I might be wrong on the date, but I think it was the summer of ’98. We had been on vacation to Colorado twice. The second time Sean and Jennifer had come along with us. Lisa and I had fell in love with the mountains and wanted to do more. Julia, being the trooper she was, said that we could expand our horizons. So, all winer I searched the internet. I was looking for a guided river trip. There were many out there, but the one that looked the best to me was a seven day joyrney down the Salmon River in Idaho.
So I plunged in and booked the trip for all three of us. It was going to be seven days on the river in a raft. We would be dealing with class 2,3 and 4 rapids. We would be sleeping in tents along the side of the river. I was totally amazed that Julia agreed to this. This one thing, I think, shows what a pioneer she is. For this adventure and to please her family, she would abandon her Marriott only camping theme. Needles to say, Lisa and I were very excited. So, Julia and I worked hard to get in the best shape we could be in. We knew it was going to be strenuous, but as we worked together it was so fun.
Lewis and Clark named the Salmon River “The River of no Return”. The named it this because once you started down, the cliffs were so tall and steep that you couldn’t turn back. We put in at Salmon Idaho. Seven days later we got out somewhere near the Washington State border. Our car was there waiting. I still say that this experience was one of the most memorable and in many ways spiritual of my life. Julia would agree, and she loved it. But I never could get her to agree to repeat it.
The banks of the river were white sand. Every night we had to put the tent up and take it down in the morning. We had a chemical toilet that we took to some remote location. Everything we took in, we had to take out. Everything. Nuff said about that. It really wasn’t roughing it. We had almost gourmet meals cooked every night. There was good wine and beer along with soft drinks. But all this had to be unloaded and loaded. Still it was fun. There were only five of us on our trip. We had two big rafts and two guides. The guides were both girls in their 20’s but they knew the river like the back of their hand. It was fun learning how to steer the raft and maneuver the rapids. But if you really wanted adventure, you rode the “ducky”.
The ducky was a rubber kayak that would hold two people. It would go in between the rafts so if you fell out, the trailing raft could round you up. Well, we had just started out and we were in pretty calm waters. The guides asked who wanted to go first in the ducky. They said this was going to be a pretty calm section, so Julia and Lisa volunteered. It was such a pretty scene. Bright blue skies, green mountains rising on both sides of the river and an almost calm river. We paddled down for almost an hour. It was beautiful and everyone was enjoying themselves. Then, there it was. The first rapid; it wasn’t very big. In fact it was just a 2 or 3 foot waterfall. No problem. All you had to do was go straight over it. I was in the first raft and it was nothing. Then I looked back at the ducky. It would have been easy, it really would have if they had been coming straight at it. But as fate would have it, some how they had gotten sideways. I can still clearly see Julia’s face as they went over that fall sideways and watched them totally flip over and out of the raft, into the cold waters of the Salmon River. I t was all I could do to keep from laughing, no howling. That is after they both came up swimming. We gathered them up, and I was glad that it was the river of no return because if we could have gone back, I am afraid Julia would have demanded it. Well, she got over it and could even laugh about it by the end of the trip.
She didn’t get in the ducky again. Lisa and I rode it together a number of times. My favorite time was the last day. We rode it down a class 4 rapids and survived. It was probably one of the most exhilarating things I have ever done. I was scared to death the whole time.
I don’t have time tonight to deal with all the spiritual things Holy Spirit taught me, except that the river is wild. You can’t tame it, but you can ride along with it. That’s why Holy Spirit is called to be a river in many places. Another night I will deal more whti the aspects of the river. It truly is a river of no return.