Running the Middle Fork of Idaho's Salmon River
knew that a trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River would bring a new verb into my
vocabulary. "Duckying", as in "to ducky," means to run a river in a
by oneself. Well, I usually duckied by myself
except when the Mountain Travel Sobek river guides scooped me out of the water after
zigging when I should have zagged. Duckying, I discovered, is an incredible adrenaline
group on the Middle Fork last July was mixed - lots of fly fisherman, some avid rafters, a
family with two teenagers and different friends and family who love the outdoors. The
great thing about our trip was that we got to choose how we went down the river. On the
oar boat, the river guide did the work. His passengers enjoyed the view, fly fished off
the back, or caught some sun. On the paddleboat, eight paddlers, all soon to be best
friends, paddled together to get through the rapids. And on a 'ducky', the kayaker goes it
alone on a craft that is far more forgiving than a hard shell kayak. There were four
'duckies,' named for the fact that they followed in a row behind the paddleboat
like ducks behind Mother Hen.
the course of the week, everybody tried a variety of boats and most settled on their
favorite means of transport. For myself, I preferred the ducky. This could speak partially
to the control freak in me, for I loved being the captain of my little tiny craft. Every
time we would get to the top of a rapid, my heart would start pounding in anticipation.
And then, with excellent instruction from our guide, one by one we would follow the
paddleboat down the rapid. And that is when I would start paddling for "all get
out" trying to follow the right line behind the boat. It was also in those moments
that I found myself having my own personal little coaching sessions, alas, out loud.
"Okay, you can do it. You will not fall in. You will stay in the boat."
Hopefully, not too many people heard my monologues but they certainly helped me come
through the rapid with an exultant "whoooeeee".
Ok, sometimes I didn't exactly stay in my boat the whole way. It's a bit of a tricky balance issue. But with my life vest and helmet and my feet pointed down stream, I always came up laughing. I was back in my boat or yanked out by one of our guides in a matter of moments. What a rush.
Life on the river was great. Whether we had an adrenaline-charged "ducky" day or one spent lounging lazily on the oar boat, we all ended up blissfully in camp each evening exchanging stories. As we lounged in our camp chairs, engaged in lively conversation with a glass of wine or a beer in hand, the afterglow of sunset played upon the river and a fire roared at our feet. Yes, this was heaven.
Robyn Gorman is Mountain Travel Sobek's Marketing Director.
|[Mountain Travel Sobeks
"Middle Fork of the Salmon River" adventure is one of the finest rafting
experiences in the world. The Middle Fork boasts more than a hundred rapids
in as many miles. This translates to awesome whitewater rafting fun, but there are many
other requisites that make rafting the Salmon River a "classic": world-class
guides; spectacular scenery and wildlife; hikes up side canyons; soaking in natural hot
springs; fishing to your heart's content; getting a glimpse of the past, from old
homesteads to Indian pictographs; and on most departures, riding the waves in inflatable
Mountain Travel Sobek U.S.