Yesterday I had a Salmon River half-day float trip near Salmon, a couple with two little girls in the boat. That section of river does not have whitewater, but is a very scenic float along the cliffs near town. The river is still cold, and the family did not want a couple of drenched little girls, so that section was just right. I took them in a McKenzie drift boat, which also helped keep everybody dry.
The sky was clear, and the river was, too. Usually at this time the river is brown, but we seem to be past the peak of runoff, with a falling river. This section of the Salmon River has frequent views of the Continental Divide just a few miles away. The peaks there still have quite a bit of snow, and the foothills below are still green–a pretty time of year. We saw herons, ospreys, a bald eagle, swallows, sandpipers, mallard ducks, redtail hawks–did not see the perigrine falcons that nest in this section of river. Earlier in the spring we see lots of geese, and sometimes sandhill cranes, in this section. We stopped to look as some leaf fossils, left when this area was a lake/sea 40 or 50 million years ago.
This area has a rich early history. Indians were in this area for thousands of years, most recently the Shoshones, who harvested salmon in the smaller streams. Lewis and Clark were the first white visitors, but were followed by trappers in the fur trade era of the 1820s and 1830s. Gold was discovered in the 1860s, which marked the beginning of permanent settlement and the creation of the town of Salmon. Salmon was the beginning of the section of the Salmon River known as “the River of No Return”.
A Salmon River half-day float was an introduction to boating for this family. Next week they plan a day whitewater rafting trip, and then possibly a week-long whitewater rafting trip later in the summer, when the river is warmer, and kids can swim and play in the sand on Main Salmon beach camps.