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Old 04-28-2015   #1
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 40
Toddler on the Main Salmon?

This may be a crazy question, but here goes... So, we've got an invite to do the main salmon in the end of june, but we've also got a little kiddo who is under 2 yrs old.

People I've asked so far have said no worries, just be careful, walk the larger rapids and keep her connected to you at all times. Seems good, but I wanted to get a read from others. Any thoughts from those that have taken a little bugger down this stretch? Obviously there is risk involved, but... doable? And for those that thinks its a bad idea, please begin with the bad parenting comments.



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Old 04-28-2015   #2's Avatar
lafayette, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1961
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 498
Can be done, buuuut kiddo would have more fun with grandparents at a zoo if you catch my drift.

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life on or off the river. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-28-2015   #3
Whetstone's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 362
And you will have more fun with jr at the zoo too.

Crooked River Whiskey. Not for everyone.
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Old 04-28-2015   #4
Cascade, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 19
Wrong time of year

I have guided on the Main for 12 years and I would take my 2-year old down there in a heartbeat. But I wouldn't do it in late June. The weather could be awesome, but if it's cold and rainy, you'll have a really tough time keeping the kiddo healthy and happy. That's probably a bigger consideration than the whitewater.

My willingness to take a toddler also stems from the familiarity I have with the river and my confidence to nail every line. I would really hesitate to do the same on a river I don't have memorized.
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Old 04-28-2015   #5
Portland, Oregon
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 12
We took our son down in August when he was 23 months old. He ran every rapid. It was our first time down as well although we had a very experienced trip leader. Black Creek rapid seemed like it could be stressful with a little one if you're not confident running it - from our scout on the right I don't recall seeing an easy walk around.

Honestly by the end of the 8 day trip I was more stressed out about him in camp than on the river. That's a lot of days in a row of making sure they don't run into the river every second. It helps a lot to have an understanding and responsible group that also keeps an eye on them in camp.

To the naysayers hinting at the zoo - yep our son loves the zoo, but also loves doing river trips with his folks
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Old 04-28-2015   #6
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Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 362
Until a child is strong enough to self rescue or assist in his own rescue, it is a large but calculated risk. If im running my own boat and its my child then its on me to make the call. Personally i prefer not to take other people's children under the age of 5 on class 3 water. Its fun for everyone untill its not.

Crooked River Whiskey. Not for everyone.
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Old 04-28-2015   #7
duct tape's Avatar
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 637
I'll add that some of the walks around rapids (Big Mallard, Elkhorn, Chittam come to mind) might be harder than the river run. If you don't flip, of course....
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Old 04-28-2015   #8
pocatello, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 471
I consider myself a pretty loose parent. My daughter went on a low water middle fork at 8. Both my kids have been rafting since toddlerhood. My son is 4 now. I am not considering him for a multi day river trip this year. He is just too much work + He isn't old enough to remember. Is it safe enough? probably, mostly, usually if your skills are high enough. He just wouldn't want to be on the water that long every day, and he is a picky eater.

He is a trooper but I just don't want to spend my limited river time looking for cookies and applying sunscreen and guarding the bank all day.

Add in the groover mystery and it is just tough.
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Old 04-28-2015   #9
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,930
I would hesitate to recommend taking a child that young down a run you have never done. Once you have seen the stretch you are likely the best to judge your own ability, your child's tolerance and the risk threshold you accept.

Other questions I would ask before recommending a Class III-IV multiday trip:

1) Has your child been camping yet? If so, how did that go?
2) Has your child been on a day river trip before?
3) How does your child tolerate heat and sun?
4) Have you done pool swim sessions with the kid before (not sure what age that starts for toddlers)?

Best of luck.

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Old 04-28-2015   #10
Pinecliffe, Colorado
Paddling Since: 05
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 447
June is a bit early I'd wait for lower water to really slow tihings down. Your first time down I'd say no plus the kid likely will not remember any of the trip. Walking the "bigger" rapids not much help when a swim can happen in "small" rapids. Lot more to factor in than just rapids. Had a three year four and five year old on our trip last late Aug. into Sept., the group was very experienced and their (former/now part time river guide) dad had been on the Salmon over 300 times the kids also had about 1,500 river miles.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. KARL MARX
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