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Old 07-06-2006   #1
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
Middle Fork Trip Report

Just got back from the middle fork, and I still have a big ass smile on my face. I know tons of folks have been there, but I thought I'd share my personal slice of the middle fork.

I took my mom and sis for a family middle fork trip. We went with Middle Fork River Expeditions. Mom got diagnosed with breast cancer last year and had a brutal year with chemo and surgery etc. She is back in action now, and I wanted to bring her on an awesome trip, the trip of a lifetime for her, as you never know how long you have...

The first day was a blast. Lots of carnage though. We went past a private trip with a wrapped raft. When we got to camp, another group of private boaters went by. 7 people on one loaded down raft. They wrapped the other boat in powerhouse. A really shaken up guy hiked up to our camp and told us the story. Put a 12:1 Z-drag, cut out the floor, couldn't get the raft out. They lost some dry bags trying to get gear off the boat. They lost a bunch of sleeping bags and tents and misc gear and were asking if we had any spares. Bummer for the first and coldest (and wet) night of the trip.

After a fun day on the river the first day, arms tired from surfing my ass off, I had a few brews in a nice camp. Some of our group hiked to a hot springs 0.5 miles downstream. I wandered over by myself with a few extra beers about an hour later, and had the springs all to myself. Chilling with a few brews while soaking was a pure joy. I went to the top pool which I could only stay in for 30 seconds. Sweating like a pig, I got out to walk back to camp, and it started to rain. The cool rain felt so good and put me in the perfect groove. That was one of the most memorable outdoor experiences I have had. Pure middle fork joy.

The next few days were great. I was in full on surf patrol, and was amazed at the variety of features that I found to surf. Level was 3.5' when we put on and 3 when we took off. Lots of fun on the river. We rolled up to marble creek, to find a raft rigging down a paco pad slip n' slide. Two kayakers were surfing the wave. I hopped in too, as did the other kayaker on our trip. It was AWESOME!!! I'm no surf king, but this was one of the coolest waves I have surfed ever. Great eddy, even though you have to jump out of your boat to climb back up. The rides were amazing, big, bouncy, and long, just great fun. Just 4 kayakers with no one else in sight all with shit eating grins ear to ear. Incredible. Celebratory beers in camp followed.

We did some cool hikes on the trip, hit a couple hot springs, went to some old cabins and had just an amazing time. The last two days on the trip brought the best rapids and some great surfing. Big waves trains, incredible surfing, just phenomenal. I caught more surf waves on this trip than I thought possible. I was paddling upstream dropping into waves more than I was headed downstream. Sitting at the top of a rapid, backpaddling and going slow, looking for a good wave or eddy to check it out. So fun. The incredible thing is that I passed so many by and missed so many more waves than I caught that I was in full on surf overload.

I caught one of the best waves of the trip in a wave train in rubber. It was a big, steep wave with no breaking on the top. I missed it on the drop in, but hit and eddy and was able to fight up the eddies to get back to it. It held the boat perfectly and once on it, I felt like I could surf it forever, super smooth, no bounce, total control, just pure awesome surfing bliss.

The fun finale after all the awesome rapids and waves in impassable canyon was running cramer creek at a super forgiving level and just bombing down the meat into this beautiful surging huge breaking wave.

Seeing the otters, sheep, birds, insects, snakes, deer and smelling the incredible pine and sage smell in the canyon was a great pleasure too. Being away from the world, electronics, cars, traffic, phones, politics, and all the negative shit that drags you down was incredible too. On the way home I was just blown away by the power of the entire experience. It pulled together all of the amazing things that I love about the outdoors, kayaking, camping, wildlife, and was a peak experience for me.

On the trip I read a book titled "An Innocent on the Middle Fork" about a guy named Dubois who co-founded AW. We ran the middle fork solo in a foldboat kayak in 1942! Wow! It was an amazing read. He had a 17ft long boat that was 70 odd lbs, took 70 lbs of gear with him, and had a crappy improvised spray deck to keep the water out. Talk about balls.

Still smiling with the middle fork glow....

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Old 07-06-2006   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 480

Like it or not, all of us are the result of a sexual act.
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Old 07-06-2006   #3
Da Fort, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 42
Wow!! Thanks for rubbing it in. Ha.
I can't wait to get up there myself one of these years, hopefully while my dad can still swing it safely.
Thanks for the report!
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Old 07-06-2006   #4
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 140
sounds like a great trip and i'm sure your mom appreciated it allot.

i've been lucky to get up there the last two seasons but not this year due to other trips. i'm jealous,dude. i find myself missing it quite abit this year. glad to hear stories of other people enjoying though.

btw, how is haystack rapid this year? i heard a brief rumor that it had come back this season from the flashflood damage. any truth? or is it still a lake more or less?

any good pics?
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Old 07-06-2006   #5
Metro Area, Colorado
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 214
nice post DeepSouth...

Sounds f'ing sweet!!!
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Old 07-06-2006   #6
rwhyman's Avatar
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 961
Agree 100%!! We put on at 5.5, took off at 4.5. We were in rafts, but what a great level to run at. Can't wait for the next time. Did you do the hike to the grotto at Nugget Cr?
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Old 07-06-2006   #7
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
Haystack was not a lake. It was a boulder filled rapid, lots of rocks, good fun. One of the more technical rapids on the river. I guess the blowout debris has washed out a good bit.

We did hike up the the grotto at nugget creek. Man was that incredible. It made me wish I could hike up every side drainage and explore every hot spring and nook and cranny in the place. Of course that would take forever, and thats why there is always a next time!!!!!

Speaking of side creeks, it is unbelievable how many side creeks drain into the middle fork. So many, and so beautiful. I was blown away by the side drainages too.
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Old 07-07-2006   #8
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 28
We put on as a private trip on June 11th. Water held at 5.5' for the 5 days we were on the river. I took a bunch of pictures and video, if anyone is interested. If you're on the trip with your kayak, I would highly recommend hiking the last 2-3 miles of Big Creek.

Of note, check the movie of the kids surfing the hole at Velvet Falls, even seal launching into it. After I saw that, I couldn't let those kids show up this 33 year old so I had to go back up and run it, too.
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Old 07-07-2006   #9
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Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,496
Re: Middle Fork Trip Report

Originally Posted by deepsouthpaddler
Just got back from the middle fork, and I still have a big ass smile on my face. I know tons of folks have been there, but I thought I'd share my personal slice of the middle fork.

Still smiling with the middle fork glow....
Hey Now. SSSSHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! It's really not that great. Overcrowded. Overrated. No gnar. Stay in CO y'all.
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Old 05-28-2007   #10
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 5
Middle Fork

Good pics! We went a month ago and it started at 5' and closed at 6'. Was the logjam still at Pistol Creek? we had to portage it and it took ten of us 5 hours! We had to put in at Marsh Creek. It was 17 miles and what a blast. Extended the trip to 120 miles and six days.

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