Selway River

Momma Nature has unleashed spring. The Yellowstone River is engorged like an overfed snake winding through town and the valley below my cabin. I was actually supposed to be on the Selway River right now. I was lucky enough to draw a permit. A dozen river rat friends and I put in for permits every year but Selway permits are rare. Second only to the Grand Canyon trip on the Colorado River, the Selway is extremely difficult to get a permit for. Only one group is allowed to launch each day. The wilderness river is a classic challenge very few are priviledged to attempt. Only fifty percent of the lucky people awarded a permit actually get to launch since river conditions must be carefully monitored. Seven years ago I was the only girl to join a group of guys on an early season Selway river trip. Two days into the trip, spring run-off coupled with high mountain thunderstorms raised the river three feet overnight. FLOOD STAGE. We camped on the edge of the raging river and waited. Huge rocks made the rumbling sound of thunder and vibrated the earth beneath our feet as they rolled in the strong current. Giant trees tumbled like twigs in the tumultuous murky ice cold water. Each morning we hiked to the rapids below our camp, tucked our tails, and returned to camp. We actually hiked to high country one afternoon carrying hammocks to nap away from the loud fury of river sound. Seeking whitewater high adrenaline thrills, we found ourselves in awe of the river and actually more rested up and relaxed in the forced stand still. I literally watched snails move on blades of grass in the early morning sun, ate chocolate covered raisons and drank wine in the middle of the day while reading out loud.
Eventually I packed a small fanny pack and hiked 20-something miles downriver out of the wilderness and back to civilization. The boys waited out the flood…for weeks…before giving up and flying out. They returned by small plane many weeks later to get the rafts and gear.
So…I have floated part of the infamous Selway River. Someday luck and Momma Nature might give me another chance. Meanwhile, I am glad for the spring and the moisture. Right now rain is pelting my metal roof; the forest floor is gratefully and greedily quenching it’s thirst, and I am reveling in the lush life-full green.