A section devoted to boaters telling stories of virgin river runsSalmon River with Charlie Amman
(As told to Nick Callanan on August 8, 2002)
“No shit, there we were going down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in mid April.
“Being an east coast boy, I figured the thaw would’ve set in by then. Wrong.
“Mountains of ice glaciers and snow everywhere. The put in was under three feet of snow.
“We checked at a local restaurant who suggested using the Marsh Creek access to the Mddle Fork but of course our maps did not include Marsh Creek, nor the Middle Fork. So we wandered aimlessly in search of Marsh Creek somewheres in the John Muir Wilderness area of no return in the Sawtooth Mountain Range.
“I had somehow found my way into this trip via friends of friends only to discover the trip leader’s name was Stinky. Something deep inside of me told me I was in for the ride of my life.
“We had all given Stinky $200 to buy food for the entire trip (25 of us). When we arrived at our newly discovered put in at Marsh Creek (we found it!), we discovered Stinky hadn’t bought any new food with our money but new equipment for himself instead… but he did, however, have five cases of Power Bars that he’d stolen from his brother, an Olympic kayaker.
“Unfortunately Stinky had none of his brother’s traits (i.e mental stability, knowledge of rivers, common sense).
“By day 3 of our 21 day trip, Stinky had managed to flip his raft and loose all of our newly bought gear. All that was left was two cases of soggy Power Bars.
“We bedded down at a campsite: Sheepeater Hot Springs. The day had been quite cold and I found myself wallowing in the 104 degree hot springs from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. By the time my friends discovered me I was like parboiled chicken – bloated, white and quite delusional. My only distinct memory at this point was seeing two deer frolicking out in the distance. A very peaceful memory it was.
“My friends abruptly scooped me out of the hot springs and I looked like shocked pasta.
“Next thing I remember I have all my friends standing around me discussing my situation and my widely fluctuating vitals and then me asking, ‘Where’s my truck?’
"They told me my truck was 40 miles upriver and that I was going on a helicopter ride to the hospital – I was delusional, unstable vitals, lower back pain, dry mouth despite water consumption and I was just friggin’ whacked dude, saying things like ‘I wanna go paddling with Jesus.’
“Next stop St. Alphonsus Regional Hospital, Boise, Idaho.
“First time there they tested me for everything. They gave me IV juice and it made me feel better and I tried to get one [IV setup] to take back to the river. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me and I didn’t have insurance so I signed myself out AMA [against medical advice].
“I tried to hitch back to my friends 300 miles away. I made it four miles out of town and when the police found me I just mumbled, ‘hospital.’
“They brought me back only for the ER to say ‘we thought we’d you again Mr. Amman.’
“I promised I’d be good. Then they finally figured out what was wrong with me, cauterized it and the next thing you know, after a bit of rest, I’m back on the river, in time for day 18 of the trip.”
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