Meet your team leader at 7:30am for the two-hour bus ride to Hells Canyon rafting trip on the Snake River. We'll stop along the way for a ROW-hosted breakfast. Our launch point is at the base of Hells Canyon Dam, approximately 1,500 feet above sea level. Before launching rafts the ROW staff prepares you with a thorough safety briefing while personal gear is loaded. The briefing covers how to ride in a raft, how to paddle, how to swim through rapids and other tips for the days ahead. Once this is complete everyone chooses a raft and climbs aboard.
The Snake River has “pool and drop” characteristics. This means there's a long pool of calm water followed by a rapid. Not long after launching we run several splashy Hells Canyon rapids that give a fun, roller coaster ride a taste of what's to come.
When we stop for lunch, some guides prepare the meal while others give a “camp orientation” to explain how we minimize our impact on the river. ROW adheres to "Leave No Trace" camping ethics, so you'll learn where to wash up, how the toilet system works, where to brush your teeth, place trash, etc. Then it’s time to make a sandwich and enjoy the open-air dining experience.
We usually run two big class IV rapids the first day – Wild Sheep and Granite. These impressive rapids never fail to get a guide’s heart pumping. This is also a great day for fishing. The water is a bit cooler at this elevation and fishing for trout in the tail waters of the rapids is almost always successful.
Around 4:00pm we arrive at camp with plenty of free time for hiking, fishing, reading or just relaxing. Hors d’oeuvres are served around 6:00 and dinner around 7:30. The evening sky darkens and the first shimmering stars appear, inviting contemplation on the day and conversation with friends, new and old.