Hell’s Canyon has been one of my family’s traditions for as long as I can remember. I have memories of picking blackberries and getting dumped out of a tube into the Snake River from the time I was 2-years-old. That may have only been 15 years ago, but to me, that’s a lifetime. Every Fourth of July, my dad’s side of the family plans to spend a week at “our” campground near Hell’s Canyon dam. The last couple of years, Riley, my cousin and I have decided to assert ourselves as men and drive to camp ourselves (Probably with a little setup help from our parents; oh, and gas money. We need gas money).
July 2nd: For 2019, Riley and I loaded our gear into my 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser, which is my daily driver. I bought a 4’ x 6’ trailer to load my 2002 Honda XR250 on along with our coolers, and we hit the road. The initial drive from my hometown of Payette to the deepest river gorge in North America was beautiful. We left in the late afternoon and watched the sun set across the rolling hills that lead to the switch-back river roads. Upon arrival to the campground, we discovered that the only part of my family that had arrived so far was my brother, Tyler, and his family. Riley and I set up our bedding under the stars and hit the hay as soon as we could. After what seemed like a short nap, I rolled over to discover I was getting rained on. I grabbed my phone, which was the only light I had, and ran to get the tent out my car. I unfolded the tent and just pulled it over us and whatever things needed to be kept dry. We slept a few more hours and woke up to clear blue skies and the sun beating down on us. Figures.
July 3rd: The rest of the family filed in that morning and we had a good breakfast before starting the activities of the day. We played Kan-Jam (a frisbee game that is amazing!) until it got too warm. After that, we tried out Tyler’s new surf boat. I did terrible. It was still tons of fun. We rounded the day off with a short dirt bike ride to the overlook on KleinSchmidt Grade. One of my buddies, Bryce, showed up that afternoon and we set up our hammocks that night. The next day was Independence Day.
July 4th: Myself, Riley, Bryce, another one of my cousins, and a few others did the full ride up KleinSchmidt and continued on through an old mining town called Cuprum. We went to check out the old copper mining area which is now just a rain catch that holds the crystal clear water year round. We completed the thirty-mile loop in time to get a little tubing session in with my sister, Heather’s, boat. Riley, Savanna, Whitney, Avery, Parker, Alex, Bryce, and I got smacked around on the water and had fun before dinner. We killed some time playing Kan-Jam and then sat around the campfire listening to Tyler play his guitar and sing Imagine Dragons. The stars were the only fireworks we saw, but they were good enough for us.
July 5th: I rolled out of my hammock to the smell of pancakes on the camp griddle. After breakfast we played in the water with the boats and on the single tubes. My favorite quote from the week came when Alex and my nephew, Parker, were on the tubes. Heather was driving and Alex gave her the signal to stop; she had been giving them quite a ride but nothing that flipped besides the sheer speed of being whipped around the boat. Alex yelled from his tube, “Heather, I want to fly.” Heather proceeded to chuck the two of them over some of the biggest waves I’ve seen. They didn’t stay very long after that…
Midday rolled around and I decided to pack my stuff up and go home. I said my goodbyes and headed out. Even though, this year’s trip was shorter than normal, I loved every minute of it. It’s always nice getting to spend time with family that I don’t see often. The adventures we had were great but the company was what made it all the best. Hell’s Canyon 2020 better be more of the same.