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Old 02-26-2014   #1
slamkal's Avatar
vancouver, Washington
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,146
beta for Middle Fork - Main Salmon Combo in July

A friend was lucky enough to snag a mid july MFS permit and we are trying to see if we can pick up a main cancellation.

After doing a quick thread search I found some info on doing this at higher flows when the water is pushing you along pretty good. I think a lot of people run this early in the summer when the main is not yet permitted.

I"m anticipating the MFS will probably be around mid to low 2' range. I've done it in 5 nights at that level. Not sure what the main would be running but I'm assuming 4 nights probably needed for this section. Is nine nights on the river logistically a good target for that time of the year? Some of the outfitters do 12 night combo trips that time of year.

is there anything I need to know about the put in on the main? like you need to check in a day before or something? we were thinking we would like to get the last 15 miles of the middle fork and get a few miles down the main all on the permit launch date. I"m not even sure how many miles past the confluence is the launch point for the main.

Of course this is all speculation I need to check with the group to see if we can spare that much time. Not to mention find a main permit. But I was thinking some permit space swapping might be in order. and we would probably have space considering we would not be doing the full 7 nights ...

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Old 02-26-2014   #2
rivh2o's Avatar
p.c., confused
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 139
Turning the Corner on the Middle, Main Salmon river can be a great trip. You'll want to have all your P's in a pod for sure. The MFS is 100 miles to Cache Bar and another 6 miles to Corn Creek plus 80 miles to Carey Creek take out.That's better then 20 miles a day to average on a 9 day trip, no rest form the wicked or weary. From the last camp on the MFS Otter Bar to the check-in at Corn Creek is about 17 miles with some pretty good class IV rapids thrown in there.Just saying I would want to either be at Corn Ck. the night before or at least by early a.m. to be able to take part in the selection of reserved camp sites. 9 days out on both the MFS and Main is a pretty quick pace and there is no need to hurry on either river. If possible try to hook up with a group putting on the Main then you could "float in" the same day they put on and not have to do all the leg work for the lower half. GO FOR IT!, you will never regret it . Remember the 3 P's... Piss Poor Planing Produces Piss Poor Performance. Hippity Ho!

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Old 02-26-2014   #3
pocatello, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 471
The hardest part will be lining up permits.

5 days at 2' on the MFS is doable. No layover. No goofing around. 5 nights would be great. Ideally you arrive the day before, do the camp reservations and rig. If you show up to rig on your launch day don't expect a lot of miles if you are a typical trip.
You don't have to be a day early for the Main Salmon meeting. But try not to be late.
20 miles a day is solid work.

After the first day on MFS you might think "we are screwed" but it gets faster.

I would really struggle with 9-10 days gear on a boat on the first 20 miles of MFS at low flow. I would be tempted to talk a very dear friend or very indebted friend into a resupply at corn creek.
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Old 02-26-2014   #4
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
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I've turned the corner once. Did it with an outfitter. MF was at 2.5 ft. in early July. 6 days on each river & they resupply at Cache Bar. While the guides were doing the resupply, we were at the Salmon River Lodge doing laundry & relaxing.

As others have said. Your last day on the MF into Corn Creek will be a LONG day. Some of the trickiest rapids on the MF are in that last section. Then you've got Cramer on the MS to deal with. Are all of your group doing both rivers? Having new folks join you at Corn Creek would make life a lot easier with a resupply. All of this may be mute depending on how your permits line up. You will likely be forced to chill at Corn Creek of awhile.

It's such a great trip. If you have the time, don't rush it.
"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."
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Old 02-26-2014   #5
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
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Right on slam, looks like we will be on the water near the same time. 86% snowpack and rising. We are hoping for 3' at the put in. Sounds like a sweet trip your planning, hope you get it lined out.
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Old 02-26-2014   #6
Bend, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Apr 2013
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86% snow pack?

Where did you find that number? I keep an eye on snow packs around the Northwest but can't find anything specific to the MFS. The snotel I follow shows the current pack for the Salmon basin at 104.
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Old 02-26-2014   #7
Wadeinthewater's Avatar
Walterville, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Originally Posted by cmharris View Post
Where did you find that number? I keep an eye on snow packs around the Northwest but can't find anything specific to the MFS.
The MFS data is listed separately on this table. 89% SWE, 86% precipitation as of today.
Real adventure is only one bad decision away.
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Old 02-26-2014   #8
Bend, Oregon
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Got it.

Okay, thanks.
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Old 02-26-2014   #9
East MT, WestMT, Both sides of the Yellowstone
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Idaho Northern SNOTEL Snow/Precipitation Update Report
beat me to it. This is my link
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Old 02-26-2014   #10
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Did it in 6 nights/ 7 days in late May (4.5') and had plenty of time to hike & soak. Of course 2' will be slower but very doable. We camped at the confluence (river left) on a huge gravel bar even at high water. Makes an early AM check-in easy. Since it was pre season we had no reserved campsites. Also at high water there are very few beaches. Saw a couple groups on the MFS, did not see anyone on the Main.

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