How to Prepare for Your First River Trip of Spring Runoff Season


Pictured: Juliann Poma, Photo Cred: Ben Saheb

Trade in the ski helmet for your dry bag as you receive notice that you have won the lottery, literally. Remember when you applied for those river permits when the snow was still falling? Well, it’s time to shake off that winter coat and get ready for swimsuit season because ladies, we’re going boatin’. It can be awkward to transition from winter to spring runoff season but put down the poles and pick up the paddle. Here are some sure fire ways to get your blood pumping for the first river and camping trips of the season. This is your “How To Get Stoked for Spring” guide.

First thing’s first, tell everyone you have won a river permit. You’re goal here is to make everyone in your sphere of influence ragingly jealous. If you’re a waitress, tell your customers. If you work in an office, talk about it at the Xerox machine everyday for a week. Tell everyone within ear shot, you’re quitting your day job and becoming a full time river rat.


Pictured: Caroline Jordan, Photo Cred: Ben Saheb

Pull out all of your river, backpacking and camping gear and spread it across as much surface area as possible and revel in the possibilities of summer. Next, take inventory.  It’s easy to have forgotten that you never repaired that rip in your rainfly at the end of last season. You may be surprised that you never rinsed out your Camelbak and now it is growing algae from the last stream you filtered water out of. Maybe your favorite pair of adventure shorts are fitting a little snug after a winter of stews and brews? It’s alright ladies. Start a wish list and get to repairing that old gear until that other lottery ticket comes through.

Go out and buy maps. Geek out on color downloadable topo maps, print them out and laminate them for12336 your pack. Your friends will all be in awe when you pull them out and can point out exactly where you are on the river according to the height of the surrounding canyon walls. Plan your routes with sharpies, push pins and post-it notes. Seek out new routes to your favorite camping spot and discover new ways to purposefully get lost in the woods.

Head to over to the used bookstore or consignment gear shop. Rummage through their stacks of musty, dog-eared pages to find field guides for your first adventure of the season. If you’re lucky, you will find older editions with notes written along the margins of where to find wild strawberry patches or where the best creek is to refill your water supply.

Take a trip to your local gear shop or REI. It doesn’t matter whether or not you have the money to spend; you are only there to drool of over this year’s gear and gadgets. Hold a BioLite stove in your hands just to daydream about the day you could actually make use of it but opt for buying the ever handy Pocket Rocket to ensure your first backcountry meal will actually be served hot.


Pictured: Whitney Chandler, Caroline Jordan, Anna Anderson Photo Cred: Ben Saheb

Wherever you are heading off to get your spring started, make sure you’re prepared. The last thing you would want is to be participating in amateur hour because you were too eager to sleep under the stars. Happy boating, camping and hiking to you pasty snowboarder babes. Cheers to lathering on the sunscreen, unpredictable spring weather and a healthy dose of vitamin D.

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About Whitney Chandler

I am a Colorado native with an unfettering love for the West. I grew up riding, hiking, biking and climbing the Rocky Mountains and am looking forward to exploring what Idaho has to offer since moving here in August of 2014.
I am a recent graduate of Colorado Mountain College with a Bachelor’s in Sustainability Studies. I want to ensure that these mountains are still providing epic seasons for future generations to enjoy. While holding down jobs at Moon’s Kitchen and Java in Hyde Park, I enjoy writing about environmental issues, stories that empower women and poetry.