I have been thinking about kayak season ever since finishing The Gambler and I must say im super excited about the change in weather and the thought of water not being frozen. With large snopacks looming in the mountains ready to release their load it was time to travel to a warmer destination to prepare for the 2009 kayak season.
I got the call from Gary E. ”Snake River Murtaugh and Milner Mile 18 grand get your ass to Jackson”. I hit the road Friday heart pounding and tingles running thru my fingertips with excitement. Kayaking is a way of life, it can consume your thoughts and will more then likely destroy a few relationships during your career as a weekend road warrior kayaker.
5 hours and many red bulls later I hit Jackson around mid night and looked forward to a 6am wake up to load boats and continue on the road to whitewater Idaho.
Everyone wants to get a look at paradise but not many want to run it!
We had a great crew Austin rafman, Gary Edgeworth and the future of kayaking young Teague. As we rolled of the backside of the Teton range into Idaho we got our first glimpse of the swollen Snake River, it was banks full and moving fast towards our destination. Driving thru Idaho you would never know the snake river exists as it has carved its way thru the agriculture rich soil to create one of the deepest river gorges in North America. Spanning only 1300 feet wide and over 500 feet deep in spots the snake river looks more like a fault line across Idaho then a river bed. The Basalt lava flows have shaped the canyon walls, although some historians believe the lake Bonneville flood formed the canyon. Over 15,000 years ago the flood raged thru the canyon filling at over 350 feet tall pushing 15 million cfs between the constrictions of the canyon walls. Today the highest documented flow is 72,000cfs which occurred in 1894. Currently between so many dams and lakes you are lucky to see flows above a few thousand cfs, which is why our trip was so special to be able to see 18,000 roaring thru the canyon.
We connected up with some of Idahos best paddlers and as we settled our boats on the river bank. Gary glances over to me with a huge smile on his face and says “theres royalty on the water today Mulkey” I look around and sure enough Rob lesser whitewaters sir hillary of Everest is making his way to the rivers edge. One of the great things about Kayaking is it’s a small community and a release of this size has brought padllers from every corner of each state across the Rocky Mountains. If you’re a kayaker and do not know who Rob is then you need to sit down and read this link HERE. Young Teague at the age of 13 knew exactly who he was and the legend that proceeds him. Teague had a smirking smile that turned into a look of fear as he followed Rob thru the first big rapid. For anyone young or old this would be like going to play catch with Joe Montana or hit baseballs with Ted Williams. As we continued down the river that day I soaked up every story and piece of history Rob was willing to dish out and I was amazed and humbled by his ease to live life to its fullest.
The next day we ventured up the canyon to what it is called the Milner Mile and is known as North Americas biggest mile of whitewater. Its only a mile yes, but your gonna earn every stroke, bombs going off every second while your paddling thru a mind field of holes and waves 15 to 20 feet over your head. Kung Fu paddling Gary calls it, throwing your body and arms into each stroke and movement as you navigate one of whitewaters biggest battle fields.
The weekend was short but full of excitement and good company!