Putting on a neoprene wetsuit at 7 AM to step out in a 40 degree Stanley, Idaho morning can only mean one thing: Adventure! This is the coldest we’ll be all week, we are assured by Jared, head honcho at Rocky Mountain River Tours. The snow blanketing the Sawtooth range peaks, as well as several hillsides our bus zooms by on the way to Boundary Creek, leads to me to believe otherwise. This may be more camping than glamping (glamorous camping) after all.
Over the next six days, we’ll drop over 3,000 feet in elevation. Wetsuits give way to shorts and T-shirts as the river cuts its way to meet with the Main Salmon 100 miles away. We begin at 6,000 feet in an alpine forest of Lodgepole and Douglas Fir on a river that resembles more of a steam. Narrow, but fast-flowing with rapids in succession, I could tell right from the start our guides were on their A game to navigate this stretch.
A few short hours and a few dozen rapids later, several of us are stipping our Scuba Steve outfits off on a sandy beach to swim in the crystal clear water of the Middle Fork of the Salmon on the trip’s first lunch break. I never needed the wetsuit again, just sunblock and some shades to “battle” the elements. The Middle Fork is relaxing yet wild, scenic, magical and remote. It is like no other place.
The 100 miles and six days would feature hot springs, bottles of wine paired with cheese and smoked salmon for happy hour, short walks and demanding hikes to incredible views, impassable canyons and food. Lots of delicious food. Sleekly packed rubber rafts, when unloaded reveal a full kitchen, comfy tents with luxurious sleeping pads and pillows, full sized camp chairs and enough food to feed an army. Far from roughing it in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48. I don’t always camp, but when I do, I prefer to glamp.
Check out my video of the trip’s highlights and check back next week for more Middle Fork stories!