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Old 08-23-2016   #1
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 7
Middle Fork Salmon lowest floatable level?

What is the lowest level folks would run the Middle Fork of the Salmon in September ?

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Old 08-23-2016   #2
DoubleShadow's Avatar
On The River, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 43

I've been at 550cfs and it was a drag for sure, and I've spent 8 years working mostly low water on that river. If you are used to low water tech combat boating this will test your metal. Most folks that are unfamiliar with the river will have a hard time below 700cfs. Below 600cfs seasoned MFS guides can get their asses handed to them. You have to understand that you are just going to get stuck a lot and the first two days will be very long days. To me it all depends on your willingness to get out and push your boat off the rocks and how light you want to go. If you don't want to work your ass off just Fly in to Indian.

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Old 08-23-2016   #3
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Eugene, Oregon
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 64
Here is a dude doing it at 1.5.

Aloha Mr. Hand.
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Old 08-23-2016   #4
Canon City, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 427
Launched from Boundary last year at 1.45' (475 cfs) and falling. 18' commercial loads.

We deadheaded to Indian in one day. We'd expected to launch the afternoon prior and have the extra half day to get there, but had unforeseen issues which prevented us from getting to Boundary in time to launch that afternoon. It took us a solid 11 hours to get to Indian (9ish hours just to get to Greyhound), and it was a pretty tough day of boating. We all would have felt much better with another day to break that up.

That said, if we made it with those loads, it should go even lower if you're willing to lighten things up a bit.
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Old 08-23-2016   #5
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Up North, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,150
was that around Aug 17 or so? we had a big commercial rig pass our camp after dark upstream of Indian.
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Old 08-23-2016   #6
Canon City, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 427
Pretty sure it was later than that. We got to Indian just as the sun had set. Still light out, but sun down. I'd say it was 7:30 when we got to IC.

I just checked my old mail- it was a 9/7/15 launch, from IC, so we were floating from Boundary on 9/6.

I also just checked those dates against USGS data. It turns out it was 1.55', so 530 cfs, on 9/6/15. So a tiny bit higher than I'd said. The day we took out was 1.48' = 479cfs.

Not sure how much difference an inch really makes. . .I'd say knowing which channels not to take and having big boats vs 14'ers makes a bigger difference than an inch on the gage 35 miles downstream.
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Old 09-01-2016   #7
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 74
I did it at 1.7 . Our group did fine but we did get stuck a few times (everyone got stuck). We did keep the boat light and fly gear into Boundary. There was another group that launched the same day and go stuck all over the place. A lady on the oars got a big workout and flew out at Boundary as she "Only hits big water". I think her group was happy to see her off.
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Old 09-02-2016   #8
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: May 2011
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Old 09-12-2016   #9
Seattle, Washington
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 30
Hey, not to high jack the thread but I have a question about referencing flows in cfs versus feet. I'm relatively new to boating but all the rivers I've run typically have flows referenced in cfs. Is there a reason that with certain rivers like the MFS people commonly reference feet?

I'm guessing there is a simple answer that I could of googled but figured the Buzz would be more interesting

Sent from my iPhone using Mountain Buzz
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Old 09-12-2016   #10
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Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661
I don't think there is a really good reason - it's just convention... it's how folks compared notes when people started running the river. Feet on the gage meant more to folks on the salmon (probably because the old river boatmen knew at what stage features came out or flooded...). Elsewhere it was more relevant to discuss discharge. From my perspective when there are very large changes in stage - it gets talked about more often. Versus where small changes in stage result in large changes in flow - it's flow that gets discussed more frequently.

BTW - I'm launching in a little over a week and can't wait to explore the low water MFS.

Yesterday's gone on down the river and you can't get it back. - Agustus McCrae
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