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The Story -White Water River Rafting on the Salmon River! by Elsie Whitesel 
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My grandson, Chris Imel, has worked as a river guide on the Salmon River out of Riggins , ID , for a river rafting company called Exodus Wilderness Adventures for about five years. I have always wanted to go on a trip with Chris. The time presented itself when my oldest daughter and her husband, Geri and Syd Rodin, were visiting from Scottsdale , AZ. I thought this would be a great way to return the wonderful time I had when I last visited them in April. They took me to see the Biosphere II, an experimental replica of what would be a self reliable, environmentally safe space station on the moon. I just wanted to show them a "special" time in return.

I talked with my youngest daughter, Jan Alldredge, who is also Chris' mother, and suggested the idea to her. She then tried to contact him, but he was on another river trip with other clients. Chris is Exodus' number one guide. On the five and seven day trips, he is not only the raft guide, but also camp host, cooks, cleans up and takes care of all their needs. It's a lot of hard work and responsibility but he loves doing it. We had to wait until Chris returned back to Riggins before we could schedule our half day trip. Since the weather had been in the triple digits we didn't want to spend much more than a half‑a‑day out on the water.

The five of us, my daughters Jan and Lynn Malcom, Geri and her husband Syd, and myself left Lewiston at about 9:OOAM, July 13'x' and drove the two hours on Hwy 95 to Riggins. What a beautiful drive! We stopped several times to take in the incredible scenery. The new White Bird grade is a far cry from the old highway. We could see down the canyon, to the left of us, the little town of White Bird . The mountains and canyon were beautiful with their green trees and foliage. There have been many changes over the years, with new little homes dotting the canyon floor.

We arrived in Riggins about noon, they are in Mountain Time :zone, making them one hour ahead of Lewiston which is in the Pacific Time zone. While we waited for the next five person raft and our exciting trip to begin, we ate the sandwiches I had prepared for lunch.

After taking group pictures from our launching point and getting strapped into life jackets, Chris gave us very specific instructions of how to hold onto the safety ropes and what to do in case we fell overboard. He assured us we were perfectly safe as long as we didn't panic and followed instructions. We were also glad to hear that he had never lost a rafter yet!

We launched in very calm waters, but were soon in white water rapids, four feet high;' and were entirely soaked. ' Since 'l had just ‑celebrated :my 85` birthday; some of. my friends and family were concerned that this might be too much for me, I was loving. every minute of it, laughing and screaming with the rest of my raft mates as the white water engulfed us.

As we calmly floated to the next set of rapids, the building anticipation coming from the noise of the raging river water pounding the rocks below was just a‑hint of the excitement to come. Chris would guide our raft right into the heart of the thundering white water, splashing us from head to toe. He has made this trip many times in the past and with his expertise knows how to handle the river. Before we knew it we were on the other side back to smooth sailing.

Most of the rapids we went through were considered a class three on a scale of one to six. With our experienced captain, I never once felt afraid but rather felt the wonderful adrenaline rush that thrill seekers get from this gift given to us by Mother Nature. I did have to wonder if the river's water level had dropped due to all the water I had swallowed! I did learn, however, to keep my mouth shut when heading into white waters.

In a stretch of calm water, Chris stood up, and exclaimed, "I'm tired of you people!" and jumped out of the raft. As he climbed in, Geri screamed something about the captain always goes down with the boat, not jumping ship. We all agreed. What fun!

A professional photographer followed us along the bank and at various points took pictures of 'our wet and wild time!' When we returned to Riggins, two hours later, the photographer had DVD's made for us of our entire trip.

Before starting our two hour trip back to Lewiston , we changed into dry clothes and had dinner at the Ridge Runner restaurant in Riggins. What a beautiful and fun time we had.

To contact Exodus call toll free 1‑800‑992‑3484 or visit their web site at www.riverescape.com . You can also see pictures of our trip and of other Exodus trips at www.rapidimages.net . If you plan a trip, I would suggest you ask for our favorite river guide: Chris Imel.


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Copyright June 19, 1996 Rodin International, Last modified: June 17, 2013