Canoeing on the Palouse River

March is such a bipolar month in Idaho. One day it can be cold and snowy and the next can be sunny and 60. So while we had cold rain during the weekend of our canoe trip, this past weekend was really nice. I took Clara outĀ for a hike on the Potlatch River Trail near our house and she hiked almost two miles on her own feet. And because this week was spring break at the university, we still had our canoes from last weekend and went out for a day trip on the Palouse River on Sunday. It was such a nice day that we weren’t the only ones with this idea. There was another group behind us, but they only paddled half the stretch we did.

For most of the year, the Palouse River doesn’t have enough water to carry a canoe. But during the early spring, the flow is up enough to flow all the way from Laird Park to the confluence with the Snake River, portaging around the falls of course. On Sunday, we paddled 16 miles from the town of Palouse to the ghost town of Elberton. In some ways, this trip was much better than the lower St. Joe. It was sunny and warm out and the river isn’t flanked by a major road or vacation homes. That last part provides a sense of isolation and solitude that’s missing along the lower Joe. But the wildlife wasn’t quite as good on this trip. We saw one Bald Eagle, and that was from the car driving back to Palouse. There was a small herd of deer that ran across the river and some songbirds.

This stretch of river is fairly easy and great for beginners. Though there are a few rocks hiding beneath the surface, there are no major rapids and the water is fairly shallow. It’s too bad that the river gets so low during the summer as this would be a great little trip to repeat with the family. On Sunday, we paddled 16 miles in 3 hours. Total trip time was 3 hours 45 minutes with a stop for lunch. I’d love to do some more long distance canoeing while I’m out here. If only I didn’t have a dissertation to write…

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