My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Paddle on Henry's Fork of the Snake River

Since Steve and Cheri brought an extra boat, I've taken on the task of making sure it gets its share of exercise. When I started planning things for my friend, Natalie to do while visiting me, they suggested that we paddle Henry's Fork of the Snake River  since we would be able to run a shuttle.  This trip starts below Big Springs, which pumps over 120 million gallons of water a day, and is the primary source of Henry's Ford of the Snake River.

Looking Downstream from Bridge at Big Springs

We didn't get started until mid morning and then we decided to tour Big Springs and also visit Johnny Sack's Cabin.  He was a bachelor but built an exquisite, luxurious cabin in on a hillside just above the springs in the early 1920's. . He cut his wood for the cabin with the bark still on the logs.  Then he treated them with linseed oil and buried them for a year. The glossy, bark-covered wood makes for an interesting wall and trim treatment.  He brought in oak from somewhere else to make the floors in the great room where he laid it in the log cabin pattern used in quilts. He also made all the furniture and even the light fixtures. I didn't get a picture of the outside of the cabin but it was built in the style of the waterwheel shed. 

Waterwheel and shed

Loved the hooks
All built by Johnny Sack

Bark-covered boards for artistic details

Oak flooring in log cabin quilt pattern

One of two bedrooms - furniture by Johnny Sack

He was the only winter resident in the area and spent his winters making furniture to sell.  He also built cabins for other people. He did all his work with hand tools, which are also on display. 

We also had to go look for the huge trout the springs are famous for but the sun was too high and only ring-billed gulls fought for the bread brought by visitors. 

We finally got around to running our shuttle about 11:00 A. M. and were on the river by noon, just in time to get to paddle with lots of  of floaters, including families with young children. And they floated in commercial rafts, canoes, kayaks, and inner tubes. 

Natalie and Cheri at the start

The river was clear and shallow and, especially at first, it was hard to follow the channel and find water deep enough to float our boats. But soon we worked around the sometimes beached floaters, and mostly had deeper water for the rest of the trip.  We only paddled 5 - 6 miles to the next bridge.  We mostly paddled though meadows but had some trees along our route. 


Natalie on the move
Chari and Steve

Then, after retrieving Steve's truck, and loading up the boats, we traveled about another 20 miles to eat lunch on Steve's property.  By this time it was mid afternoon so we ate the chicken and sweet potato salad I'd fixed for lunch and the green salad and Mississippi Caviar that Chari and I had fixed for supper. 

Lunch on Steve's property

On the way home we stopped at two magnificent waterfalls, the Lower Mesa and the Upper Mesa Falls, which are on the Henry Fork of the Snake River.  They sure made us glad we hadn't missed our takeout.  We made it home a little after 9:00 P.M. and were soon asleep. 

Upper Mesa Falls

Lower Mesa Falls from several hundred feet up and away

A closer view of the drops on Lower Mesa Falls

Another great day with wonderful friends.