There is something magical and peaceful about a confluence of two rivers. Magical because you can be following one, swollen with snowmelt and chocolate-brown, and then come to the place where it merges with another, larger river in an uproar of waves and sound. Peaceful because you can pick your way on the cobble bar past where the two rivers still run side by side in a braid and then finally merge into one, more powerful thing.

The hike down the Imnaha River to the Snake is a sketchy one, full of eager blackberry and juicy poison ivy. In summer you can’t do it at all unless you have a death wish and want to swim through webs of ivy and thorns, baking in the one hundred and ten degree heat. Now on the edge of summer it is about perfect. You will probably come away with a delicate scatter of ivy on your legs since you refuse to wear pants, but the path is mainly clear. The Imnaha is nearly in flood stage and it is captivating to watch. Fall in and you would die, simple as that.

So you don’t fall in. You walk the five miles or so to Eureka Bar and head downriver past the camp of Boy Scouts and the two day hikers who are inspecting their legs for ticks. Once you pass the main trail to Eureka Creek you can  be all alone.

The two rivers have completely merged by now. There is no trace of the silty Imnaha where you stand on a small beach, your toes digging into the cool sand. But you know it’s there, deep underneath. You know it by the chilly current that was recently ice on the top of a mountain. You know it by the sand tumbling through the river bottom. And because nature speaks to you in metaphors you think of your own confluences; choices you have made on your own journey, whether it is to follow the past of least resistance or to try something different, go against the flow so to speak.

In the end though, it’s best not to think too hard. Those mergings are in the past. Better to look ahead. Pitch the tent on a bench above the river. Listen to the water rushing by on its way tosomewhere. Breathe deeply.