Sixth Report from the Field

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Kiliii Joins the Salmon to Sea trip

Kiliii Yu, photojournalist, naturalist and kayaker, joins the Salmon to Sea trip. It will be great to have some company to hit the slackwater reseviors of the Lower Snake River. Kiliii is a great photographer, great skills and great energy.

Have some very big things in the works right now, will keep you informed via the audio updates. Stay tuned!

Fin Fest-Portland Event!

Extinction's No Solution! Be there it should be a great event with lots of wonderful people speaking and teaching. I should arrive around 4 pm.


Hitting the Wall

After 17 days of paddling I have finally reached the slackwaters behind the first dam on the Snake River. I pulled into Lewiston on Friday August 25th, tired and ready for rejuvenation.

I left Salmon on a beautiful sunny morning, only getting a couple of odd looks from passers-by. Shortly after leaving the ramp I realized that I had forgotten to recharge my camera battery and it was running low. I was planning on passing North Fork and heading down river and just finding a place on the riverside to camp. I knew that there were a couple of campgrounds along the river so I pulled into one and paid for a place to put my tent for the evening. They let me recharge my batteries and got a good nights rest.

The next day I encountered the area where Lewis and Clark decided to take a different route to the West. Thus the sign noting "rapids ahead!" It was a fun filled and exciting day of rapids after going through an area aptly named "Deadwater." This area was full of Great Blue Herons fishing the shallow waters, waters that fisherman have not been able to fish since 1978 due to the lack of sustainable fish coming back to spawn.
On August 16th, I joined the OARS-Dories crew and guests/members of Idaho Rivers United and went down river on the section known as "The Main." We spent 6-days having a blast on the river, soaking in a hot springs on a chilly morning and having some really great discussions about salmon and the issues surrounding them.

I had a nice run down to Riggins spent the night in a bed with a pillow! Such a novelty at this point. I had 4 days of big miles and rapids to deal with so I rested up. From Riggins I paddled 34 miles to Hammer Creek and camped out for the night, just above the Lower Gorges of the Lower Salmon. I was given a wake up call in the form of a little Class II rapid flipping me over! Must have been tired. That day I ran into a trip with Sundog Expeditions and Save Our Wild Salmon, I ran Cougar Canyon with then and enjoyed a nice Bean Salad lunch, thanks guys. I paddled hard downstream and did a quick scout of Snowhole Rapid. Ran it with no issues and eventually caught up with a Oregon River Experiences trip. They feed me a wonderful dinner and an even better breakfast to go! Day three out was the big one from the top of the oxbow on the Salmon, around River Mile 21, I paddled all the way to Heller Bar on the Snake River, 41 Miles. It was an eventful day running the last rapids of the Salmon River and having to say goodbye. The confluence of the Salmon and Snake is a very amazing place, powerful. My friend Heather picked me up at Heller Bar and drove me into Lewiston.

Once in Lewiston, I had a nice dinner and crashed out early. The following day I took the sea kayak up to Heller Bar and ran the remaining 28 miles back to Lewiston. All was going well and then I hit Asotin, WA. This is where the current ends and the work begins. It is a long 5 miles into Lewiston. My shoulders are pretty hammered right now and have been taking advantage of the rest days I have scheduled here.

Today we had a nice BBQ and Boat Race, put on by Idaho Rivers United and Save Our Wild Salmon. Thanks to the OARS crew for pitching in and helping out.


Lewiston Event Details

Sorry earlier I mentioned that this event would be on the 26th. My bad! I have been on the river and not keeping up with details like what day is it!

So this event will be on SUNDAY August 27th at 12 pm.

Bridge to Bridge-Tail of the Snake, Lewiston's historical boat race.

Race starts at 2 pm at Swallows Park in Clarkston, WA, after a 12 pm community BBQ.

Boats must be Human Powered! First prize winner recieves an NRS donated Bill's Bag. Race is by reservation only so please RSVP Shallan Dawson at 509.456.8400 or shallan@wildsalmon.org or you can email me via the button on the right.

Thanks and see you there.


Fifth Report from the Field

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Fourth Report from the Field

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Third Report from the Field

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Second Report from the Field

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First Leg Complete

Sunbeam Dam to Salmon, ID - 109 Miles and 2000'
On August 6th with the great folks of Idaho Rivers United, members of the press and concerned citizens, the Salmon to Sea trip was officially launched. Starting this trip at Sunbeam Dam was a very powerful way to start this trip. The Sunbeam Dam was in place in 1911, with no upstream fish passage available. With the help of locals actually carrying salmon up and over the dam so they could continue upstream the run survived. In 1934 the south side of the Sunbeam Dam was blown up with explosives, once again allowing salmon to continue migrating upstream to spawn. Once this obstacle was removed the runs upstream bounced back and thrived! So it is with this message, dam removal works, that I will be making my journey downstream.

It took me a couple of tries to figure out how to get everything that I need to fit into the Pyranha Burn. After pairing down the pile, all the essentials were covered. Some creature comforts were left behind. My gear list is: Pyranha Burn M kayak, AT2 Paddle 225, NRS Hustle PFD, NRS Sea Stow bags, NRS Hydrosilk top, Ridge 2 tent and LightYear 3D sleeping bag from Kelty, Kokatat Gore-Tex Drytop, sunshirts, shorts and pants, TEVA X-1/C shoe, Desert Mountain Medicine First Aid Kit, Personal Locator Beacon, Satellite Phone, Digital Camera, backpacking stove, water filter, titanium pot, sleeping pad, journal . And all that fits into my kayak!

The first day out was short one. I left the Sunbeam Dam and cheering crowd at 12:30. I was full of exciting energy and made really good time, 14 miles in 2 1/2 hours! This section is incredibly beautiful, starting in a narrow canyon and then several miles later it opens up to these incredible views (left). The geology of this area is seemingly changes around every corner. I spent the first night at Holman Campground, just upstream from the Command Center and Heliport for the Potato Fire, so there was a lot of helicopter and truck traffic with all the firefighters in the area. My wife Allison, was with me for the first night, before heading off on her own journey to Germany! She will spend the next 11 months in Germany on a Fulbright Award, we are all very proud of her, and I look forward to making it over there in December.

Before Allison left she helped me get my boat back to the river and pushed me off one last time. Good Luck and Safe travels Allison, see you in December! My intentions for this day were to go about 22 miles to Bayhorse Campground for the evening. Around noon I was starting to race a thunderstorm that was building and making lots of noise around me. I stopped for a really quick lunch and stretch before getting back in the boat and heading downstream. No sooner than shoving off did it unleash on me! It was pouring cats and dogs, it was a little chilly but my Gore-Tex drytop kept me dry as a bone. This kept up for a couple hours and then the hail started falling. Well I was very happy that I was wearing a helmet, the hail was dime sized so it had a little bite to it. I made it to Bayhorse at the tail end of the storm, hung out in the restrooms for about 15 minutes and decided rather than ending my day at 1:45 I would push it 12 more miles and end my day at the Challis Hot Springs. As I pushed off again the weather settled down the lightening and thunder was subsiding and just an occasional sprinkle would fall. I got to the Challis Hot Springs around 4:30 and got checked in and set up my camp so everything would be dry if it rained again. After a 34 mile day my body was a little fired up so I took the opportunity to take a dip. The hot springs were heavenly! I met a nice couple, Al and Joann, from Omaha, Nebraska that invited me over for dinner. We had a nice dinner of BLTs, Pasta Salad and Cherries, their hospitality was greatly appreciated after a long day.

I took another hot soak before shoving off on Day Three, what a great way to start the day! After talking with the Middle Fork crew in Salmon I decided to keep on pushing and reach Salmon a day early. This way I would have a ride to the OARS house and would be able to hang out with some really great people for the evening. This decision meant that I would have another 34 mile day and then a 27 mile day to get me to Salmon. The gradient and current in this section backs off, so it became a little more work for me to make the miles that I needed to make. Day Three consisted of lots of gravel islands to navigate and tons of wildlife. I saw: 12 Deer, 7 Osprey, 13 Great Blue Herons, 1 River Otter, 1 Immature Bald Eagle and 4 Red Tail Hawks. This was another really long day on the water. I got my hopes up by reading my home-made map wrong and thought I was making great time. A couple hours later I finally pulled onto the island that I thought was upstream. The island was great, providing me lots of shelter from the winds that were whipping all day long. There were lots of deer coming down to drink, as well as a Great Blue Heron nest across the river, better than TV any day! After a great dinner of Ginger Sesame Pasta, I passed out early.

I was paddling by 8 on the start of Day Four, trying to get to Salmon around 2, were an OARS guide would come pick me up and take me to our guide house. Again the gradient and current in this section is not very great so it is a lot of paddling. From Shoup Bridge into Salmon was a really beautiful section with lots of islands and eroded cliffs. I pushed a Bald Eagle downstream for about 8 miles this morning. It would fly off and find a new perch, I would come down and it would take off and find a new one. Nissa from OARS came and picked me up with a beer for me in hand, thanks!

Wildlife Count: 36 Deer, 30 Great Blue Herons, 5 Steelhead Smolt, 5 Osprey, 4 Red-Tailed Hawks, 2 Bald Eagles, 2 Turkey Vultures, 2 Carp, 1 Immature Bald Eagle, 1 River Otter and 3 Road Signs in the river!

I have spent the last couple of days dealing with my resupply, doing a couple of radio interviews (Utah Outdoors), relaxing and mentally preparing for the challenges that await me downstream. It would be great to hear from you guys, what would you like to know about, what would you like to see more of, what do you think of the audio posts? Leave suggestions and thoughts in the comment section here and I will do what I can.

To keep track of me you can check out my calendar here. I will be making some audio posts in the coming weeks, will not be able to update the website until the 26th or so.


First Report from the Field

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Kick-Off Planned and Great Articles

Agenda for Salmon to Sea Launch
Sunday, August 6th 2006
Sunbeam Dam Interpretive Site
10:30-11:30 Media arrive to do early interviews. Bill E. Tom, Bill S. and Amanda are available at the Sunbeam site.
11:30 Amanda welcomes audience, introduces Idaho Rivers United, introduces Tom, Bill E., Bill S. and Andy.

BILL E.: Emphasize how dams kill salmon, and how Bill will face the same difficulties in his journey downriver.

11:55 Why I’m making this trip--Idaho’s salmon are in trouble

-Highlight how dams kill salmon. Focus on the rapid decline of salmon in the 1960s and 1970s, directly following the construction of the lower Snake dams.

-Discuss sockeye issue (only 6 returned to redfish lake last year, etc.)

-Emphasize the need to remove the four high-cost, low-value dams on the lower Snake River.

-Highlight the need to act now, before Idaho’s sockeye lead the extinction wave.

-End by thanking everyone for coming, and noting that he will stick around for ten minutes for questions before launching down river.

12:15 Amanda will end. Thank audience for coming, allow room for questions.

12:30 Bill launches in his kayak, and begins his epic journey with a cheering crowd behind him!

Check out the great articles that have come out in the past week!

Salt Lake Tribune, Boise Weekly, Huron Daily Plainsman

I will be doing the Amazing Utah Outdoors radio show on Saturday morning around 7 am.