Letting Go on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

By: Heather Howard

Heather Howard has a passion for travel writing and marketing and loves inspiring people to explore new places. She has laced up her boots for many rugged hikes, from the Scottish Highlands to Alaska, Provence to Peru. She loves the fun of group travel and her top US travel tip is to explore Idaho's River of No Return Wilderness.

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December 14, 2018 | 50th Anniversary Stories

In 2016, I took my first adventure with MT Sobek. It was a first-timer favorite: The Middle Fork of the Salmon River, snaking its way through Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. But I was a first-timer in a new way, not just to rafting, but to being away from my young daughter and my husband. I was nervous in a way that surprised the once-adventurous side of myself. How could I cope with no Wi-Fi, no calls, no access? Would everyone survive without me?

Suddenly, the Middle Fork became a metaphor for surrendering: surrendering control of daily life, allowing all of us to prove that we could get by, and surrendering every thought that scared me and said “you’re not intrepid enough.” So I decided to write a list of 100 things that I could let go of over the 100-mile journey. It was a mixture of fears, memories, and losses—some silly, some deep. As I let them go along the way, I thanked them for spurring me to get this far and I left them behind on that river of no return. I felt released.

Of course, I still missed my family but I enjoyed every rapid, every waterfall, every quiet moment, and every laugh as though I was enjoying travel again for the first time. I jumped into the river from high outcrops, I realized that my arms were powerful as I propelled myself in the ducky, and I felt rewarded with hot-spring showers and hearty food.

When I got home, I promised my family that I would take them with me next time and when my daughter is old enough we’ll be there! The Middle Fork of the Salmon River helped me overcome a host of fears and I’m truly thankful to the group of travelers that I was with and the guides who looked after us all. See you back on the river!

Heather Howard, Director of Communications MT Sobek

MT Sobek Trip: Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, 2016