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The River of No Return

We took a week long whitewater rafting/ fly fishing trip with my son and daughter-in-law, and my cousins Nick and Mary from San Francisco.  We floated down 100+ miles of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River through the River of No Return Wilderness.  Genie and Alissa floated in a raft, and Nick, Mary, Andy and I  floated in wooden drift boats, fishing the eddies between rapids.

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I admit I was a little concerned when I saw this bumper sticker in the River store before we embarked.  Being a son of the south, the Deliverance reference did not go unnoticed.

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We floated the river in early July, so the water would be high enough to make the rapids fun, yet low enough to allow for some good fishing.  We went with Solitude, and they made life easy, fixing meals, setting up and breaking camp.  We were not quite roughing it.  Here's Genie and Alissa cruising in the raft.  The water was so clear you could see river bottom, and the fish cruising the eddies.

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The supply raft would leave first thing after breakfast and make for our lunch stop.  We would picnic on a sandbar on the river.  They would put out quite a spread, and we could hike the surrounding hills and stretch our legs between rapids.

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We would take side trips to see the petroglyphs left by the Sheepeater Indians hundreds of years ago.

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The trick to fishing two people out of a driftboat is to keep from hooking each other with our flyhooks.  One would stand up front, and the other would fish from the seat behind.  It's a bit tricky at times.

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These next shots give you an idea of running the rapids in a drift boat.  No wonder they call it the River of No Return.

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This river is full of native West Slope Cutthroat Trout.  They are wild and not stocked, and are plentiful.  Andy and I had three of the best days of fishing in our lives, we lost count.  No wonder this place is featured in Chris Santella's book, Fifty Places to Fly Fish before you die.

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Another set of Indian Petroglyphs:

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The Sheepeater Indians lived in and around the canyon of the Middle Fork.  They would hun the Bighorn Sheep that would come down the cliffs to the river for a drink.  As we floated down, we saw this Bighorn lamb frolicking on the bank of the river.

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A wonderful time was had by all.  Click on any of these pictures, and you'll land in the complete set of pictures from this trip up on Flickr. At the end of the trip, we spent an evening lounging in the hot springs, and sharing a meal at the edge of the beautiful lake.

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