Thursday, December 17, 2009
Rafting trips on the Salmon River in Idaho are one of the premier vacation experiences in the United States. Relatively warm water, abundent wildlife and incredible whitewater are only part of what makes this such a unique family and adventure friendly experience. Here at Orange Torpedo Trips we view the Main Salmon rafting trip as the premier multiday whitewater family expedition experience. One reason we think this is such a great trip is the lodge we stay at the last night of our float.
Shepp Ranch has a rich history in the Salmon River canyon. Not only is the history long, but it is detailed. A daily journal from the ranch stems back over 75 years giving its history un-equaled accuracy and detail in the Salmon River Canyon.
The ranch at the mouth of Crooked Creek which float into on day 4 of our Main Salmon raft trip was founded by Charlie Shepp and Pete Klinkhammer in 1909. They purchased the ranch for $1000 with the plan of growing produce to sell to the miners in the local area. In 1910, their first year, they planted early and were something less than succesful but in following seasons they had a plentiful garden which included: potatoes, corn, beans, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, asparagas, rootabagas, watermelons, squash, tobacco, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, and hops. Gardening was mostly up to Charlie Shepp who maintained this bountiful garden in the summer seasons between floods.
Living deep in the backcountry of Idaho on the Salmon River was not, and is not, without its adventures. Simply getting in to town could be a life or death undertaking. The River of No Return by Johnny Carrey and Cort Conley tells a great tale of Pete Klinkenhammer and Jack Wilson trying to go from Grangeville back into the canyon when they became stuck in snow so deep it was up to the chest of their horses. The group hunkered down for the night and started a small fire simply hoping to survive. Eventually men from the local mining community who heard the men were on their way assumed they had become stuck in the storm and went out in the middle of the night looking for them. “Suddenly, through the darkness, came flashes of light and voices – 20 men on snowshoes, with swinging lanterns, from Humptown…. Each man had a bottle of whiskey, some had two. They brought food, everything, even hay for the horses. Shoveling out a clearing, they built a massive bonfire, set coffee pots to boil, then sat around the fire and talked and sang all night.” That is a true Idaho rescue party! The stories continue and you can read more about the great Salmon River Canyon history book The River of No Return
Shepp Ranch still holds onto its historical roots with the original cabin at the heart of the facility. Mike and Lynne who have been managing Shepp since 1982 are two of our favorite people with an unmatched ability to make everyone feel at home. When you arrive at Shepp Ranch Mike and the staff help load your gear onto the tractor while Lynne guides you up to the ranch house for fresh lemonade and cookies before you spend the afternoon relaxing in the shade, playing sand volleyball, fishing the creek, or hiking.
On our Salmon River rafting trips, Shepp Ranch is always a highlight for both customers and guides. Everyone loves the home cooked meals with vegetables fresh from the garden. A highlight for me is always the bonfire on the beach giving us guides a night to relax and spend time with our guests. If we have not seen you on a rafting trip down the Salmon River before I hope we do this year.