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Old 05-26-2010   #11
Grand Junction, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 31
Went last year on June 21st. It was the first time and really first time going down big water beside westwater. I couldn't remember the gauge at Corn Creek but according to the graph it was approx. 40K. So a bit more flow than what you will experience. 2 - 14-footers, 1 -16 footer and 1 -16 foot cat. Weather was wet and cold the first two days. Get the guide book mentioned in the previous responses. Good info and rapid descriptions. No flips or mess ups, Chittman I thought was the must difficult since was not used to going backwards into a large rapid. Live and learn I guess. Must stops are the hot springs, can't exactly remember the name, Mackey Bar, Polly B, and one ranch on the river right which had a sand volleyball court which we dominated. Camps at this level, according to other boaters on our trips, are better at lower flows. Majority of them seemed unudated. It was a great trip and fun wave trains. Enjoy

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Old 06-08-2010   #12
DeeGardiner's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 83
Since the water flow has gone way up, I would like to re-ask my original questions...

Originally Posted by DeeGardiner View Post
We have a permit for the Main Salmon on June 22. I have never run the Main prior to mid-July before, so I am looking for some advice on a mid-June run.

1) The river will likely be higher than I have run it in the past. Our group consists of a few families. We all have fairly good experience (Main, Middle Fork, Deso, Lodore, etc), but we usually don't take the full family when on the more challenging rivers. This will be a full family trip - so I don't want too much risk of flipping or a nasty swim. How high is "too" high for families in 14' and 16' rafts? I was thinking somewhere around 6' on the gauge at Corn Creek. Thoughts?

2) What is the weather usually like this time of year? I know the MF can be very cold and wet and maybe even snow. Same for the Main? Or is it low enough that it should be less severe?

3) Any suggestions on camp sites for high water? Which ones are good? Which ones will be under water or too hard to land?

4) Any other advice for mid-June?

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Old 06-08-2010   #13
surrounded by mountains, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 475
This graph is at Whitebird, so way downstream.

Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service: Missoula: Salmon River at White Bird

The Main section will possibly be back to the teens by your trip.
No risk, no reward. It is not that we have to, it is that we get to. Preparation and education are essential to self-confidence and success. - KV
"If there is no risk there is no adventure."- Bill Briggs
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Old 06-09-2010   #14
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
When I posted two weeks ago we were on the train to happy town. It looked like we would have flows at or under 3 ft. at Corn Creek for our June 12th trip. Well, now we have cancelled the trip because the flow at Corn Creek has been at or above 9 ft. for the past week. Crazy. Whiplash & Chittam must be insane. I just saw the post from the person who lost two rafts from their Middle Fork trip. They flipped and the rafts kept on going. The rafts were spotted passing Corn Creek (on their way to Riggins?). Middle Fork has been at 7 ft. lately. I think Idaho must have gotten all their snow in the past month, and it's been raining up there a lot.
Hopefully things will mellow out before your June 22 launch. We have rescheduled for July 2.
Good Luck
KJ - Now In River Withdrawal
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Old 06-09-2010   #15
Ever_Cat's Avatar
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 44
Cataraftgirl - how did you reschedule? I've been monitoring the reservation web site for a July trip and nothing but the dreaded R(eserved). Does a high-water cancellation give you this option now as this wasn't the case before?

DeeGardiner - reasking your questions under the circumstances is a good idea. I use the Main Salmon at Shoup and MF Salmon at Mouth gages to get the approximate CFS at Corn Creek. It is now over 31k CFS and this is the real deal although obviously it will be considerably lower by the time your trip rolls around.

Clearly what is appropriate for one family may not be appropriate for another. The highest I have run the Main is 17k CFS. While this is not the mega level of 30k+ CFS it is beginning to get big and pushy. In my opinion the mid teens are on the upper side of what is appropriate for many family trips. A swim at these levels would be no fun, especially for a youngster. Levels below 10k CFS calm down considerably compared to the mid teens and are much more family appropriate. Unfortunately there is no way to predict what the flow will be on your launch date.

I think that each of the families need to ask themselves about their realistic comfort levels on previous Main/other trips. If anyone felt their ability was stretched at a lower level then whether or not to participate in this trip should be considered. Also sit the kids down and give it to them straight. If they are sketchy about it and you think that they may not enjoy the trip then pass on the trip. Remember it is supposed to be fun.

Sorry, no absolute answers, just a few thoughts. My approach to trips with families and kids is to lean toward the cautious side of things. It is better to miss a trip now than to give the kids a bad experience and sour them on the river life.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 06-09-2010   #16
DeeGardiner's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 83
Thanks for the input so far.

I thought I would share a little more info about our group in case that helps anyone provide us additional insights.

The youngest child is 15 and over 6' tall. Most of the youth are college age. So I am not very worried about them - other than my 23 year old son that will be rowing one of the rafts. He has rowed the Main in low water and Deso - but nothing really big or pushy.

We will also have two 2-man inflatable kayaks. Those in the kayaks have a lot of experience, but if they are getting flipped frequently or have nasty swims or are extremely cold - they won't be having much fun.

The other two rafts will be rowed by me and another old time. We have a lot of experience, but we are both in our 50s and don't want a nasty swim. Our wives would also hate life if they had to swim.

Years ago I ran the Main at about 3' on the Corn Creek ramp and it was a very fun level. I am thinking that above 6' will be more than I want to handle - but that is just a guess. It seems pretty likely that the level will drop well below 6' by June 22 so we should be okay.

From reviewing the guide books it looks like a lot of the camps may be under water, so I would appreciate any advice on good campsites for high water conditions. Our group size is only 12, so we don't need really large camps.

Any comments on rapids at >3' but <6'? How is Salmon Falls? Big Mallard? Chittam? Vinegar Creek? Etc.
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Old 06-09-2010   #17
lmaciag's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 670
Just got off a Middle/Main before the spike (SFS was coming up fast when we passed on the last day... lots of wood). We were riding a bit of the upslope at the tail end of the Main trip. (Main was 5/31-6/3). Trip started at 3.5-ish on the Corn Creek Ramp and stayed pretty stable until the last day (when we rowed over 40 miles to Spring Bar to escape the rain). My memories:

Salmon Falls - Washed out. Either side had a tounge, no 'slot' just a center wave hole that could have been run just about anywhere.

Big Mallard - The hole was more upstream than the book sketch showed. Description said to run left. We had camped just above at Lower Yellow Pine on river right and was taking a bit longer to get left, so I turned around and went right. Hit the edge of the hole trying to get back right and wobbled a bit. My passenger had scouted it from camp and reported no holes and nothing of concern, so was unprepared for the little wobble and slid off the deck (not holding on tight, coffee cup out). This was not being attentive, not the difficulty of the rapid.

Chittam - Scout to know your marker and pull right. As long as you are right of the nasty hole at the top, should be fine. Pull in your drag bag as I lost my beer as my stern was pointed river right and it got a little shallow passing the marker rock.

Vinegar - read and run.

Elkhorn is another to note. Long rapid, big hole at the end. Book gives a good description/diagram. Ran left to center to right and watched as we passed the nasty hole at the bottom.

I've also done this run at 7'. That run was my third time ever rowing a boat. I was concerned about Whiplash, but ended up being less than crazy. Just time the pull to the left. Everything else was just fun (though was not used to the boils and eddy fences back then).

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain
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Old 06-09-2010   #18
Ever_Cat's Avatar
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 44
OK, those are big kids. I was thinking smaller and younger kids when I wrote my last post. Probably not too much to worry about with your group. I just don't have the ramp height to CFS conversion in my head but I have a note saying that 5' is about 16k CFS although this could be totally off base (I only think in CFS on this one). But at 6' you shouldn't be in the high-water zone.

As for rapids (in no particular order):
Salmon Falls - should be washed out,
Bailey - big waves but straightforward,
Elk Horn - worth a scout,
Whiplash - scarey at high water but not so bad at medium flows,
Big Mallard - I always run left but as lmaciag points out right is an option,
Chittam - scariest looking but not bad as long as you make the move to the right,
Vinegar - straightforward.

Check out Whitewater Rafting Campsites | Resources for Planning Rafting Trips for campsite info and pictures.
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Old 06-09-2010   #19
DeeGardiner's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 83
Thanks, that is good info.

According in the map:

3' = 10,000 cfs
4' = 12,000 cfs
5' = 15,800 cfs
6' = 20,600 cfs

20,000 seems manageable until you consider that the flow at the take-out may be 3-4x that of the put-in.
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Old 06-09-2010   #20
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Regarding the reschedule. There is no process, just watching the website multiple times a day, and getting really lucky. There was one day where a couple of late June early July openings showed up on the website, and we grabbed one. Right place, Right time, taht's all. Sure hope things calm down soon.

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