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Ocean to Idaho

Behind the Scenes: Raft Life

Living, and working, on a raft in the wilderness is full of shock value. There’s a running list moments when you say, “How are we going to survive this?”

The following countdown of some of those moments while following salmon from the ocean to Idaho is revealed here. 80 miles of the 850-mile migration is roadless. Raft required. Everything you are about to read about that stretch is totally freaky and totally true. This is the reality of raft life in 3-2-1.

3: Three blow outs
Tire changes are mandatory when driving to and from boat ramps via bumpy, bad dirt roads. There’s at least 1 every trip, but this year’s 3 is a new record.

2: Two torn muscles
One on the first night in the arm of the dad playing beach volleyball. The other in my chest day three. A rapid kicks me out of the raft, but I hold on waaaaaay too tight to stay above water. Good thing I do because the rower goes overboard. I jump in his seat, grab the oars and row. Push aside the pain and steer lady. This house is about to flip.

1: One extracted tooth
I’m brushing my teeth by river’s edge before sunrise. It’s day 4, shooting day, and I’m deciding my camera angle for first light. I look down, feet in water and toothbrush in mouth, as a tooth floats between my toes. Roots and all. I panic thinking it’s mine, but there’s no blood. We’re camped below the bluff of an old homestead. The homesteader is buried on the hill. We decide it’s his tooth. Or someone upstream took a paddle to the face and knows there’s no such thing as emergency dental care out here.

Raft life. Who’s ready to go with me?