THURS 8 – 7 TO SUN 8 – 13 SHELLY, ID TO STRIKER RESERVOIR TO WALTER’S LANDING, ID
THURS 8 – 7…… Wasn’t in a hurry to get up this morning. Got started about 7. Got the kayak off, in the water, got it loaded and ready to go. Quick trip about 2 miles to town to get a few things and pack the ice chest in the boat and the one in the kayak with ice. Left for American Falls Dam about 11:00. Stopped and mailed Can a Loop Catalogue. Got to American Falls Dam boat ramp on the West side about 1:00. There is a “free” camp ground there, 2 people were there. The first one I talked to was a Charlene, taking a break from her family in a trailer with her dog. We talked and she told me I could park my van/trailer next to her trailer and she would keep an eye on it. Then I asked her what she would charge me to take me back if she wanted to. She did. We immediately left and I was back to the kayak at 2:30 plus or minus. All she wanted was for me to fill her gas tank up which I did, cost me $60.
I just can’t believe how fortunate I have been on getting back to point A where I either have the Cat or the Kayak in the water waiting for me. For sure, the highway going on the West Side thru Blackfoot and getting to American Falls would not have been a fun hitch hike. Lots of ranches/farms and people not going that far. I am estimating it could have taken me all day.
Once in the water, I immediately encountered a “diversion” dam for irrigation that I decided to portage around. Took about an hour. There just was no way I felt comfortable trying to make it thru the rapids as one can see from the pictures.
Once back on the water the next 5 miles got me to Firth, where I knew there was for sure another “diversion” dam. The water/river is very high because of all the rain I am assuming they have had around here and continue to, so it makes these “diversion” areas unpredictable. As I was approaching this area, I could hear the noise of the white water, I ran into “Shane” who is the guy I spent about an hour with yesterday in Shelly. He was teaching someone how to “roll cast”. He told me to be careful because and I could probably “skirt” the left side. I stopped, took a look see and decided once again to portage that situation.
Now, I had about 100 yards this time. I got most of the gear out of the kayak and down on the other side of the falls/white water and a young guy with his wife and kid came thru and I offered him $20 bucks to help me get the kayak around this spot. He did and he also loaded up the rest of my gear in the back of his truck. An hour later I am back on the river. I stopped about 6. Looked like the storm was going to hit me, has passed, but I am glad I did. Another long day and a physical one. Should be a good night, I am in a good spot, don’t expect any wind, here it is 7:30 already and no wind but a slight breeze. I need to figure out something for dinner, I haven’t been eating much. A lot of fruit, fruit smoothies, sandwich now and then and cold cuts/cheese and crackers or a Baggett cut up.
FRI 8-8…… Beautiful morning, got up just as the sun was coming up, didn’t take but 30 minutes to get on the water. 15 minutes into the day and another irrigation ditch diversion dam is before me. Nothing good about it, so I decided once again to portage around the obstacle. Little more difficult this time, no help but in two hours I was on the river again. 30 minutes later there is another one. Now this is four, and everyone I talked to told me there was only one. Not good. So I once again manage to get the kayak tied up and go up to a huge metal fabrication plant and finally one of the guys told me to just stay to the right. I got across the river, started down the right channel and spotted a hole where I could
Shoot thru and did so. With a lot of stress and anxiety. I don’t quite yet know what this kayak will do and what it won’t do. I know it is virtually impossible to control it once the water/hydraulics catch it.
I am a couple more hours into the day, it is about 2:00 and for some reason, I am not paying attention I see this huge tree in the middle of the river and try to go river right, instead of just staying to the left which is the way the water is going. I don’t make it. I hit that tree, I am half full of water and tipping over. In the middle of the river. It is nothing short of as bad as or worse than getting slammed into that rock wall before Lunch Box and Meat Loaf rapids above Palisades Reservoir. I immediately lean left, the kayak right’s itself, but I am not thru the tree yet. My hat, once again is floating down the river, the rudder has been knocked out of its hole. I am rudderless and that is a huge problem. Fortunately the current has carried me to the right side of the river and I am approaching a perfect place to stop, which I do. The rudder is fine, just put it back in the hole. The kayak is half full of water in both of the seats. Fortunately the hatch covers work well and not much got in those compartments. I take everything out, get it laid out in the sun and spent a good hour there letting things dry out and go over in my mind a hundred times how I could have prevented that and how I will be more proactive way in advance.
With the water so high, there are constantly numerous channels to choose from. Fortunately, so far I have not picked the “wrong” one. I have arrived at the opening to the reservoir about 6:30. I know it is going to down pour, just don’t know when. In 5 minutes was when. I managed to get the tent up and all four corners weighted down, because the rain is just pouring down and the wind is blowing. An hour later it blows over and I finish setting camp up.
Right now it is still over cast, but very still and warm. Got dry clothes on. Had a pasta side for dinner. About ready to have a tea with honey, a couple of Oatmeal Cookies and go to bed.
I am quite sure, if there is no wind tomorrow, I can get to the van by the end of the day, if not before. I don’t think it is more than 20/25 miles. 11 days on the water. The most stressful and anxiety filled one so far. I have no idea how many miles I have come. Getting to Ontario, headed to Weiser and then in to Brownlee Resevoir is when I will know I am half way or more.
No cell service, so no internet which is fine for tonight. I can get caught up on everything tomorrow late afternoon, while I am deciding how to attack the next section of the trip, which will be number 7.
SAT 8-9…… On the river about 8 and the current in the river is carrying me further and further into the reservoir. The reservoir is very low so obviously with all the rain the river runs a greater distance into the body of the water. Lots of birds, all different kinds more than I have ever seen. Finally I reach the north end of the reservoir and have to start paddling. About an hour in to the paddling, the wind comes up blowing up river/up reservoir in the direction I am going and I get the umbrella out and utilize it as a sail. I practically get to the dam with having to do much paddling. I paddle the remaining mile or so.
Once all the gear is put away and the kayak is back on its rack on the trailer, I can relax. I am beat. This last section of the river was not easy. The 3 portages, the confrontation with the tree in the middle of the river and what paddling I
had to do to finish this section of the river has really worn me out. So I got things squared away, everything in its place. I have spent a good deal of time trying to figure out what I am going to do next. Obviously continue down the river, but there is a part of the river between American Falls and Twin Falls that just cannot be done. Numerous rapids, low water, rocks, dams, remote, steep canyons and I am contemplating by passing that section of the river. It could spell disaster, a lot of time doing short sections of the river, hard to get rides because in a couple of place the boat ramp is on the other side of the river, the north side and that means having to do long drives just to get the kayak or cataraft in the river, let alone getting out of there hitch hiking/getting a ride.
So I had a dinner of mashed potatoes, some freeze dried stew with gravy, communicated via text with Debbie and Cam and went to bed.
SUN 8-10….. No problem getting up. My left arm was really bothering me last night, but feels pretty good this morning. Continued to work on the gear, get everything really in its place. Had breakfast of hash browns, sausage, eggs and orange juice. About ready to go find a Walmart. The umbrella for the Kayak took a beating yesterday, so that is 3 umbrellas’ in a month that have bit the dust. One on the Deschutes, the big, nice one when I slammed into the rock cliff above Meat Loaf and Lunch Box and now this one here coming into American Falls Dam. I need at least one, because the sun is brutal. I also need to find another straw hat, lost the only one I had in the confrontation with the tree in the middle of the river.
I am going to go down about 100 miles to 3 Mile Island, Glenn’s Ferry. I drove up that way, I know it is much safer, bigger and no obstacles water. I have Stryker Dam and then another one at Swan Falls. There is a resort just around a point from Stryker Dam and that is where I will take then Van and leave it and there is a guy there by the name of Stan I think it is that will give me a ride back to Glen’s Ferry. There is a State Park there at Glen’s Ferry I will relax this afternoon, get all the gear ready to put in the kayak, get it in the river and tied up and head to Black Sands Resort. I am really glad now I took the time to go thru that area on the way up. Once I am by Swan Falls/another Dam also I believe I have a clear, open river all the way to Oxbow reservoir.
It ended up being a little further than I thought, but I have made the right decision. I will stay here tonight, get up early when it is cool and get the kayak in the water and loaded up and head to Black Sands Resort which is a good couple hours down the river. I was buy there on my way up to Jackson Hole a couple of weeks ago and I think there is an old guy there that will give me a ride back up here to Glenn’s Ferry. Very hot here right now has to be close to 95 fortunately there is a breeze blowing but having trouble finding shade so going to just tough it out.
MON 8-11…. Thought about taking today off, can’t count yesterday as a day off. With it being 100 degrees, driving, stopping in Twin Falls at Costco, Wal Mart and gas and the stress of trying to make sure I am squared away, takes a toll on me. I didn’t stay in the State Park but instead stayed in a little RV Park across from a Winery there in town. The winery was built in ’87, the grapes planted in ’82 and it appears to survive. Pretty little place. Meet Mary who works in the Winery/Restaurant when I went in to pay my $15 for no hook ups. Once we got to talking, she told me the Old Man who bought the place in ’97 recently passed away and left it to his four children, I think they are all from Rupert I believe she said. She told me that there was a guy named Jerry who lived at Black Sands Resort just around from the Dam and he might give me a ride.
I got everything ready for the Kayak in the morning, except for the dry good and the ice chest. Barbequed a steak and had some Chavannes yogurt and a pear with it and a cold glass of milk. Had to wait until about 10 to go to bed, because it was so hot. But once it cooled down I went to sleep with the sound of the train hooting across the valley.
I got to the boat ramp just as the sun was coming up. Not my style to sit around. I knew if I got motivated and got moving my desire to finish this experience/adventure would come back. Didn’t take long to pack the kayak. I was going to wash my tennis shoes off, get the sand out of them and slipped on the boat ramp and skinned up both of my elbows and left ankle. It was as slick as anything I have ever seen. Fill in way over my head, it dropped off really fast. The only way to save my self the second time after getting up the 1st time in falling down, was to go head first into the river, which is what I did.
Changed my clothes, stopped and got ice for the big ice chest in the Cat and topped off with gas and headed down river to Black Sands Resort. Just before the resort there is an Idaho Game & Fish office that I stopped at. After a good 30 minutes of conversation with a couple of guys in there that know this part of the Snake well, I have decided to not go from C J Striker Dam to Swan Falls. It is a long ways around from the South side of the Snake in this part of the river to get to the North side of Swan Falls to be able to get out and then no place to put in on the down river side of the dam. It is only about 20/30 miles of water anyway. So this has eliminated a ton of stress and anxiety for me because I knew by studying the map and on line with Google Earth this minor section of the river was not going to be easily done.
Once at Black Sands Resort, Carl was the only one here, the resort is closed on Monday’s. Go figure if I would have showed up without knowing who Carl was. He will let me park my Van/Trailer at his RV spot and he is going to give me a ride back to Glen’s Ferry after noon. That is less than 2 hours away, he has to cook lunch for a couple of the employees who clean the bar and restaurant. Yep. He works here. So once again I have gotten lucky in getting back to my kayak in the water. It is a goo 50/60 miles and will probably take me the rest of today once I get on the water, all of Tues and should be here before Wens is over for sure. I should be back on the water on Thursday, not quite sure yet where I will put in for the next stretch of water to Weiser.
Carl gave me a tour of his “little” Oasis. He has turned a $500 dollar Class C and a couple of lean twos into a little Garden Oasis. He is very much hand. Beautiful garden, flowers and all and everything he has done was out of material laying around the Resort. Couple of little wood burning stoves, man after my own hear. Heaven as far as I am concerned. If I was a sedentary person, this would be as good as it gets. Not me. He drinks a bottle of wine a day, or more and has a toot now and then. He knows he needs to make a change, just turned 69. But all in all, he is in great shape, loves to fish and goose and duck hunt and is in the perfect stop to do it.
We left about 12:15, stopped and had a hamburger in Glen’s Ferry and he dropped me off and I was on the water by 2:00. I paddled till about 8 and got a long ways.
Stopped at a beautiful spot in the canyon, just up river from where the Striker Reservoir starts. There was some kind of hatch going on in the river, because the fish were in a feeding frenzy, never really seen anything like it. They I think, were bass and trout. Didn’t have any dinner, way too tired. Probably got to sleep by 9. Crickets were the loudest I have ever heard.
TUES 8-12….. Up at way before the sun came over the rim rock. On the water well before 7. I was in the frame of mind it was going to take me until tomorrow at around noon, so I was mentally prepared for another night on the river. As the day progressed the wind was behind me most of the way. No issues. No wild life which surprised me. Plenty of water fowl.
No more big irrigations pump stations so no more of that noise. As I got close to the last bend in the reservoir headed to Black Sands Resort a storm blew in and rained like mad. Then the wind came up and shifted up river/up the reservoir so that made it tough, but kept paddling. Then the wind shifted to back down river/down reservoir and it blew like hell. In 20 minutes there were 2 to 4 foot swells and white caps. I got behind a rock out cropping and got on the bank, thinking I would just wait it out, and if necessary just spend the night within an hour of the van, which is what I had anticipated doing anyway. The more I sat there and watched the water,, the more I convinced myself that it would just blow me right to the van, which I could see a good distance away.
I put my life jacket on, tightened things up and jumped in the kayak and that is exactly what happened. In fifteen minutes I blew right to the bank. It was not easy to get things out of the kayak before I half filled up with water with the waves pounding against the bank, but it was accomplished with some help from a couple of guys. I had blew right into their camp on the N. side of the resort.
After an hour of squaring things away and getting loaded up, I went up to thank Carl and sat down with him and a friend of his, Red, over a glass of Lemonade. Red grew up, up around Alpine and also knew this whole area are in S. Idaho and understood the river well. I got some good information from him, some I already knew and some which will help me get to Hell’s Canyon.
I left about 4:30 drove only for an hour or so headed to Walter’s Ferry where I will put the kayak in and go to Marsing which will only be a day. I ended up by a cattle corral, on top of the prairie, listening to the coyotes howl at what appears to be a full moon behind a few clouds and went to sleep. I was very, very tired. I pushed myself and should have done that 80 miles in two days plus, rather than doing it in one day plus.
WENS 8-13…. Woke up to lots of coyotes howling. Went for a walk, topped the boat off with air, so it was solid on the trailer, tidied up the B and headed to Walter’s Landing. Here at Walter’s Landing I cooked pancakes, had an egg, orange juice and have decided to take the day off. It is raining, and will from the looks of things off and on. I was wet yesterday, but dried out quickly. It is not the rain because it is warm enough, but my butt, my arms and I am tired, so a day of rest won’t hurt. I will run down to Marsing, where I can replenish grocers and a few things, then come back here for the afternoon, get the kayak ready tonight, tied it up then head to Marsing 1st thing in the AM and I should/won’t have any trouble getting a ride back. The next 3 or 4 sections I believe I am going to do in one day trips, even if they are long days. Easier to get a ride back. More cities/congestion which will make it harder to get a ride. I believe I can do this easily and efficiently until I get to Weiser and then will go all the way to Brownlee Dam in a couple of days paddling. Then it will be Oxbow in a day. Then finish Hell’s Canyon Reservoir in a day and then it is around to Hell’s Canyon.