Upper end of Hell's canyon

Trip Start Jul 21, 2016
Trip End Jul 15, 2017

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Flag of United States  , Idaho
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Day 15 of the Northwest Rivers Tour

We are on the upper end the canyon above the Hell's Canyon Dam at Brownlee Reservoir, on the Snake River.  It is the uppermost dam on the Snake River has it turns northward on it's journey to the Columbia.  Idaho Power has placed 3 dams on this 20 mile stretch of the canyon.  Several campgrounds abound along the water edge however we chose the first one, Woodland Campground which is on a high hillside overlooking the water.  Not many campers this time of year although I can imagine this place hopping during the hot summer months with campers and boaters.  Mostly fishermen, retirees like us seeking affordably hooked up campsites that are neat and clean.

We picked a campsite in the far south end where no one else was.  Overlooking the water, we enjoyed the peace and quiet.  Very psychically quiet too.  Still.  Occasional fishing boat would cruise by en route to their favorite fishing hole.

We spent three nights here.  we could walk around the camp but hiking opportunities are way up on the top of the canyon in this section.  

We did get out, finally, for a little morning kayak trip downriver a bit in a calm, more intimate river section.  Was really fun and Sraddha fell in love with her boat again.  After a very fun active day on the jet boat previously, it was relaxing for us to just paddle slowly and drift along looking at the shore, the birds, etc.  In one section, as I was paddling, I saw 3 huge fish on the bottom about 4-5 foot depth.  Not sure if big trout or bass. Got some good photos of cormorants flying and drying on river's edge.  Did you know these Cormorants fly over 40 mph?  see below.

Last day we drove about 40 miles up to the Hell's canyon overlook on west side.  quite a view. see photos below.  On way back, we got caught behind a cattle drive.  The ranch was using the highway to drive the cattle down from high summer meadows back to ranch.  Fun watching the cowboys and there 4 dogs herd the cattle along for a while.  Finally was able to break thru the line.

I happened onto an interesting article yesterday by Washington State University who said their research indicates that reservoirs such as where we are staying, produce over 1 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year which is 1.3% of all greenhouse gases produced by humans.  More than all of Canada.  Amazing.  I guess there is a tradeoff in our industrial society will all the low cost electricity they produce but that was pretty amazing.  We could see some growth along the shoreline in places in calm waters where the currents run deep and surface doesn't move as much 

We prefer staying in places that feel open and expansive and try to avoid heavy forested campgrounds.  After last few campsites which have been fun but more in trees, we reveled in the vast views here.  Yearning for open country again we now head south to Nevada and into Eastern Sierra's where we can get some good hikes.  

Stay tuned for where we end up next.  You might be surprised.
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Sharon Pairman on

Beautiful reflections!!

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