Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yankee Fork Confluence

Like many river runners, we grew up thinking, feeling and believing that all confluences were special and sometimes even sacred places.  We've made it a point throughout our lives to visit as many confluences as our travel schedule and time permits.  You won't find confluences on normal tourists maps but those who love places where two creeks, streams or rivers join often make a confluence a destination during any road trip itinerary.  The confluence of The Yankee Fork and The Salmon River is one such super special sacred spot.  It pulses with an energy all its own.  Standing here you can imagine all of the kaleidoscope of natural and cultural history and resources sprawling through the two watersheds lying upstream above you.  Imagine the tumult of time which has coursed through the veins of these two living waters!  The energy of this place has a primal attraction all its own. 
Luckily, those who manage this chunk of public land have been pretty accommodating during recent times.  One of The Upper Salmon River's largest single parking area is located here along with toilets that get regular maintenance.  Interpretive signs tell intriguing stories.  A steep but stout stairway has been anchored to the alluvial rubble, providing safe (and strenuous) access so visitors can walk right up to the apex of the confluence. There's also a trail over to the base of Sunbeam Dam and even a pretty decent shade tree near the confluence itself. (Click the panorama photo above for a much larger version.)  Look closely and you will see a crude boat ramp that comprises The Yankee Fork RAP (River Access Point).  The turnoff into this RAP is immediately downstream from the Yankee Fork bridge and is a very sharp turn.  Much better river access is located about a mile downstream at the Elk Creek RAP.  The Yankee Fork RAP is mostly used by kayakers and people with small boats.  Look even closer and you will see the cables used to calibrate the USGS stream flow gauging station at Yankee Fork.  This gauge plays a key role in understanding how The Salmon River flow behaves.  Those whose livelihoods and recreational activities are tied to The Salmon River dote on the Yankee Fork gauge. 

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