Halfway to Halfway and Other River Stories, co-written and complied by ECHO co-owner Dick Linford, won first prize for anthologies/compilations at the prestigious San Francisco Book Festival. The book is a collection of stories by and about river guides and outfitters. The tales are not so much about crashing whitewater and acts of great daring. They are more the offbeat, funny, poignant stories that capture the unique character of the lucky few who make their living running rivers.
The Latest Word
We are pleased to announce that National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic’s magazine dedicated to travel, has selected Northwest Rafting Company’s trip on the Chuya and Bashkaus Rivers in Siberia as one of its 50 Tours of a Lifetime awards for 2013. This award is given to the year’s “most authentic, most innovative, most immersive, best guided, and most sustainable trips.” We consider this a very high honor.
Northwest Rafting Company is ECHO’s sister organization. ECHO is owned by Dick Linford and Joe Daly, while NRWC is owned jointly by Zach Collier, Dick and Joe. Both companies are run by Zach out of our Hood River Office.
ECHO and NWRC have been running trips in Siberia for years. The trips are organized by Vladimir Gavrilov, a Russian physicist who immigrated to the United States from Latvia in 1992. He came in order to give his family a better life and to run river trips for ECHO. While in Latvia, Vladimir explored over 40 rivers in Siberia and Central Asia, using home-made inflatable catamarans and often living off the land. He has written a book on his experiences titled Rivers of an Unknown Land. It has long been his dream to develop river trips in Siberia that offer the level of safety and comfort that Americans have come to expect on their river trips. He has succeeded.
We are very proud of the awards that both companies have won over the years. These include ECHO’s winning National Geographic Adventure’s Best Outfitter on Earth award in 2008 and 2009 (They then stopped issuing the award), and National Geographic Traveler’s Tour of a Lifetime award and Outside Magazine’s Trip of the Year award for our trip on Siberia’s Kaa Khem River in 2011.
Northwest Rafting Company (NWRC) won Outside Magazine’s Trip of the Year award for its trip to Bhutan in 2011, National Geographic Traveler’s Tour of a Lifetime award for our trip on Siberia in 2013. We were also voted Best of the Gorge in 2012.
We want to thank Zach and Vladimir for their professionalism and dedication to excellence.
There are many wonderful camps on the Middle Fork, and I could write a story about the good times I have had at many of those places. High on that list is Little Pine Camp on river left.
Little Pine gives people lots of options such as hiking, fishing, horseshoes, or simply hanging out around camp. There is a spectacular hike that takes you to a peak with a panoramic view of the river. The hike requires some effort, but it is well worth it. The Middle Fork is famous for its excellent catch and release fishing program. A person would have to work hard to catch nothing. Horseshoes, well, in all modesty, I should say very little. As part of the reigning champs on the ECHO crew, I think our record speaks for itself. All challengers are welcome.
But I think the best part of Little Pine is the sweeping splendor of the fields and rugged cliffs across the river. The open grassland, with its waving wild grasses, has the feel of a Mid-West grain field. Then to see Big Horn sheep casually wandering across this open space is a major treat. The sheep seem to be looking back across the river at us and saying to one another, “Who are those dudes?”
The ultimate may be the rocky cliffs down river on the right. They lend themselves very nicely to an ever changing light show as the setting sun washes across the face of the mountain. In the summer It takes the sun a long time to set in Idaho, so the show is a good one. Probably the best endorsement I ever heard for Little Pine came from a man with whom I was sharing a beer as we watched the play of light on the cliffs. Very quietly he said, “Even Bill Gates does not have a home like this.”
We’ve gone crazy for SUP (Stand Up Paddleboarding) here at ECHO!
The new inflatable SUPs are much more stable, especially with their ability to punch through waves and remain balanced in rapids. We’ve been experimenting with the new boards this spring on the Hood River and White Salmon River – both within 20 minutes of ECHO World Headquarters. A few of us have even gotten comfortable running Class III and IV rapids!
We just ordered some brand new Badfish MCIT boards for our Rogue River trips. The Rogue River is the perfect place to try out SUP. For the past couple of years, we’ve let people SUP in big pools around camp, but with the increased stability of the new style of boards, we’re ready to have you try them out downriver on some of the easier sections.
We’ll bring SUP boards along on most of our Rogue River trips this summer. If you’re excited to try this out let us know and we’ll make sure we have one along on your trip!
My favorite camp on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River has always been Survey (aka Dutch Oven). It’s a nice bench on the left side of the river at mile 75. What makes it special is the maze of small Ponderosa Pines.
Other camps on the Middle Fork stand out because of hot springs, views, side hikes, beautiful creeks, or natural history. I like Survey because I always have fun there. The Ponderosas give the camp a special magic that you can feel – almost like they’re happy to have you back for the night. There is an opening in the middle of the trees just big enough to host a party for 30 people (which has been known to happen).
The rapids before Survey are brilliant so everyone reaches camp on an adrenaline high. Since this camp is toward the end of the trip, everyone has gotten to know each other and is in the mood for a great time!
When camping at Survey, consider stopping at Rattlesnake Cave and hike the last mile to camp. You can look at the pictographs, and then hike up a steep trail to get a stunning view of Impassable Canyon.
Last August, I did my second trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. I was curious to see what the river was like at lower-water. (Since the first 25 miles of the Middle Fork get too shallow to raft later in the season, trips in August generally start downstream at Indian Creek). An unexpected side-effect of using the lower put-in is that it staggers your campsites differently, so I got to see some new spots on the Middle Fork and Camas Creek Camp is a new favorite spot!
Here’s why I loved it!
1. Awesome Tent Sites – The tent sites are located down a narrow path that runs parallel to the creek. Many of the tent sites have their own access to the creek, with trees and shrubs separating you from your neighbors. It felt like a wilderness settlement with my own little creek-front homestead!
2. Amazing Hiking – When doing just the lower 75 miles, you don’t feel as rushed and arrive at camp with more time to enjoy the area. I took an incredible hike with some fellow guests before dinner. We started along the creek and walked a few miles up and back down. It wasn’t a tough gradient, but eventually I noticed the creek was swirling far below us. The amazing Audrey Gehlhausen, an ultra-runner, told us it’s her favorite spot for a trail run.
3. Creekin’ – Who doesn’t like to play in a creek? I was splashing around in the shallow end like an 8 year old, and there’s some nice spots for swimming upstream. The water is a gorgeous shade of steel blue, and it’s a great spot to sit for a quiet moment in the morning.
4. Great Location – You reach Camas camp after running the series of rapids surrounding Tappan Falls. That 2-mile stretch is an exciting finish to an afternoon of boating. Heading out in the morning is a pretty easy paddle for a few miles with no major rapids.
5. Space station! – Okay, so this isn’t unique to Camas Camp, but it is a memorable highlight from my stay there. My father-in-law spotted the space station streaking across the sky and alerted everyone (loudly) to look up lest they miss it. Veteran guide, Colleen, had tried all summer to catch its transit, so she was excited to see it on this last trip of the season. I think we’ll all remember hearing the camp erupt with the “space station announcement”, but that’s one of the great things about a river trip – sometimes you just have to be there.
P.S. Check out our newest Middle Fork video!
We just finished this video about family rafting on the Rogue River. Enjoy!
We’d love to hear what you think!
The first 5 people to respond correctly will receive an ECHO stainless steel, insulated travel bottle perfect for your next river trip! Simply comment (using facebook) below and we’ll contact you if you’re a winner (BTW if you’re reading this you’re a winner no matter what).
When: Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 6-9 PM
Where: The Great Room at KEEN, 515 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
How much: Free (but you must RSVP at Eventbrite)
Join ECHO for the 3rd annual Wild Rivers Night, where we partner with river organizations to celebrate wild rivers. Renowned author and photographer Tim Palmer, will emcee the evening’s line up of short films featuring stunning footage of the Northwest and beyond!
New for 2013, we’ll have a silent auction featuring photography of the rivers and creeks of the Northwest. Proceeds from the silent auction will be split among the non-profit organizations American Whitewater, American Rivers, Western Rivers Conservancy and Pacific Rivers Council.