Snake River with Row
The first European Americans to float the Snake River were members of the Corp of Discovery. The crew, sent by then-president, Thomas Jefferson and led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were over a year into their journey exploring the newly purchased Louisiana Territory when they encountered these powerful waters. One of the frontiersmen commented in his journal that the Snake was “swifter than any horse could run.” In my experience, over 100 miles and five days on this river, he was correct.
Hells Canyon is a historical area for the Niimíipuu Native American tribe. Their stories and connection to this land, illustrated through petroglyphs on the canyon walls date back some 2000 years. Despite their hospitality and guidance, which was vital to the success of Lewis and Clark's expedition, came the Nez Perce War in 1877. Following Chief Joseph's surrender and his famous “I will fight no more forever” speech the remaining members this tribe were forced onto reservations only 72 years after their initial meeting with the Corp of Discovery.
In modern day, adventure seekers raft through the Snake River's raging rapids and fish the depths of North America's deepest river gorge for hundred-year-old, giant Sturgeon. Void of technology, a motor, or any connection to the outside world, it's easy to lose your sense of place and view this colossal canyon and the river that races through it with the same reverence of it's original inhabitants, the Niimíipuu.