Originally Posted by MontuckyPapa
Hi All--Acknowledging that predicting flows is difficult these days, but also assuming a gauge level of 1-3 feet at Paradise…What do people think about rafting the Selway in early July with a few 12 year old kids along? Kids are all used to moderate to mid difficulty whitewater… Parents are safe, experienced boaters. An experienced Selway guide will be along. Are there opportunities, to eddy out, scout, walk rapids, etc. We are doing due-diligence in order to decide whether or not to take the kids. Thanks for your advice. Anecdotes from parents who've taken kids down the Selway in July is especially appreciated...
All depends on their behavior and training. The Selway at low level has plenty of places for foot entrapment and even a few strainers. When we did it a few years back for July 4th there was a nasty feature at Wolf that I would not want my kids near. There are a few rapids at every level that could keep someone if they did not know how to swim properly during a flip or exit. There are also plenty of places for long term pins and you will want them to have calm heads and even be able to help on command if something were to go wrong. Getting off the boat in some of those rapids if there was a pin could be problematic for a kid, just depends on their experience.
Several of the bigger rapids during the Moose Juice can be walked if concerned and the experience guide should know them. The question about walking around rapids to me is this: if you are concerned about hitting the lines then there is the possibility of blowing past the pick-up point. That said, there is trail along the river in most places.
Not a black and white answer but the questions I would be specifically asking about the kids: are the cool headed under pressure; are they thoughtful passengers who have been trained basic self-rescue techniques and have spent time practicing those skills on other rivers; are they strong swimmers who can operate independently if they get ejected and stuck mid-river (potential in bony conditions in Ladle and a few others); do they enjoy technical Class IV whitewater; etc?
Another concern will be readiness of parents. Bringing kids on a river like this requires a different approach. How efficiently do the boatmen respond to emergencies? How many of the boatmen have practiced swift water rescue techniques? Will the parents enjoy themselves with their kids in low water, technical conditions?
Chances are the trip will go fine but its always good to know that if/when something happens you have the people, the training and equipment that can extricate a wigged out tweener from the middle of the river. Could be an amazing experience for someone that age if they fit the mold and you can be their safety net. On a good trip the worst part will be dealing with a bored teenager during the epically long drive into Paradise.
Hopefully they are fly fisherman because they can spend hours entertaining themselves with brilliant conditions on the Selway. Also do a thorough snake talk before hand; the timber rattlers are everywhere out there and are shockingly calm which can lead to very close encounters.
Have fun....jealous of their experience if they get to go.