Sister Time at its Best on Idaho’s Main Salmon River

My sister Mercedes and I grew up outdoors together. Our parents, former ski bums turned teachers, taught us how to thrive outside and how to love and appreciate water.

Born under Scorpio skies, I was a water baby from the beginning. I was first in the pool at three weeks in my parents’ arms, and by six months was happy as a river otter to putter around in my floaty with my sister and parents.

Sister Rafting Trip on Idaho's Main Salmon River

My first taste of whitewater was on a family rafting trip on the San Juan River in southern Utah. My dad rowed the raft while my sister and I paddled (haphazardly) in kayaks. The splash of the sediment, the sway of the willows, and the throaty roar of the waves combined with the love and fun of being outside with my family was undeniable. It was a beautiful unfolding of the cohesive atmosphere I now aim to facilitate as a river guide.

After guiding for a decade on land and water, in summer 2019, my sister joined me for a rafting trip on Idaho’s Main Salmon. Idaho is an acutely special place to guide because of the free-flowing rivers, unparalleled scenery, and incredible people. I could not wait to show it to her, and welcome her into my river world.

It had been nearly 15 years since Mercedes and I had played in a river together. We pushed off on a late August day into a dripping sun. With our smiling companions, mellow whitewater, and a hand-crank blender for daiquiris with fresh local peaches, we were ready for a river reverie.

Family bonding on a Main Salmon River rafting trip

As we headed downstream, we laughed, sang, and rowed our hearts out. A physical therapist, Mercedes supported our crew’s bedraggled late-season bodies.

Our Main Salmon rafting trip was joyful in the special way that trips with your loved ones are. Through games of horseshoes, hikes up the South Fork, sing-a-longs in camp, and the quiet solace of sisterhood, we wrapped ourselves up in the immersive experience of a river trip.

We talked lovingly about our parents and the lessons they had taught us in the outdoors, from treading slowly to making safe choices. As we relaxed under pine trees and enjoyed serene mornings, we made plans to return with our parents the following summer.

Though the pandemic changed this plan, as it did for many families, I know the river will be there.

For now, my sister and I reflect frequently on just how wonderful it was to share those summer sparkle days in Idaho the best way we know how: on the river.

 

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