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Old 06-04-2015   #1
Portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 4
Middle Fork Salmon Questions

Lucky enough to pull a permit for the middle fork of the Salmon for July 11.
Even more lucky to be able to stock it with a dozen of my closest friends, most of whom have significant rafting experience.

Couple of ?'s.

1) What's the best site to guesstimate water flows say early July?

2) I understand the camp site process in basically a round robbin at the ranger station the day before... anyone with experience want to give hints?

3) First time as permit holder... What else should I be smart enough to ask?

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Old 06-04-2015   #2
Vail, Colorado
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 26
Was part of a trip that ran it at 3 feet. Be prepared for a long rigging day the day before you launch, especially if you are jockeying for position on the boat launch with commercial trips as it is one boat at a time down a steep launch ramp and then using wheelbarrows down a goat path to get the remainder of your gear to your boats on the water. I suggest getting there earlier the better. I think we pulled in around 10am and didn't start unloading boats off trailers till noon or 1 and were still polishing off final rigging about an hour before dinner. Camping up the road from boat launch is nice and convenient, make time to hike up to dagger falls. When you do launch, if at similar water level, drink your beer before untying and setting off because the rowdy water starts right away. You are right about the camp site lottery at ranger station, TL's meet up and pick sites, but lots of really good ones on that stretch. Enjoy velvet falls and all the Tappan's and as always be safe and have a blast!

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Old 06-05-2015   #3
Dipshit with the most.
carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,497
It will 2.4 feet on the gauge or around 1,250 cfs. That is at the MF Lodge which means you will have 700 or 800 at the top. YMMV.

Don't rig on the ramp and when you get your boat up there throw your shit on and go. If you don't use a rope to go down the ramp make sure your biggest guys are at the front of the boat to pull down not back. Friction will slow your descent. Pack light for the top. Many, many folks have had their butt handed to them in the first five miles. Try to have a rescue rope and know how to use it. Their are several spots in the first five and several more below where I have seen boats wrapped. Starting at around this level.

It's read and run class 3 for the most part.

For current flow and you can look around in the history for previous years and averages here.,00060,00010

There used to be a NOAA forecast off this page but it was as full of crap as I am.

Have fun.
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Old 06-05-2015   #4
cataraftgirl's Avatar
Sandy, Utah
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,121
+1 on what the others have said. I have gone from the top once at about 2.5 ft. and the first two days were very busy. We didn't have any wrap or stuck episodes, but we did have one busted oar lock. We go in the fall from Indian Creek most every year an it's not exactly a piece of cake after that either. The MF is fun, but it does require a bit more attention at all water levels. Never had a bad camp on the MF.
"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 06-05-2015   #5
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 71
We floated last year, putting on July 20th. It was about 1200 cfs. It took us 6 hours to go 13 miles. A few hang ups both nothing major. Long tiring day though.

We put on July 12th this year. I'm hoping the flow will be about the same as when we floated last year, but I think it will be lower, likely under 1100 cfs. Going to pack light....
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Old 06-05-2015   #6
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,933
We ran it early July many years ago at relatively low water. I remember Sulfur Slide being as "challenging" as some of classic big name rapids; we all made it through just fine the first five miles or so but all of us were taken off guard by that experience.

The MF is probably the most dynamic river I have rowed and it seems to prove that year in and year out. Just know the side canyons and therefor the rapids are often changing so be aware of how thunderstorms around you may be playing out. We were "lucky" enough to have the canyon at Tappan III blow out 2-3 days before we got to that spot so we had the rare chance to run a changed rapid, with a massive strainer in the principle slot, without beta. It was a memorable experience that I still value though it was stressful at the time.

If anybody is into fishing it should be prime by then. Catch and release only but they are beautiful native trout and can be quite the hungry suckers if you hit it at the right time.

Have a great trip and enjoy some of the best camps in the West.

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Old 06-05-2015   #7
Whetstone's Avatar
Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 362
I too would like to know more about how folks navigate the put in ramp at Boundary crk. Is there a etiquette protocol? How loaded should a boat be at the top? Is there an order of descent? In my two prior launches there I felt pressured to get the hell outta the way and ended up frustrated. Whats the best tactics?

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Old 06-05-2015   #8
., ...
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 207
Usually the commercials pull right up the the Rangers cabin and start rigging to the left of the ramp. Suggested to group your boats together to the right of the ramp or on the other side of the road. Wait to load a few heavy items til you're in the ramp, take all the loose items down the trail.

Also, you get one buddy to join you in the camp select. Bring your map a follow along as the camps get selected. Unless you know the river well, you'll have to keep up quick. Mileage isn't usually a problem until you have a problem if you catch my drift. Awesome place, wish I was going this year. Have fun!!
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Old 06-05-2015   #9
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,436
Had my first MFS experience last month on a preseason trip.

I can only imagine how crazy it must be during permit season.

Just assume there will be idiots there, let someone else lose their shit on them. Be calm, be prepared to drop your boat and major gear and get it down the ramp quickly. Set up space a bit down the beach, crack a barley pop and rig your gear. The trip will be worth it.

Originally Posted by Pro Leisure View Post
Also, you get one buddy to join you in the camp select. Bring your map a follow along as the camps get selected. Unless you know the river well, you'll have to keep up quick. Mileage isn't usually a problem until you have a problem if you catch my drift. Awesome place, wish I was going this year. Have fun!!
Pick a buddy who is calm, listens well, and pays attention.
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Old 06-06-2015   #10
Jungle Jane's Avatar
Nederland, Co. nearest town., Either grace or kerfuffled
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 94
ah...the middle fork. Don't weigh your boat down with a bunch of needless crap; i.e., camp chairs, cots, IK's, etc. You will probably make 10-13 miles, day 1, don't fret. River volume triples from side streams over next 6 days. You can only reserve one 'hot springs camp"...but you can stop at all of them! And there's many, and many right next to the river! Hopefully, someone in your group has been down before, have them help yu select camp sites. And they don't have 'signs...' lots of high speed pull give eachother some breathing and parking room. . Pay attention! on't let class 3 rating fool you! (Wind always blows downstream, at least!)
You're gonna love it.
Really,best way to run safety, especially day one, is giving eachother plenty of room...and always making sure you can see the boat behind you. Boat behind you dissappears, you eddy out, boat in front of you will notice you're no longer visible and eddy out. Roo twisty to see everyone in your party.... ! Make sure you carry at least one wrap kit in designated 'sweep' boat, along with person running sweep hopefully knowing how to use it!
Relax, have fun...don't worry be happy!

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