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Amari Trip Report: Selway River 2021

We're going to start posting reports from our adventures outside.  We're human and sometimes things don't always go as planned, but that's what adventure is all about.  The key is having fun with family and friends as a way to stay active.

The first post is long overdue, we ran the Selway river in Idaho summer 2021.  

The first video is a quick shot of the boat ramp that was straight down.  The thing to know about the Selway is that you earn every inch.

Selway Boat Ramp

Selway Day 1

Here’s a short video from Day 1 to give you sense of how low (1.1 on the gauge) the water was.  It took us 9 hours to go ~5 miles.  The last raft hit the beach just as it was getting dark.  The rapid at the end of the video is washer woman.  Sky Copter 9 reported a 3 raft pile up in there.  A long day of pushing, pulling and dragging rafts off, over and around rocks. We all hung in and made it happen.

The double Amari Blueberry Lemonade with vodka was what the doctor ordered that evening.

Thanks to Barb for the happy dance ;)

Selway Day 2

Sometimes you know you’re screwed, so what do you do?

You go over, around or through.  You make it happen. 

Soo… my role was out in front trying to find the “deepest” water for the rafts to scrape down.  In a few of the rapids, I’d just stop in the middle because we were forked.  We had to walk the boats through (the rapid on the video where I get out is ping pong alley).  It was really slow going, even though we were all doing our best, we were unprepared for the low water. 

We needed a little wind in the sails of our collective morale.  The first of the harder sections was on the horizon and no one knew what to expect, given our experience to date.       

All of us were pretty excited as the next challenge unfolded before us.  Typically, drops look smaller from above the river level and this one turned out to be the opposite.  Everything was smaller, relatively easier and the perfect confidence booster. 

Victory tasted like green curry with chicken later that night in camp, thanks to Andrew & Alyssa. 

Selway Day 3 - Dunkin’ Bugs

Day 3 was wildlife day.  We’re out in beautiful old growth forest with some evidence of burning not too long ago.  Absolutely beautiful.  Other than the rattle snake who objected to our stopping on their beach, we had not seen much in the way of wildlife.  That was about to change.

Our first bear was happily scratching it’s back on a tree.  Of course, the photo the iPod took looks like every bigfoot photo ever.  Once the bear saw the 2nd raft, it scampered off up the hillside. 

Our next stop was to scout our 1st class IV of the day, those who hit the beach first reported a black bear standing right where we needed to stop.  The bear tried to stand its ground for a moment then ran off.  

I pulled over in the middle of the IV to run safety, I look to my left and see these 3 pink, yellow and red baby bird mouths poking out of small indent in the rocky cliff wall.  I watched Mom and Dad fly laps, bring a bug to the water’s edge, dunk the bug in the water a few times, fly up and drop it into a lucky mouth.  So cool to watch the simple abundance of birds, bugs and the river right in front of me.

But not the last bird story of that day…  In camp, I was making the traverse from my tent to the more functional eating & sitting areas of camp and noticed a bird about 1 foot off the trail sitting on the ground.  Upon closer inspection, it was on a nest with 3 eggs.  It had to be the bravest bird I’d ever met.  The nest was right next to the trail and had, what must have seemed liked giants to the tiny bird, walking past it’s nest.  Sometimes the bird would take the strong silent approach and just hang on while we walked by, other times it would peep and head away from the nest to draw you away.

Refreshing to witness nature up close and be humbled and inspired by the strength demonstrated.

Selway Day 4 Drops, drops and more drops

The river changed character on day 4 with more water joining the flow and bigger rapids coming up.  Some walked the 4-mile round trip to see what the river had in store for us, but I needed rest.  I was exhausted from the effort required to get us this far. 

The scouting party returned and thanks to some amazing dirt, stick and rock map making, we had a pretty good idea of the river ahead. They laid out the moves and also the consequences of continuing.  Safety was not guaranteed as rescues would be harder to reach anyone who needed help.  Nothing like reality to throw some sand in our collective underwear.  As we pushed off down river, it was a mix of excitement, fear and anticipation for what was ahead of us. 

Even with the low water everything went smoothly.  John demonstrates flawless technique slithering his raft over the rocks in the single channel on Ladle.

This video is longer where we have footage of the other boaters going through some of the rapids.

Selway Day 5 – You Got This

The team was feeling pretty good after getting Day 4 under our belts.  But we still faced one of the longest rapids of the trip today.  My rule of thumb is once you see the line, it’s time to go.  But for the 1st time in a long time, I changed my mind about where I wanted to after looking at the run from different angles.  Then it was time to go, the longer you stare, the greater the possibility to screw it up.

Nothing like a long pool at the top of the rapid to feel the heart accelerate and the adrenaline to focus the mind as I replay the mantra “you got this” over and over in my head…

Selway Day 6 Don’t let your guard down

After the previous long days on the river, we decided to stop early and enjoy the afternoon at a beautiful camp. People fished, people swam, people ran Jim’s Creek rapid on paco pads, it was perfect. 

With the major rapids behind us, an easier day of floating was on the agenda but it is the Selway.  In the last class III rapid, we had one raft snap an oar and another end up with a gash that needed to be patched.  It was a reminder that you’re not done on the Selway until you’re done.  When we reached the takeout, I kissed the ground.  The sadness of an adventure ending was replaced by the sense of accomplishment and relief that we all made it through in one piece with only damaged equipment and a humble respect for the Selway.  

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