Monday, February 18, 2013

Fishing Friends

I just had an amazing weekend with some of the best friends a girl could ask for! Fishing, road-tripping, and exploring!

First a little backstory.....four years ago, my friends Laurie, Stacy, and I were invited to compete in the Women with Bait Fishing Tournament in Riggins, Idaho. It's an annual Women's steeelhead fishing tournament that is a TON of fun. We had such a great time that we've now made it an annual tradition. This past weekend was our fourth time competing and we already have our date for next year scheduled! None of us are necessarily big fishing fanatics - in fact, Stacy had never fished in her life. Laurie fishes some. I tend to take the kids fishing but usually don't fish, instead choosing to take photos, read a book, or just enjoy the scenery.  

Our trek starts off in Klamath Falls, Oregon and takes us through mountains, across the high desert, through valleys and canyons and ten hours later, we arrive in the tiny little town of Riggins (population 930). This year, the weather was a balmy 40 degrees most of the way and the roads were clear. Perfect road trip weather. Arriving at around 7:30 p.m., we check into our house, have a bite to eat, usually a cocktail or two, and hit the bed early so we're ready for fishing. 

The next morning, we wake up early and head to the tournament registration where the event organizers have our goodie bags ready and we meet our guide and bait boy. (Right here, I'm sending a big shout out to tournament organizers, they do a fantastic job!) This year, our guide was Eric and our bait boy was Chad. The only men allowed on the boat during the tourney is your guide and bait boy. C'mon, wouldn't you all fish if you had a bait boy?? After brief introductions, we head up the Salmon River to get on our boat. 

This year, we had the best weather we've had in four years. It was warmer (probably a high of 40 degrees) and the sun would peak through and warm us. We scrambled on the boat, anticipating a great day of fishing. Our guide Eric explained mornings had been slow but the afternoon would pick up. Bait boy Chad had all the poles and bait and gear ready for us.
From left: Me, Laurie, Eric, Paula, Stacy, and Chad

 It took maybe 30 minutes for Laurie to prove them wrong....first thing in the morning catching a 34" whopper! It was shaping up to be a fantastic day! Laurie's big catch put her in 2nd place! 

It wasn't too much longer when Stacy had her first fish on. This was a big deal - Stacy has been 'skunked' the last two years, not catching anything. We all dropped our fishing poles to cheer her on as she caught a 24" beauty. 
It was now up to Paula and I to land a fish. We cast, and reeled, and cast, and reeled and still the big fish eluded us. The pressure was on but even without a fish on, it's wonderful to be on the boat, enjoying the scenery. 

Making our way up the river, we discovered the river was blocked with an ice bridge. 

Of course, at first glance to our eyes, it looked like the ice would just part for our big boat. But as Eric and Chad would show us, this ice was nearly 2 feet thick. 
Hard to tell but this ice is THICK!
It was now lunchtime, the sun had broke through this canyon, and we decided a break on the little sandy beach would be perfect. Eric and Chad dropped us off and then proceeded to try and break up the ice bridge - convinced that above the "bridge" was virgin river, unfished during the tournament and thus, perfect for fishing. We sat on the beach, warm enough to take the coats off and watched as they broke the ice, created waves to send it downriver, and did it again, over and over and over. 
Stacy and I smile for the camera as the boat comes back to pick us up.
Me and Bait Boy Chad
Having taken a break for lunch, we were refreshed and ready to fish. Paula and I still needed to catch a fish. Our guide Eric navigated around and through the ice and we began to fish again. It wasn't long before Paula, Stacy, and I all had a fish on. At exactly the same time. Now our poor bait boy Chad is supposed to help us net our fish while Eric guides the boat and helps as needed but having three fish on at once, at the bottom of our drift (which basically means we're headed backwards through rapids) was cause for some panic. Eric and Chad did a great job, with a little help from Laurie who netted two of the three fish. What I'm trying to say her was this group was the A-Team of fishing. We landed three fish in minutes while going backward through the rapids. Thank heavens for a great crew. 

After the excitement, Eric pulled the boat over for some pictures (and I think to catch his breath haha). 
Our three fish - Paula, Stacy, and me!
And here we all are with our fish - look at Laurie's monster! Mine (next to her) is 28.5", her's is 34. WOW!

That would be all the fish we caught for the day (sort of, I keep forgetting I caught a little native fish that had to be released).

Our adventure was not over though. As we headed back downriver to go home, we discovered the ice that the guys had broke up had traveled downriver, creating an ice dam and now prevented us from getting back to the ramp and our vehicles. No worries though - Chad hopped out to try and break the ice free with a large stick, while Eric maneuvered the boat. We were on our way in no time!

As of today, Laurie is still in 2nd place but there's two weeks left in the tournament. Tournament organizers blog on a regular basis so you can bet we'll be watching to see if she finishes in one of the top places.

The next day, we headed out to explore this little part of Idaho. The towns are small and the attractions are somewhat limited depending on your interests and time of year. But Eric had given us a tip about a great museum just outside Grangeville (population maybe 4,000??). We fueled up, grabbed some coffee, and set out to St. Gertrude's Monastery and the museum.

The monastery was built in the 1920's. It's constructed from blue porphryr stone that they quarried from the land. Three sisters from a cloister in Switzerland traveled to the US and eventually expanded their ministry to Cottonwood Idaho. In the 1930's the sisters opened Our Lady of Consolation Hospital, which they replaced in the 60s with St Mary's Hospital. The monastery is absolutely beautiful. Located out of town a bit, on a bit of a hill with the mountains in the backgrounds.

Behind the monastery is a road you can walk up to the cemetery. As we waited for the chapel to open to visitors, we walked the road (I'm a sucker for a cemetery). As you walk up the road, you notice little "houses" with sculptures in them representing the stations of the cross.

You then come to a cemetery with a little chapel (and I mean little, only two pews).

The first person buried here was in 1908. I can't say for sure but I believe it was Sister M. Philomena Schallberger I, born May 16, 1888 in Switzerland.

We walked back down the hill to visit the chapel. Here's a photo of the monastery from the cemetery.

Because the monastery has nuns living there and it's their home, the chapel and gift shop are the only things we could visit. The chapel was breathtaking!

The gift shop was neat with many items handmade by the sisters.

Located at the monastery is also a museum that features exhibits on things around the area, not just the monastery. It's been operating for 80 years and features over 60,000 artifacts.
It was a great day exploring the area. We headed back to the house, enjoyed a few drinks at the local saloon, danced a little, and retired to bed to get up and make the trek home.

Looking forward to next year. Only 360 some-odd days left!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post! I am really bad about getting out the laptop and posting comments but I read them all on my phone (which, although "smart" isn't smart enough to let me log in and post comments. Grr). This is one of my favorites so far, and I'm glad you gals had a great time! Nice job on the descriptive language, makes me feel like I was there too.