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Old 04-18-2011   #1
Bruneau, Idaho
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 10
Bruneau at 3K, any takers on Five Mile

I drove over the Bruneau today and she is up. Anybody interested in doing Five Mile? I will let you drive one of my tractors, too.


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Old 04-18-2011   #2
Grande Cache, Alberta
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 13

What class is the section of the Bruneau you want to run? I would be interested but I don't know much about the river.

I think I met you at the put-in for the South Fork last week.


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Old 04-18-2011   #3
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2007
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 2
Hey Russ,

Tell me more about the 3K section...I am itching to boat!!

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Old 04-19-2011   #4
Bruneau, Idaho
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 10
Brunea is at 4400 right now... biggest recorded from what I saw... I have never seen it this high, but heard it is crazy that big... Class V for sure since you are all in once you get down there. It calms down to a 3ish under 2 grand... I am up for when anyone can go, I have the shuttle and lunch lined out. Call me or email me.

208.989.2057 or

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Old 04-19-2011   #5
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Nampa, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 240
I ran the Jarbidge and Bruneau at what I believe to be the highest flows ever boated. Three kayakers and I did the 70 miles easily in two days.

The following is a trip report of a Jarbridge/Bruneau trip completed on May 18th and 19th of 2005.

It had been eight years since I had run the Bruneau. When I was fifteen, the river had come up to 2000cfs so I hopped on my dad's cat for the most difficult rapid, five mile. To be honest, at that flow and at that time, I was scared for my life. But I knew that now, it would probably be a blast. We had no idea what we were getting into.

We knew the river was up, but had no idea what kind of action layed downstream. We had the goal of paddling the 70 miles in two days. Each of us were carrying 30+ pounds of self-support gear in the back of our creek boats.

Three other paddlers and myself arrived at the put-in for the Jarbridge early Tuesday morning. As we arrived, we met a group of rafters who had traveled from Montana to run the section. After waiting two days, they decided that it was too high for them. Although I have no idea what the Jarbridge was flowing, it was evident that it was very high. None of us had run the section, and we decided that conserving the very few small eddies there were was a good idea. We spread out so that we could catch the eddies, but stayed in view of each other so we could communicate using hand signals.

The Jarbridge was crazy. Although none of the rapids really seemed extremely difficult, the river flowed almost non-stop from rapid to rapid. Around every bend there were countless strainers that screamed "certain death." Not only were trees growing out of the water in both sides of the river, but wood was building up on any exposed rock it could catch on. We literally floated next to debris and wood for the whole length of the river.

We scouted horizon lines and made a portage at "Sevy Falls." There was a line that seemed like a class 4 move. I've made a similar move a million times before. We all decided to portage because of the consequences. There was a siv and a hole that I really didn't want to be a part of. Once again, I portaged just because the rapid didn't look fun enough for the consequences.

Downstream we scouted "Wally's Wallows." While scouting we saw a log on a rock that kept shifting and looking like it would wash off. As we started to go back to our boats, the log suddenly washed off and ran the line we all planned on taking. The log disappeared. I said "I hope that log isn't waiting for my bow down there." We all ran this fun rapid and loved it. It was the single most technical rapid we ran.

Keep in mind that I wanted to play, but due to the brown water and wood, I was scared to try surfing in holes that may have been formed by wood. Also our boats were loaded and the canyon was somewhat treacherous, especially for a city boy like myself.

As we approached "Jarbridge Falls," we made several scouts of rapids that might have been the falls. One involved a brief encounter with a rattlesnake. Finally, I reached the real falls and told my peers to portage. We all walked without scouting much. Because we were tired and in a very remote area, we didn't even consider running it. But, I gave a look at it thinking that I could run it on the right day (if it were roadside.) It could have been the biggest and most difficult rapid I had ever paddled, but I didn't.

Around 6pm we reached the confluence with the West Bruneau and started down the Bruneau section. We wanted to paddle about 5 or 10 miles before making camp. As we started dropping into the canyon, memories of my trip from eight years ago came back. However, in the little class 2 rapids, I knew something was up when little ripples were replaced by gigantic waves and dynamic eddy lines. It was very much pool drop and I knew for sure it was over 2000cfs. I had no idea that it could be as high as it really was, OVER 5000cfs that night. We camped that night and put on early the next morning.

The river actually dropped just a bit, but it was still huge. As the water rushed next to the canyon walls, boils were grabbing our boats and stern squirting us. The river really had high-volume characteristics, but once again, we were only guessing what the flows were. All of the rapids leading into Five-Mile rapids were very manageable, and I would feel comfortable taking a class 3-4 paddler down it. We hadn't seen one person from the time we had put-in. We ate lunch just above Five-Mile and knew it would be big.

In the first 30 miles of the Bruneau, I encountered a dozen near-perfect surf waves. I can't describe how awesome they were, but let's just say if they were park-and-play and on the Payette, I'd be there everyday. I surfed my loaded boat and was loving it. If only I had my playboat and raft support.

As we ran the smaller, easier entry rapids, we spotted two catarafts unloaded on the right bank. I was thinking that they either got into trouble, or hiked out. Then we started getting further into the rapids. They started getting huge, like high-water NF Payette. Then we saw two rafters with their rafts on the right bank. One guy looked shocked and scared sitting on the bank. Although the river seemed to flow too fast to chat with these guys, we thought that one might have gone for a swim. We assumed they hiked out later.

Then we dropped into about four or five rapids that were like nothing I've ever done. They weren't the most difficult I've ever done, and they weren't the biggest waves I've ever hit, but Five-Mile was the single craziest rapid I've ever done in my life.

On the Jarbridge, we used lots of hand signals to tell us where to go. As a friend led into these rapids, he was pointed one direction or the other. If I had led, I would have not pointed but shrugged my shoulders as if to say "Hell if I know???" where to go.

As we approached horizon lines in these rapids, it looked like an "unreadable" frothy mess. We were floating down the left side of one rapid at 20 miles per hour and dodging some branches that trees had in the river. There were several trees that seemed to grow out of the water fifteen feet off the banks.

In retrospect, everything seemed to be flushing. There were features that looked too scary to hit, and I still hit some of them. One wave "typewritered" me 40 feet to river right and through some juicy holes. I was backendered and worked the whole way through these rapids. The river boiled under me and took me where it wanted to. I could move with the punches, but I was also reminded that the river was stronger than me a number of times. My adrenaline was going like it never has I think.

I'll never forget looking down into these rapids as the water relentlessly flowed me into them. I would consider myself a very advanced paddler with great river-reading skills, but I simply couldn't "read and run." It was too hard to tell what I would eventually drop into. But we were committed. It was definitely flooding.

As a raft guide, I must say I don't ever want to raft this section at this flow. I wouldn't do it in a paddle raft with the best guides. I wouldn't sit on a cat with the Aire boys at the oars. I wouldn't do it with anybody. Exploding waves would flip a loaded boat in an instant. A swim seemed deadly. I knew there would be little I could do to rescue a swimmer.

As we reached the take-out we met up with the two catarafters that hiked out. They informed us of the flooding flows and asked us some questions. About this time, it all hit me. I realized how incredible Five-Mile rapid was. From what I was told it was a twenty year high. Because we had a friend who hung out at the take out for most of Tuesday and Wednesday who said no kayakers took out, this leads me to believe perhaps we had the highest descent ever. I don't really want to go back unless the flow is above 3000 cfs. This was the single most incredible river experience of my life. I will never forget the sight I saw as I dropped into some of the rapids in five-mile. It was epic!

The take-out had an incredible surf wave (which is normally an unrunnable weir.) It would be worth a day trip to surf if it was like it was on Wednesday. Someone might check it out.

"The Bruneau River Canyon is proof of both God's existence and the evolutionary theory."
-my dad
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Old 04-19-2011   #6
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Nampa, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 240
I wish I would have edited the above before posting it. It was written six years ago when I was much younger and dumber. Too late now.

After reading it though, I'm reminded of how amazing the experience was.. If you are considering it, I strongly recommend going in. If you can get in on the Roberson Trail, that would be one of the raddest hours of your life. Cheers!

Also worth mentioning, the Owyhee is over 18 grand. I know at this flow, the Stikine Veterans like to paddle the Three Forks to Rome section and sometimes they combine it with a little of the North Fork of the Owyhee upstream of Three Forks. This has been done in a single day. So if you want some very big Idaho whitewater, check this one out.
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Old 04-19-2011   #7
Grande Cache, Alberta
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 13
I found some info about the Bruneau online...watched a few videos and read some reports. I am amazed at the variety of landscapes in Idaho. I definitely want to kayak the Bruneau as the scenery looks amazing. I am not a class V boater, yet. When the water drops, I am running this river.

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Old 04-21-2011   #8
rg5hole's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 06
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 450
looking for paid shuttle help for jarbidge->bruneau

any suggestions time frame is 4/30-5/3 *or later in may
I've never boated before, but I have posted a lot on Mountain Buzz!
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Old 04-21-2011   #9
Bruneau, Idaho
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 10
I can give you are ride to the Jarbidge, it is just nice dirt roads. If I am in the busy of planting or something, I know a guy that will probably be up for it, he helps shuttle for the outfitter down here. Keep me in the loop when you are going and if there is anything else I can help with.

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Old 04-21-2011   #10
ashland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 222
Originally Posted by mark_m View Post
I found some info about the Bruneau online...watched a few videos and read some reports. I am amazed at the variety of landscapes in Idaho. I definitely want to kayak the Bruneau as the scenery looks amazing. I am not a class V boater, yet. When the water drops, I am running this river.

I went down at 1,200cfs a few years back and that was a great flow. Covered but not by any means pushy. I portaged Sevy Falls (logs in the RR slots) and of course Jarbidge Falls (BTW this was before the new landslide rapid) and I came away thinking if you had a 'watch your back/mother hen' leader on the trip, boaters with good class 3 skills and a halfway decent roll could make it down this run with little or no drama at that flow. I also came away thinking that this is one of the most uniquely beautiful places anywhere and one of if not the best class 3/4 self-support kayak trip in the US. (If there is a better one let me me know cause I want to go.) I'm already getting excited about going again this year.

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