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Old 06-25-2009   #1
penguin's Avatar
Tahoe City, California
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 53
Middle Fork Salmon River: Seeking Input on August Flows

Hey all,

Just came off a great Deso trip and we've also got one for the Salmon MF around August 11th. This may seem like a non-starter to many because of the low waters encountered during this time of year, but we're floating with 5 kids and we want them to have a gentle, positive experience.

We're planning on a Boundary put-in because the flows seem slightly higher this year than in the past.

What I'd really like to know is how the river changes at lower flows. The gradient is the same, but there will be only around 2' of water (my guess, based on historical data from USFS site). Would you consider it a Class III with a few IVs at this stage, or not? Too many rocks to navigate? More problems with hitting rocks than navigating rapids? Can kids age 8+ use an IK now and then at these flows in this river? Can any larger rapids be walked?

I sure appreciate the support from this forum, and I wish I could answer as many questions as I ask. Maybe I can in time.


- penguin

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Old 06-25-2009   #2
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
Check your PM's.

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Old 06-30-2009   #3
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 1
The Middle Fork in August is really fun and pretty manageable depending on how big/heavy your boat is. It is quite rocky, but most of the rapids are pretty straight forward.

Your kids should be able to IK most of the stuff in the middle with no problems.

The more difficult rapids will be:
-Hells Half Mile (just above Velvet Falls) - really rocky and you just half to pick your way through
-Chutes - more of the same. As I remember you enter right, move to the left, then back to right of center at the bottom. Neither Hells or Chutes have any scairy aspects, just lots of rocks to get hung up on.
-Pistol - Changed recently and super easy as long as you know where you are. There is a gravel bar on the right hand side - stay as close to this as possible and you'll be golden.
-The new Tappan Rapid is the most difficult. (Easy for passengers to walk around it though). There are a bunch of big rocks and the river is pretty narrow. Ran it twice below 2 last summer, and I split the two rocks at the top, and you have to quickly move about a boat width to the right to avoid a big rock directly in the center. It may change or be more difficult with more water though.
-All the Rapids in Impassible Canyon are pretty straight forward (usually a hole/rock or two to avoid) and decent wave trains.

Hope this helps!
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Old 06-30-2009   #4
Pugetopolis, Washington
Paddling Since: 96
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Better ask Carvediggy about this.

Just got off it last week. I love Idaho.
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Old 06-30-2009   #5
Wadeinthewater's Avatar
Walterville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 558
Originally Posted by BW83 View Post
-Pistol - Changed recently and super easy as long as you know where you are. There is a gravel bar on the right hand side - stay as close to this as possible and you'll be golden.
We ran last August at just under 2 ft. We all went far left at the top of Pistol. Seemed to be easier and have deeper water than on the right. One picture is most of the water going around the left side of the bar. The second is a small hole in the left channel.

Sulfur Slide and the Chutes caused the most anxiety. If you are starting at Boundry go very light and run a very soft boat. Soft boats slide over the rocks much easier and don't hang up as often.
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Old 07-01-2009   #6
most weekends up on the payettes, Idaho
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Heed what wadeinwater says about soft light boats. You will drag a lot until you hit indian creek
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Old 07-01-2009   #7
Dipshit with the most.
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Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,496
Originally Posted by BarryDingle View Post
Better ask Carvediggy about this.

Just got off it last week. I love Idaho.
Huhhhh. Whassat?

The Middle Fork in August sucks. Idaho sucks. The whitewater will be gone.

Seriously. Any time is a great time to be on the Fork. Hope you make it.

These are on the MF last fall ( end of August at around 1.8 or so if I remember right).
A good look at Velvet and the bottom of the middle section of Powerhouse.
Idahorivertime: October 2008

I don't really consider anything class 4 in August on the Middle Fork. Maybe the new rapid at Cove Creek. I didn't see that until it was lower in late September last year. And it was initimidating looking then but I would rate it then as class 3+.

Of course everything could be a 3 until you rap.

There are lots of little things that come out as the flow drops. Most of the bigger ones become easier.

Murph's hole becomes a non-issue, but Dora's Rock ( around mile 1.5 or 2 ) has rap potential. Sulphur Slide and The Chutes both become tougher at low flows with more danger of getting ramped on rocks than rapped ( but it can be done). Other things like Ping Pong, entrance to Hell's the little rock garden above the Chutes - stuff like that can kick your butt if overloaded. After you finish going past the wall at Powerhouse you may think you are done and then go around the corner and find two boats rapped on a dory on the rock just off of river left. That happened to me in August one trip.

Lake Creek will be worth a look. You should be able to run the hole just fine at that flow.

Heed advice about soft boats, soft floors.

How many boats? How many people? How many days?
If you have the budget I would seriously consider a flyin of gear to Indian Creek. I have done it a couple of times and wow, does that make getting off the top easier. It can help make the experience easier for you which = easier for the kids. I would be happy to help to give you some more ideas if you want to consider the fly in gear option.

The fly fishing should be awesomely epic. Bring extra stuff. If you only do the three day out of state license do it for three days in the middle. Like day 3, 4, 5. Some of the best fishing in there.

Jealous. I won't get a chance until September.

PM if you like.

Great meeting you out there Stu. Looks like you had better weather for the Main. Let's do it again next year.
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Old 07-18-2009   #8
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Hey Penguin,
We're launching Sept 12 from Indian Creek. I've done two late season trips, but I'd like some feed-back on the "new" Tappan aka Cove Creek rapid at low water. Would love to hear from you when you get back from your trip. We always fly into Indian Creek on our September trips, so I can't offer any advice on the upper section. I'll give a thumbs up to the soft tubes advice already given. I was skeptical at first, but it really does help you "slime" over the rocks. My other advice is to really pay attention to the river at all times. Seems like every time I take my eyes off it to grab a piece of gum or put on some sunscreen.... wham.... rock. Our flows are usually 1.5 - 1.8 ft.
Have fun.
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Old 07-20-2009   #9
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 74
Hey Penguin,
One tip. If you get on youtube and type in Middle fork and even the name of the rapid you can see lots of video of the rapid at several water levels. Got to love the internet. have fun. Matt
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Old 07-20-2009   #10
penguin's Avatar
Tahoe City, California
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 53
Hey everybody, thanks for the input so far. I'm putting it all to use and doing more research ahead of time.

I'm a novice rafter, having only been on the river in charge of my own boat for 13 river days so far. Most of this was in Class II+ with a few III rapids. I'm still a bit caught up in ratings rather than realities that only come with experience. It seems like most of these rapids could be scouted if we desire to do so, and that a few of the bigger ones could be walked and I could go solo, which I prefer to do since it's a bit easier to manage the boat and safer for the kids (if the walk around is manageable).

We've got two families and two 14' boats (an Avon and an NRS). One family has five people (kids are 8-13) and the other family has four (kids are 8-10). Considering the ages, our skill level, and water flows, I think we're in the right river in August.

We also have two double Aire IKs. Still not figured out what to do with them for the first five-10 miles or so, however. I'm curious if you guys have any input on managing IKs with rafts - do you normally just deflate/roll up to get them out of your way? Thanks, penguin

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