Leave Only Pawprints

By: Drifter
Transcribed by: Pam Rogers, NRS Customer Service
We left Lewiston, Idaho for the Main Salmon River on a cool August morning. Summer was near its end and I could smell fall in the air and soil. I rode in the back of the truck nestled comfortably between two coolers. The rest of the gang from the Lewiston Fire Department and their families rode in the 15-passenger van. It felt good being alone with the cool breeze flowing through my fur.
After a late start, we began our journey driving along the Snake, Clearwater and then the Lochsa rivers. The smell of pine and smoke from forest fires filled my senses as we drove over Lolo Pass. We stopped at the top of the pass and I laughed to myself as all the humans raced to line up at the restrooms…nice time to be a dog.
The Limo
The Limo
© Laura Hildebrandt
On reaching Darby, Montana the large van carrying most of our group stopped working. A few of the guys & gals got out, lifted the hood, tapped the gas tank, kicked the tires, slammed the hood, made some phone calls, pushed the van to the gas station (2 blocks away), filled the tank, lifted the hood, slammed the hood, pushed the van to the side, made more phone calls, cursed, dug into the coolers and made more phone calls. A couple hours later alternative transportation arrived…a white stretch limousine (they said it was the cheapest and quickest available vehicle). Meanwhile, I rested comfortably in the back of the truck getting my ears scratched every time someone dug into the cooler.
The ride along the Salmon River was beautiful and exciting. We passed a forest fire in the canyon and watched a helicopter suck up water and spray it onto the steep ridges. The narrow windy road made me dizzy and several times I was tempted to jump out the back of the truck and take a swim in the river. But I just closed my eyes and stayed in the truck with a few of my friends who didn’t mind getting their hair tousled by the wind.
We arrived at the Corn Creek put-in late in the evening. It was dark and I could see the reflections of the stars on the water as I drank from the cool flowing river. I chased sticks and took a swim as the boat ramp began to overflow with gear. You could hear cursing and people tripping over things until the flashlights and headlamps were located. Several hours after our group had unloaded the trailer we had our first meal together along the riverbank.
The sun rose above the canyon rim early in the morning. I woke before the others and explored the banks of the river. The sand felt cool on my feet and the August sun soon warmed the stones along the river. I found a high quality branch to chase and drug it back to camp waiting patiently for someone to wake up and play with me.
As our group slowly started to get up, I went around and visited with some of the other “parties” that were set to “launch” that day. I even made friends with the nice woman in green from the Forest Service. She came around and made sure our group had all the gear we needed to have a safe and fun float.
Hanging out on the beach
Hanging out on the beach.
© Pam Rogers
I rode in a 15-foot (more like a 90-foot in the dog world) NRS self-bailing boat. With many years of rafting under my collar, I’m quite fond of the self-bailing boats. They aren’t kidding when they call those other boats “bucket boats”. In the four-legged friends world, we call them “floating swimming pools”. The ride in the NRS self-bailing boat is fabulous, I’m higher off the water and experience the waves head on. I also got to ride in one of the orange kayaks (NRS Bandits). It was a blast and I got really wet. Heck, I even got a short ride on one of those hard-shell kayaks!
Riding with my mom
Riding with my mom
© Pam Rogers
The excitement was contagious and my tail wagged furiously when everyone pulled out their river guides to prepare for an oncoming rapid. I wore my NRS CFD while we were on the water, it was comfortable and attractive. It helped keep me afloat, especially when I got tired from chasing all those sticks. It also provided some warmth on the days it rained and got windy.
We spent 5 nights and 6 days floating through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area. We rode through some beautiful whitewater, through an amazing canyon. Each night was spent on beautiful white sand beaches among tall pine trees and along trickling creeks. In the evenings the beaches were filled with laughter as the embers glowed and the fire burned in the firepan. I choked down my crunchy morsels for dinner as wonderful smells radiated from the Dutch ovens. On several occasions I was able to sneak some delicious scraps of steaks and chicken after blinking my beautiful brown eyes and giving them my pitiful starving puppy face (it worked every time!).

This trip was a highlight of my summer. Each beach we stayed at was full of adventure and great people. My senses come alive at all the wonderful smells and things to explore along the beaches and trails. There’s nothing like feeling warm sand squishing through your paws after a cool swim in the river.

Enjoy your river trips and remember to Leave Only Pawprints!


Look at these beautiful brown puppy dog eyes…
Look at these beautiful brown
puppy dog eyes…
© Pam Rogers