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Old 04-17-2009   #1
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 21
Middle Fork Salmon--Boundary Creek to Indian Creek

My brother and I are preparing for a self-support run in kayaks on the Middle Fork of the Salmon in Idaho. Our departure date is May 17th. I'm not sure what the level will be but I'm sure it will be on the high side. What I am concerned about is the upper 12 miles of the run, from Boundary Creek to Indian Creek. I have heard different stories, some say the shit is easy and others say that it is IV+ at high levels. I am a solid class IV paddler and have occasionally ran class V but I've never ran anything with forty pounds of gear in the back of my boat, so I am a little concerned. If anyone has a familiarity with the run at high water, specifically the upper section, I would greatly appreciate info on what to expect.

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Old 04-17-2009   #2
ric's Avatar
Fruita, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 201
MF in May!

Ive been down the MF 8 times.
You'l be fine, first 24 miles are the best. Be aware of Velvet mile 4ish?
With heavy boats you might want to stay left!
Power house is kinda of big but should be easy to read as you go.
I don't think you'll have real high water yet? maybe 5 or 6 ft?
Pistol is a classic drop and there's a new drop above it where the RR gully flashed three years ago. Might want to scout that section check for timber,
Bunch of great hot springs ,You should have the river to yourself stay at as many of them as you can.
There was a bear hanging out at sheepeater last year, got some food out of one of the yaks!

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Old 04-17-2009   #3
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 21
Thanks for the beta ric, especially the hazards! I wasn't sure what to expect because most of the resources I've read are more focused on rafting than on kayaking, and I've hard altering views as well. Thanks!
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Old 04-18-2009   #4
ric's Avatar
Fruita, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 201
MF in May!

You might want to check and make sure boundry crk road is open?
If not you'll be doing the marsh crk run, thats one more day to the trip!
Dagger portage?
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Old 04-18-2009   #5
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 21
Yeah, I plan on putting in at Marsh Creek. I didn't think that it would add a whole day to the trip though. I guess it makes sense because there is quite a few miles after the confluence with the MF before one arrives at Boundary Creek. I'll keep this in mind. My brother will probably run Dagger, but I'm a puss, so I'll probably portage it.
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Old 04-18-2009   #6
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Eagle, Idaho
Paddling Since: '78
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 794

If you launch on Marsh, be SUPER heads up for wood. There are a lot of somewhat blind corners. In a kayak you should be fine and have ample time to pull over. Just be careful, we launched last year on Marsh on May 26th and came to one spot that was pretty sketchy (for a raft, I was rowing at the time). Small island, one path had a HUGE tree, the other channel had a manageable tree (roped,pulled the rafts over).

Having said that.......it's friggen AWESOME!!!!! I can't imagine doing the MF any better way. The 19 or so miles from Marsh to Dagger is just amazing.....and it will be "quiet" out there....not many boaters I would imagine.
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Old 04-20-2009   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 128
Marsh to Boundary

I did a self-support the year that the gully above pistol flashed. We launched From Marsh in the morning, had lunch,(and a quick portage at Dagger and were lounging in Sheepeater hot springs,(the bear was there then too) by 4 pm, so easily doable in the same day. Marsh goes by really fast, just keep an eye peeled for the river to constrict and the walls sort of hem in above Dagger, and of course there's a foot bridge just upstream of it. Velvet will definitely sneak up on you if you are not vigilant, I'd go left. We were on the river at around 5.5 ft and everything was big but really fun. There were highways between monster holes, so lines were abundant but you wanted to stay on it. Big Loon Creek has a great hot spring about .5 miles up the creek.
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Old 04-20-2009   #8
Dipshit with the most.
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Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,496
Keep in mind that the gully washers that we had last year that modified Tappan 2-3 ( Cove Cr) also caused quite a bit of damage on the upper end. It won't be too high by then, but with these events this is huge potential for fresh and unruly wood to be in the river.

Proceed with caution.

Then there is the usual amount of wood that always pops up in the upper Middle Fork.
About three or four years ago, my buddy had to help with a shit show on Marsh that saw 11 cats and rafts going under a barely submerged log.
They saw what was happening and the three in kayaks still barely made it into an eddy above the log ( 10 feet above ) playing bumper boats. A throw bag was involved but they all made the portage ok.

Then add in the number of avalanches we have had this year and there is even more possibility for trees and debris in the water. I floated past a 60 foot high snow wall, that was pincushioned with 80 foot long 20 to 30 inch diameter trees one spring on that section and that was mid June.

Undoubtedly someone will have been down by then and have some beta, but I would plan on going slower and being careful. There is also a killer hot spring above the confluence with Bear Valley Creek that would be a good camp but that is only 7 (?) miles down or so.

Sheepeater is a great place to go and I wouldn't expect you to have too many problems after Dagger.
Velvet can work you at certain levels but not if you are trying to go through it. Once it gets to the 7.5 plus level you will want to be left for sure. Really ugly in the middle. There is a far right line that looks ugly but flushes too.

A buddy had an epic surf experience there a couple of years ago, but he was trying to surf it. Got stuck in there and had rafts going over him and he finally swam from tiredness and a blown skirt. that was about 6.5 feet.

5- 6 feet is a good guess. I have seen it at almost 8 and it was pretty scary in a raft and super squirelly. Pistol was very weird and hard to read but what else is new..

Have fun.
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Old 04-20-2009   #9
Fluid Dreams's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 55

Many of the posts on here are insightful to match the stories of Walt Blackadar. If the Middle is a stretch you're interested in, Never Turn Back is a book to read (all about Idaho kayaking).
The river is a paradise of liquid, caressing the earth, and creating a playground of magic and fluid adventure!
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Old 04-20-2009   #10
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 21
Thanks guys for the beta. I will be super cautious about wood hazrards, especially on Marsh Creek. Shortbus, it seems like you guys were able to put down some damn good mileage in a day. I guess it make sense for how fast the current flows. For you kayakers, what did you guys use for fire pans and porta potty's? I was thinking about just bringing a tupper wear container for the porta potty and maybe creating something out of sheet metal for my fire pan. I'm not sure though.

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