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Old 02-15-2012   #1
 
6FEETandRISING's Avatar
 
Lardo, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 49
SOUTH FORK SALMON trip?

Anybody out there ever done a South Fork Salmon run in a 14-16ft boat or cataraft? I have had my eye on this run for years now. One of the guides I used to work with on the Selway told me he's run it about 3 times back when he was 25ish, in the late 70s early 80s. He said that it scared the shit out of him and that he probably wouldn't go back there now that he is older. From looking at pictures on the web of Devils Creek, Elk Creek, Greyhound and Fall Creek, they all look pretty gnar, especially Fall cr. What is the lowest level you think you could take a raft down the SFS? or When does the river close out? I'm also interested in doing maybe a very low water IK self support trip. I'm a competent class IV boater that has guided for years on the Selway and MFS looking for a new river to play on, and it just happens to be in my backyard.
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Old 02-15-2012   #2
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
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I've been looking at the South Fork Salmon for years, but never done it.
I'm in Idaho early for the MFS or late for the NF Payette and the South Fork is either too high and snowed in, or too low. A bunch of cat boaters are in Yellowpine around the 4th of July when in a typical year both the South Fork and the East Fork of the South Fork are a great levels.
Rumor has it that it is best for a cat at 2.5 to 4.5' on the Krassel gauge.

I'll be up this year for Memorial Day Lochsa and then a MFS and will be watching the level of the South Fork and whether the road to Yellowpine from McCall is open (Lick Creek Divide).

Found three writeups, all by kayakers:

California Creeks.com

Oregon Kayaking.com

Colorado Kayak Chronicles
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Old 02-15-2012   #3
 
cataraftgirl's Avatar
 
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,352
Welcome McCall.....one of my favorite little towns. I've got some good friends up in that neck of the woods. Beautiful place.
We shared the Southfork camp on the Main Salmon with a group of kayaker/IK folks once (2006 if memory serves). They were all 20 something young men, and it sounded like the Southfork was fun, but hard work. I've never seen or heard of rafts/cats doing the Southfork????
KJ
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Old 02-15-2012   #4
 
phlyingfish's Avatar
 
Moscow, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 269
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich View Post
Rumor has it that it is best for a cat at 2.5 to 4.5' on the Krassel gauge....

will be watching the level of the South Fork and whether the road to Yellowpine from McCall is open (Lick Creek Divide).
I've run the SF at about 3.0 on the Krassel guage and a very experienced friend (class V kayaker with lots of rafting time too) rowed a 14 footer. Everything seemed pretty reasonable for him except Fall Creek. That took some detailed scouting and some fancy rowing. It was really nice having the extra beers on the long, slow float out the Salmon. At or below 2.5 and I would guess things start getting too rocky for a loaded raft. IKs and kayaks can handle it even lower.

Note that the Krassel guage only provides a rough estimate of the flow. Flow from the ungauged the EFSF and the Secesh can have a big effect on the flow in the canyon itself. But at lower flows this is less of an issue.

You may know this, but Lick Creek is not the only road into the South Fork. True, Lick Creek, if it's open, is a lot more convenient than coming in on the South Fork Salmon River Road (#674). However 674 is almost always open. I've run the South Fork as early as March, using road 674 to access the Secesh-South Fork confluence. It's a long shuttle, but, hey, you're in Idaho.
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Old 02-15-2012   #5
 
jmcdannel's Avatar
 
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 143
SF Salmon is a great trip - a favorite of most who've run it. It's remote, with a lot of continuous class IV and a few class V's. The fishing, scenery and whitewater is hard to beat. I've only run it once, in 2010. But I'll be there this year. I've been going to Yellow Pine EFSF salmon around 4th of July for a few years now. It's a ton of fun. I run a 12.5' sotar legend. I ran the SF Salmon at 3.6'. It was pretty stout. It gets exponentially bigger with more water. 2.2 - 2.5 is the low range. Not sure I'd take a 16' cat below 2.8ish - but I don't really know since I've not seen it at anything besides 3.6'.

Also, the East Fork of the South Fork is one of the funnest day trips I've run. Flight Simulator is a long class V. Below there, it is mostly fairly continuous class IV - IV+. It's all road side and scoutable. And the difficulty increases the further up you go. So, you just start at the confluence with SF Salmon, drive up until you see something you don't want to run, put in there. Flight sim is the only one that is difficult to scout.
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Old 02-15-2012   #6
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Ran it in kayaks two yrs ago at 2' and would not have wanted any raft in there, although I'm sure more accomplished boaters than me could pull it off. Even the guy in the double IK was barely making the required eddies above the drops.

My favorite trip by far in the last 5 yrs. A very generous jet boat from the Polly B Ranch picked our 6 kayakers up about 5 miles into the 20mile paddle out of the Salmon.
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Old 02-15-2012   #7
no tengo
 
mania's Avatar
 
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
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I took a 14' cat in at 4.5 feet and was scared more than once. fall creek was terrifying. Would like to row it at a lower level this summer.
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Old 02-15-2012   #8
 
6FEETandRISING's Avatar
 
Lardo, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 49
Found some sweet photos

This is a flickr photo set from Northwest Raft Company, with some awesome photos of the SFS.

South Fork of the Salmon - a set on Flickr
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Old 02-15-2012   #9
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6FEETandRISING View Post
This is a flickr photo set from Northwest Raft Company, with some awesome photos of the SFS.

South Fork of the Salmon - a set on Flickr

Great photos. Wish it told us the gauge flow.

July 2010: total wag 3'-3.5'?

Very interested in doing this run. Will be up in Idaho very early June after a MFS, probably too early!
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Old 02-15-2012   #10
no tengo
 
mania's Avatar
 
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich View Post
Great photos. Wish it told us the gauge flow.

July 2010: total wag 3'-3.5'?

Very interested in doing this run. Will be up in Idaho very early June after a MFS, probably too early!
that is a lot lower than when i ran it. people are smiling even. they would not be smiling at 4.5.
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