Storm on the Salmon

And Flood on the Snake

By Ray Brooks

After a winter of drought, the Salmon River was running unusually low in late June 1994. My wife Dorita and I had discussed doing a multi-day Fourth of July whitewater rafting trip, and checking the flow on the Lower Salmon below White Bird, I realized it was low enough to get past a huge rapid named Slide, which is run only by fools or folks who savor Class V rapids at flows greater than twenty thousand cubic feet per second. No permit was required, and we needed only to find available competent rafter friends to team with us.   

I had last rowed the Class III Lower Salmon back in 1982 but remembered few details of the trip, since I was with a group of hard-partying Alaskans. An Idaho friend who lived in Alaska promised free everything on the trip for me, simply for rowing a raft-full of his Alaskan friends down the river. We ran out of drinking water and pop on the trip, but our leader had provided beer for the hot August float. I had never done beer-drinking to stay hydrated and have not since. Of course, the Alaskans thrived on their beer diet, or claimed to.

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