By Troy Cooley

As the weather turns colder and the water is gone from the rivers, rafters’ thoughts turn to next season. Recently, my friends and I got together to talk about the upcoming boating season.

Jason wants to do a long river trip like the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Coby would like to tackle a river that is a little more isolated like the Bruneau River. Shad would like to do something easier than the Lochsa River next year. Ken, who is a beginner, would like to try a multi-day river trip within his ability level. Once we had settled on a couple of rivers to try for next season, we tried to settle on river trip dates. This feels like playing roulette, with all your hopes for the season riding on a few numbers.

Jason was prepared for our get together. He brought the latest spreadsheet available from the Forest Service detailing the frequency of launch dates chosen for the month of July. After much deliberation, we decided on summer launch dates for The Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Everyone filled out the permit request form with the same launch dates, in hopes that one person in the group will get one of our chosen dates.

Once the planning portion of our evening was complete, we all filed into the living room where there was a laptop computer, a borrowed digital projector, our latest rafting video and a blank wall. Todd, a tech-savvy guy, created an mpeg movie using digital video and photos taken from our past summer’s rafting trip on the Lochsa River. The result was a compilation that will bring back memories for years. The music was lively and the video images brought back memories for everyone, as the phrase “Hey do you remember when this happened on the trip this summer?” was heard almost as frequently as laughter. After the video was over, we headed for home. Memories of previous river trips flooded back, reminding me of the excellent whitewater, stunning scenery, and great food I have experienced as I eagerly anticipate next season.

Tips for preparing for Spring or Summer trips:

1.) Decide what river(s) your group would like to run and determine if a permit is needed. Check with the local Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management Office for applications and application deadlines. Application procedures may vary from state to state and river to river. Find links to information about permitted rivers at American Whitewater, or at the River Management Society.

2.) Apply for the permit. Most deadlines are in January.

3.) Research the river. Purchasing river maps and guide books aid greatly in trip preparations.

4.) Schedule time off with your employer. Planning ahead pays off when time off is concerned.

5.) Schedule a trip planning meeting.

Troy Cooley enjoys whitewater boating, camping, trail running, skiing and woodworking. He lives in Boise, ID with his wife and two young children.