SOS and Idaho River Adventures team up for six glorious days on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in central Idaho.

IRA.logoFrom the desk of Joseph Bogaard, Sept 4, 2013

The Salmon River drainage is the historic beating heart of Idaho’s legendary wild salmon and steelhead.* It is high, cold, wild, expansive, protected country: clear-running rivers and streams, emerald lakes, gorgeous pine and fir forests, grasslands. Oh - and hot springs, too! It is home to most of the wild critters we find in the American West today: elk, deer, fisher, weasel, wolf, black and grizzly bear, eagles, osprey, herons…the list is long.

Millions of wild salmon and steelhead once flooded into this highly productive landscape to spawn. Today, however, it is the rare and hardy few that still successfully migrate to and from the ocean through the eight downstream dams and reservoirs on the lower Snake and Columbia Rivers. (Our rafting party this summer was blessed to see a few tough Chinook – swimming upstream against the current or riverside as the scattered remains of an otter’s breakfast.)

hotspringsSo when Dustin Aherin, long-time friend of SOS and owner of Idaho River Adventures approached us at the start of 2013 to work together on a summer raft trip/fundraiser, we jumped at the opportunity.

Our trip lasted 6 days and 5 nights in late August. We had a total party of 26 people. Our trip wound and splashed down 65 miles of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. It was inspiring and humbling and unimaginable all at the same time. The Middle Fork cuts through the heart of our nation’s largest wilderness area in the Lower 48 – the Frank Church River of No Return – 2.4 million acres of wild country located deep in the Rocky Mountains of central Idaho.

Our fellow rafters came from all over the nation: Washington, California, Minnesota, New York…The country was breath-taking, fishing was excellent (cutthroat trout, catch-and-release), conversation always interesting and we covered the gamut – personal conversations of family and favorite trips to sprawling conversations about wild salmon, destructive mines, solving the world’s problems, with lots of laughter throughout.

Scroll down to see a few photos from our trip, and of the Middle Fork territory by renowned Idaho photographer-geologist Matt Leidecker. We don’t have the details nailed down yet, but mark your calendars. We expect to partner with Dustin and his awesome team at Idaho River Adventures again in 2014!

A huge thanks to wonderful salmon-supporting people who joined our trip and to Dustin and everyone at I.R.A. who made this trip a huge success - AND helped SOS raise $4000 at the same time! All of us at SOS are extremely grateful.

*And it can be again, though likely not before the four lower Snake River dams are removed and 140-miles of free-flowing river restored. Expanding spill – sending more water (and fish) over the dams during the salmon’s spring and summer migration – would be the best near-term measure to begin boosting the threatened and endangered populations of the Snake River now!

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 Clear, emerald waters of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

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Deep in the impassable canyon - not far from the confluence with the Main Salmon.

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These are the historic lands of the Shoshone-Bannock people. This area typically has relatively mild winters that today draw large herds of elk that overwinter along the rivers and in the valleys. The high mountains are home to elusive bighorn sheep.

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 Tappan Falls, named for one of the early families that homesteaded in this remote area. There's lots of history in these mountains - natural history, Native American history, and European pioneers and homesteading history.

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Jeremiah spent a lot of time travelling down the on the river in a "ducky" - an inflatable kayak.

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Our whole wonderful crew - on our sixth and final day, just above the confluence of the Middle Fork with the Main.

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