A Float and Carry Trip on the Blackfoot River

Fun and Games with Logjams

July 2013

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My friends Stand and Glenda called me up and asked if I would be interested in a float trip. I hadn't been on a river yet this year, so I jumped at the chance. We decided to float a flat-water section of the Blackfoot. Our friend Meg came along too.

We met at the put-in, and our first obstacle was getting to the river; we had to slide down a short mud-bank and then wade a mucky backwater. But the river was cool and relatively clear.

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Put In Typical Blackfoot Valley Bottomland

Stan had asked me if I knew if there were many log jams on the stretch we were floating. I had taken my niece and nephew down it about 15 years ago and there weren't any log jams ... then. We floated around the first bend and another hundred yards and came to our first log jam.

It was a doozy. Meg was in the lead and pulled up to scout it, and found a little sneak where we could get the boats up on shore nicely. Then we had to muscle and schlep the boats up and over and around and across to the downstream side.

Log Jam Log Jam
Log Jam Approaching the Hidden Landing

Log Jam Log Jam
Docking Reconnoitering the Portage

Log Jam Log Jam
Muscling and Schlepping Around a Log Jam More Muscleing and Schlepping
The nice part about taking pictures is
somebody else does the heavy lifting!

Log Jam Log Jam
Muscle and Schlepp, Muscle and Schlepp Then Shove!

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Out the Other Side Different Way Out the Other Side

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Downstream View of a Log Jam Stan and Glenda Paddling Out

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Stan and Glenda Paddling Out Stan and Glenda Paddling Out

We came to more log jams, but in between the river was nice. You could still hear traffic from the highway, but mostly it was just the sound of the river and the birds. We found a great eagles' nest, but there weren't any eagles in it.

Eagles Nest Eagles Nest BlackfootFloat_0029_20130707
Eagles Nest Eagles Nest Another Crummy Day on the River

A little further on we came across an eagle on the bank. I don't know if it was injured or just young and unsure of itself, but it didn't fly off as we approached. Instead, it flapped a little and then went down to the ground in the trees.

Eagle Eagle
Eagle Eagle

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We left the forested streambanks and emerged into a more open landscape, with occasional cottonwood groves. A lot of big cottonwood trees have fallen into the river, some due to aging and some due to changes in the river channel. We came to another big log jam, but managed to find a sneak through it. This only worked because the river was slow and friendly at this point and time of year.

Squeeze Squeeze
The Squeeze Squeeze

Squeeze Squeeze
Squeeze Squeeze


Continuing on ...

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We saw a number of great blue herons on the trip. Either that, or the same one kept flying ahead and fooling us. I couldn't get much of a photo because I didn't have a long lens with me.

Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron

There was a pretty yellow bird that flew up. I think it was a female western tanager, but I'm not certain.

Bird Xxx Bird Xxx
Western Tanager, Female (?) Western Tanager, Female (?)


Meg Relaxing

As we rounded the last bend, I saw a bright red car parked by the bridge at the take out. It was my neighbor Betty's car -- an old classic that belonged to her husband. Standing on the bridge were two kids, Adin and Riley, doing what kids are supposed to be doing in the summer -- jumping off back-road bridges into swimming holes. Classic!

Adin Riley Bridge Jump Adin Riley Bridge Jump Adin Riley Bridge Jump Adin Riley Bridge Jump
Adin and Riley
Jumping off the Bridge

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Adin Riley Bridge Jump
Getting Out
Adin Riley Bettys Car Adin Riley Bettys Car
Adin and Riley with Betty's Car Adin and Riley with Betty's Car
Adin Riley Bettys Car
Adin and Riley with Betty's Car

There is an osprey nest near the bridge, and the osprety was not happy with us being around.

Bird Osprey Bird Osprey
Osprey Osprey

And then it was all over. A great day on the river!