A Lifetime of Boating & A Day on Chatcolet


©Keli Keach

When I woke up early Saturday morning I could hear the rain coming down, so I called Keli to see if we were still on for boating. It looked like the weather was going to keep us from a nice, calm day of paddling at Heyburn State Park. But, bad weather or not, we decided to stick with our plans and Keli, Pam and I met up at the Frameshop to get all the gear together. It poured as we were gathering up our boats and during the drive to the lake. Then, as soon as we pulled up to the boat launch, the rain stopped! The clouds in the sky broke-up a little and we started to see sun. We put our gear on, got our boats together, and headed out for a relaxed adventure.

©Keli Keach

A little information about Heyburn State Park; it’s located about an hour north of Moscow, Idaho, the home of NRS, or 45 minutes south of the city of Coeur d’Alene. The park has three connecting lakes: Lake Chatcolet, Benewah Lake, and Round Lake, all at the southern end of the much larger Coeur d’Alene Lake. We chose to paddle on Lake Chatcolet, the southern most of the three lakes. Lake Chatcolet is unique for the fact that the St. Joe River, with its raised banks, runs through the middle of it.

When we first arrived, the water was rippling but nothing serious. We headed across the lake to a channel, the St. Joe River, and started to paddle up. We saw lots of birds and a hawk, which was not very happy with how close we happened to be paddling to their nest. The day turned out to be beautiful. The sun came out and the wind died down. The only annoyance was the motor boats, flying up and down the channel, disturbing our peace and shoving us into the bank with their waves.

©Keli Keach

We paddled for about four hours up the St. Joe until we saw an old broken down cabin on the shore, when we stopped and wandered around in some really tall grass. After our little break we headed up the channel hoping to find a way out, but it just kept on going. We checked to see what time it was and decided we should probably start heading back. The wind and the light current of the submerged St. Joe were on our side, helping us make great time back to the car.

The three of us work together at NRS, and it was wonderful to be on the water with good friends, and to have one last trip with Pam before she took off for the Peace Corps. We all were on the same page the whole trip. No one was in a hurry; we just enjoyed each other’s company and where we were. That is the reason why I boat and the reason boating has been a part of my life for many, many years.

Growing up, my family and I would take two week long canoe trips all over the Northwest; from pristine Canadian lakes to the John Day River in Oregon. One of my favorite trips I went on as a child was to Myrtle Lake in Canada. I think I was 10 years old when I went on this trip. Restrictions, from the permit we were required to have, only allowed 12 of us on this immaculate lake.

©Keli Keach

We portaged the canoes about two miles in from the trailhead. After we got all the gear loaded-up we started our paddle to the first spot we would camp. The scenery looked like it was painted: lush green vegetation and beautiful mirror-like water reflecting the shoreline. It was so spectacular to see a place as if I were the first person to find it. On this trip we saw moose and their calves, loon, deer, black bear and a ton of birds. There were short hiking trails we took that winded through the brush and trees. To get off the lake and into the shade of the foliage surely made the hot summer days more bearable.

The newest addition of boating in my life is white-water kayaking, and in the past year and a half I started actively participating in it. It has been such a great thrill for me. There is never an uninteresting moment for me in my whitewater kayak. I get so excited when we strap the kayaks to the top of the car and drive to the river for the weekend…the whole drive down, the group talks about how eager we all are to get our boats in the water. Whitewater kayaking has definitely amplified my passion for boating. There is always something to work on. It is a constant challenge and keeps me on my toes!

It is amazing, even as a kid, how I’ve always felt so free when I am boating. No matter if I’m on a mellow flat-water trip or play-boating on the river. Boating has built lifelong friendships and is a way to escape from the fast pace of society. If you have ever had the itch to try any type of boating, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Happy Boating and Be Safe!

Ashley Niles
NRS Customer Service