Last week, the Johnson family continued our streak of adventurous vacations with a trip to Idaho to raft the lower Salmon River. For four days and three nights, we rafted, kayaked, stand-up paddled, and swam in the cool, green water of the Salmon with Mountain River Outfitters. I couldn’t stop snapping photos of the canyon with its hexagonal basalt columns, white sand beaches, and mountains scattered with golden grasses and the occasional pine forests. Our guides, Jamie, Tyler, Jeff, and Austin, went above and beyond to make our time worthwhile. They showed us logs and cliffs to jump off, tall enough to scare your swimsuit right off. Jeff and I did some yoga one morning and he helped me reel in my first bass! They navigated swirling rapids during the day and cooked gourmet meals at night- and this isn’t your traditional camp food. Fillet Mignon, pork tenderloin, and prosciutto-wrapped chicken appeared on our plates for dinner, and the meals finished off with Dutch-oven desserts.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our guides and the rest of our group. Three other parties with us brought the group size to thirteen, and conversation and laughter opened each day and continued well into dark as the wine and “river-ritas” flowed, campfire burned, and stars came out. We only experienced one bout of rain, causing a comical dance about camp to cover up our belongings, put up the tent flies, and secure anything that might blow away. Thankfully the downpour was brief and we were able to dry off before bedtime back under the clear canopy of stars. Each night, Kendall and I, along with a few others in the group, pulled our mats out of the tents and chose to instead sleep under a night sky so bright with stars that we could clearly see the Milky Way ribboned through the velvet blackness.
Life seems to slow down a little bit out on the river. When the sun got too hot, the water greeted us with a refreshing swim or splash from a rapid. We woke up to the first rays of light and fell asleep after the sun set behind the mountains. Watches and time were at the back of our minds- we were on “river time” here. This escape offered our family the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with each other and also get to know people from all walks of life in our group. At the end, my dad asked me if I liked this trip better than the one we had taken on the Snake River five years prior. Though I have fond memories of each, five years seems like a lifetime ago. So much has happened in so little time, and I cannot even begin to fathom what the next five years will bring. The escape from computers, cell phones, work schedules, and deadlines left me with plenty of time to reflect upon all of the blessings in my life, including my family, my health, and the incredible opportunity to experience so much of the world’s infinite beauty. There is just something about the water that never fails to leave me refreshed, renewed, and inspired- and last week on the water provided just that.