Hell Hike and Raft Adventures

Hell Hike and Raft Adventures

Last September I was fortunate enough to participate in Hell Hike and Raft. The trip gathered twelve outdoorsy individuals for a week of backpacking and rafting in the Idaho wilderness. Specifically, we backpacked through the Seven Devils, then rafted out of Hell’s Canyon on the Snake River. It was the experience of a lifetime. That’s not just because of the trip itself, but also the lifelong friendships that were formed during that week.


Day 1 – we traveled. Speaking only for myself, it literally took all day to get to New Meadows, Idaho, which served as basecamp for the trip. I had an early morning three hour drive to the airport, and then two flights to get me to Boise. Once there, the early arrivals needed to wait at the airport until the late-afternooners showed up. When we were all gathered and accounted for, it was still another two hours or so to New Meadows. We spent the evening getting to know our new trail family.

hell hike and raft


Day 2 – we climbed. An early morning drive to the trailhead begat a steep climb up to and over Goat’s Pass. The views were spectacular from the ridge. The trail was faint in places, but our guides from America’s Rafting Company kept us on track. Lunch was had on the banks of Sheep Lake. Shortly thereafter, some in the group split off to head up He-Devil. They caught back up to us at our camp near Shelf Lake.

hiking partners

Day 3 – we hiked. This was a day of endless views and photogenic landscapes. That was especially true in the afternoon when the group made an ascent to the Dry Diggins Lookout. We spent plenty of time there looking back at the devils, looking down at the river, and looking across into Oregon. We continued on and found a great place to pitch tents at Hibbs Cow Camp. The day ended as it should – dinner and camaraderie around a campfire.

beautiful idaho trails

Day 4 – we descended. This day was tough on the knees. A six mile descent to the Snake River that started at 7,400’ and ended at about 1,400’. The trail offered little shade as the temperatures climbed the closer we got to the river. We occasionally lost the trail, but never in a way the jeopardized our safety. Wildlife was more abundant as we approached the river, including bears. The campsite the river crew had commandeered was fantastic with wonderful tent sites above the river, and a social gathering place down on the banks.

Hiking in Idaho

Day 5 – we learned. We were a total of fifteen with the guides included. Some of us sat on the oar boat, but the thrill-seekers started out in the paddle raft. We were briefed on the realities of river safety and off we went into the Granite Rapids. After lunch, some of us learned what it was like to be thrown from the raft. That experience gave us plenty to talk about over dinner that night at camp near Sheep Creek.

White water rafting Idaho

Day 6 – we played. With fewer large sets of rapids to worry about, we spent much of this day swimming in the river, or jumping into it from rocks. We were also able to spend some time playing with the inflatable kayaks and standup paddle boards we brought along. We hiked to an abandoned mineshaft in the hills above the river, and spent our last night out under the stars. The weather was so welcoming, most of us didn’t use tents.

Adventure group

Day 7 – we showered. Before leaving the river in the afternoon, we started with a visit to historic Kirkwood Ranch along the river. The ride from the take-out back to New Meadows seemed longer than it really was. But, once back at the motel in town and recently showered, we decided to head out on the town for some pizza and beers.

Hell hike and raft adventure

Day 8 – we left. A ride back to the airport from New Meadows simply prolonged the inevitable. Saying goodbye to all our new friends was difficult, but the memories of the Hell Hike and Raft trip will live on. And this year, a new group of adventures will take our place for Hell Hike and Raft 2015, and they’ll make their own memories and find out what Idaho has to offer.


If you would like to know more about the Hell Hike and Raft and Epic Social Adventures please visit their website (link to http://www.epicsocialadventures.com)

About the Author


Jeff Howell