First commandment of the North Fork Payette: “Thou shalt not swim.”
The greatest paddlers on earth have all heard of the North Fork Payette. They’ve seen the pictures, watched the videos and heard the stories about this river. However, nothing can prepare you for what you find as you drive down Hwy 55. From the north, a lazy river flows out of Payette Lake and winds along the road. Suddenly, you turn a corner and the gradient drops down away from the road. Immediately, you see why this river is famous. The river explodes into a snow-white bubbling cauldron that churns downstream around the next bend. “Ho…lee…schittt” as your stomach drops, you realize that this is just the entrance rapid.
The run is broken up into the Upper 5, Middle 5 and Lower 5. While the Lower 5 is sometimes referred to as the “Warm Up”, it is still a stout Class V stretch. Upstream, Jacob’s Ladder and Golf Course (think 18 holes) define the most challenging stretches of the river.
On June 8th and 9th, some of the best paddlers in the world came to compete on this river in the First Annual North Fork Championship. On Friday, an open invitation race was held on the Lower 5 to determine five wild card slots for the Elite race. The Elite race was held the following day on the most challenging stretch of the Upper 5.
For many, the North Fork is viewed as the epitome of whitewater in North America. It also happens to be in our own backyard, just a couple hours from the NRS bat cave. Obviously, this weekend has been written on our calendars for months. Come hell or high water, we wouldn’t miss this world-class event.
With hundreds of brats, burgers and dogs and several coolers stocked with age-appropriate refreshments, we hit the road with our comically undersized BBQ. On Thursday night, we hit the Egyptian Theatre in Boise for a special sneak peek of the next Of Souls + Water film, The Shapeshifter. After a solid face-melting by the crew at Forge Motion Pictures, we rallied back to the North Fork Payette.
Everyone knew that this weekend would be unbelievable, but nothing could have prepared us for the sheer magnitude of this event. If a picture is worth a thousand words, we’ll just let the pictures do the talking.
We’ll see you next year on the banks of the North Fork.