I just returned from a five-and-a-half hour jet boat excursion to Hells Canyon on the Snake River. My face hurts and I'm exhausted from trying keep my lips together against a 40mph wind. Of course, I could have sat on the boat somewhere other than the stern where I wouldn't have taken such a beating from the wind, but the ride was more fun there.
The Snake River is over 1,000 miles long and is the largest tributary of the Columbia River. Hells Canyon is the deepest river gorge in North America. We started in Clarkston, WA where the Clearwater River flows into the Snake, and we traveled about 40 miles south to Dug Bar, below where the Salmon River flows into the Snake. People do multi-day rafting trips from the Hells Canyon Dam to Lewiston, ID, and every time I saw a raft all I could think of is the "The River Wild." Once you get into the canyon area, there's really no way out other than on the river, unless you want to try scrambling over arid basalt and limestone mountains which are home to black bears, cougars, rattlesnakes, elk, big horn sheep, etc.
The Snake River is as flat as glass in some places and has Class V rapids in others. We stopped to look at ancient Indian petroglyphs at a place where the river is 100 feet deep. That is where the 12 feet long, 1,000 pound sturgeons live. Swimming? No, thank you.
Shortly after we started down the river this morning I experienced a moment of pure happiness. I had the same feeling last Thursday morning when I pulled off the Pacific Coast Highway to enjoy the scenic overlook above Manzanita, OR. In both cases I was looking at beautiful natural scenery, but my happiness stemmed mostly from the recognition of being present. I suffer from what I call "preparation syndrome." I spend so much time researching, scheduling, reserving, planning for contingencies, etc. for an event that the event itself can become anticlimactic – as if I’ve done it already. I also suffer from what I'll call "bucket list syndrome," in which the idea of being able to say that I WENT THERE AND IT WAS GREAT can make the destination more important than the journey. My trip down the Oregon coast from Cannon Beach to Netarts wasn’t planned in advance, rather it was the suggestion of a man who couldn’t accommodate me in his RV park. I hadn’t planned on going to Clarkston, WA until the woman at the RV park in Netarts suggested I drive The Northwest Passage Scenic Byway en route to Polson, MT. I didn’t plan to take a jet boat excursion on the Snake River and it wasn’t on my bucket list: I just did because it was there to do and I knew it would be fun. It was spontaneous – like buying BOB – so perhaps spontaneity leads to presence and presence leads to pure happiness.
Siobhan M. Knox
In May 2016, I bought a five ton, 25’ long Class C motorhome because I like to drive, I like to travel, and it’s more fun and less expensive than living in a hotel. No prior RV experience was required, and I had none: perfect. I’m writing a book about my adventures which will come to an end when I get a job. The dogs will be sad.