. On the water well before 7. I was in the frame of mind it was going to take me until tomorrow at around noon, so I was mentally prepared for another night on the river. As the day progressed the wind was behind me most of the way. No issues. No wild life which surprised me. Plenty of water fowl.
No more big irrigations pump stations so no more of that noise. As I got close to the last bend in the reservoir headed to Black Sands Resort a storm blew in and rained like mad. Then the wind came up and shifted up river/up the reservoir so that made it tough, but kept paddling. Then the wind shifted to back down river/down reservoir and it blew like hell. In 20 minutes there were 2 to 4 foot swells and white caps. I got behind a rock out cropping and got on the bank, thinking I would just wait it out, and if necessary just spend the night within an hour of the van, which is what I had anticipated doing anyway. The more I sat there and watched the water,, the more I convinced myself that it would just blow me right to the van, which I could see a good distance away.
I put my life jacket on, tightened things up and jumped in the kayak and that is exactly what happened. In fifteen minutes I blew right to the bank. It was not easy to get things out of the kayak before I half filled up with water with the waves pounding against the bank, but it was accomplished with some help from a couple of guys. I had blew right into their camp on the N. side of the resort.
After an hour of squaring things away and getting loaded up, I went up to thank Carl and sat down with him and a friend of his, Red, over a glass of Lemonade. Red grew up, up around Alpine and also knew this whole area are in S. Idaho and understood the river well. I got some good information from him, some I already knew and some which will help me get to Hell’s Canyon.
I left about 4:30 drove only for an hour or so headed to Walter’s Ferry where I will put the kayak in and go to Marsing which will only be a day. I ended up by a cattle corral, on top of the prairie, listening to the coyotes howl at what appears to be a full moon behind a few clouds and went to sleep. I was very, very tired. I pushed myself and should have done that 80 miles in two days plus, rather than doing it in one day plus.WENS 8-13
…. Woke up to lots of coyotes howling. Went for a walk, topped the boat off with air, so it was solid on the trailer, tidied up the B and headed to Walter’s Landing. Here at Walter’s Landing I cooked pancakes, had an egg, orange juice and have decided to take the day off. It is raining, and will from the looks of things off and on. I was wet yesterday, but dried out quickly. It is not the rain because it is warm enough, but my butt, my arms and I am tired, so a day of rest won’t hurt. I will run down to Marsing, where I can replenish grocers and a few things, then come back here for the afternoon, get the kayak ready tonight, tied it up then head to Marsing 1st thing in the AM and I should/won’t have any trouble getting a ride back. The next 3 or 4 sections I believe I am going to do in one day trips, even if they are long days. Easier to get a ride back. More cities/congestion which will make it harder to get a ride. I believe I can do this easily and efficiently until I get to Weiser and then will go all the way to Brownlee Dam in a couple of days paddling. Then it will be Oxbow in a day. Then finish Hell’s Canyon Reservoir in a day and then it is around to Hell’s Canyon.
SNAKE RIVER JOURNAL
WALTER’S LANDING TO BROWNLEE RESEVOIR
8-14 TO 8-22
Headed to Marsing about 7AM. Got to the boat ramp in less than an hour, parked and walked thru town to get up to the other end where I could miss what town traffic there was. Immediately got a ride from a rancher who was headed up into the Silver Peak area to deliver a load of Rams to his Ewes. His family runs about 3,500 head of sheep and 2,500 head of cattle. He was also going to try to find and shoot two large black bears that had been killing his sheep and beating the hell out of his sheep dogs. Very nice guy, took me right to the kayak, he was going right by there. Side note, a cousin of his, an investment banker just bought a huge ranch just up out of Mitchell for $22M.
I figured I would get back to Marsing probably around 3 in the afternoon, actually it was 2:45. Went up and got a pizza and got on the computer. Then went and got some ice and went back to the park where the boat landing was. Relaxed all afternoon. Got the kayak ready and tied it up at the dock. About 7 decided to go ahead and drive on down to Nyssa, I knew where the boat ramp was and knew I could spend the night there. Only takes about an hour or so to drive it. Police patrol thru here often so spoke to them and asked them to keep an eye on my rig and trailer and went to bed.FRI 8-15
….. Got up early as usual, covered the boat and walked across the bridge to start hitch hiking back to Marsing. Immediately got a ride with a guy headed to Boise to go to court for his daughter as a witness. Once to the junction that headed to Marsing, I did have to wait a while, longer than usual before I got the next ride. Nice guy who owns a huge ranch there, a dairy in Adrian and a 1,000 acre hay ranch in N. Nevada stopped and gave me a ride. Very nice guy. We talked a lot in such a short period of time. He owns a nice Beaver Coach and goes to Bend to have it serviced. He knows the Owyhee well and probably so far other than the lady that gave me a ride out of Alpine, he is one of the nicest people I have met. Next ride and last ride was a guy who I filled up his gas tank and he went ahead and took me all the way to the kayak. He didn’t have anything else to do I guess.
It is always nice to get back on the water. Doing the kayaking and floating is not he the most challenging part of this trip. It is obviously getting from point A where the kayak is, to B where I leave the rig, then back to A. Long day to be sure. I thought late in the afternoon I night make it back to Nyssa in one day, but not possible. The river goes a lot further south down around Adrian than one thinks it does just looking at the map.
I stopped about 6, set the tent up and started to read a book I had with me about homesteading in an around Glacier Park in the early 1920’s. Had Beef Stroganoff with tuna fish for dinner, glass of cold chocolate milk and went to be just before it got dark. SAT 8-16
…. Waited till the sun came up to get up. No question I was as tired last night as I have ever been so far on the trip. I figure I have about 4 hours to get to the boat ramp in Nyssa. I had a banana, protein bar and orange juice for breakfast.
One thing that I have noticed for quite some time now. There is nobody on the river. No fisherman. No boaters or wave runner riders, nobody canoeing or kayaking. Also nobody outside at the houses. I do hear the farmers or the workers above out in the fields up off the river but that is all. Very few migratory birds, a few deer, did see a couple coyotes this morning. Strange in my opinion. Just no activity of any kind. I find that odd.
Got to the boat ramp at 11. Fixed a good breakfast of hash browns, two eggs, fried summer sausage, a couple of warmed up flour tortillas and orange juice. I keep every now and then having to blow up one of the sections of the raft, it must have a minor, slow leak. I am going to just take it easy the rest of the day, get ice, get the kayak ready to do the section from Nyssa down to Ontario then on to Weiser. I think I will just go ahead and kayak on down to Ontario, tie up and then hitch hike back a short distance to get the van. Drive the van on down to Weiser and then hitch hike back to Ontario where the kayak will be tied up, should take me but a couple of hours.
I will spend some time today on line getting some information on the next 3 reservoirs and Hell’s Canyon.
I went down to the grocery store and got to talking to the meat cutter, looking for some Italian Sausage, I am tired of Summer Sausage and one thing led to another and he said since he lives in Weiser, he would pick me up in the morning at the boat ramp at 4:50AM. So I waited until about 7, headed to Weiser, had a quick Hamburger at the Chinese Restaurant in Weiser, found the boat ramp and got squared away. It was sooooo Hot I couldn’t get to sleep, then a bunch of kids showed up and partied on the bank of the Weiser River until about 1:00. Needless to say I hardly got any sleep at all. But Brandon was right on time, turned out he lived 3 blocks away. I was back in Nyssa at 5:30. Had to be patient and wait around until about 6:30 until it was light enough to get on the water.
…….. Once again, it was a long day paddling, but I made it to the boat ramp in Weiser about 3:00. I met a really nice guy who was fishing on the river just about 1 mile upstream from the boat ramp where my van was parked. He wanted me to stop and talk to him, which I did. We went up and sat on the front porch and talked and had a glass of Iced Tea. Gave my butt a good rest, needed it. Retired airline pilot 77, nice wife and beautiful house. He also still fly’s and trains pilots in wilderness flying. Fly’s into Shepp Ranch all the time. Hope to see him again, might take him over to the cabin on the Owyhee chucker hunting. He does real well for 77.
I plan on getting up early, wash my clothes at a Laundromat I spotted, go to the local Forest Service office to make sure I understand where the boat ramps are up on the Reservoirs. Good 100 miles of paddling just to get to the Brownlee Dam, the first one. Two more but they are short 1 day paddles, then the put in for Hell’s Canyon. I have a situation worked out already on how I am going to get the van out of the Hell’s Canyon and get it down to Heller Bar. Well explain it all when it happens, which I am sure it well.MON 8-18
…. I got up early as usual, washed my clothes, went to the local Forest Service office and confirmed that there was no issues with kayaking from Weiser to Brownlee Reservoir. Stopped and had a quick breakfast, bought groceries and got plenty of ice. Dropped my computer off at a computer shop, I had “neglected” to download an “Anti-virus” software when I bought this laptop in March in Minot, ND and I had “issues”. Also, having trouble “keeping” my I-Phone charged. Doesn’t have any problems charging when plugged into my laptop when tethering.
Left for Brownlee Reservoir about 1:00 in the afternoon. It is about an hour and 1/2‘s drive. Once there found a place to park in the boat ramp parking that was in the shade. Talked to one of the Idaho Power employees who takes care of the campground/boat ramp area. He said he would keep an eye on my van/trailer and no issues in parking for days.
Got out on the road about 3:00 immediately got a ride from a shuttle driver who took me down to Hwy 95. Then it took about 30 minutes and got a ride from a school teacher right to my Kayak at the boat ramp in Weiser. I was back on the water by 5:30. Paddled for about 2 hours, found a good spot to camp and was pooped to say the least. Read for a while and wasn’t long before I went to bed and was asleep by dark.
….. On the water as the sun was coming up. I normally have a breakfast smoothie, yogurt, protein bar, piece of fruit, and a banana. Stayed on the water until the wind came up and it was apparent it was going to rain. I didn’t pick the best spot, had the tent up, but had to drop it down and go up and sit under a tree until the quick storm by passed. I ended up having Fettuccini with canned shrimp, cold bottle of milk and a couple of cookies for dinner. Saw a lot of does with their fawns today, they are down along the bank eating the new green grasses growing as the river/reservoir drops. Don’t see them but hear them just before dark, lots of Coyotes eyeing the fawns I am sure. Once again, I don’t have any problem getting to sleep.
…. The wind blew all night, and it was still blowing in the morning. I had to sit and wait until about 10 and the wind started to slow down. Went ahead and got on the water and once I got going, the wind laid down and paddled for hours and miles. Very few people fishing in boats and along the bank. I have read that the Brownlee Reservoir is one of the best warm water fisheries in the country. Wouldn’t know that with the amount of people fishing. At the end of the day, the wind came up and I used the $6 umbrella from Family Dollar until a gust of wind took my hat and the umbrella did a Chinese U Turn. Once they take the U Turn they are no good, they can’t be fixed. Once the wind died down I found a good spot to stop. Had to ask a couple of does if I could use their bed, they were laying down just where I intended to put my tent. No wind tonight, but took no chances and put a heavy rock in each corner of the tent and tied the top down. Had some Italian Sausage, cheese and crackers and a bottle of water for dinner. Looks like I will make the boat ramp tomorrow about 3:00, better I am out of food and water. Two bottles left.
…. Didn’t get with it as early as I normally do. This is a long paddle and I am getting tied. My arms and the back of my legs let me know it, but surprising enough I am having no difficulty keeping this pace up. There was a strong breeze up river that makes it difficult. Any breeze up river/up reservoir adds to the energy needed to set a pace and get any amount of miles paddled. Fortunately about noon it laid done and was at the boat ramp within minutes of 3:00.
The first thing I do is get the gear out of the kayak. It the kayak all cleaned up, everything ready to load on to the trailer and put it away, no matter how tired I am. Went up and unlocked the van, it was in the shade, so that really helped. Got up in the boat, got a cold coke and sat down in the seat in the boat and relaxed for a few minutes. Went down, backed down the ramp and got the kayak and all the gear put away. Went directly up and found an RV spot. Since I am VA Disabled, had to only pay half fare, $8 a night, so paid for 2 nights. Got the trailer unhooked, and immediately went and took a shower. First one since leaving Cam’s house almost 4 weeks ago. I have taken river baths but not the same since the river/reservoirs are so filthy dirty. However, as I progressed up Brownlee Reservoir the water has become much cleaner.
There is a little store and café up the road about 2 miles, went up and had a hamburger/fries and bowl of ice cream and bought a couple of bags of ice and head back to the Van. Started another book and read until I couldn’t see any more, got my bed made and went to sleep, fortunately it has cooled down and had got lucky and found a spot in the shade which helped.
FRI 8-22…. Headed to town about 7:00 and arrived in Weiser at 8:30. Picked up my computer and went and had a quick breakfast. Drove to Payette where the computer lady had sent me to find out why my I-Phone wasn’t charging. Come to find out, the I-Phone nut told me it was the Plug In little box that was bad. Go figure, how could that be. Went to King’s a Dept./Hardware store in the area and found a new plug in and the box and it works fine. It was charging while plugged into the computer but not the inverter I use in the van off of the battery, so I knew it had to be something simple and it was.
I am parked in a church parking lot in Weiser, getting caught up. Texted and emailed Debbie but haven’t heard back from her. Also called Cam and left a message, nothing from anybody else. I am close to making my plans and decisions on what I am going to attempt to do for the winter, will finalize them before I hit Lewiston so I know when I get to the Columbia exactly what I am going to do. Obviously I don’t think I will have any issues or difficulties getting to Bend by the 14th, to take care of the taxes that extensions were filed on and make the 50th Class Reunion on the 19th.
I will get some more supplies/drinks and pick up ice just before I get back to the van and that little store/café I ate at last night. Computer is working fine, the phone is charging so all is good.
SNAKE RIVER DAILY JOURNAL
8-22 HELL’S CANYON RESERVOIR
HELL’S CANYON PUT IN TO HELLER BAR
HELLER BAR TO LEWISTONFRI 8-22
…… Got back to the Van at the camp site on the north end of Brownlee Reservoir about 4:00.
I spent a couple of hours getting stuff out of the Cataraft and consolidating everything. I have lightened the load/weight in the Cataraft significantly which should make it much easier for me to maneuver and position to go thru the several rapids there are. They fluctuate between 3’s and 4’s depending on how much water they are releasing out of the dam.
In addition, I have about 10 plus or minus miles to get to Heller Bar and could end up rowing most of that. I have floated the Grande Rhond to Heller Bar a couple of times, but that doesn’t come in to the Snake very far from Heller Bar. I could have taken out at Pittsburg Landing, but wanted a break from out of the Kayak as much as I could, and this gives me that opportunity.
The rest of the trip from Heller Bar to Lewiston and then thru the four dams in Washington will all be done in the Kayak, probably about 160 miles I think.
It is raining, so I am glad I am in the Van gives me a break from the rain and being in the tent in the rain and wind and I need it.SAT 8-23
….. Didn’t get in a hurry this morning. Finished getting things squared away and headed up to Oxbow Dam. Stopped at the dam and cooked a good breakfast. Finished off the two eggs left I had bought in Swan Valley as I was getting ready to leave Palisades Dam, hash browns, warmed up the steak I had left over from barbequing last night and an orange juice. Hit the spot. Then took off for the Hell’s Canyon Dam about 21 miles downriver. Once I got into the gorge I just knew I was going to change my plans and have to kayak this, as the videos and pictures will show.
Got to the put in and talked to the girls at the Forest Service Visitor Center. They drive back and forth from Halfway 4 days a week and someone else takes over for the 3 days. Long drive and a treacherous one to say the least. Has to be at least 100 miles round trip. Doesn’t make sense. I bought a few books for the tipi. I changed my mind on the shuttle/the drive to White Bird and called Diane at the Snake River Shuttle and had her plan on picking up my rig on Tues afternoon late, Wens morning and have it down at Heller Bar by noon on Friday. The float to Heller Bar is supposedly a 5 day 4 night trip. So that is Tues, Wens, Thurs and Fri and wouldn’t surprise me if I don’t shave a day off.
I found a boat ramp within site of the Hell’s Canyon Dam, and will put the kayak in, get it loaded up and take off down river, down reservoir so I can do Hell’s Canyon Reservoir. The wind is blowing slightly and will hope on the way back it isn’t blowing.
If it is, will just hitch hike back and go get the kayak. If I do kayak down and back that is about 40 miles a good two nights I hope, nothing else to do, I would rather be on the water. Anybody can drive the road, but there is absolutely nobody on this reservoir, they don’t seem to be on it much. Sure was a lot of them on Oxbow Reservoir however. Also a lot of private residences and cabins.
The wind did blow, but fortunately it was blowing up river and that is the way I was going. Found a good place to camp for the night, at least it appeared that way at first. Once night time came and it got dark, the crickets were the loudest I have ever heard them. I finally got to sleep, but it was not the best place I have stayed to be sure.
…. Beautiful, quiet no wind morning again, pretty much the way it is every day this time of year. Paddled to the Oxbow Dam and had to take out across the river at the only boat ramp on the Oregon side of the reservoir. Then walk about 1 mile and cross the bridge to hitch hike back. Not thinking ahead, I realized after about an hour of no traffic, it was Sunday evening, nobody was going to be putting in and the Hell’s Canyon Dam put in and I was not going to get a ride. I thought about just going back and kayaking back down river to the van, but I was just way to tired and wanted a break tomorrow on Monday a day before I put in for Hell’s Canyon.
I heard some guys laughing and talking down below the bridge, so I went down and asked if they would do be a favor and run me back down river the 20 miles to my Van. $20 bucks later for gas and $10 for beer I was at the van and on my way back to the Kayak in about an hour. Once I was loaded up, I decided to drive up out of the canyon to Halfway, OR where I knew there was a grocery store, fill up with gas, have cell service and perhaps something to eat.
That is what I did. I was in Halfway by 7, had a French Dip with fries, bought groceries, but found out I would have to wait until in the morning to get gas, they were closed. I drove out of town and found a place to park and settled down for the night.MON 8-25
…. Woke up to the sound of Elk Bugling out in the fields. Reminded me of when Durbin and I were up in Northern Utah on the Green River. Went back to town and got gas, finished a few things on the internet and head back down into the canyon.
Went back to the put in to try to talk the girls into letting me put in a day early. Wouldn’t do it, so went back down reservoir about 1 mile found a great place to spend the rest of the day and night, relaxed and finished a book and started another one.TUES 8-26
…. Was the first one at the put in, got the boat in the water and went up and checked in. One of the girls came down and checked to make sure I had what was necessary, which is an approved life vest, toilet and Evasive Species permit. While there, two more private parties showed up. One of them said he would walk me thru the worst of the first two Class IV rapids so that is what I had planned on doing. Him and his girlfriend were going to Pittsburg Landing, but they had enough stuff for a month’s trip, never seen anything like it.
Once on the river, it became clear they were not going to be able to keep up with me. I was at the first Class IV quickly, went ahead and read the river and went on thru it. Did the same at the 2nd Class IV and was down river quite a ways by the end of the day. Absolutely no problems at all.
….. Another uneventful day going thru Hell’s Canyon. Lots of rapids, one is constantly rowing and maneuvering, very little chance to just relax, one of the disadvantages of being by yourself. It was all day this way. I managed to get all the way to where the Imnaha River comes in and camped there. Being there reminded me of when Cam and I were on the Main Salmon and spent a night camped were the Middle Fork comes in. I was so tired I never even put the tent up, just laid it out and fixed some pasta with tuna fish again and went to bed. I was beat. No loud crickets this time.THURS 8-28
….. It became apparent I was going to do this trip in 3 days. I got to Heller Bar about 4 in the afternoon and my Van was already there which helps big time. Meant I could get the kayak ready and in the water, go on down to the Boat Ramp in Lewiston which I did. Went and had a good Cesare Salad with chicken, a good night’s sleep and was prepared to get back to Heller Bar first thing in the morning.
…. I was Hitch Hiking back to Heller Bar by 9 in the morning. Got a ride from a retired school teacher that was going bike riding. He took me about 6 miles. Then got a ride from an Oars Shuttle driver who was taking a rig down to Heller Bar, couldn’t have been any better.
Was back on the water headed to Lewiston by 10:30 and arrived back at the Van at about 5:00. Very tired tonight, after the Hell’s Canyon and all of that rowing and then paddling another 21 miles or so in the Kayak I was beat, as tired as I have been. Looks like I will have to take it easy for a day and let my body catch up. Went back to the same restaurant I ate at last night and had a small steak and prawns, small Cesare, baked potato and some fresh hot vegetables. Very good dinner. Was a sleep by 9:00 I think it was.SAT 8-30
…. At Les Schwab’s by 7:00 and got the flat tired fixed and back on the spare tire rack. Went to Albertson’s and got some more stuff, it might have to last me for 6 or 7 days, not sure what to expect down river between here and Burbank, WA where the Snake goes into the Columbia. Found a good place to get the Kayak ready for this first section and am getting caught up and dragging my feet. Once again, I am very tired.
SNAKE RIVER JOURNAL
8-30 CLARKSTON WA TO 9–3 COLUMBIA RIVER
…. I drove down to the first dam known as Little Goose Lock and Dam. It is about 26 miles plus or minus. I forgot it is Labor Day weekend, so everyone is already or going down to camp for the weekend, the Corps of Engineers has a lot of spots along the N. Side of the “lake” and the County has a very nice park down river from the dam. So I figured I would have a hard time getting a ride.
I came back and decided to attack these four dams/lakes…reservoirs the following way:
Instead of doing it the way I have, putting in at A, driving down to B and leaving the Van and hitch hiking back and then doing that particular section, I am going to just kayak from A and kayak back. Yes, it is doing twice the miles, but I am in 100% control from here on out. All 4 of these sections have very limited access, are very remote and very little traffic. Once the weekend is over, that means my chances of getting ride on my terms and on my time is very limited.
I still believe that I can do these 4 sections in 2/3 days apiece and several of them in 2 days for sure. The last section from Ice Harbor Lock and Dam is only about an hour’s kayak down into the Columbia. In fact, I may have to kayak up river for a ways, then back down just to be able to say I did the Snake into the Columbia.
So I am spending this night in the van, hoping to get a good night’s sleep and leave very early in the morning. I am glad I am not on the water now, the wind has been howling, which is not uncommon this time of the day. What would be nice if I get down the river in one day early and turn around and the wind blows me down most of the way up river back to the van. That will be the ideal situation.
SUN 8-31…. Got up early once again and got on the water. I have been very lucky on the weather, almost every single day has started out beautiful. It was only the first week or so I had that rain around Idaho Falls/American Falls and then it was so warm it didn’t matter.
These 4 reservoirs are going to be big and slow. All four obviously are backed up by dams and the reservoirs appear to be full and high. Not a lot of people, even for this weekend being Labor Day.
I paddled down to almost the dam, turned around and started back and by right rudder wire broke so it was very difficult to paddle with only one side working, the kayak with the wind blowing wanted to turn to the left. Wore me out. But finally got back to the boat dock, got unloaded, went and fixed the rudder wire at the Wal Mart parking lot, went to Albertson’s and headed down river to the next put in.
. Got to the next put in/boat dock and got things ready and spent the night. Put in the next morning a little later and paddled all day. Nothing eventful, very little wind and finished what is the 2nd of 4 reservoirs.TUES 9-2
…. The two middle reservoirs are somewhat remote, in fact, they are remote. Very few access roads and only one to the Dams. The road to the 3rd Dam access point was closed, they must have been doing some work on the road or the dam. Since 9-11 you can’t cross any of these Dams except for the Snake River Dam and that is one of those situations you just can’t access that area from the Oregon side it is virtually impossible. So I was not able to paddle this 3rd reservoir which I think amounts to about 20 plus or minus miles. Surely not a big deal when one considers I have done almost 850 plus miles on the Snake. So I have driven on down to Burbank, WA where the Snake merges with the Columbia. A lot of people think it is Pasco, WA where this takes place, but it isn’t, it is Burbank, WA. I stayed in the boat ramp parking lot. There is a nice park and RV Park here on the river, but it is closed so that means Labor Day weekend is last day it is open.
. The wind was blowing this morning, up river unfortunately which meant as I took off I was being blown up river which is a good thing. I was hoping that as the sun came up, it would lay down and quit blowing but that was not the case. It kept blowing and in fact picked up. So once I got within site of the Dam I had to fight the wind all the way back and it was the hardest paddling I had to do so far. As everyone knows, the Columbia is famous for wind and it blew all day long, hard. All the way to Biggs where once turns off to head to Bend I found the wind in the Van.
I didn’t get to paddle the few hundred yards down into the Columbia. I couldn’t, the wind wouldn’t allow it and if I would have got in the Columbia I probably would have been blown back up river, no way could I have fought it, so my trip comes to an end today.
If I had to do it over again, now that I have had some time to think about it, I would have planned it to take at least another 4 weeks. That way a guy could have spent more time on Jackson Lake, in Swan Valley and for sure in Hell’s Canyon. Fished more. Spent more time on the bank. Did some multi-day hikes on the numerous trials up into the canyons. Maybe another time, another life. But depending on circumstances, this trip would warrant a serious consideration of doing it again.