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Old 02-14-2014   #1
the fort, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 672
Advice on Middle Fork Salmon "training runs"?

Howdy folks. Finally scored a MFS permit for a July 1 launch date. First time on the river and am looking for suggestions on some "training runs" to shake the rust off this spring/early summer. Is there anything in CO that is comparable to the MFS @ +/- 3-3.5'? Northgate at a decent flow? Poudre @ 3-4'? Something on the Ark?

Many thanks for the feedback.

By the waterside I will lay my head.
Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul.
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Old 02-14-2014   #2
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
Paddling Since: 09
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,112
I haven't done the mfs yet but I put in 8 days after you. The ark in its peak should snap you right into shape. Do an overnight and make sure all your business is in order and you like your setup. Run the gorge, browns and numbers you will be all good after that.

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Old 02-14-2014   #3
FatmanZ's Avatar
NOCO, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 582
I ran it last year around mid June when the flow was around 3', my first time running at a medium level. All other runs have been at high water or real low water. I think the Poudre at 3-4 feet is a great warm-up for the Middle Fork. If you can navigate the Poudre from Stevens to BTO at 3-4 feet in a kayak or raft you shouldn't have a problem with the Middle Fork, unless you get flipped by a big wave or hole. Just keep in mind that the while the Middle Fork starts out small - somewhat similar to the Poudre at 3-4 feet- the Middle Fork continuously grows in volume. So while it may feel like the Poudre for the first day or two, by the end it will have the big water big rapid feel to it - Westwater, Snake River (Lower Alpine Canyon), etc. If big water isn't your comfort zone make sure you spend some time on big water to get a feel for the Middle Fork.

Also, just my 2 cents - try and squeeze in a six mile run on the daily stretch of the Main Salmon from the GoldMine (just below Shoup) to Panther Creek after you take off the Middle. It's a fun way to end a fantastic week on the Middle Fork.

Side note: A rafter in our group stood a 15' raft up on it's stern in Devil's Tooth rapid - I've never seen anything like it before - it bounced twice on the stern before coming back down - the one passenger in the front kept her cool and held on - if she had of let go she would have pinballed the rower out and the raft would have flipped. There was a group scouting the rapid as our group went through - I think we made them a bit nervous! Enjoy!
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Old 02-14-2014   #4
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
Paddling Since: 09
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Good idea about the bonus main run!
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Old 02-14-2014   #5
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,120
Don't let down your guard once you turn the corner onto the Main.......Cramer awaits!
"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love....and then we return home."
Australian Aboriginal Proverb
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Old 02-14-2014   #6
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boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 143
Run the poudre Stevens gulch to bto at 4+feet. Run the royal gorge when it's big 3000+. Hit me up on here if you wanna run one of these sometime.
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Old 02-14-2014   #7
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The Fort, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 498
Being from Fort Collins you'll be fine if you're used to the poudre anywhere from 3.5ft down to 1.5ft. Depending on snow pack, you probably wont have over 3ft up there on July one, so it may be the other end of the spectrum you'll be worried about. Nothing seemed as technical as high water poudre, just bigger, but more space mostly to navigate. The top section will be bony but again, if you've boated the poudre in July and august and can navigate that you'll be fine up there. We put in on July 4th last year and were worried about how low it was, not how high it was. the first day our heavy boats were pretty low in the water... Drank heavily and by day two our ballast seemed much better. Any ya as Cataraftgirl said, don't get lazy on take out day, Cramer is big, and feels unlike anything else that you just paddled through for the last week, although I heard there was another slide there last August after we took out, that rapid may have changed again...

Also from the Fort, if you want to do some early season runs on the Poudre just let me know, also if you have any space left and are looking for experienced boaters for the trip let me know, I'd love to do that run again!!
P the K
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Old 02-14-2014   #8
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 535
Originally Posted by the_dude View Post
Something on the Ark?
browns canyon in june is another solid training run for the mfs. good drops,waves and technical rowing practice without a doubt. all the needed rowing skills for the mfs will be tested there.
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Old 02-14-2014   #9
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 488
Just to add- you night feel weird & get looks, but if you can get ALOT of weight in your boat for these practice runs it will help. You will never be heavier than day one & your boat will react differently.

Prior to my first MFS trip I was confident in my ability and had done all the runs mentioned above many times at many levels. I have no shame in saying I got my ass handed to me in the top 20 miles. Toughest day of boating I have ever had. Granted, I was a bit overloaded, but they day quickly went to $#!% for me. The next time I ran it I had no problems, mostly because I was more aware of what to expect.

Have fun!
Never get out of the boat
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Old 02-14-2014   #10
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 113

Some other ideas not related to warm up but may be helpful. Buy the new 2013 edition of Leidecker's book. Get advice if possible. Last year I spoke with some commercial guides just before the new to me drop at Alder Creek on the Main. They also recommended a few great small campsites.

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