Political Paddling Recap: Former President Carter Tackles the Middle Fork

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With former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in the news recently for entering into hospice care, where the 98-year-old is expected to spend his remaining time at home surrounded by his family, we couldn’t help but call up a story from our friends at GoRafting happier and more healthy times for the oldest-living former U.S. president—including a trip he took down the Middle Fork of the Salmon back in 1978.

“After a series of short hospital stays, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter today decided to spend his remaining time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention,” his charity, created by Carter and his wife Rosalynn in 1982, said in a statement.

Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has dealt with a number of health issues in recent years, announcing in 2015 he had been diagnosed with cancer found during a surgery on his liver, a form of melanoma that spread to his brain.

But on August 22, 1978, in the middle of his presidency, which lasted from 1976 through 1980, President Carter and his family took Marine One from Boise to the Indian Creek Airstrip, beginning something no other acting U.S. president has ever done, before or since: embark on a Middle Fork of the Salmon river trip. Being 70 miles from the confluence, they had long mileage days the whole way through, staying at river lodges and camping. Below are snippets from their itinerary, the President’s official daily diary, and select quotes from interviews during that time are mixed in and linked to the original articles.

From the President’s Diary

president carter

Reports from the field:

“They wanted to put an agent at every campsite…”

“After pushing off from Lower Grouse, the sweep boat driver broke a sweep going over Tappan Falls (imagine having that in the official record) and they spent approximately an hour repairing it…”

“The only comment he gave during the first two days of his trip was “how nice” it was not to have to make any comments…”

The trip was nearing the finish line, but not before plenty of fish were caught though, with the President landing 59 trout before takeout.

And did you know?

Just under two years after his trip, President Carter signed the Central Idaho Wilderness Act on July 23, 1980, which protected the Middle Fork of the Salmon and much of the surrounding area. It was the largest protected area in the lower 48. Four years later, in honor of the late Senator Frank Church, the wilderness was renamed the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness Area.

Read more at GoRafting here:

President Jimmy Carter’s Rafting Trip On the MFS 

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