Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hell's Canyon

And... Switching gear to SUMMER MODE!

I was asked to go on a 5 day river trip through Hells Canyon to shoot photos for Backcountry.com. Um... YES PLEASE!

Hell's Canyon is on the Snake River where the river creates the twisting, winding, curvy border between Idaho and Oregon, and Idaho and Washington. We put-in just north of the Hell's Canyon reservoir and dam and floated 75 miles north to our take out at Hellar Bar in Washington. The river was running pretty fast so we had ample time for a layover day at our favorite campsite and still made it to Hellar Bar on time.

The trip was incredibly beautiful! For 5 days we were surrounded by lush green mountains that dropped straight into the river. Sometimes we would pass cliff walls dropping straight into the water. It reminded me a lot of the Oregon coast and I was just waiting to see a pirate ship around the next corner. I also expected to see these lush green hillsides covered in herds of goats or sheep, but it was remarkably empty of land mammals (plenty of birds though!)

We tackled the biggest rapids of our trip within the first ten miles on the first day. Scouting was mandatory but our "captains" rowed through like champions and after all that fun and excitement we were a little bummed to find out we had already hit the biggest ones and the rest of the trip would be relatively mellow in comparison. Many of the remaining rapids were washed out due to the high flows as well, but a trip with this group was anything but boring.

The group dynamics, as it were, impressed me immensely. Not only did everyone get along, but we all became friends, and had no trouble sharing the chopping, cooking, cleaning, wood collecting, and groover duties, or letting loose for an impromptu dance party in the sand.

The trip was so amazing that I have to remind myself that it rained on us every day. Because I remember the fun and forget the rain! That is the sign of a good trip. I would do it again in a heart beat.

Many many many thanks to everyone who made the trip so great, and especially to Heidi and RJ for their captain duties, and extra many thanks to Ashley for pulling the permit, making the plans, rowing us (and my camera gear!) safely through Wild Sheep and Rush Creek rapids, and attempting to teach me how to read a river map. (Sorry, the hot springs will have to wait till next time. It was my first day!)