Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pine Bar and the Group Grows Bigger

After two days of Linda and I lounging on the beach, we packed up and floated down to the Pine Bar put in. Approaching from up stream we checked out the campground above the put in and noted that they have a pump for water. This is good to know if you don't want to haul water down to the put-in, and we had never looked over the camping area so that gave us some good reference information.

The rapid above the put-in had about three slots you could use to get down, I chose the center right run and we had no problem getting through. When we arrived at Pine Bar the group had not gotten there so Linda went for a run and I read my book. The wind came up and was blowing sand everywhere. Our boat was getting covered with the dust, so after Linda finished running we loaded up and ferried across the river into an eddy that was in the shade where we washed the boat off with our squirt gun. By the time we finished the group had arrived so we crossed back and lent a hand with the set up of boats and the stowing of gear.

The group consisted of the Outdoor Pursuits staff, Paul, Jon and Rachel and employees of NIC. We were working to put together a paddle boat, a gear boat and two boats with gear and passengers. OP put the trip together as a team builder for the staff and everyone who signed up was very excited. The group consisted of Erna Rhinehart and Ron Cole; Tami Haft and Bob Grigg, Rolly and Jeannie Jurgens; Betsy and Todd Conery; Holly and Ryan Edwards; Ernie and Linda Michal-Hawks; Steve and Karen Ruppel; Chris and Carmen Compton. When we ferried across the river everyone had already been assigned duties and the boats and equipment were comming together.
Once everything was stored we had a brief chat about river safety and off we went.

The plan was to float down to some where by Killer Goat Beach and camp. We made the miles in good time but the camps we were thinking of were taken so we pushed on and found a good one on river left at (45 58.301N 116 28.043W). We ate dinner, sat around and talked. Most folks were in bed by 9:30 PM that evening.

The morning brought coffee and breakfast. We didn't hurry to get on the river so we started floating about 11:00 AM. Ahead of us we had most of the bigger rapids. Entering the Green Canyon and Cougar Canyon we would face such rapids as Lorna's Lulu, the two Bunghole Rapids, Harm's Hole Rapid, Bodacious Bounce, Half and Half Rapid and then Snow Hole Rapid. Snow Hole is considered the "big one" on the Lower Salmon and our group scouted it from the left bank. Linda and I went down first and had a good run. The group did excellent and everyone made it through in style. I set up in the eddy located below the tooth rock on the right and took pictures. They are posted on our photo page and available as a dotPhoto slide show.

Lunch, shade, and cool drink followed the run through Snow Hole. Our camp for the night was somewhere down river below China Rapid. We continued down around the oxbow past Maloney Creek, the Northern most point on the Salmon River, and we came to China Rapids, a blind class III s-curve, that managed to part Steve Ruppel from his boat and crew. It was only a short separation, everyone was right there to help gather the floaters and help right the boat. Jon, Paul and Steve flipped it back upright with very little effort. Little gear was lost and nothing was hurt except for a little pride and some confidence. The second night camp was just across from a private cabin that has a landing strip. It was a great beach with lots of camp sites and some shade up in the Locus Trees. There were a few bees and a couple folks got stung but other then that it was a good camp. After dinner people sat around and talked until dark. Some when to bed and everyone listen to Erna as she laughed so hard she fell over in her chair. I was in bed, but the next day everyone was smiling about the noise.

The next morning we loaded and set off traveling through the Cottonwood Creek area. Linda and I were talking about a beach we liked that was located
just at the end of the small rapid leading into the slow water before Wapshilla Rapid and entered the Black Canyon with Frog Beach set as a stopping point.

Some of the group wanted to keep going, but the majority wanted to stay the night and do a day hike to the top of a small peak. Once again dinner was great and we turned in early so we could get on as soon as possible for the push down river to the takeout.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Solo at Hammer Creek

Making sure we have everything has become a game with Linda and I. Prior to leaving we ask about items that we may have forgotten and all the way down to the river one of us will suddenly say "did you put in the...?" There was nothing missing for our trip that we could find and I guess that is good. We got to the White bird Motel and Shuttle Service (208 839-2308) and talked to Carveth right on schedule. Smelled like old Carveth had been cooking cabbage in his place, but he was happy to see us and promised that our rig was safe with him.

We drove to the Hammer Creek put-in and it was hot! All we had to do there was fill our water jugs and back the trailer in and we were off. Of course the launch ramp was full. Full of TWO old farts putting together two cats! To the left were three spots open and ready for building boats. In the middle of the ram were the two cats, just the cats and gear, blocking all access. No they could not have set their gear and boats to the left side and put them together there. It all had to be in the middle of the ramp.

I backed down and one of the old farts grumbled and swore, but with my help, move the boat off the ramp to the right and within two minutes Linda and I were launched and off down river.

Our goal was to get down a few miles and set up our camp where we could stay for the next two days. The camp we found was on river left; just past the end of the road that provides access on the right bank. Our campsite was perfect. We had sand and a great place to swim. ( GPS Coords. 45 50.047N 116 18.040W) Our plan for a layover before meeting the rest of the NIC group was a good one. We lounged under the shade of the para-wing and unwound from the prior weeks of preparation.
I backed down and one ot the old farts grumbled and swore, but with my help, we move the boat off the ramp to the right and within two minutes Linda and I were launched and off down river.

Our goal was to get down a few miles and set up our camp where we ould stay for the next two days. The camp we found was on river left, just past the end of the road that provides access on the right bank. Our campsite was perfict. We had sand and a great place to swim. ( GPS Coords. 45 50.047N 116 18.040W) Our plan for a layover before meeting the rest of the NIC group was a good one. We lounged under the shade of the para-wing and unwound from the prior weeks of preperation.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The long drive.

So the plan was to get into the camper and travel to Slate Creek by dropping down via the cut off on Moon
. We got all of our stuff loaded up (we thought) and took off at about 12:30 PM. No problems were encountered and we filled up at Wallace prior to heading up the pass.

The road over Moon Pass was real good, dusty but real smooth for this time of the year and we made good time. At the top Linda and I were talking and just drove on by the turn we wanted to take which would drop us down the valley into Slate Creek. On we drove down the road into the drainage leading us into the St. Joe via the road to Avery. This was not what we wanted to do but at that point we had decided that it would work out fine. This is the road that many take to the bottom or the Hiawatha Trail and it became busier as we drove. Camp sites were few and far between but we pushed on down to the St. Joe and turned east to see if we could find a camp spot.

No deal, I guess you can't get a spot unless you drive up on Wednesday or Thursday. There were a couple spots but they were close to the road and we didn't want to watch Baca that close. So on we drove.

When we hit the road that splits and goes up the Joe or up over the pass to St. Regis, we took a left. On this road we found two spots, both of which were filled with mosquitoes, so we pushed on.

At the top of the pass we took a tour out on the ridge to the west to a place at the base of Flat Top Mountain. The weather starting changing and the wind picked up so we turned around and backtracked to the main road. From there we drove to St. Regis and decided to eat dinner.

We chose Jaspers
at the west end of town. What a mistake! The place has to be the worst restaurant in the world. I mean it! The couple behind us was ignored so often that the guy got up and started serving water and other things to the folks around us. One couple actually thought he was a bus boy working there.

We ate, paid and got back on the road heading home. At the 10,000 Dollar Bar, I noticed a car next to us and the driver was waving. I immediately asked Linda if we had left the camper door open but she said no. I pulled over and low and behold it was the bus boy/waiter/customer from Jaspers. He was so excited that he was able to catch us. He told me he drove 90 mile and hour, but he knew he could do it. Linda had left her little purse with her drivers license and credit cards on the counter and when they noticed it he said he could catch us. They would not give him the cards to deliver, but that was ok, he knew he could catch us. So we thanked him profusely and headed back to St. Regis. We watched for his car back at the restaurant but he didn't return. We wanted to give him some cash for his effort, maybe buy him breakfast and someplace other then Jaspers.

The drive back was uneventful and we arrived in Post Falls about 11:00 PM. We drove about six hours and covered a lot of dirt roads. It was fun but it was exhausting so I went right to bed and slept hard. We plan to go back to the Slate Creek area by the end of the summer and I promise to pay attention at the top of the pass.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Riggens Idaho and Home

We awoke to a complete weather change. Rain and wind came in last night and it looked like it would stay. Our nights lodging was less then great, as we tried to get to sleep the people up stairs were letting their kids run back and forth bumping into the walls. Mike called their room and asked them to quiet down which did the trick.

Everyone met at a local cafe for breakfast. We had heard they had big pancakes and that was the clincher. As our morning advanced folks said their good byes and headed home. We loaded up and drove north.

At the top of the hill outside Lewiston we started feeling a vibration in the truck. We thought it was the road brought on by all the construction. So we stopped and checked the load but saw nothing. Just out side of Moscow we heard a whoosh and a thump and the vibration stopped. On the edge of Moscow we stopped for gas and as we were leaving Mike noticed that the tread on the trailer tire had come completely off. The tire was holding air but it definitely needed changing. Mike swapped it with the spare and then we drove around Moscow looking for Les Schwab. Once we found it we had Les check the air and chatted about why our tire came apart.

Everything went well and we made good time the rest of the way to Cd'A. It didn't take long to unload at the Beckwith’s, so we made it home early enough to put our equipment away and clean some of the cloths. It was a wonderful trip, both Linda and I were so glad we were able to go.

Friday, July 08, 2005

California Creek to Carey Creek

We woke up to another beautiful morning. Every night has been perfect and very restful. With only about eleven miles to travel to the take out we didn't have to rush to load. Everyone packed up and pushed off. Our rapid challenges for the day were Dried Meat Rapids, Chittam Rapids and Vinegar Creek Rapids. The Carey Creek Takeout (45 27.166N 115 56.829W 2001 ft. elev.) was a little busy when we arrived, but it didn't take long for our turn and the load up went smooth from there.

Driving back on the curvy narrow road was an experience. The incoming drivers were crazy and they kept Mike on his toes. We arrived in Riggins and went directly to the motel. Oh, how a shower can feel so good after a trip!

We met at the Salmon River Inn for food; most of the group had pizza. While in the restaurant the wind had picked up signaling a definite change in the weather. We returned to the hotel and turned in for the night.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Groundhog to California Creek Campsite

Arrived at
California Camp 45 26.961N 115 45.690W 2053 ft. elev.
a little bit tired and ready for Bocce, Food and Bed. Today was quite long and the Beckwith's chili diner hit the spot.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Lance Bar to Blackadar Camp

Day two on the water began at about 11:30 AM. No hurry because we had another short day of about 6 miles. The rapids we came upon this day were Lantz Rapid and Devil's Teeth, both were class II-III and we handled them with no problems.
Blackadar Camp 45 28.012N 114 57.237W 2730 ft. elev.
was our intended camp site and it was another good one. Jim and Clair cooked Chicken Cacciatore and provided all the Italian flair with the meal.

Bocce and cards we the games of choice for this evening and everyone enjoyed the camp and the telling of river stories.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Launch Day & Camp 1

Morning brought French toast and all the fixins' provided by the Fuhrmans. Jim and Clare arrived at about 10:00 AM and got their boat loaded. We met with the Forest Service employee and had a very abbreviated river talk. (She was hung over I guess.) and then we pushed off. Our goal for the day was Lantz Bar a whole six miles of river. Jim Clift had suggested this so that we could get some of the good camp sites later on, the only draw back was on one day we would have to do about 28 river miles to make up for the shorter days.

There were very few rapids of any consequence today so everything went smooth and we were at camp and stayed at
Lance Bar 45 25181N 114 51.838W 2804 ft. elev.
Dinner Crew as Terry Beckwith and Steve Kuhn who fixed a great meal of pork loin with all the sides.

The Bocce Ball tradition began with two rounds occuring before night set in.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Ready, Set, here we Go!

We arrived at the Beckwith's at about 7:30 AM on Saturday July 1, 2005 to load the final items into the cooler and start our journey. Friday afternoon we had brought our boat and gear over and had completed almost all the loading by 5:00 PM. Saturday was more of a rendezvous with the Fuhrman's then anything else. Once we got them together we drove out to 4th of July Pass and met up with the Sutherland's and the Fitz/Julie/Sam Team. Everyone was on time so with the greetings under our belts we caravanned off to the river.

Each vehicle in our group had a different fuel capacity so by the time we hit Superior Montana the string of boats was split up and we were basically on our own. Mike decided to take the Petty Creek cut off to avoid the traffic of Missoula. The road was pretty good and we made good time. Of course we stopped at the Lumberjack Bar to have a beer and go to the restroom. It hasn't changed a bit. The young girl tending the bar was very nice and we talked population growth and how times are a changing.

Next stop was Lolo where we met up with the group that went through Missoula. We would have been quite a bit ahead of them if we hadn't stopped at the Lumberjack. With some gas in vehicles and everyone back on the same trail we moved on to Hamilton where the Beckwiths, Sutherlands and Bennetts stopped at SUBWAY for some food and again the restrooms.

Lunch was short and sweet and we were back on the road and in Northfork by about 3:30 PM. We stopped at the Lewis and Clark where we met up with everyone including Doren, our shuttle driver and long time friend of the Beckwith's and Clift's. We moved on down river and got to
Corn Creek (45 22.177N 114 41.199W - 2256 ft. elev.)
where we set up our boats and spent the night.

Dinner was provided by the trip leader, Jim Fuhrman and LeeAnn. The stew really hit the spot and by the end of dinner most everyone was ready for bed.