Lower Salmon in early July - what to expect? - Mountain Buzz
 

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Old 04-14-2010   #1
 
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Tahoe City, California
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Lower Salmon in early July - what to expect?

Hey all,

Considering doing the lower salmon the first week of July with kids aged 8 and 10. About my experience with oar boats. . . minimal but improving. We've done the EF Carson (Nevada), Green River - Deso (Utah) and MF Salmon (low flows, Idaho). I can oar pretty well and position the boat effectively. The MF Salmon gave us some excitement, sometimes even a bit too much - how would you compare it to the Lower Salmon at this time of year?

Looks like Idaho is at 68% of normal snowpack, so the river should be down to around 5-8K cfs the best I can tell from the USGS projections in July.

Can the Snow Hole rapid be walked by the kids? We had a flip on Joe Hutch last year that set us back a bit so it's important to have a positive experience. Walking some of the MF Salmon IV rapids on a later trip was fine for them (and me, as the anxiety level drops way low with them out of the boat in some rapids).

As long as any IVs can be walked and the IIIs are reasonable we're all set, but I don't underestimate any whitewater. .

Using a 15' NRS.

Any input is appreciated!

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Old 04-15-2010   #2
 
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Durango, Colorado
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lower salmon

When we did the lower salmon it was at about 5,000 at the end of july. i'm pretty sure that you could walk snow hole, a portage may be tougher though. China was snuck easily on the inside of the bend. all the lower rapids were straightforward big waves. really cool trip! it should be a step down in the excitement factor from the MF.
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Old 04-15-2010   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penguin View Post
The MF Salmon gave us some excitement, sometimes even a bit too much - how would you compare it to the Lower Salmon at this time of year?

Can the Snow Hole rapid be walked by the kids? We had a flip on Joe Hutch last year that set us back a bit so it's important to have a positive experience. Walking some of the MF Salmon IV rapids on a later trip was fine for them (and me, as the anxiety level drops way low with them out of the boat in some rapids).

As long as any IVs can be walked and the IIIs are reasonable we're all set, but I don't underestimate any whitewater. .
The Lower Salmon is more mellow than the MF, but that really depends on flows. A few of the rapids may compete with the MF at the flows you'll see. You need to research Slide Rapid, which is what keeps people from running the Lower Salmon until typically mid-ish July, or later for a more mellow experience. Most people consider Slide unrunnable until it gets down to 15K, but it's still a burly washing machine of a rapid then. There's been talk over at Idaho Whitewater yahoo, and many discussions over the years you could search.

People are expecting it to be below that threshold in late June this year, so it may be good to go, depending on what you consider early July. Slide rapid is NOT walkable, no way no how, no. I no longer consider snowhole walkable either. My hubby "walked" the dogs two years ago and it included swimming and darn near bouldering. The dogs pfd's became climbing harnesses, lifting them up ledges and rocks that they couldn't get up and they had to shimmy through holes in rocks. It cliffs out depending on the level on the left side, really low flows you could more easily get around. We did this at the very end of August. I don't think the right side is an option either, but am not 100% on this.

My gut reaction is if you are talking about taking such young kids (that need to walk around the bigger rapids), and got your ass handed to you in Joe Hutch, and you're wanting to go when it's going to be on the high side (for running the LS), I'd discourage you from going, or at least encourage you to go on the later side. China is an easy, but longish walk, and eye of the needle is also an easy walk. The later you go, the more likely you'll get the river when everything is mellow and fun (LOTS of fun little wave trains) and Slide is gone or just fun.

I recommend you query over at Idaho to get more feedback about the mid-flows (10Kish), that might be occurring in early July, and what those river flow oracles think will be happening for flows. The later you go, the better.
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Old 04-15-2010   #4
 
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Jacksonville, Oregon
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I second most everything Laura just said, with the exception that in my experience at similar levels, nothing needs to be walked, as long as you either follow someone who knows the lines (fairly easy to invite knowledgable boaters, esp. here or on the Idaho forum!), or scout anything you feel shaky on. Don't run it over 10k cfs on the whitebird gauge if you're looking for mellow.

I used to lead inflatable kayak (I hate the word "ducky") trips at all different summer flows. The only sketchy trip was when we paddled the Slide at 22k. Talk about yard sale (no injuries)!!

The other thing I would mention: campsite issues. Early July is VERY popular for the Lower, both commercial and private. No assigned campsites, so negotiating shared space on a big beach may be necessary. Reiterationto address both whitewater and camps: Go with someone experienced.
Tyler
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Old 04-15-2010   #5
 
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The other thing I would mention: campsite issues. Early July is VERY popular for the Lower, both commercial and private. No assigned campsites, so negotiating shared space on a big beach may be necessary. Reiterationto address both whitewater and camps: Go with someone experienced.
Tyler
We saw quite a bit of commercial activity running ahead to secure camps also. Fortunately they and we were looking for different sized camps, there's no way we could have ever beat that j-rig to any camp.

One other thought, we launched mid-week, with the hope of avoiding the crowds that would typically plan a self-permitted trip to run weekend to weekend. It was wonderful, we felt like we had the river mostly to ourselves. No junk-show booze cruisers ruining the river quiet, which can happen on that river quite a bit I've heard.
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Old 04-16-2010   #6
 
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@Laura and Tyler, most appreciative of all the input.

What are your guesses of what the flows will be around July 1st? From the data I've researched it seems like Idaho had a low snowpack this year and that July 1st could easily by under 6K cfs on the Salmon. If there's not a lot of rain then I could make it happen.

Also, I've got two other experienced folks in their own 16s taking us down. They've done this river many times, but I'm doing my own research anyway. . .

Thanks for the tips so far!
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Old 04-16-2010   #7
 
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Very rough guesstimate: anywhere between 7,000 and 11,000. With the dismal snowpack and fairly warm weather in June, expect it to be on the mid/low end of that. In my opinion, that is the most fun level range. Nice easy lines, and big fun rollers for the kids to whoop 'n holler through. One rapid that wasn't mentioned: Wright(or right)-way drop in Green canyon (first canyon after Hammer Ck). It's a nice hard pull to stay off the left wall. Next rapid, sneak either side of the hole, we called it Demon's Drop. Or they could be reverse of my order. It's been about 10 years since I've been. I miss it.

Be prepped for all kinds of conditions. Had a few very rainy trips in July, but it should be too soon for getting violent wind/rainstorms that are common in Aug. Enjoy!!
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