If you’re a river lover, you probably belong in Idaho – somewhere nestled between a granite boulder on the Selway and a narrow slot canyon on the Owyhee. We are lucky to be in a place where in less than an hour – no matter what part of the state you are in – you can be next to a fantastic whitewater run or running your toes through a wild and scenic river. If rivers feed your deep, solid, soul-quenching life, Idaho is probably for you.
I’ve always been a lover of rivers, but I didn’t become a river runner until later in life. It wasn’t until recently that I spent many days on Idaho’s designated wild and scenic stretches of river, learning through determination and extreme stubbornness how to navigate an old, blue, 15-foot raft on my own. I gave it my all and my goodness there were lessons to be had…. I swam, I flipped, I broke things, but in the end I did end up learning how to row my own damn boat.
The river is a teacher, sometimes big, scary and completely unforgiving. Other times a soothing, cool and collected trickle. Of all the lessons, I think the river taught me more than anything how to slow down, how to appreciate the reprieve right in front of you, and how to work really hard at something you want so bad.
This past summer I watched my kids manage their own boat through class IV rapids on the Middle Fork and the Main Salmon, waking up on the beach a tangled mess with sand in their hair and a spattering of fresh freckles across their noses. I still grin from ear to ear when I think about those moments watching them from downstream – with a sense of adrenalin, some motherly panic, and a finale of pure pride.
At some point in time, the river may teach my children a lesson as well, but until then I am happy to share with them what I do know, curl up on the sand, and let them know there is still a lot to learn.
We all have a river story, and this one is mine to tell.
September is our annual membership drive. If you appreciate the Idaho Conservation League’s work on behalf of wild and scenic rivers and clean water, please become a member or ask a friend to join!