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Old 05-23-2007   #1
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,302
South Fork Salmon beta?

Looking to paddle in Idaho from Thursday the 31st to Sunday the 3rd. Is it possible to paddle from the upper EFSF Salmon, through the South Fork Salmon, and the last 20 miles to the takeout of the Main Salmon in 4 days? The south fork gauge is reading 4.65 and the East Fork runs seem to be running well/high. I'm guessing that it's about 75 miles, but the last 20 miles on the Main will be big (30,000+) and quick.

Given this time frame, and the approximate/forecasted flows for next week, does this seem feasible? Any permiting I should know about? Any hot springs camps?


Kyle McCutchen
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Old 05-23-2007   #2
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 67
Kyle - I'm no data base on this, but I'm prety sure you need permit for the main fork. Or.... atleast there is a permit season, which I would assume is probably now. I remember this from my raft guide dayzzz, I think

WesternMD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2007   #3
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 380

I guess it would take four if you took your time and counted shuttle. But you could do it in two big river days. The EFSF will take you a half day at the most and you enter the South Fork Canyon pretty quickly after the Secesh comes in. The only huge one on the EFSF is Flight Simulator. Last time I was on the South Fork it was like 10 feet so my timing might be skewed but we did it in 5 hours, only scouting the last drop (Devils something-or-other, don't have my notes on me at the moment).

I'm thinking at around 5 feet, the SF will take you a day, maybe less. I think you'll be ahead of permit season so you'll be ok on the Main (fact check that) if you have to camp on that section. There's a huge, Skookum-style wave about two miles above the takeout that you may want to surf for a bit. But that's more in the 50,000 range.

Here's a schedule I would suggest:

Day one-Put on the EFSF early, 8am, and run all the way into the South Fork Salmon where the bridge comes over and there's a campground.

Day Two--Get out of camp by nine and run the rest of the South Fork and Main.

These are two big days and if you don't think you can make it, camp at the aforementioned wave on the Main.

One sidenote-I've never run the two together so the end of the rapids on the EFSF to the start of the SF Canyon may be a few miles. Oh yeah, the rapids are big on the SF and there's some Class V in there because they're so long but the play is epic. Too bad it's so difficult to overnight in a playboat.

All this info is based on the premise that you're coming up to compete in the Paddling Life Pro Invitational, May 28. Hope you can make it.
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Old 05-23-2007   #4
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 403
Your good to go Cutch. Just don't camp on the main and you don't need a permit. It can be done in 4 days.
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Old 05-23-2007   #5
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
Unless it changed you dont need a permit on the main till june 20. THat was the case in '04. I'd check up on that. You might pm claire or mountainbuns, as I know she has done most of that in the last year or so.

(seven two 0)-298-2242
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Old 05-23-2007   #6
jonny water's Avatar
Geologist, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 583
If you do need a permit for the Main, you can camp on the SF just before the confluence then run the main the next day. That is totally legal. Also, bring extra gas for the's a long one.
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Old 05-23-2007   #7
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
this is a good run - one of my favorites. 4 days is plenty. the main is the slowest part though its soooo flat. usually you need a day permit which is free if you tell them you are running the south fork.

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Old 05-23-2007   #8
Redcliff, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 46
Check out the flows on the Secesh, if the level is right the Secesh into the South Fork is the way to do that run. Three pretty reasonable days and you cut about about 6 hours of driving. Good bivies 2/3 way down the Secesh and right above the confluence with the Main.

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Old 05-23-2007   #9
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,302
You guys are awesome. Huge thanks for the beta.

Charlie, thanks for the reccomendation. For those that have done both the East Fork and the Secesh, which do you prefer? We won't be setting our own shuttle, so shuttle time isn't as important as quality of whitewater.
Kyle McCutchen
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Old 05-24-2007   #10
Jill tip
Divide, Colorado
Paddling Since: '81
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 8
There is a hot springs, Burgdorf H. S., on the way to the Sesesch put in. It's a long shuttle. I believe the Sescesh is harder that the EFSF. Longer, creeker, more potential of log jams, etc. There is a 'miracle mile' near end of run.
Upper EFSF is by the road, so you can scout it.
2 days self support on SF into Main, no problem. Beta on camping is correct, at confluence, etc.
You may want to call Idaho River Sports & talk to Stan.
800-936-4844. He or someone thre may have better feedback.
Hot springs- lots around. A few on the upper So. Fk. Salmon. Check USFS maps. Vulcan h.s. is choice. A bit long descrip.

Jill tip
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