Last Saturday, just as a historic heat wave hit the Northwest, thousands of people took to the north fork of the Coeur d’Alene River in Shoshone County, Idaho.

Groups on inner tubes and unicorn floaties and kayaks and rafts floated the crystal-clear waters after parking wherever they could find space along stretches of road lining either side of the river.

Some park their RVs for weekend getaways throughout the summer on private property rented along the river in this county of about 12,600 people. Others set up canopies and barbecues on any beach or rocky “sand bar” they can find. Locals say litter and trespassing can be common problems.

Meanwhile, kids splash each other as they run up and down the shores playing in the shallows — shallows that, in many places, are highly contaminated with toxic levels of lead, arsenic, mercury and more.

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Photo Credit: Samantha Wohlfeil/Inlander