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Old 06-02-2012   #1
Eden, Utah
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2
Main Salmon Questions

First time on the Main, ran low water Middle Fork 2x. Any advice will be appreciated. Put in on the 19th, day before quotas. Is that a crowded event?
How will the flow be by then, easy to find camps? Have a healthy crew but a little weak on raft experience. Two 16 footers myself and other boatman have two Grand Canyons trips under our belts, passengers should be good assist if needed. Hoping for a "recommended" flow by then. Any tips for running rapids?Thanks "I"

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Old 06-02-2012   #2
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Too much info to impart in the thread. I'll send you a PM.

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Old 06-03-2012   #3
Eden, Utah
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2
Main Salmon

Thanks for all the input and enthusiasm. Will look at that book too. What is the jet boat impact on running a rapid? I understand they have right of way, could get interesting on a big rapid.
We just lost on of our gals on the trip, want to run it big? Also how is the river at the end of the season, late Sept.? Would love to do a floater in my mini me. Have a great season. "I"
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Old 06-03-2012   #4
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Thanks for the invite, but early July will be my first trip this year. I'm rehabbing after knee surgery. Floaters have the right of way in rapids and the jet boats are very good at waiting above or below rapids to let your group run. Try to keep your group together so that you get through the rapid as quickly as possible so the jet boat can proceed. It's helpful if your lead boat lets the jet boat driver know how many boats you have so they know when the way is clear. The one thing your never want to do is enter a rapid if the jet boat is already committed to running the rapid. All their steering and maneuverability comes from the forward momentum of their jets. If they stall out or have to stop in the middle of a rapid they can be in serious trouble. They are pretty cool to watch going upriver through a rapid, so be patient and watch. If you hear or see a jet boat coming, yell "Jet Boat" and pass the message to the rest of your crew. You should all pull towards one side of the river (but stay in the current) to let them pass. You will probably see around 4-5 jet boats a day. Remember that in an emergency they can really be helpful. Be courteous to them and they will return the favor. Have a great trip.
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Old 06-15-2012   #5
Monto's Avatar
Hamilton, MT, Montana
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 57
Cataraft girl,
Any chance you could forward me that PM? I have a main trip in a few weeks and im curious about all the good advice i'm sure is in there!
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Old 06-15-2012   #6
Beaverton, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 569
I second the motion to post the PM. I have a trip coming in late August and would love any info you can offer.
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Old 06-15-2012   #7
Rainy Northwest, Washington
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 459
Main Salmon

Hey Brandob:

I'll send you a PM. Pretty sure its my trip you are coming on.
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Old 06-15-2012   #8
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
I'll post my PM info tonight. Just basic stuff, but nice info to know if you haven't done the Main Salmon before.
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Old 06-15-2012   #9
Cpt. No Scout
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In a Van, Down By the River
Paddling Since: 91
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 517
Ya, i think it will be a bit crazier that previous years. The flow will be right. And there is a TON of out-a-state boaters over here right now. Your experience is not an issue to me. With two boats you should be able to easly find a small camp. You will need a plan and a bit of luck to get the nicer camps. But with a small party you should have no isues finding a little something special. Bring shade and sunscreen. Also, I don't know if its just me but I have seen more snakes than usual this year. All drops are stright forward. Ya just line up and maybe pull left or right. Becareful. enjoy.
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Old 06-15-2012   #10
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
OK, here are my words of wisdom. The Main Salmon is my favorite multi-day trip (closely followed by the Middle Fork). I have run it at least once a year for the past 10 years.

Guide books - the best one I've found is by Eric Newell, Good info, GPS coordinates for camps, good descriptions and drawings of rapids.

Water level - The best way to find out the water level is to call the North Fork Ranger station. There is no gauge reading for Corn Creek on the USGS website. The highest I have run is 2.5 feet, so I have no real "high water" experience. My friends have advised that at high water the hardest thing is keeping your group together, especially if someone swims/flips & catching eddies for camps because of the river speed & smaller eddies. Some rapids wash out at high water, some get much harder. Elkhorn, Whiplash, and Chittam are a few that get nasty at high water. Anything above 4 feet is considered high water, and above 7 feet is considered extreme. There are two new rapids that formed last year.....Alder Creek & Black Creek. Black Creek is a kick in the pants, but it's formation has covered one of my favorite rapids.....Salmon Falls

Camps - The Main Salmon has lots of great camps. This river is on a partial reservation system. Certain camps can be reserved and the rest are first come first serve. Reserve camps are designated as small group (1-11 peeps) and large group (over 11 peeps). Sometimes if a large camp isn't reserved by a mid-day launch they will let a small group have it. You can't layover at reserved camps. Length of trip is also designated by group size..... 1-10 folks is 8 days/7 nights, 11-20 is 7 days/6 nights, and over 20 is 6 days/5 nights. Since we usually have a small group, we mostly use non-reserve camps and do 1-2 layovers. We are an organized (but not obsessive) group, so we usually are on the river by 9:30 am so that we can get our desired non-reserve camp and avoid the afternoon wind. One word on the non-reserve camps.....they are First Come First Serve. Don't write them down on your desired camp form at the ranger hut and think this means you get them. You only fill out that form for reserved camps. For the past two years we have had groups float up to our camp at 4-5pm and whine because we are already there. If you want to get a desired non-reserve camp, don't hang out in camp until noon. Ok....I'll get off my soapbox now

Shuttles - I have used River Shuttles out of Salmon for 10 years with no problems. Jet backs are common and can be fun if they work for you based on number in your group and your budget. Jet backs don't often run in late season at lower water levels.

Jet Boats - You will see them every day. If you treat them with respect they will do the same. If they see your group preparing to run a rapid, they will wait for you to finish. Be courteous and keep your group together and get through the rapid as quickly as you can so that they can go. It helps if your lead boat lets them know how many boats are in your group so they know when you are done running the rapid. If you are eddied out to scout, wave them on through. It's cool to watch them run the rapids. If you encounter a jet boat on the river (not in a rapid), have everyone pull towards the side of the river to give them room, but you don't have to eddy out. Jet boat folks can be super helpful if you have an injury/emergency on the river. In 10 years I have never had a bad jet boat experience. They are just part of the Main salmon experience.

Most folks run from Corn Creek to either Vinegar Creek or Carey Creek. We always take-out at Carey Creek so that we get to run Vinegar rapid. This year we are floating down to Spring Bar to add an extra day on the river. There is a scat machine at the Chevon station on Riggins.

Must see stops - Legend Creek pictographs, Barth hot springs, Buckskin Bills (ice, water, soda pop, beer, ice cream, t-shirts, and a cool place to see), Mackay Bar (more ice cream, drinks, t-shirts, flush toilet), Jim Moore, Campbell Ferry, Reho Wolfe, Polly Bemis, and Shepp Ranch homesteads.

Dogs are allowed on the Main Salmon. You will see a fair number of them and my personal dog experiences have always been good. We bring ours and she loves it. Clean up after them. Don't let them be annoying at the put-in & take-out. Don't let them chase wildlife. Be a responsible owner and they will have continued fun on the river.

Weather - It can be hotter than hell from July to September. But I have had cool wet trips in August. Be prepared. Bring shade tarps & lots of sunscreen. The water is awesome for swimming at camp.

Have a great trip and be safe

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