A recap of my recent trip to Idaho, with friends
Imagine that you could have gone with me and 21 other Texans on a recent raft trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. you would have experienced something like this: You fly from Austin, to Salt Lake City, to Sun Valley, ID, with your Texas amigos and amigas in vacation party mode. You drive to near by Ketchum, ID, make an historic liquor store run, and raise a little heck in town. Next morning, you get on a small bus and drive two hours to Stanley ID, where you load onto a small propeller aircraft for the flight into the largest wilderness area in the lower 48. You make a barnstorming landing on a dirt strip in a canyon, right beside the Middle Fork. You meet the raft crew for Far & Away, all of whom will soon become your friends on a first-name basis. You load up in rafts. If you choose, you might ride an inflatable kayak called a “ducky.” You float the river, stop to eat lunch, shoot rapids, stop to jump off a cliff into crystal-clear cold water, warm up in a hot spring, see evidence of ancient Shoshone villages. You arrive at your campground to find the camp set up, complete with your tent and cot, a full bar, a large dining table, and a kitchen. You wonder how in the heck the crew can prepare food that rivals a 5-star restaurant in this beautiful mountain wilderness area. You listen to campfire music, with guitars and mandolin. You find out the crew members play and sing, too. Every night will be like this, at every camp. Day two , a crew member brings a warm, moist washcloth to your tent to help you wake up. Full breakfast, more rapids, more fun. You find time to fly-fish, and catch a dozen trout, catch-and-release. You begin to loose track of what day of the week it is, and don’t care to remember. Day three, your trip organizer, Susan, uses her satellite phone to have another case of tequila flown in to the last airstrip you’ll pass on the river. You howl at the moon at night. The guides howl the loudest! You forget there’s a world beyond this canyon.. You might enjoy a massage by the crew’s massage therapist, who also guides one of the oar boats. You forge life-long friendships. At camp, you tell jokes, raise toasts, recite poetry, sing songs, dance. You eat and drink well. You might arrive at a new understanding, adopt a new philosophy, or even change your entire life. You might break down and weep. You might hear spirits, see faces in the rock walls of canyons. You don’t want it to end….. and it doesn’t. It stays with you when you leave the river. You carry it home. It’s part of you now. You understand why your crew members live this way, season upon season. You thank the Shoshone spirits for sharing their sacred canyon. You’ll never be quite the same.
Thought for the week: ”You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born free should be contented penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.” Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce.