A Day on the Salmon (Not-So-Lazy) RiverPosted April 10th, 2008
by Ernest Jones
We were camped not far from Salmon, Idaho. I haven’t the space to tell about the sudden deluge of rain on our second night, and how our brand new tent leaked like a sieve soaking everything inside. Nor can I tell of walking miles over boulders to hidden warm springs. I’ll just stick with the rafting.
I like camping and hiking, but I was not so sure about whitewater rafting. Then, the morning of the planned trip, my son said, "We all raft or no one will." Thus, what choice did I have?
When we arrived at the launch site beside the beautiful Salmon River, there was a large raft to be operated by an oarsman, a paddle boat in which each rider would wield a paddle, and two solo kayaks. I wanted to try the paddle boat, but there was no room there for my guide dog, Melita. Besides, though nothing had been directly stated, I had the feeling I was expected to stay with the raft. Later, I heard that the last dog our guide had taken on a rafting trip jumped overboard, and its owner jumped in after it. Both were almost lost. The guide explained several safety rules and handed each of us a life vest. “Keep this vest on at all times when in the water,” he instructed.
I climbed into the raft with my wife, Dorothy, and Melita and we took places in front. The guide came just behind us, and two other family members sat in back. Our guide’s six-year-old son sat next to me up front.
The ride started slow and calm, and Melita began to act like she enjoyed the ride. There were a few mild rapids, but nothing great, before we pulled to shore to enjoy a delicious lunch.
Back in the raft after lunch, we were told that pictures would be taken of us as we went under a bridge, and that we should make sure our caps did not shade our faces.
As we slid under the bridge I was reaching up to turn my baseball cap back around, with both hands in the air, when I felt the bottom drop out from under us, and then just as quickly felt us shoot up into the air with water churning over us. Melita tried to climb into my lap, and I lost hold of her leash. Fortunately Dorothy grabbed it.
My heart was thumping, and now I wanted more thrills, though Melita probably would not have agreed with me. With laughter and excitement we rode one rapid after another, each adding it’s own unique experience to the wonderful ride. While floating in the smooth areas, our guide would point out sights, old mines, landscape, animals, and birds.
Dorothy spotted a black bear across the river. Although everyone got to see it, but me, the bear did not stick around for introductions.
We watched the other crafts, especially the kayaks. Those in our boat cheered as one kayaker shot through a rapid still upright, and then turned over at the end.
"This next rapid is a new one," our guide told us. "It was only formed last year, and I have not taken a raft over it yet." We could hear this one long before we got to it; it was much louder than the others. Faster and faster the current sucked us toward the roar—our guide skillfully manning the oars so we would enter the rapid facing the correct way. By now the roar was deafening. Suddenly we were thrown into the air, the raft somewhere below us, and then a great wall of water completely covered us. Then—almost immediately it seemed—we were floating over calm water. The guide’s son would later tell his mother that instead of going over this rapid, we had gone under it. At the trip’s end our guide said he had high respect for guide dogs.
Although our rafting trip took us through some beautiful country, and the water was just about as clear as crystal, it could not compare to what we will find when our Lord returns for us. “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,” wrote the Psalmist (Psalm 46:4). And John wrote, “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1). My trip down the Salmon River was exciting, but I am much more excited about standing by that river in heaven!
Ernest Jones is a regular columnist for Connected and Lifeglow magazines.