There was a river, a raft, and myself

Robert Poe | Chittham Rapid, Main Salmon River, Idaho

It had been an interesting trip. Water was higher than any other time for us on the Main Salmon, nothing outrageous, but it was like being on a whole new river and I loved it! My heart pounded as we got closer to the end, to where river meets road once more. But the final bit of wild and scenic river does not disappoint. Chittam Rapid, one of the classics on this beloved section of river lay between us still. The water pushes into a rock wall as it goes around a bend in the river, accelerated by a drop in the river bed. While it can cause problems at normal levels, this day it seemed as though the current would be sure to create even more trouble. The paddle boat with us decided they were best to portage around, and my passenger decided he would rather help them then go along for the ride. We watched a boat go through, hit their line and I knew exactly what I needed to do.

I’d been on the river for more than half my life, and I felt like I was learning everything anew. I climbed back into the raft, feeling like it was likely more prepared than I was (it had seen more miles and years than I could have dreamed of being on). As I drifted out into the current I took a couple deep breaths, found my mark and set up the line. From that moment on, nothing else seemed to exist: there was the river, a raft, and myself. Even noise itself seemed to fade into oblivion. My arms pulled on the oars, shifting my trajectory just enough to hit what my lessons had taught me would be the right spot to hit. But even that was something I had to look back on, to think about and thank in my mind the many lessons I’d learned from boatmen and from the river herself. It was still just a river, a raft and myself. Even thoughts were gone in a moment like that. It really is just a river, a raft, and yourself. Because everything else disappears…

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