August was a dry and smoky time, so we checked out to the Selway Wilderness for a five day adventure down the river.
As one of the premier floats in the nation, the Selway river has always lived up to its reputation. We scooched through the shallow water on day one to camp above North Star Creek. After unpacking our boats, the smoke picked up mightily and began to turn to a dull roar with fast moving smoke. Within five more minutes the fire on our side of the river crowned out the ridge about five hundred feet above the water and into some Douglas Fir and brush facing us. We had quite the show all night with the fire behavior quite steady as it progressed up the ridge and away from us generally but with a creeping brush event crawling downslope. It was eerie to fall asleep watching it glow in one spot, only to awaken later and have it glowing a completely different constellation further up the ridge.
Quite beautiful. So beau in fact the two of our party launched into the dark and paddled down through the dark and the burn for another five miles that night to Goat Creek.
Over the next five days we paddled in and out of fire. What we saw looked like mostly a beneficial fire, not too drastically hot or torched out was the river corridor. When we turned the corner to run the canyon at Moose Creek there was another fire there, as well as some fresh fire thrown trees in the river. One big log in particular between Goat Creek and Moose Creek might linger and pose a threat to boaters at certain water levels. There certainly could be surprises for next seasons early river runners.
All the major and minor rapids still have lines in them when the flow is 650 cfs or so. There is quite a bit of pushing along especially in pin ball alley river right, however we never had to portage and we made the trip in four comfortable paddling days.
We lay over at Tony Point a beautiful river left beach with beautiful trees and a place to perfect hackysack. With good deepwater bouldering, swimming and fly fishing it was a great place for us to linger amongst the cedars and smoke and water crescendo. Returning to civilization is always a bit to early on a short trip , and I look forward to returning to the Selway again next season.
- Camping Beachside Selway River