The Salmon River with the Family

To kick off the summer, my family and I descended a six-day stretch of the Salmon River through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area in Idaho. The family, including my brother Eddi and his two older kids - Edwin and Brooklyn,  voted it the best river trip ever. The Main Fork of the Salmon is a wide, friendly river with big wave trains and only a few muncher holes to avoid. I kayaked with the same team that will guide me on the Grand Canyon: Harlan Taney, Steven Mace, and Skyler Williams - while my family paddled a raft, duckied, and even tried their hand at stand-up paddle boarding on the mellower sections. One great aspect of the river is that everyone challenged themselves in different ways on the rapids, while at night, we all met up for campfires, amazing barbecues, scary stories and finally, slept peacefully under the stars.

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In the middle of the trip on a beautiful sandy beach, we celebrated Emma’s 14th birthday with a chocolate cake. Everyone sang and pounded the table. For this special day, with reluctance, I allowed her to paint my toenails. The sacrifices a dad makes!


The beach games on this trip were really memorable; Harlan led a fun game called, Hunker Down. Two contestants play a tug-of-war with rope while standing balanced on ammo boxes.


Harlan, ever the gamer,  also introduced us to The Big Slider. Flipping a raft upside down on the edge of the beach, we oiled it up. A sprint, jump and dive sent us sliding across the boat and into the very chilly water. Here’s a video of my big slide.

On our last night, James Ellsworth, the head of the trip, broke out a bag of costumes. Because a picture is worth a thousand words, we had to edit a few out.


On our last fun night,  we played beach Olympics involving a crazy obstacle course. Five sit-ups, throw on a PFD, take it off, spin around fast, throw a ball in the ducky, spin around faster. As dizzy as we were, we all nearly ended up in the River of No Return.


Thank you, James, our river host, and to the rest of the MFRE guide crew for an amazing trip!


James Ellsworth

Middle Fork River Expeditions