Following this year’s Northwest Tour–our annual early summer trip to visit family and friends in Washington and Oregon–we return home to enjoy what Idaho has to offer (daughter, son-in-law and three of our five grandchildren, as well as the beautiful mountains, lakes and other waterways). We are happy to find our favorite FREE spot is available beside Grimes Creek and settle in. The setting is lovely and we can hear the water babbling from our living room.The weather turns particularly hot and we find ourselves seeking comfort in the creek. We even clip the kitties to each other and let them roam a bit and go exploring down by the water. They love it!
It is definitely time to get the catarafts out and get on the lake! We spend a couple of afternoons gliding along in the rafts in the Robie Creek finger of Lucky Peak Lake using our little 1/3 of 1 hp trolling motor. It’s very relaxing and so much cooler just being on the water. Of course a quick dive off the dock as Jim does or, in my case, a dip beside the dock helps too. The area is beautiful and we enjoy our first day on the water immensely. I’m not sure why I don’t have a camera with me?
We return the next day to water that is so amazingly glassy smooth many of the reflections look to me like peering into a kaleidoscope.
And we are lucky enough to encounter a little family of ducks sunbathing on a rock. When mama sees us, she immediately jumps into the water and sounds the alarm. One obedient over achiever (firstborn?) 🙂 jumps in right away; the rest are a little slower to follow. There is one brave rebel in the group who just stays on the rock. We also saw a heron on both shores. You’ll need to look closely at the waterfowl pictures because the zoom quality is not great. But I’m so glad I remembered the phone at least!
As we sit in our lawn chairs in the cool, refreshing water each warm evening we talk about how fun it would be to float the creek in the catarafts. We can see rocks and boulders that would hamper our progress just a little way downstream from here but we are sure we can find a better place to put in. Nearly every day–whether we are driving to or from the city or the lake–we start looking for what might be navigable stretches of water and put-in/take-out options.
Our first launch is not too far from our campsite. We unload all the equipment and Jim drives the truck–with bicycle on board–to our take-out point about a mile and a half downstream. I put my extra water bottle in the creek to keep it cool and settle in under a tree to wait for him to return. My guesstimate is I have about 30 minutes or so to get some pictures deleted off the phone to make room for more. Imagine my surprise when only about 10 minutes later he climbs out of a pickup and is ready to top off the air in the rafts and float. (A kind fellow had seen what we were doing and, unbeknownst to us, followed Jim to give him a ride back up.)
We opt not to bother with the oars because we believe the water will be pretty shallow most of the time but it only takes a few minutes to realize I wish I had something to help propel me out of the deeper eddy where two creeks come together just after launching. I finally get the hang of using my feet to “paddle” and am able to get underway. It isn’t long before we find there are many places too shallow for our catarafts to float through and we have to lift them up and walk to the next deeper spot. I estimate the float to hike ratio at about 65:35 at best. We dubbed our new adventure “water hiking”.
Although we have to do some hiking and pedaling, it is still great fun AND we get some exercise too. The few areas of white water–term used loosely–offer a whoopty-do or two and add to the fun. We even get a few car honks and waves from people on the highway above.
It takes under two hours to reach our intended take-out. When we pull ashore we realize the climb to the road above is pretty steep and rocky. . .not ideal.
Jim decides to walk a short way downstream to see if there is a better path to the top close by. As I wait, I hear a voice from the opposite bank asking if we’re ready to take out. Jack (as we later find out) owns the property on the other side and offers to let us back the truck down his driveway and load the rafts from his little sandy beach. Jim returns from his recon mission with no good alternative so we take Jack up on his offer. The five or six wooden steps up are a bit shallow and rickety but definitely better than the loose rocks on the steep incline we were going to attempt. After loading up the rafts we have a very pleasant conversation with Jack. Jim recognizes the two old white stone structures on the property from when, as a youngster, his family stopped many times to enjoy the creek and skip rocks at this very place. It’s great that Jack decided not to tear down those old buildings when he bought the property and built his new home. I regret not getting any pictures of this beautiful place but thought it might be rude and invasive. Jack is kind enough to invite us to return anytime so perhaps another day. . .
We had so much fun on our first water hike we can’t wait to do it again so right way we start looking for other viable accesses to and from the creek below. We find the perfect place to start our next adventure and two days later we launch. Again, I wait with the rafts at the put-in. The landscape is lovely but the air is very smokey from wildfires in neighboring states. I enjoy my surroundings and take a few pictures.This time Jim is not lucky enough to catch a ride and has to pedal back up the highway 2.2 miles after parking the truck. There isn’t much shoulder and being on a bike is sketchy but it doesn’t take him too long. He arrives safely, locks up the bike and off we go.
We are hoping this stretch of the creek will be more floatable and initially it is. We each have one oar this time and I find it helpful right away. The water is deeper and the rocks bigger and easier to see in advance, giving more time to steer clear. The first bend gives a taste of some shallow white water and the fun begins. It doesn’t take long though before it’s obvious today’s adventure will be more difficult. . .more obstacles, faster current and at least 50% hiking. But, hey, I’m always. . .well, almost always. . .up for a challenge. “Bring it!” I like to say. 🙂
I’m so busy maneuvering my raft I don’t have much time to take pictures but I do get a few.
There is evidence along the way of the tremendous snowmelt and subsequent flooding this spring. The footings for an old miners’ bridge finally gave way and I expect we will see the rusty bridge still in the creek on future water hikes in years to come. Another bridge shows damage to the center support with branches and debris piled several feet high against it.
Beyond the bridges the rocks are even bigger and there are more drops in elevation making for exciting rides. I really do think it’s fun to dip and swirl and bounce over the falling water. I’m not usually a white water rafting kind of girl but with these catarafts in relatively shallow water, I feel pretty safe.
We have floated, paddled, hiked, dragged, lifted and otherwise had quite a workout when at about the two-mile point we encounter the biggest, gnarliest, deepest, fastest elevation drop yet. I think this one actually qualifies as white water. I watch from my vantage point (lodged on a rock just a little upstream) as Jim chooses his line of attack. He maneuvers his raft to the widest channel but it is too narrow and he is stuck. It takes quite an effort but he is able to push with his legs and manhandle his raft to finally get free. There’s really no way to go around–the banks are steep and covered with big rocks–so it’s my turn. Did I say, “Bring it??” I try to follow Jim’s lead in getting lined up with that wider channel but I’m not too successful. Before I know it, I’m stuck.It takes me several minutes of pushing, pulling, jostling, bouncing and every other move I can think of but I eventually get free! My hard-earned freedom lasts for about. . .two seconds. This time I am firmly lodged in a narrow space between two very large rocks even farther off course. (Now those of you who know me will not be surprised to hear that I am determined to get out of this predicament on my own.) Jim knows this as well and is watching and waiting for me on the shore a short distance away.
The water in this nice little spot I find myself in now is too deep and the current too strong for me to stand or even get my foot against any rocks so I’m left with only what I can do from my seat. I work at it for quite some time but in my already physically taxed condition I eventually make one unfortunate move and I feel and hear a “pop!” in the midsection of my back. Battle over; I concede. I get Jim’s attention and he makes his way toward me. He gets near and then realizes he must go back downstream and cross to the other side in order to reach me. The footing is precarious and I worry about his safety but he is careful and comes to my rescue. The pain in my back is excruciating so I am only able to help him in very small ways. I can shift my weight slightly and push with my feet some but basically he’s on his own. He’s finally successful in dislodging my raft and we head downstream to where his is beached. It sure doesn’t look all that daunting from this angle. . .it actually looks lovely and rather idyllic now that we’re safely past.
By now I’m in significant pain and it’s obvious Jim will have to navigate us both over and around the rocks for the remainder of the float. I try not think about what *might* lie ahead. It’s slow-going to say the least and we were very happy when–not too far downstream–we see some young guys on the shore. They agree to help Jim get the rafts up to the road and even drive him to our truck. Thankfully, I am able to make my way up the path on my own (albeit very slowly and sometimes on hands and knees) and we don’t have to call the paramedics. That saves me a lot of embarrassment *and* money. I have insurance (thanks to Obamacare) but I think an ambulance ride from Robie Creek to Boise will probably not be covered. We have Ibuprofen and muscle relaxers in the truck and I am able to start my regiment right away. With a quick stop to pick up the stashed bicycle, we go straight home. A somewhat harrowing day but we’re both alive to tell about it.
I’m writing this on day 3 post white water misadventure and am feeling a bit better each day. We’ve had a few conversations since and I’ve agreed to ask for help sooner and we will both try to remember we’re not 18 any more. We would hate to do something foolhardy that would jeopardize our current active lifestyle. With that said, I must admit that I am very competitive and really hate to be defeated so I won’t let this mishap keep me from future water adventures. Fair warning, Robie Creek, Annie will return for a rematch. . .just not today.
My being yearns for the adventure, how can I resist?
How can I ignore the urging? I will not be remiss.
Nature calls out to my spirit, “Come explore my wonders.”
And so it is I cannot quit; age is just a number.
~ Annie Peterson