The First River Runners

Triad River Tours was founded in 2012, but humans have been on the rivers for hundreds of years before us. Many pacific Northwest tribes have historically relied on the region’s rivers for survival; they provided transportation, food, and water year-round. These tribes gained a deep understanding of the rivers and how to live in balance with them, keeping what they needed without destroying the river. One of our goals as a whitewater rafting company is to keep this balance ourselves. Here are some of the tribes that made their homes around the same rivers we raft today.


Upper Skagit

The Upper Skagit tribe consisted of many villages along the river, as opposed to one group. Like many tribes in Northwest Washington, they traditionally speak a form of the Salish language, Lushootseed in particular. According to the Upper Skagit NPAIHB page, “Elders’ stories were woven from the river and its surroundings. The stories revealed to the next generation where the best salmon fishing was and where to hunt game in the mountains, how to find sacred ground in the mountains, and where to bathe in the river for healing. Spiritual ceremonies also were held, with smoke and fire as a medium.”


    Sauk-Suiattle

The Sauk-Suiattle tribe is also known as the Sah-ku-mehu. Like the Upper Skagit, they speak the Salishan language Lushootseed, which now only consists of a few living fluent speakers. The rivers they ran included the Sauk, Suiattle, Stillaguamish, Cascade, and Skagit rivers. White Horse Mountain in the North Cascades was their homeland, but they would travel in their hand made canoes to Puget Sound, where they harvested fish and shellfish. According to their website, the Sauk-Suiattle tribe had dwindled down to 18 members in 1924, but currently stands at over 300 today.


    Nooksack

Many pacific Northwest tribes have historically relied on the region’s rivers for survival; they provided transportation, food, and water year-round.

Many pacific Northwest tribes have historically relied on the region’s rivers for survival; they provided transportation, food, and water year-round.

The Nooksack tribe is one of the oldest surviving tribes in the Washington area. They speak  Lhéchalosem, a Salishan language. Nooksack translates in their language to “always bracken fern roots.” They reside in Deming, Washington, about 15 miles east of Bellingham. Their website states that they have lived on the land since the very first humans lived there. They used skills such as fishing, hunting, clam digging, and root gathering for survival, and created allies with neighboring tribes to trade with. Since receiving full federal recognition in 1971, they have increased their land holding to 2,500 acres, and have increased in population to around 2,000 compared to 250 years ago when there were only 1,200 to 1,500 people.


    Snoqualmie

Along with the Nooksack tribe, the Snoqualmie have been a part of the Washington area since time immemorial. They lived on the Snoqualmie River from North Bend to the Skykomish River junction. They speak the southern dialect of Lushootseed. Despite this language’s status on the endangered list, they are making efforts to preserve it. They are also very involved in environmental preservation. Many of their beliefs are rooted in their relationship with nature, and how it connects them to their ancestors. They’ve created Environmental and Natural Resources, an organization that, according to their website, “works to enhance, protect, and preserve the environment of the Snoqualmie reservation and traditional Tribal lands through habitat and water quality improvement projects, waste reduction and recycling, energy conservation, and education.”


Lummi Nation

The Lummi Nation has inhabited Puget Sound for thousands of years. They are the third largest tribe in the U.S., with over 5,000 tribe members and 13,000 acres of land. Currently, they reside in a peninsula between Bellingham Bay and Georgia Strait. They speak the traditional Salishan language, with a Georgia Strait dialect. They take pride in finding a balance between using modern technology and honoring the traditions of their ancestors. 


While this just barely scratches the surface of the tribes that ran the rivers, I hope you  feel inclined to read more about these indigenous tribes. I’ve attached their main websites along with some other sources below so you can read even more about their cultures, histories, and the impact they had on the area.



Sources:

https://www.washingtontribes.org/tribes-map


Upper Skagit

http://www.npaihb.org/member-tribes/upper-skagit-tribe/#1450475820391-49a99642-a785


Sauk-Suiattle

http://www.sauk-suiattle.com/

http://www.npaihb.org/member-tribes/sauk-suiattle-tribe/#1450733500099-3a73d48a-0223


Nooksack

https://nooksacktribe.org/about/

http://www.npaihb.org/member-tribes/nooksack-tribe/



Snoqualmie

http://snoqualmietribe.us/

http://www.npaihb.org/member-tribes/snoqualmie-tribe/#1450475820392-65215ee8-17e6


Lummi

http://www.lummi-nsn.org/

http://www.npaihb.org/member-tribes/lummi-nation/#1450475820391-49a99642-a785

Read more:

Six Things I Learned From the River

Four Reasons Life is Better on the River


Common Butterflies Near Triad River Tours

    When it comes to summer insects, my first thoughts are far from positive. Gnats, ticks, and mosquitoes have been the bane of many an outdoor adventure, but they aren’t the only insects in town: summer is also the season of butterflies! They can be found all over the Pacific Northwest, especially during rafting season. I’ll be covering a few of the most common butterflies in our neck of the woods, but there are plenty more in the Washington area to explore here if you’re interested!


Painted Lady

The painted lady is one of the most common butterflies in the world, found on every continent besides Antarctica. The patterns on their wings are somewhat similar to a monarch butterfly’s, and are commonly mislabeled as such, however, monarchs are typically only spotted in eastern Washington, if spotted at all in our state. They are most prominent in California, which is part of their yearly migration pattern, but more and more have been finding their way to our northern states. WSU associate professor of entomology David James has two theories. The first is that the heavy rain California has been getting has caused a major detour in their migration. His second theory is that their sudden rise in population is due to elementary classrooms that have raised entire generations of the butterflies and then released them into the wild, which really isn’t as crazy as it sounds! Either way, the painted ladies are here and they can be spotted on all over our rivers!


Western Tiger Swallowtail

While tiger swallowtail butterflies can be found in nearly every state, there is one species often spotted here in Washington that can only be found out west. The Western Tiger Swallowtail varies slightly from its eastern counterparts with thicker and darker inner body stripes. They are most active between the months of June and July, but can be spotted year round in some areas where the temperature stays warm through the winter. Their ideal breeding ground is wooded areas around rivers and streams. You can spot them near their food source: the wildflowers that grow in the area.


Red Admiral

This is another very common species around the world. The Red Admiral feeds on tree sap and fermented fruit (one of the few species that only drinks flower nectar as a last resort), so it prefers wet, wooded areas. These hardy critters can live almost anywhere they want year round, and they change colors based on the weather they are in. In the summer, their vibrant orange and red spots shine bright on their large brown wings, but in the winter their color dulls down and they actually become smaller.


Butterflies are notoriously friendly and it is not uncommon to meet brave ones that aren’t afraid of humans. Book your next whitewater river rafting trip with us today to see if you can spot any of these butterflies on your trip, and possibly make a new winged best friend!


Sources:

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2019/may/28/once-common-in-eastern-washington-the-monarch-butt/

https://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.asp?identification=Western-Tiger-Swallowtail-Butterfly

https://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Vanessa-atalanta



Six Tips for Picking the Best Post-Whitewater Rafting Campsite

Six Tips for Picking the Best Post-Whitewater Rafting Campsite

Camping out the night before or after a whitewater rafting trip is a rite of passage that many of our guests partake in. But during summer months, planning for a campsite on busy days can be difficult. Some of us have the same campsites we like to revisit each year, others find new campsites each time. Here are some important points to note when locating your campsite on you upcoming overnight rafting adventure.

Winter Bird Watching

The Skagit River is an incredible bird watching destination. While best known as the wintering ground of hundreds of bald eagles (sometimes more than 100 sightings in just one rafting trip!), the Skagit is a winter home for many other fascinating and beautiful bird species. While maybe not as well known as the national symbol, they are still beauties you might recognize!


Trumpeter Swan

A fully grown trumpeter swan can live up to 20 years old.

A fully grown trumpeter swan can live up to 20 years old.

Trumpeter Swans are characterized by long white necks and black feet and beaks. They used to reside throughout all of North America, but now are rarely found outside of Canada. Washington is the exception in the winter however, and you can find many of them nestling near the rivers, where the water stays active and unfrozen all year long. Nests can be found as close to the water as the partnered swans could make it. They can often be found in pairs, but less commonly in large groups.


Snow Goose

The black outline of their lips is called their “grinning patch” or “smile”

The black outline of their lips is called their “grinning patch” or “smile”

Unlike the Trumpeter Swan, snow geese prefer the company of dozens of fellow snow geese during their travels. While they are difficult to see on the ground due to their unique markings, you will be able to see plenty just by looking up. Click the third link below to see their different color variations. Their breeding grounds are on Arctic tundra. Washington, however, is the exception, and you can find them here in the winter.

   

Tundra Swans

While Tundra Swans (A.K.A. whistling swan) look nearly identical to the Trumpeter Swan, there are some unique differences between the two. First of all, their populations have not been endangered in the U.S. due to their keen adaptability, so they are much more common than the trumpeter swan. Their young are tinged gray on their heads, wings, and neck. As they grow older, they become whiter, and their beaks have an orange base. 


    Check out skagiteales.com to book a trip down the Skagit River in the winter for a bird watching trip like you’ve never experienced. If the cold isn’t your thing, book a  trip with us here on our website for a warm, summer trip today!

   

Sources:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Trumpeter_Swan/id

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/trumpeter-swan

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Snow_Goose/id

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/tundra-swan


Read More:

Bald Eagles, Salmon, and Winter Floods: The Annual Migration

Skagit River Bald Eagle Rafting


Washington's Wonderful Wildflowers

    Dear plant enthusiasts,

            This is for you.

    First of all, if this is totally your thing, download the app called Washington Wildflowers (available for iOS and Android). This app can help you identify almost every Washington wildflower you can think of, including the ones I’ll be mentioning today, which are all lining our river systems at Triad River Tours. The app was created (in association with High Country Apps) by Mark Turner and Ellen Kuhlmann, authors of Trees and Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest. This app is basically a travel field guide for all types of naturally growing plants in the Washington area. The best part? No Wi-Fi or internet access needed once it is downloaded, so you can always have access to your guide, no matter how remote your trip becomes. 

    Dense-Flowered Willowherb

These notched flowers range from deep purple to nearly white in color. They are easy to identify due to the veiny appearance in their petals and fuzzy leaves, which keeps insects off and prevents grazing animals from eating them. They are happiest in forested riverbanks and bloom June through August. These flowers are rarely found in home gardens, but they are fairly common out in the wild.

    Trillium

There are more than three dozen types of trilliums in North America alone. One of the most common types found near our rivers are the western white trillium. These white tri-petaled flowers bloom from the end of March to the beginning of April. Along with the easy access to nearby water, they enjoy our towering douglas fir and western redcedar trees that provide a blanket of shade.

    Broadleaf Lupine

While commonly misidentified as lilac, the purple bunches produce fruit, unlike their botanical doppelgangers. The legume is densely hairy, similar to the dense-flowered willowherb. Like the trillium, these flowers find comfort in the canopy of the douglas fir, following them wherever they go. It is very unique to the Pacific Northwest, due to the very specifically correct weather conditions.

    This just barely scratches the surface of Washington’s wildflowers. Click the first link below for an extensive list and more info on each one. When you’re done, grab your rose colored glasses and book a whitewater rafting trip with us today to see if you can spot some of the flowers you learned about!


Sources:

https://www.pnwflowers.com/

https://calscape.org/

https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/forb/luplat/all.html


Six Things I Learned From the River

Six Things I Learned From the River

River guiding was my first job out of high school. I started as an intern right here at Triad River Tours, running shuttle and evac routes and cleaning gear; then with training and experience I made the move from intern to guide. Whitewater rafting every weekend while my friends worked office jobs, I learned how to swim rapids and avoid strainers, finding a new perspective on the mountains I’d known my entire life

Five Things You’ll Find on a PNW Whitewater Rafting Trip

Five Things You’ll Find on a PNW Whitewater Rafting Trip

Here in the PNW—land of rivers and untrammeled nature, birthplace of REI, and home of some of the country’s best whitewater—every adventure is unique. There is nowhere else in the world with our outdoor culture and easy access to rainforests, rivers and glaciers, especially just a few miles outside a world-class city like Seattle. This mix makes for river adventures unlike any other. Our whitewater and our locals both have their quirks, but that’s what makes these trips so memorable—you just can’t get this anywhere else.