Originally Posted by Theophilus
I'm not a young guy and don't want to wait yet another year.
I hear ya. I went with Canyons, Inc. when I was a newbie rafter. At that time I hadn't met the group I boat with now, and the whitewater club I belonged to never managed to get permits. I also had a friend who wanted to go, but wasn't a boater. So going with an outfitter worked great for me. Expensive, but I could pick my date to go, and I learned a ton from the guides. I did the Main Salmon with them first, then they encouraged me to jump up to the MF the next season. It was an early July trip at 2.5 feet. Perfect level. There was also a couple on that trip from Oregon on their cataraft. They had done the MF several times, but their club got skunked and they didn't want to miss a season without a MF trip. So they did as I did and went with the outfitter. Canyons Inc. only does MF and MS, and their guides have all been with them for years.....not just 18-20 year olds looking for a fun summer job before college. These folks are pros.
Two upsides to spending the money and going with an outfitter.....you get to pick the date to suit your needs, and you don't have to do any grunt work. No food planning, no cooking or cleaning, no logistics, no hassles. Just bring your gear and go. They feed you very well, and they stop at all the cool spots to explore. They will carry your stuff, so you can bring extra luxuries (plus extra beverages if you want).
I say.....watch for invites from buzzards, but don't miss out. Go with an outfitter if you want & need to.