Where I’ve Been: Lower Salmon River, Idaho


Hello, little guy (girl?)! I’m sorry I almost stepped on you while you were out minding your own business, sunning yourself on the path.


I said I was sorry. No need to stick your black little forked tongue out at me.


This snake really blended into its surroundings, and only because it moved did I notice it and quickly lurch sideways so I could avoid stepping on it.  I instinctively got away from it because I didn’t know if it was a rattlesnake or what.  But on inspecting it from a respectable distance, didn’t find any evidence of rattles.  So I got a little closer and took some photos.  I have no idea what kind of snake it is, but it was about a yard long and about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter in its thickest portions.  It had little rings around its tail, kind of like a raccoon does.

I saw this snake while I was out walking and enjoying the scenery on US 95 in Idaho.  The highway goes down some mountains from Lewiston, ID, where I started driving (7% grade on the downhill, which is challenging in a truck), through some incredible canyons and valleys, and is absolutely gorgeous.  I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and had to get out and do an explore.  I pulled over at the side of the road right next to the river.  There were a couple of gravel roads that weren’t much better than paths, so I wandered down them and snapped a bunch of photos.  Along the path, I came across this snake.  When I got close to the river’s edge, I flushed out some Canadian geese who were extremely indignant that I dared to tread upon their territory.  They took off onto the swiftly flowing river, honking like mad.  They didn’t shut up honking the entire time I was there, even after I went back up the road and was hanging out probably half a mile or more away from them.  I could still hear the echos of their honks!

Across the river was a very nice little sandy beach that I thought would be oh, so nice to have and play on.  Then a bunch of cows came wandering down a steep road cut into the side of a hill, right on down to this pretty little beach and helped themselves to a water break.  While they were doing that, a guy on a catamaran style single-person boat came floating down the river.  There was a bit of white water very close to the beach, and he had to navigate it.  It was quite the comical scene, actually.  This guy, paddling paddling paddling, all the while a bunch of cows are watching him fly by with these curious expressions on their faces.  They stopped what they were doing to witness this crazy human flotsam as it jetsomed right on past (hah!  I made a punny!).

I made sure to take plenty of photos, and the rubber-necker part of me that enjoys the morbid accident scene type thing (c’mon, you know it’s human nature–we all do!), was just waiting for maximum carnage as he crashed on the white water.  I was going to be the person who saved the day, rush down there to rescue him from his predicament, and gain accolades and the key to the nearest city.  Yeah, right.  That water was moving FAST.  By the time I even made it to the water’s edge, the guy would have been swept downstream to the state line or maybe the ocean.  He didn’t crash, of course.  He made it through the little bit of white water just fine.  Really, it’s not like it was a class 4 or 5 rapid or something.  It was pretty innocuous.  Just fast is all.

A gorgeous day, and gorgeous scenery.  I’ve got some other beautiful shots further down US 95 in Nevada and Oregon, and they are 180 degrees different than this lush green landscape.  And, while it was sunny and beautiful here, it was raining in the desert.   All in the same day’s drive.  Go figure.


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