The 2021 Season, What an Incredible Ride!

We hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of the winter season and getting into the holiday spirit. Winter is always an exciting time at Confluences as our boat house and base of operations in Idaho once again falls under the spell of winter. The seasons are changing and we wanted to reflect on another incredible season.

The summer of 2021 was filled with so many powerful memories. We couldn’t have done it without our community. We had multiple trips down our beloved Salmon River with both old and new friends. We had trips with families that came out on the river and found a place of connection and adventure. We also had inspiring trips with Idaho Rivers United and Idaho Conservation League, two incredible conservation-minded nonprofit organizations in Idaho. We learned on those trips that if you’re trying to protect something, there is nothing like experiencing it first hand. We also saw many young faces out on the river this summer and it fills our hearts to the brim when we can share the Salmon River with the younger generations. 

Our team created a short video highlighting the 2021 season! If you were on the river with us we hope it brings back fun-filled memories. If you’ve been thinking about getting out on the River of No Return, please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

We are so grateful for our core team of guides, Chris, Gabby, and Bohdi. Each one of them brings a unique passion to the Salmon river and we are so proud of their tireless enthusiastic work this season. As a team they guided many different groups down the river, from trips with Idaho Rivers United and Idaho Conservation League, to family oriented get togethers and celebrations, they are rockstars! 

We can’t really believe that 2022 is almost upon us. Luckily that means more river time is just around the corner! If you’re hankering for some time on the water let us know.

Happy Holidays!

Camping on the Salmon River with Confluences River Expeditions – Everything You Need to Know

Camping on the Salmon River is the closest we have come to paradise. Since 1982 we have been perfecting everything about our camp culture. From spacious tents and sleeping mattresses to mouth watering entrees and beer pairings, come discover the magic of multi-day rafting with Confluences River Expeditions!

Pulling into camp along the Salmon River every afternoon is one of the highlights of a trip with Confluences River Expeditions. Whether we choose a huge white sand beach, or a gorgeous ponderosa pine stand, we bring all the amenities that’ll make you excited to transition into camp-life. The flow of a Confluences trip is intentionally designed to create an environment for you to relax, unplug, and explore. As soon as we hit the beach, the guides unload the boats and each guest will have the opportunity to select their own personal tent sight where they will create a “home-away-from-home” for the evening. Once you’ve changed into your comfy camp clothes, head on over to the fire and find out what’s for dinner! From there you’ll get an idea of what fun activities are brewing up specifically for that wilderness evening spent under a canopy of stars. 

Gear

Our tents and assorted camp gear have been filtered through years of experience to give you the most comfortable, spacious, and luxurious adventure on the river. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned backpacker or a camping beginner, our mission is to make everyone comfortable on our adventures. We utilize easy to set up, incredibly roomy tents that fit two guests wonderfully. If a solo tent is what you’re after that is no problem at all, you’ll be able to select this option when booking. Each guest is also given a freshly laundered and oh-so-comfy sleeping bag for the duration of the trip. All of these items are placed upon our prized “Paco-pads”, without a doubt the most comfortable wilderness sleeping mattress in the world. You won’t believe how dreamy the set up is. You’ll understand why some folks call it “glamping” (glamour camping). Combine this tent set up with CRE mugs, comfy folding chairs, evening fires, and decadent meals. Getting to camp each afternoon may become your favorite part of the day!

Clothing

Summer weather on the Salmon is usually glorious. Hot sun-filled days ideal for swimming give way to cloudless nights perfect for sleeping under a blanket of stars. However, inclement weather can roll in and it’s important to be prepared. Just in case, we highly recommend bringing a set of rain gear, jacket and pants. We also suggest bringing warmer layers for cooler nights. A fleece or down jacket usually does the trick. Don’t forget to pack comfy clothes for camp life too. Along with something festive for costume night! If you have any questions about packing for your Salmon River rafting trip don’t hesitate to call, our staff are always happy to talk about gear. 

Tower of power dutch oven stack

 

Food

At Confluences you’ll find the “tower of power” (3-4 stacked dutch ovens) a common site in our kitchen. We LOVE cooking in these incredible tools. They allow us to turn any camp along the Main Salmon into a five star restaurant! In the morning as you’re taking in the first warm rays of sun you may smell stuffed french toast sizzling on the griddle combined with the warm, rich aroma of coffee. In the evening, the air could be thick with the flavor of pork tenderloin and raspberry chipotle cream sauce, or filet mignon with grilled onions and a side of rosemary red potatoes. Each dinner is served with optional beer or wine pairings, handpicked for the way they compliment each flavor of the meal.

We pride ourselves on our menu and can accommodate any food restriction, whether allergy or preference. And don’t worry, we have great menu options for youngsters too, everyone at the table will be a happy camper. Read more about Confluences’ food philosophy here. Come see why eating on a river trip is almost as much fun as the rapids!

Camp life

Settling into camp-life is one of the best parts of a trip with Confluences. Whether you’re looking to kickback with your toes in the sand, explore a gorgeous side creek, fish the afternoon away, or partake in fun leadership and team-building activities our guides will point you in the right direction! We also have a fire each evening that usually inspires some singing, story-telling, s’more roasting, and star gazing. Every evening on our trips is designed for you to make the most out of your time in the Frank Church Wilderness

Bathrooms

If you’re nervous about the restroom situation let us put your mind at ease. Rest assured that we have refined our bathroom system over the last 38 years and have come up with a sanitary method that is simple, PRIVATE, and incredibly scenic. Read more about our “groover” here. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions! 

Get in touch

Our reservation team is happy to talk about any aspect of your river trip. We have the ability to accommodate nearly any request. Give us a ring and let’s see how we can make your Salmon River adventure simply unforgettable! (208)-756-6215 or info@confluencesriverexpeditions.com

Dutch Oven Tips! Cooking River-style with Confluences River Expeditions

Dutch ovens (D.O.’s) are a staple of many river kitchens.

The Confluences river kitchen is no exception. We usually employ 3-4 dutch ovens a night, each specifically tasked with creating a delicious part of our elaborate river meals. They allow us to turn any camp into a five star restaurant!

Dutch ovens have a long, storied history. They are beloved on the river because they allow a cook to create anything one would want to bake in a conventional oven. Pizzas, loaves of bread, tasty sweet desserts, anything is possible. You’re limited only by your imagination. If you’ve ever been inspired to learn the ways of a dutch oven then there’s no doubt you have also been intimidated. In this post we will show you some of our best practices for cooking with these versatile kitchen tools. If you follow a couple easy steps, we are sure dutch oven cooking will become your new favorite way to prepare a meal. 

There’s a lot to cover in the world of dutch ovens. In this post we are going to focus on the basics of preparing, cooking and serving in a dutch. Stay tuned for recipe ideas in later posts! 

Types: Aluminum vs. Cast Iron

This topic is hotly debated in the dutch oven community. There are pros and cons to both types, with the major considerations for us being weight and cleaning procedures. On the river we choose cast aluminum dutch ovens because they weigh less than cast iron. A medium sized 14” aluminum dutch weighs in at 8 pounds, where a similarly sized cast iron dutch weighs 25 pounds. We typically carry 5 D.O.’s with us on our river trips, choosing cast aluminum saves us around an 85 pounds. Also note the different cleaning practices recommended for differing styles of D.O.’s. Aluminum can be cleaned like a normal dish, with soapy water and a sponge, whereas cast iron should not be cleaned with soap as it strips the “seasoning” off the oven. You can read more here.

Preparing and Placement

At Confluences we are meticulous about cleanliness in our river kitchens. Dutch oven preparation is no exception. You always want to make sure the D.O. is cleaned out and fresh for whatever delicacy you choose to create next. Depending on what that is, you will want to oil the inside of the dutch to avoid any sticking during the cooking process. Parchment paper works great too! One side note: some recipes inherently contain a lot of oil, particularly desserts. Avoid adding excess oil as much as possible. 

Dutch oven placement is a crucial aspect to the process. Especially when cooking outside where flat surfaces are hard to come by. Cooking on an uneven surface may result in an uneven final product! We like to use the metal lid of the fire pan as the base for our dutch ovens. But a metal pizza pan or D.O. lid works great too. The trick is creating a barrier between the bottom layer of coals and the ground, you want the heat to rise into the oven, not escape into the earth. 

Fuel 

Coals are the fuel of choice for dutch oven cooking. To activate the coals we put them over an open flame in the firepan, allowing them to light. Be sure that the coals don’t sit too long, they’ll turn to ash and not provide enough heat for your soon to be delicious D.O. creation. Our trick is transferring them with a small shovel or tongs to the dutch oven when the coals are roughly 2/3rds lit (not smoking anymore, color turning grey and red).

Quantity of Coals

There is some debate on this topic within the D.O. community. Even between river companies we’re sure there exist many “right” ways to number and place your coals. We will share our method that works well for our menu. Make sure to understand the heat requirements for what you’re trying to cook. You want to avoid drying out desserts, so typically less heat is fine. If you’re cooking meat or potatoes more heat may be required. 

Confluences River Expeditions dutch oven method:

  • We use the 1/3rd method, taking the number of coals we place on top and dividing by three for the bottom. 
  • We evenly disperse the coals. We create a ring of coals around the brim of the D.O. lid and place 2-4 coals in the middle of the lid. We also spread the coals evenly under the dutch oven.
  • We make sure to use less heat on the bottom. 

Checking the Dutch

Channel locks are a great tool for a dutch oven professional. The oven will be hot and the coals are dangerous. You’ll want to confidently grasp the D.O. while keeping a safe distance. Before you lift the lid be sure to know what you’re looking for. Is your meal golden brown, crisp, pulling back from the edges? Does it jiggle when you tap the side of the D.O.? You’ll lose valuable heat from the oven the longer you look so lift the lid prepared!

Serving!

If your meal is fully cooked use the channel locks to slide the coals off the top lid back into the fire. Carry the D.O. to a “landing zone.” Somewhere safe and stable where your meal can rest. You want to make sure all the flavors in your delicacy have time to meld together. Once your meal has had time to cool slightly, dig in and enjoy!

We hope these tips give you confidence to explore the exciting world of dutch oven cooking! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or want some recipe ideas!

Current Idaho Snow Pack and What It Means

What’s going on with all the snow in the mountains and how does it impact this upcoming summer? 

Here in Idaho we are lucky to have an abundance of free flowing rivers. What does this mean exactly? A free flowing river is defined as a waterway that has been largely unaffected by human made changes to its flow and connectivity. Dams, for example, are one of the largest and most notable obstructions we humans can put in place to restrict a river’s free flowing character. Way up high in the Columbia River watershed flows the mighty Salmon River, tucked away in its Idaho sanctuary, the Frank Church Wilderness. In this remote and wild mountain stronghold the Salmon’s free flowing character has been preserved through both inaccessibility and legal acts.

The free flowing character of the Salmon River means that the water level within the river corridor fluctuates throughout the year. Because there are no dams to sequester snow melt in reservoirs and release consistent amounts of water, the Salmon witnesses an annual pattern of water rise and drop. Typically this looks like high water in the spring that turns into low water as the year continues on. As the snow begins to melt it floods the rivers and tributaries creating high water events that are sometimes breathtaking to behold! This usually happens between April and June. A ride down the river during this time period is sure to be exhilarating. After June the water level comes down and the river takes on its normal, more friendly appearance. Time to break out the swimsuits and beach chairs! August and September are usually the last rafting months of the year. The water has reached a low point and the weather is beginning to turn sour. These months usually see an influx of fishermen and women hoping to bait big trout out of the deep slow moving eddies. 

This annual pattern comes and goes time and time again.  For free flowing rivers it is largely powered by snow! Think of mountainous snow fields and capped peaks as giant suspended reservoirs where the water is trapped in a frozen, inaccessible state. When the season changes and temperatures rise this giant reservoir begins to release its liquid treasure. Although this phenomenon is typically consistent, the amount of water that this yearly reservoir will release is rarely the same. This is because not all snow is created equal. Some snow holds more water than others and this is where we begin to understand how to value it. 

Snow Water Equivalent, or SWE, is the term used to describe how much liquid water is held in frozen snow. You can think about it as the depth of liquid water that would theoretically result if one melted the entire snow pack instantaneously. This measurement is important for many organizations that rely on snow melt. Examples being reservoirs, power companies, farmers, and rafting organizations. 

The good folks at the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Water and Climate Center collect data on snow water equivalent through multiple snow telemetry, or SNOTEL, monitoring stations throughout the United States. There is an incredible amount of interesting information on their website. Find more here! A tool that we at Confluences look at is the Current Snow Water Equivalent Percent of Normal Maps created by the USDA and NRCS. 

These maps give us insight into how the snow pack shapes up and transforms throughout the winter. Currently the SWE in our neck of the woods is looking right around average at 96% for the Salmon River area! This may change throughout the rest of the winter, but at the moment it looks like we are heading into another classic Idaho water year! Expect some big water in April and June transitioning into perfect flows for that epic family vacation in July and August! See you out on the water! 

The 2019 season at Confluences River Expeditions! Remembering incredible times.

The summer of 2019 was truly special for the Confluences river family. We had multiple trips down our beloved Salmon River with both old and new friends. We had trips with families that came out on the river and found a place of connection and adventure. We also had a trip with Camp Hodia, an Idaho camp for kids with diabetes.  We learned on that trip that there is nothing like finding independence and friendship through exploration in the Frank Church Wilderness. We saw many young faces out on the river this summer and it fills our hearts to the brim when we can share the Salmon River with the younger generations. 

We created a short video highlighting the Confluences experience with many clips from the 2019 season! We hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you were on the river with us we hope it brings back fun-filled memories. If you’ve been thinking about getting out on the River of No Return, please don’t hesitate to reach out! 

Our mission is to bring groups together for world class experiences on the Salmon River. We want to provide unparalleled opportunities for fun vacations, family reunions, corporate training, and more! 

The team at Confluences is looking forward to this year’s season. 2020 is shaping up to be an incredible summer. We can’t wait to make more memories back out on our beloved Salmon River! Thank you to everyone who made our 2019 season so unforgettable!

10% Discount on Prime CRE 2020 Launch Dates

Happy winter from a snow covered sleepy Idaho! Deep within the Idaho Rockies, at the Confluences River Expeditions basecamp, all the river gear is packed away and the boathouse is under a couple feet of snow. All the guides are off enjoying their winters and our hometown of Cascade Idaho has fallen into a cozy rhythm of winter life. 

We at Confluences River Expeditions have been thinking a lot about this upcoming summer season. We are so excited about it that we thought it would be fun to share some of that excitement with you. That is why from now until the end of February we are offering a 10% discount on some of our most exciting summer river trips! If you’ve been dreaming about getting out on the Main Salmon River now is your time to plan that unforgettable family vacation. What’s better in the depths of winter than knowing there’s an exciting splashy summer adventure to look forward to? Besides, there’s nothing better than the gift of experience! 

From now until February 29th, 2020, we are offering 10% off some of our most exciting river trip dates. 

Applicable launch dates that apply are: June 28th, July 6th, July 22nd, August 7th, and August 15th.

You can use the coupon code “CRE 2020” online, or get in touch with our Associate Manager Jake at 208.756.6215 or email jake@confluencesriverexpeditions.com. We hope to share our excitement for the Salmon River with you. From all of us at Confluences, we wish you a fun filled February!