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Old 02-13-2011   #1
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Murtaugh Question

What's the deal with Murtaugh Canyon of the Snake - my idaho the whitewater state book says it runs year round, but Im getting the sense thats not true anymore. Does it run with any regularity or is it completely random? Im goin to idaho in early may - can I count on it running then? Thanks

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Old 02-14-2011   #2
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SLC, Utah
Paddling Since: 2005
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It's dam controlled, so you just have to watch the gauge and see when they release the water. It's random, no specific schedule. They also release it in short intervals, so if you see it spike, better hurry!

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Old 02-14-2011   #3
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Boise, Idaho
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Best time to hit high flows is April and May. If there's more water than the reservoirs/farmers want, they'll pump it down the canyon.
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Old 02-14-2011   #4
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Nampa, Idaho
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Brian -
I've heard it's great at all flows above 1500cfs. I've only ran it at high water, 20,000cfs. It has completely different character at various flows, and if you go low, plan on a long day. Good news is it has been running between 3k and 5k for a month. I just watched a video of some friends that went in there this past weekend. Looked like a lot of fun.

You are correct that it no longer runs year round. Much of the year it is nearly dry as I think they use some of the water for irrigation.

If it's high water (above 15k) go look upstream at the Milner Mile, what Rob Lesser describes as "the biggest big water in Idaho." It's four minutes of madness, and only run by expert kayakers. At this flow expert kayakers continue downstream and run the 25-30 footer known as Star Falls (or Cauldron Linn) on the FAR LEFT channel as the right channel drops into a certain death hole. Below here you have two large awesome rapids and then the start of the Murtaugh section.

At low water (below 2500cfs) I hear there are some exceptional play spots on the Murtaugh. Optimal flows would probably be between 3k and 8k if you are wanting the easiest of flows.

If you have the opportunity to go in the coming days, I would recommend it as it rarely runs this time of year.

if you have a facebook account, check Login | Facebook to see my photos of the Milner Mile and Star Falls (the few miles directly upstream of the Murtaugh which runs at high water)
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Old 02-14-2011   #5
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It is a super fun run, but inconsistent. We used to hit it at the 1300 to 1700 mark all summer, but the last couple of years they've dropped it into the 800ish realm for the summer. I bet it is still fun at those flows, but I did it once at a G and the flatwater inbetween rapids(all pool drop) became increasingly irritating and made for a long day(again still fun). I 've run it at 20, 17,13, and 1300 and the play has proven to be phenomenal(albeit different character). I have heard the play inbetween 5 and 7 k is the best, but have not been on it at said flows. The only flow I found less appealing but still ok was between 2 and 4k. The river is a bit indecisive and doesn't stay consistent between the inner and outer gorge. My two bits. If you are in Twin in may, there should be a few other options available(perhaps Black Canyon 2ish hours away or the Payettes 2ish) if the Murtaugh is off. Good luck and lets hope for a big H2o year. If they open the gates I will surely see you there.
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Old 02-15-2011   #6
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Thanks, I guess I'll just keep my eye on the gauge and pray.
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Old 02-15-2011   #7
Dipshit with the most.
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Bellevue, Idaho
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FYI - I can personally verify that you can make it down the stretch at 80 cfs.

We got an inaccurate gauge source or reading. Made it to the put in and both of us were just dumb enough to say "It can't be that bad can it?"

We were in a channel that was carved inside the "low" channel.

Weird surface of the moon stuff. Long day. I think I portaged 6 or 7 times. Scott ran almost all including one slot in let's make a deal that he had to turn his paddle inline of his boat to make it through, with a riccochet of the wall at the bottom.

Better at 10K and 20K.
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Old 02-15-2011   #8
Join Date: May 2004
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What does the Milner do at lower flows? It's got some gradient...why don't I hear of people running it in the 1000-5000 range?

Is this still the correct gauge for Murtaugh/Milner?
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Old 02-15-2011   #9
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Because at low water under 12000 ish is get a terminal hole that can't be missed. Run is short, so with a portage it would be a lot of work for not much
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Old 02-15-2011   #10
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@ doublet, to the best of my knowledge. Here is Christians Vid from last weekend. Not too shabby for February.

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