Sunday, August 24, 2014


                                                     Check Off List and a "Haboob".

 As we left the Salmon River today, Steve and I were reminiscing about other rafting trips and "rivers we have know".  I got out a pen and paper and started making my own list of rivers.  My only qualification is that i have actually been down the river on a boat, a raft, a log, or something that floats.  Driving across a river on a bridge would not count.  I am sure there are more, but at the bottom of this post is a list so far and the times if I have been on them more than once.  It was fun.

As we crossed into Eastern Washington, it was hot! hot! hot!  Typical in August.  We spotted a very strange sight and at first thought it was another forest fire, as it did look smokey from a distance.  As we got closer I could see "lightening strikes in it" and "the Thing" was actually moving like a giant wall and blocking out the sun and vista.  We did not know it at the time, but we were about to be enveloped in a "Haboob".........a giant spectacular moving dust storm of many many miles!  While not that common in WA state, the name Haboob is taken from the Arabic habub which means  intense dust storm.  They are common in Arizona and Saudia Arabia.  This was was pretty intense and our visibility was soon reduced.  The cars we did see had headlights on, and some trucks and cars were pulled over because of the strong wind gust and blowing wheat shaft and dirt.  Steve said the wind gusts were about 60 -70 MPH! It was horrible, and we had no cell phone coverage and the GPS wouldn't even work.  It was still hot out and our car was filling  up with fine fine dust.  I was hating every minute, but Steve said he LOVED it as an adventure he had never had before. We rode through it for almost 2 hours and here pretty exhausted when we finally get clear of the bad part.  We decided to get a quick bite and find a hotel room and clean up and rest and finish driving the next morning.  That was a great decision and I was happy to find  jacuzzi in our room to whirl away all the dust and tenseness I was feeling!

                                                      RIVER LIST-CONNIE KINYON
Green River- numerous times-Washington

Skykomish River ll- Washington

Tieton River- Washington

Wenatchee River- Washington

Yampa River-Colorado

Rogue River-Oregon

El Cahbon River- Guatemala

Rio Dulce- Guatemala

River Nile- Egypt

Thames River- UK

Avon River-UK

Salmon River-ll Idaho

Chobe River- Botswana, Africa

Zambezi River-Zambia

Thursday, August 21, 2014


                                                        Day 5 on the RIVER --Aug 12

This was our last day on the River of No Return.  We all packed up and would float down the River to a take out ramp at Vinegar Creek.  Steve and I had our car shuttled to that ramp for a hefty price.  Jim and his family were riding with a river shuttle to McCall where they would spend the night before leaving for Boise.  Lance and Alex were riding with us part way....and our wonderful guides and crew were left with all the work of tearing down the gear and packing it on trailers and driving the long hours back to Salmon'

This is where I need to give a great thumbs up to Breanne, owner and guide of River of No Return Wilderness Outfitters.  She was so organized and cool, calm , and collected, and her choice of guides made this trip a very easy and relaxed time.   Guide Trenah Stauffer, was only 21 yrs old, but she handled the river and her raft so well.  This is a summer job for her, and in the winter she goes to school in NYC where she plays on an all woman hockey team called the Manhattenville Valients!  It was great learning about an all woman hockey team and her aspirations after school...(entering a grad program for PA).  Amanda Lariche was our other guide and this gal has had alot of experience on the Salmon AND the Grand Canyon.  She is an EMT and wanting more training for wilderness responder emergency tech.  She brought a calm steady presence to our group, and I loved riding in her boat.  So any apprehensions about an all woman crew where totally blown away by a great group of ladies.  In fact, I am thinking I may have a hard time ever going with the male side of the coin again...just saying.
Last, but NOT least was Silas, who because he was only 16 still could not carry passengers.  But he hauled EVERYTHING ELSE, and when in camp, he did everything too.  I really hope we may run into any of these fine people again on future trips.  If they ever read this blog.....THANK YOU!

Our rafting family!

Emptying dry bags into suitcases
 Trenah taking Alex and Mickey thru some small rapids.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


                                                   Day 4 on the River--Aug 11
Wow! we got up to a beautiful clear morning and were happy the smoke was behind us.  Now the Frank Church Wilderness and the Salmon River were in all their summer glory.  It was our last FULL day on the river and we would be having a few memorable rapids and other fun things.  The ever present squirt guns were handy for the kids to use.  Denise and I had a hard time shooting them very far, so we resorted to buckets of water dumped directly on the heads of anyone we could sneak up on! On a warm day like this,  we would dry off easily and warm up again.  But, we also got a special treat. There was a large "hot spring" on this stretch of the river.  Years ago someone piled and cemented rocks around it and made a quite excellent Hot Tub for soaking.  But alas, the forest service, trying to keep this wilderness natural and pristine sent a couple workman to take it down and let it pour back down the hillside into the River of No Return. As the story goes...after sitting in it, they just couldn't do it!  Finally the Forest service relented and let this one area just be the "HotTub".  We pulled over to the shore and hiked up a bit on slippery rocks, and when we got to the hot tub, it was heaven.  And it was really, really hot.  So much so, that a pipe was installed to bring cool water into and cool if off somewhat.

 We continued down the river and finally came to one of the Big Rapids.  This fun guy was named "Ludwig", and there was a large rock splitting it in two for double fun.   Lance had Alex (7yrs) in the Kayak with him and since Alex had already gone down a few big rapids and LOVED the thrill, they thought he would do ok in Ludwig.  Fate took over and Lance had a little trouble as they started down. He thought the kayak was going to tip with his weight so he bailed out so Alex wouldn't get overturned in the rapid.  Unfortunately, Alex was scared when he saw his dad vanish into the frothy water and he tried to "help" his dad.  In the process he fell out of the kayak, and then it got serious.  I saw his helmeted head pop up and he had a big life jacket on, but it was still upsetting to this grandma.  Jim and Joaquin were right behind and paddled as hard as they could to reach Alex, and pulled him out of the drink.  We transferred him to our oar boat, and after a minute of two to calm down and catch his breath, he jumped back in the kayak with his dad!  Brave little guy.  So Alex, Lance, and Jim were all "in the club" of guys who got dumped in a rapid, but I was most impressed with a 7 year old who didn't let it phase him.

We found a big sandy beach to camp on for our last night and as our great guides/cooks/crew started on a wonderful steak dinner, we had a fun game night..Uno, of course, a fun new version of tug of war, arm wrestling, push up contest, swimming, drinking great wine from a boutique winery in Idaho. Shout out to "Syringa" and their very fine Mahrena Red!   We crawled into our tents with a threat of rain, but it really didn't happen.  I was running out of clean clothes, needed a shower WITH SOAP, and maybe a thicker pad for sleeping, but the fun and serenity and companionship of this trip was so worth any small inconvenience.  One more morning coming up.......

Sunday, August 17, 2014


                                                     DAY 3 on the River- Aug 10

There were fires burning in the Frank Church Wilderness.  The Salmon River runs through this wilderness of over 1.3 million acres, the largest contiguous wilderness in the US.  It is rugged and remote, and there is the double edge sword.  It is so beautiful and pristine and a perfect place to get away from everything for as long as one wants.  But the terrain and summer weather are perfect for lightening storms and fires.  The Policy is pretty much hands off, but there is some active fire control.

As we climbed into our tents on day 2, the smoke was noticeable, and I smelled it all night. By morning it was pretty thick.  It was eerily beautiful as the smoke covered the sun and turned the river to liquid gold.  We went on plan and ate and packed up, but it was basically a very smokey paddle all day.  At one point in a narrow canyon we saw flames right on the river bank.  Mickey was looking up when a huge bolder wedged loose and smacked into a large tree.  The cracking noise made everyone uneasy and the order was given to paddle hard and get out of this area.  We kept hoping we would go far enough to clear the area, but the wind would shift and sock more smoke at us.

Around Lunch time we stopped at Buckskin Bill's and made a big Taco salad for lunch.  Everyone explored the old historic area while lunch was being made, and Breanne had some news for Jim and family.  Because of the smoke, the bush plane scheduled to pick them up on the morning of day 5 was not going to make it.  Breanne made plans for a shuttle to take them to mcCall and then fly out the next day.  That meant we would all finish the trip together and it all worked out well.
We also took a hike in the afternoon to A River of No Return Homestead.  We explored old cabins and learned some history of the Pioneers who sought to tame this "Merciless Eden", and in fact, there is a well written history of this and called Merciless Eden.  Some of plan to read it as soon as we get back.  While walking around with a caretaker, I was mentioning that I had done this trip before, but instead of camping each night, Steve and I stayed in remote fishing and hunting lodges.  I was telling her about one of the best ones, and how much we enjoyed the family that was there. IT WAS HER!  So we had a nice visit and caught up on a few things that had happened in the years since we did that trip, like her young children were now grown up!)

We camped that night on a part of the river that had a huge beach and also a rapid that was accessible. It was a fun evening as the smoke lifted, and it became very warm.  Most of us went swimming.  Joaquin, and guides Trenah and Silas all took on the rapids on air mattresses and even just body surfing thru the waves.  We had a great chicken dinner with fresh bread made in the Dutch oven.....and out came the S'mores after dinner.  Amanda had brought her guitar and was an accomplished musician.  She played for all of us, and then I took a "strum-a-long' turn, followed by Joaquin, who surprised the heck out of all of us!  He plays great!  The hard way...picking! Everyone was pretty impressed with our 16 year old.  Despite the smoke, we had another great day on the river and it was a "rapid after rapid" kind of day, so the kayakers had a lot of fun!

Paddling thru the smokey canyons

Exploring A River of No Return Homestead

Saturday, August 16, 2014


                                                         Day 2 on the River -  Aug 9

So, my first night I didn't sleep well, but enjoyed listening to the thunder and quiet rain that fell on the tent rain fly.  We got up to a beautiful morning and Steve went and got me a mug of coffee, which was great!  Mornings on the river are quiet and reflective.  After the trip, I decided, for me, this was the best time every day.  I am an early bird by nature, and love the breaking dawn.  Breakfast is not rushed and we have time to sip coffee, read, organize our dry bags for the day, and yes....troop on over to the 'groover" if needed.  French toast, fruit, bacon, cereals, oatmeal, yogurts....just name it...yummy and filling.
After everything was packed and carried to the rafts, we started our first full day down the Salmon.  It kept getting warmer and warmer, and everyone kept getting wetter and wetter in the clear water.
We were looking forward to the "rapids".  With names like Black Creek, Split Rock, Big Mallard, Maisey, Dry Meat, Ludwig, and Chittum, we let our imaginations loose.  I rode in the oar boat, but after lunch, Breanne said the afternoon would be sort of mellow, so I donned a helmet and climbed into a kayak with Steve.  You can probably guess the outcome of this episode!  We hit rapid after rapid, and Maisey was especially big and exciting.  I was constantly wet and getting chilled... Steve said paddle harder and I would stay warm!  As we pulled into a beach to set up our camp for the night, I made a bee line to my dry bag for FLEECE! I warmed up in time to start sampling the humongous container of Margaritas that Breanne made.

We ALL were enjoying those 'ritas, and the yellow jackets were too!

Yellow Jacket Rule #1  Well it is basically the only rule.  Don't swat em!  They were numerous, but fairly non aggressive, unless someone took them on.  For some reason, young boys LOVE to swat, kill, torture, and obsess over those buggers.  Mickey and Alex spent literally hours doing all of this, even after we yelled and begged them to STOP!  Most of us just tried to ignore the YJs and I think there were only a few 7 or 8 spread around the group.  Even tho I had a horrid nightmare about being stung and swelling up, I was lucky and never was stung.

After a scrumptious salmon dinner, with delicious sides and fresh baked lemon bars for dessert, we sat around the fire before we climbed into the tents........tho something ominous was happening and changing the feel of the river surroundings.

Friday, August 15, 2014


                                             Day 1 on the River    August 8

After a good breakfast at the Stagecoach Inn, we all piled into one big van for a 2 plus hour drive to the "put in" spot on the river.  Besides our combined family of 8, we were joined by Salmon residents Tricia and Ryan Miller.  They had left small children at home with their grandparents, so they were stuck with all of us.  I felt sorry for them, but they were great sports, and the younger kids adopted them!
Breanne gave us another talk about bathroom facilities on the river.  We would be using "The Groover", which was placed a bit away from the camp and had a system for privacy, cleanliness, and in "we haul what we do" and that was that.  I won't go into all the details, but to say the Wilderness is pristine and meant to stay that way.  There are strict regulations about what is left after a camp is abandoned...there is NOTHING left of humans, except footprints.  We could get wet in the river, but not use soap or shampoo.  After the trip I was thinking how well everything worked and how clean the whole area was, so we were glad to be a part of this effort to keep the wilderness as pristine as possible.
Joaquin, Jim and Steve decided to grab the two kayaks that we brought along and start paddling.  The rest of us were comfortable in the Oar boats with the guides rowing.  After a short time, we stopped for the first of many good lunches...this one featured the fresh homemade bread of a local bakery.  YUM!

The day was warm and thunder clouds were building up.  We actually had to take out the raincoats as it started raining on us...but the show must go on.  The crew cooked a wonderful dinner, along with wine and beer, and after figuring how to set up the tents, etc, we retired early to the sound of rain patting on our rain fly.
Denise in her tent

Steve and Connie

Thursday, August 14, 2014


                                                      Day 1 AND 2- AUGUST 6-7

So digressing a little from our "worldly adventures", we decided to go on a white water rafting trip in Idaho.  Steve had just returned from a 2 week high adventure raft trip on the Alsek River in Alaska. Per Steve, this included a helicopter portage, 36 degree glacier melt water, grizzly bears, rock climbing, and that kind of stuff.  Since Steve doesn't blog, I just wanted people to know that it is easy to get pulled into the Vortex with him.  I didn't go, but I decided to raft the Main Fork of the Salmon because 1: I had done it before, 2: Steve did all the planning, and 3: A lot of my family decided to go.  Actually, I have gone down many rivers and some all over the world.  Some times on a raft, an inner tube, a felluca, a boat...and I decided to count them up and list them later.

We decided to book a trip with "River of No Return Wilderness Outfitters" out of Salmon Idaho.  Plans were made and we met my son Jim and his whole family, and Steve's son Lance and his little boy.  Our granddaughter, Sara was still too young to do this class 3 river, so she stayed home with her mom, Allison.
We all got there by a different route, and because Steve and I picked up Jim's family, we drove to Boise and got them on the second day.  They had flown in from San Diego.  We checked into the Stagecoach Inn in a very cool town, Salmon Idaho,  and early in the evening we had our first briefing with owner/guide Breanne.  We met our other two guides and a great guy named Silas, who because he was 16, was not allowed to carry guests in his raft.  He has to wait until 18, but he proved to be a great asset because he was the one who rowed a heavt oar boat with all the dry bags, tents, grub, kitchen....and the....groover.  Trenah Stauffer, and Amanda LaRiche were our other guides and my first impression was....young and female... and I hoped they knew what they were doing!  I KNOW that is sexist and silly, but I have never had a female river guide, so give me a break.

We were issued our dry bags and given a bit of info about the trip, like "keep your raincoat handy", no soap can be used, no shampoo, nothing is put into the water, drink lots of water, and let's have some fun!  So we went back to our rooms to repack our gear into the drybags and look forward to the River of No Return the next day.