Between Utah, Montana, and this trip, I have done more in terms of traveling before the middle of June than I typically do all summer long. This particular hike was supposed to be to Stanley Hot Springs and the Seven Lakes Loop, but it was reduced to Boulder Creek due to high water and closed roads. Chuck and I had been talking about hiking somewhere in central Idaho for quite some time. We selected the Clearwater National Forest, which is also near the Bitterroot Wilderness Area. After significant planning for some backpacking, we decided to add a rafting trip since we were going to be right by some of the best white water in Idaho. So in addition to our backpack, we also rafted down the Lochsa River.
We utilized Three Rivers Rafting out of Lowell, Idaho, which is located at the intersection of where the Selway and Lochsa Rivers become the Clearwater River. We spent Thursday driving and then car camped in Lowell, Idaho, Thursday night. Friday morning we had a bit of breakfast, signed signed liability waivers, and grabbed our wet suits. Chuck and I jumped into the front of the raft with the least experienced guide hoping to have fun. Coincidentally, the guide on our boat was from North Dakota and was attending the University of North Dakota. Chuck and I both graduated college from the University of North Dakota. Of the 22 miles we rafted, there were approximately 40 rapids with about 12 of them being class IV+. The Lochsa Falls turned out to be the most exciting set of rapids as the boat in front of us lost individuals into the river, and the boat behind us tipped over entirely. Our raft made it through safely, and we assisted with picking up the pieces of the boat behind us.
We stopped for lunch and were served fried chicken, noodle salad, chips, salsa, kool-aid, cornbread, and cheesecake. As we finished up the rafting trip, we handed over our wet suits, fleece, and helmets, and were off to the hiking trailhead. Our intentions were to hike in four to five miles Friday night after rafting, do a ten to twelve mile day hike Saturday, and then hike out the four to five miles on Sunday morning and drive home. Unfortunately, when we reached the creek crossing at 4.2 miles, it was running more rapidly than we anticipated. We scoped it out and decided to try and ford Boulder Creek the next morning.
I was pretty tired from rafting, and we both slept in late on Saturday morning. After waking and having some breakfast, we knew we wouldn't be able to reach our original destination of the Seven Lakes area, so we decided not to cross Boulder Creek just to sit in Stanley Hot Springs on the other side. We broke camp and decided to do another short day hike in order to get some views of The Crags. After hiking back to the trailhead and our vehicles at Wilderness Gateway Campground, we drove back into Lowell, Idaho, for some lunch and to regroup. By the time we stopped at the Ranger Station and found out that the road to the trailhead of the day hike we wanted to check out wasn't open yet, it was approaching 4:00. At this point, we ran out of options and decided to cut our losses and return home.