Take a Journey: Deep into the Salmon River Country (A Vignette)

A few years ago, I posted on this blog about a trip I took to visit my friend Wes deep in the wilderness of the Salmon River country in Idaho, U.S.A. At the time Wes was the manager of the iconic Shepp Ranch. I whipped up a vignette of my adventures accompanied by some of my favorite songs and I’ve shared it here on my blog. This marks my first video shared here.
My trip consisted of weeks of preplanning that included flights out to the ranch with friend and local backcountry jedi pilot Dave Looney in his gorgeous and capable airplane, a 1995 Maule. I wanted to time my hike for early Spring to enjoy lower temperatures and the incredible emerald green hues that blanket the Salmon River canyon in the Spring. Though the trail begins at the river, it climbs to the high ridge and into shaded canyons that hold snow late into Spring. My flights with Dave helped gauge real time where the snow was holding. Once I felt confident, I hit the trail with my trusty pooch, DeeOgee. It was rainy, and cold, and I made the unwise decision to test some new hiking boots I had been “breaking in”. They did not fit, and my feet paid the price in flesh and blood. I finished the last 15 miles in my river sandals. I made it to the ranch and celebrated that I had 12 days there to let my feet heal. Wes didn’t let me rest too long, and before I knew it, I was wielding a chainsaw and bucking and then splitting firewood for the coming winter at the ranch. After a week, my wife Ellen joined us. We travelled via the ranches jet boat downriver to pick her up at the end of the road. The Salmon was flowing at 45,000 cfs, a level that experienced river runners consider one of the most challenging for the last set of rapids, named Chittam. Wes was still sharpening his Captain skill set and he was nervous about running the rapid because he had not attempted at that level, but Wes did just fine. You can see the rapids we run in the video from high up on the ridge on my hike in, from shore as we float by, and inside Bucky’s jet boat running up the rapid. Ellen arrived at the end of the road and before we made our way up to the ranch with Wes, we accepted an invitation and hopped on Buckey’s jet boat at the Vinegar boat ramp for a wild ride up and down Chittam. Buckey churned up the fast-flowing river and whipped a “cowboy” maneuver at the top of the rapid. A “cowboy” consists of a sharp 180 spin of the boat. The video includes this exciting moment in time. There is also footage inside Salmon River legend Heinze of Whitewater Expeditions and his massive jet boat. I joined him for the day helping load and unload customers river gear after they floated the wilderness stretch ending at Shepp Ranch and then ferried back upriver to Corn Creek with Heinze.
Once back at the ranch we settled in for another 4 days of ranch life on the river. Wes and I paddled his duckies down the swollen Crooked Creek that splits the ranch. We burned a massive pile of old bridge timbers that Wes had piled up waiting for a good wet weather window.
Ellen, DeeOgee and I hiked out together and enjoyed all the sights, sounds, and smells in reverse.
I hope you enjoy the vignette!


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