Day 7: California to Carey Creek and onto Boise

Trip Start Aug 11, 2011
Trip End Aug 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Boise Hotel and Convention Center
What I did
whitewater kayaking

Flag of United States  , Idaho
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This morning we had a shorter yoga class followed by egg mcmuffins for breakfast. We packed up camp in a hurry because it was our last day on the river and we needed to make good time to get to our ride at the end. 

We did make time to take some cute and goofy group shots on the beach before we left. 

We were going to be paddling 10 miles at 7,750 cfs to the Carey Creek take out and it was going to be a bigger day on the water in terms of rapids.

Several us made the mistake to read ahead in the guide book and it looked like today was on par with the rapids from Day 4 which were the biggest and hardest we had encountered thusfar. 

At this point I was still the only guest making combat rolls and everyone was very nervous. I was elected to go first and decide the lines for everyone else to follow. 

Our first rapid of the day was T-Bone Rapid, a class II-III-. It was alot of big wave trains that pushed laterally to the left. For the most part you could go where you wanted so long as you didn't get caught sideways. Claire did get pushed sideways, flipped, missed her roll and swam. She was getting really frustrated with her roll and I was so hoping she would make a combat roll today.

We passed by T-Bone Camp on the right and Maxwell Beach Camp on river left. There was alot of beautiful scenery to look at while we were on the flatter sections of river. The landscape was starting to flatten out a bit and here and there we started seeing more evidence of people, trails, foot bridges that told us that we were getting nearer to the end of the river.

We passed by Upper Sheep Creek, Middle Sheep Creek, Sheep Creek and Brush Creek camps while having fun in the little wave trains, enjoying the scenery, talking and taking pictures.

Our next rapid was class III- Dried Meat Rapid. It was another fun wave-train filled rapid with a few holes to skirt on the right. We had a few swimmers here as well and a yard sale of gear to pick up out of the river. I think everyones nerves had really gotten the best of them and also everyone was tired, it was a long week with alot of paddling and I think it had just gotten the best of everyone. 

After everyone was back in their boats we continued down stream and bypassed Slide Beach Camp, Johnsons Beach Camp, Desperation Bar Camp and Last Chance Camp before pulling in at Cherry Creek Camp to have a quick lunch. To be honest most of us weren't that hungry, we had only been on the water about 1.5 to 2 hours at this point and it was that long ago that we ate breakfast. We enjoyed the beach and refilled our water bottle before getting back into the river.

We went about another two miles down the river before pulling up on river right. We were told to get out of boats that we were going to scout the rapid. Every time we've scouted a rapid thusfar it has ended in major carange so we knew this must be one of the big ones we read about. As it turned out it was class III-IV Chittam Rapid. I must say I am not a big fan of scouting, I know its necessary sometimes, but it just makes me more nervous. I'd rather have a rapid described to me and try to run it on the fly. Also I managed to stumble right into poision ivy on the scout, which I am highly sensitive too.....
When we made it to the shoreline and the rapid was visible before us stood a mess of holes and rocks to dodge. Once again the ladies asked me to go first and pick the line. I told them I was going to run left of the entrance rock and start running a hard right hand line punching lateral waves to keep out of the meat of the three holes in the middle of the river. That was my line and I was sticking to it, anyone who wanted to was welcome to follow my line if it went well for me

As we got back into our kayaks I made sure I could see my landmark rock so I knew where to line up at, I did not want to mess around in those holes. Karen went first in the IK, hit the first hole flipped and swam. The rafts made it down without a problem and I began the line of hardboaters coming through the rapid. I stuck right to my line and had no problem, Leila and Sally also followed my line without incident. Kathy and Calire got off line and ended up getting worked in the holes in the middle of the river and swam. There was kayaks, paddles and gear all over the river. Once they were back in their boats we continued down river. 

We passed by Vinegar Creek Camp on river left. They huddled us up and told us we would boat scout this one as we approached the lip of the rapid. I knew from reading ahead in the guidebook that this was class III-IV Vinegar Creek Rapid and another one of the bigger tougher rapid we were going to be doing today.  The rapid makes a left hand turn partway thorugh so its not really possible to see the entire rapid from the top. We were told that there was a massive hole hidden among the wave trains in the main current but that you can't see it until you're practically in it. I also knew from reading that there were a few holes lurking on the river right side as well

We started down the rapid and you could see where the rafts had went vaguely but it was impossible to see other boaters lines because the waves were just too big. I picked out what I thought was a slightly right of center line to keep clear of the giant holes and also avoid the other smaller holes on river right....boy was I wrong! There were lateral waves everywhere and small holes and it was just impossible to tell exactly where you were. It was just a mess of frothing whitewater everywhere!

Apparently I was right in the center of the river on the main tongue that leads right into the massive hole...and true to word I couldn't tell I was about to hit to hole until I crested a large wave right above it...I had enough time to think "OH SHIT" and try to wave Kathy, Claire and Sally the other way before I got flipped hard.
While underwater I was getting thrown around pretty hard and nearly had my paddle ripped out of my hands. I just held my breathe and remained still until I could feel some of the tension in the water starting to release which told me I was almost out of the hole that flipped me. I tried to roll and immediately got pushed back down, I realized I was in the trough of a wave train.I tried again and no luck, then I felt my kayak start to spin in circles and I knew I had just been pulled into another hole downstream of the first one. I waited and waited and waited for this one to release me as I was running out of air at this point. It finally did only to spit me out in another large wave train where I tried two more rolls that failed and was forced to swim. When I came up I saw that Kathy, Karen, Sally, Leila and Claire were also swimming! There was a mess in the river and the guides were scrambling to pick up people and gear!

Once it was all sorted out Kathy, Claire and Sally elected to stay in the raft for the rest of the ride down to the take-out. I was pissed that my roll failed and was determined to continue in my kayak until we were done. 

We went through some more pretty flatwater sections until we came to our next and final rapid class II+ Carey Falls. It was a much easier run through a large fun wave train with a few holes to dodge.

After the rapid came another mile of flat water until we passed under the Wind River Pack Bridge and came to the Carey Creek take-out on river left. As I pulled in I could see some of Canyons staff waiting for us with the van that woukld take us out of the gorge. The group seemed really reserved which is unlike river guides, I could sense something wasn't right.

As all the boaters pulled in and we starting taking off our PFDs, helmets and spraykirts we were rounded up and told that one girl who was one of our guides for our trip father had passed away while running a particuallry difficult and dangerous section of the North Fork of the Payette River. He had died the day after we put on the river and her mother elected to let her daughter finish this trip as it was her last trip of the summer before she headed off to college and that's what her dad would have wanted. It was absolutely heart wrenching watching the mother tell her daughter what had happened. All the guides are like family and were visibly shaken. 

We did our best to console our guide and helped to pack up all of our gear into the van. We had an hour and a half ride out of the gorge to get back to McCall. We stopped a short bit away at the Allison Creek area for a picnic lunch and made a stop at a local general store for drinks before we arrived back in McCall.

Once at the airport our gear was loaded into the small prop planes and we boarded for an hour long flight back to Boise. At the Boise aurpoirt we said our final goodbyes to everyone and collected our luggage and gear before calling the shuttle services of our individual hotels to come pick us up for the night

Kathy and I got a room at the Boise Hotel and Convention center which was really close to the airport so we wouldn't have far to go in the morning for our flight home.

We settled into our room and enjoyed the luxury of plumbing, indoor toilets and warm water showers. We decided to get dinner at our hotel's dining room the Castle Ranch Steakhouse, I had a great cobb salad there and Kathy enjoyed her food as well. 

We spent the rest of the night packing for our return flight home, checking email, watching tv and going to bed early becasue we were exhausted. 

Main Salmon River Info:

Girls at Play:

Canyons, Inc.:

Main Salmon River:


Salmon River Guidebook:

Boise Hotel and Convention Center:

Castle Ranch Steakhouse:

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