Rafting the Lochsa River

So since my car was finally working, I got to leave it at home and head out with a few of my friends for our yearly rafting trip. Last year my friend Jon’s brother died from cancer and they carry on the tradition of rafting down the Locsha River because it was a place he loved to be. I was fortunate to join them last year and as long as I am invited I will not miss this trip.
After working a half day I met up with the group and we were off on our trip. We made the 4 hour drive down to Kooskia, ID to the Three River Resort. This year I decided to sleep in my tent and with the beautiful weather, this turned out to be a great decision. Last year I think the temperature topped out at about 50 degrees and this year it was suppose to reach well into the 80’s. NICE!!
Friday night was spent hanging around, playing a few drinking games and just getting ready for the big day tomorrow. Waking of Saturday morning I was going to go for a quick run to stretch out the legs but after the sitting up in my tent my head had other ideas. I was still up before just about everyone and was getting ready for out trip down the river. We had are quick pre-trip meeting and after signing our life away, we gathered up our gear and got all dressed up. I have to say, after being spoiled with my Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit the farmer John I had to borrow was nothing special, but I am rafting so what the heck. After gathering for our quick group photo we loaded up on the bus and headed up the river about 20 miles. Last year this part was pretty nerve racking thinking that we were going to take our boat down these rapids. This year I was expecting to see much of the same but the water was so much higher that nothing looked the same. Last year when we were here the water line was 5.5 on the bridge, this year it read 8. It is really hard to explain something I know nothing about but the water being 2.5 feet higher had to be pretty crazy. All the guides were saying was that this was BIG water. Once we reach at our launch site we finished gearing up and were on the water. This year our boat was designated the safety line and we would be the last to go through and if anyone needed to be pulled from the water that was our job. Last year we only had 2 people fall out and I think one was pushed for fun. I really didn’t think this year would be any different.

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As we approached one of the first big rapids, Christmas Falls, the boat in front of us flipped. The boat was my friends, Jon and Jenny, who invited me and their cousins who I rafted with last year. It is one thing to see a boat flip but when it is someone you know, you immediately go into survival mode. The first thing you think about is how to get to them and pull them out of the water. This is a very serious river and situations like this can turn very bad very quick. As you think about saving them you get the quick reminder that you still have to go through the exact same rapid that just flipped them and you too are at risk. After navigating through the rapids and getting into position to pull a few people from the water everyone made it safely out. I do have to admit that looking into their eyes while they were floating down the water was extremely emotional because you could tell they didn’t know if they would make it. Sitting on top of this raft and never experiencing “swimming” it is hard for me to say how I would react but those 5 were very tough and I am glad they were able to get our of a hairy situation with only a few bumps and bruises.

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The rest of the trip was still fun with our boat having two people fall out which we were able to quickly recover, we pulled one other from another boat and I even had to opportunity to guide our boat through some smooth areas. This might have been the highlight of the trip except for when I guided our boat into a rock (not as dramitac as it sounds). As we hit the rock, I proceed to fall off the back while everyone else was still sitting in their positions. I managed to pull myself back in and everyone got a good laugh that the “guide” fell out. I was there one second and gone the next.

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The rest of the night was spent just hanging out taking about our trip and enjoying everyone’s company. These are a really great group of people and I can’t wait until next year.

One I get my water camera developed I will post a few more pictures.


jessithompson said...

So glad you had such a good time!!!

Trish said...

Sounds like a pretty wild adventure! I am glad that you and your friends stayed safe, even when you fell out! I must say that your rafting outfit is PRETTY stylish :) I am so glad that you had a fun time!

Tiffany said...

Wow! What a trip! Falling out of one of those rafts scares the crap out of me! I'm glad you guys were level-headed enough to help all those guys out!

That pic of you all suited up and ready to go is hilarious! Why didn't you just wear your Blue Seventy wet suit. You would have looked awesome!

Can't wait to see the waterproof camera pics!