Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
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....