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Old 02-05-2010   #11
striker's Avatar
steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 71
Yeah Middle Fork!

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Old 02-05-2010   #12
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at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,345
Originally Posted by Rich View Post
PS: is that a majic wand or a broom?
Hahahahahahaha, you'll pay for that

I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 02-06-2010   #13
Moscow, Idaho
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 7
Won a Middle Fork Permit - need help forming a group

Hi everyone - new to the forum.

Well, I sort of spontaneously put in for a permit and received an email yesterday saying that I had won a Middle Fork of the Salmon permit. Launch date Friday, July 23rd. After reading a bit I realize that this year, because of the snowpack, there may not be enough water to start from the top, but I don't really know anything about the middle fork because my wife and I have never been there.

Here is the thing, my wife and I probably have a small group of people that would like to go do this, but we don't know anyone experienced with that river and also don't have any equipment...lol. Aren't the permits good for up to 24 people? We do however work at WSU and U of I, so I know we can rent whatever equipment we need.

I guess I'm posting this up becasue I'm not really sure how to get this going, but if anyone could provide some suggestions, it would be much appreciated.

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Old 02-06-2010   #14
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NOCO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 582
Private Message sent with some info. If you do a search on Mountain Buzz you'll find a ton of threads and info about Middle Fork trips. Enjoy!
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Old 02-06-2010   #15
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vancouver, Washington
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,146
First of all congrats there are people who have been submitting for years and never get it.

This is an experience of a lifetime. If you've never floated a river for a week however this can be a daunting task -- mostly in organization and preparation. I advise you get at least 2 people in your group that have experience with longer trips who can help plan and make sure you are equipped properly.

There is a good float guide avail that explains most of the rapids. At late July flows its pretty tame river, the biggest issues are going to be avoiding rocks especially in the upper canyon. Once the level goes below 2' I've heard most fly into indian creek, which is not going to be cheap. Unless this is a drought year and there is no snowpack however July is usually OK. We did a trip on July 4 last year at ~3.1ft and three years ago at 2.5ft. Both were very manageable.

You want to make sure your boats are not overloaded. 2 people per 13' raft max. Don't overpack -- think carefully about what you need. I can go the whole week with clothes that fit in a 50l drybag, shared tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and personal items. You probably want 3mm wetsuit for day 1-2. Don't bring any cotton! Fleece pants, fleece top and a rainjacket for camp. I've heard of snow there in late June ...

Make sure everyone knows how to throw a rope, etc. Make sure anyone on the boat can help pluck a person out of the water. Its not a dangerous river but if you are a newbie make sure you raft enough to have experienced what can go wrong on a river. I recommend spend a weekend on a river and practice all the fundamentals. Get involved in a local activities group and meet some people -- you won't have a shortage of skilled people interested in joining you on this river. And don't bring anyone who likes to sleep in late ...

The issue with the permit size of 24 is you only get 5 nights on the river. So you need to be extremely efficient in terms of organizing your group and you don't get much chance to see what there is to see on the trip. At that point its more of a cattle herding operation, you will be getting on the river at noon and hurriedly setting up camp at 9pm and will never want to do this again.

Our first trip was 5 nights -- 5 of us with 2 gear boats and one paddle cataraft. Good trip but we should have done 7 nights.

Our second trip was 6 nights -- 16 people with a bunch of newbies, 3 gear boats, one paddle boat, one cat, one paddle cat and one surf cat. I missed most of the river trying to keep everyone afloat ... this would have been a much better trip except we had some gear issues, were overpacked, and we got rain most of the trip so there was some exposure issues.

I advise a group of 10 people -- you get 7 nights on the river which takes a lot of the stress of the trip. You can probably get all the paddling done in 3 or 4 hours on the water --- more if there are problems. You can camp in some of the nicer smaller sites that the outfitters can't use. You still have enough people in your group that if there are problems that you can do your own self rescue etc.

-- at that time of they year with 10 people you will want 4 lightly loaded gear boats, and two kayakers since they are usually the most skilled in terms of the river, and are very mobile can help get boaters stuck off the rocks etc.

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Old 02-06-2010   #16
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at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,345
And check out the Idaho Whitewater Yahoo Group. You'll probably make lots of new boating friends there that can help you out!
I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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Old 02-06-2010   #17
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
On the subject of weight - remember that you can pack backpacking style if you want to keep your boats light. Sure that means no coolers loaded with NY Strip steaks, but it also means a lot less time spent packing and unpacking, setting up a kitchen, etc. Then again NY Strips taste great with a nice beer sitting in a recliner after a day spent paddling and soaking in hot springs.

I will second the advice to get some folks with multi-day experience involved in your trip.

A great resource for planning multi-day trips is the RRFW wiki site - sure it is meant for the grand canyon, but the logistics for a 7 day trip are a lot like those for a 16-25 day trip. And rules for things like groovers, fire pans, cooler management etc are fairly universal. Rafting Grand Canyon

My last trip on The Middle Fork was late May at high water. We only saw one other group, and largely had the river to ourselves. It snowed 6 inches on us. We loaded my raft to the gills, supporting 9 people - 3 kayakers, 2 paddle cat paddlers, 3 passengers and me. Worked great at high water. Would be a nightmare at low water.

I will second the idea that 24 people is a lot to manage - especially if this is your first multi-day river trip. But really it is about expectations - if you are fine with leaving camp around 11 or noon and being on the river into the evening it will be just fine. Also if you get everyone to agree that you get up at 7 am everyday and bust a move you can leave camp as early as 10 am. If you haven't done multi-day river trips before I know that 3 hours from waking to getting on the rivers sounds like a lot, but it is fairly normal.

Ask lots of questions. This site is a good resource as is the Idaho Whitewater group on Yahoo groups.
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Old 02-06-2010   #18
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Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 614
Here's the current summary:

News | Idaho NRCS

This is the graph to watch:

Middle Fork Salmon Snow-Stream Analysis | Idaho NRCS

It hasn't been updated for this year, yet.
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Old 02-06-2010   #19
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Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 614
The old graph does show normally snow at this time is 70% of peak.

Last year at this time it was 50% of peak.
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Old 02-06-2010   #20
slamkal's Avatar
vancouver, Washington
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2009
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my other thoughts:

when you pick your crew good to have someone with medical experience. make them your doctor. For our trip we has a PA. We had two Knife unfolding injuries before we put in (showing off our new knives). Plus we had a drunk newbie use an axe on some driftwood, slipped, and required some stitches. Plus he actually stitched up a 3" tear in my tubes with surgical stitching before we applied a patch !!!

limit yourself to one steak meal in the middle of the trip. Pack your coolers in layers ... ie first meal on the top, last on the bottom. Everything is arranged so that your meal is at the top of the cooler and its defrosted when you need it. Take your coolers into someplace where they can chest freeze the whole cooler ... you'll carry an extra lot of weight in ice if you don't pack it right and you are fumbling from cooler to cooler looking for something. Ice takes up a lot of space in the cooler and weighs a lot expecially in the first few miles where the river is shallower ...

my wife did a wonderful job on our first trip using mostly dried goods with some canned items. The less ice you need the better. So make sure your cooler situation is such that you don't ever have to open the cooler until you are prepping food (seperate beverage cooler). Use everclear to make jungle juice to save space. Your beers can be chilled in a bag on the side of the boat by the river water ...

contact me I can give you her trip planning for 5 people you just need to adjust based on number of days, etc.

try and be as minimal as possible. Remember you need to row that crap. A cooler top or drybox makes a nice bench for two people with a folding seat pad.

plan for 1 gal per day per person, for 10 people and 7 nights thats 10*7*8lbs = 560lbs so you will probably want some filtration method ...

make sure you test out all your new gear before you use it. We spent 3 days on the water before we got our water filtration system to work properly --- a lot of manual filtration pumping until that happened ...

Remember your filter willl last 50x as long if the water feeding it is cleaner. A lot of benefit comes from letting the water settle for at least an hour before you filter. Ask some guide groups where they stop to get spring water much cleaner than using river water (get a greywater container you can fill this up at small clean tributaries that aren't fed from cattle grazing areas).

we experimented with a gravity feed system with a simple carbon filter. -- added bleach to the water in the top and let it sit to settle and kill the viruses --- this creates "tributary quality" river from the river water. We passed this through a 2micron carbon filter to remove the chlorine taste but this doesn't do anything for cysts ... then we used our backpack filters so they wouldn't get trashed from not using prefiltered water. This year we will have a much improved system ....

for any ice you bring along you should use freeze bottles of water not cubed ice --- when they thaw they they are still sealed allow you to at least drink the water.

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