Middle Fork of the Salmon - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 01-22-2009   #1
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Middle Fork of the Salmon

My brother and I are planning on kayaking the Middle Fork of the Salmon in the middle of May. We have a permit and are planning on a self-sustained trip in creek boats. I was wondering if anyone out there has ever paddled the Middle Fork self-sustained style in kayaks? Any beta would be great! Thank you!

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Old 01-23-2009   #2
 
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Boulder, Colorado
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It definitely can be done - bring freeze dried food, minimalist camping gear, and lots of dry gear because it may snow on you every night. The real question is, unless you have ambition of doing self support expeditions in remote parts of the world, why? Get a raft or two to go with you. Then you can have cold beer, tequila, steaks, chairs, and somewhere other than inside of your boat to store your poop - yes you have to pack out your poop (I believe it has to be in a hard sided container), and you need a firepan. Just my rafting biased 2. However you decide to go, have a great trip, and depending on your launch date I may see you up there.
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Old 01-23-2009   #3
 
Denver, Colorado
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Earthen Exposure: self-support kayaking

Good website with lots of info about self support kayaking. Middle fork the middle of may will be cold. Prepare for snow, and a launch on marsh creek.

Also a great story about a self support middle for trip is a book called something like "An innocent on the middle fork". Story about a guy who solo self supported the middle fork in a foldboat in the 40's or something. If he can do it, it can certainly be done in modern creekboats.

I personally prefer the playboat with raft support, and cold beers in camp, but its a fantastic wilderness run that you will enjoy any way you run it.
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Old 01-23-2009   #4
 
Golden, Colorado
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I guess this is obvious, but check the weather first and if it's a good forecast you're probably okay to not take a lot of warm gear. I've only run the MF on a freak warm spell in late-April and we had nice temps the entire time. My experience was at low-flows, but not stupid low.

The Marsh Cr. approach is no big deal at med or lower levels in a kayak (probably NBD at higher levels, too) and you get the experience of starting on a small creek and 100 miles later finishing on 50k cfs on the Main. Rafters get more concerned sometimes because there can be riverwide trees before the commercials cut them out. In a kayak though, you have a lot of time to pull over and portage. A raft overloaded with a week's worth of stuff would feel different.

Lastly, if the tribs are running high, definitely take the time since you have creekers to ditch your camping gear, hike up and run the lower sections of some these. Big Cr. is fun to put in just above the bridge about 2 miles up, and the creek that comes in at the Simplot ranch (can't remember its name, I think it was "Loon") was really fun, too. There's a good granite gorge on that one. There was one other, too, but it was a long hike past a bunch of class II for some hair (back where help would take days to get) so we didn't even think about doing it. We did look at it though by taking a stroll sans boats to just see what was up there.

Have fun. The MF would be fun in any style and while going self-support wouldn't be my first choice, it would certainly lower your overhead and simplify logistics. You will miss some great surfing and camp comforts though.
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Old 01-23-2009   #5
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Sounds like a great trip. Self support is a magical way to see rivers. Free and easy and you don't have to use big camps (you may have required camps on the MF) and have much less impact. Take your dry suit and plenty of warm gear, the weather should be cool at some point on your trip.

Haven't done the MF self support but have done other trips: Salt, Selway, Jarbidge-Bruneau, so I will add some pointers. Work closely with the FS to make sure you have the required equipment. You may be able to take a fire blanket instead of a pan. Wag Bags instead of hard shell toilet.

Pack as much dense heavy stuff like stove, fuel, pans and tent in front of your bulkhead/foot pegs as possible to trim the extra weight in back. Your boat will handle differently so try to do a trial run. At a minimum, pack your stow floats and all you gear in your boats to make sure everything fits as a dry run. If you backpack, you should have no problem. Ultralight backpacking web sites will have pointers too.

Hit the meat in Velvet, heavy boats pack a punch!
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Old 01-23-2009   #6
 
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Marsh is swift through out with several blind corners and one distinct rapid that starts with a horizon line. I'd expect at least one place with wood across which was the case last June. I would be surprised if commercials run Marsh Creek, but private rafters do before the road into Dagger opens.

Camas Creek has a class V gorge a half mile from the river.
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Old 01-23-2009   #7
 
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Boulder, Colorado
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Marsh Creek is a likely part of any Mid-May Middle Fork. The Idaho Whitewater yahoo group is a great source of early season information. People usually put up trip reports starting in early May. The river wide logs on Marsh have killed several people including two in either 2005 or 2006 - but as mentioned earlier this is more of a rafter danger than a kayaker danger. Wood can also be a danger anywhere on the middle fork itself and log jams are somewhat common, there was a big one early season at Pistol in '07 - but it mysteriously dissaperaed. The commercails will try to cut out log jams on the Middle Fork, but I don't think they run Marsh creek. They are more likely to fly in instead.
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Old 01-23-2009   #8
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berger View Post
My brother and I are planning on kayaking the Middle Fork of the Salmon in the middle of May. We have a permit and are planning on a self-sustained trip in creek boats. I was wondering if anyone out there has ever paddled the Middle Fork self-sustained style in kayaks? Any beta would be great! Thank you!
How do you have a permit for the Middle Fork when the lottery doesn't even close until February 2? If I'm correct the permit season doesn't even begin util late May. Did you mean to say that you're running it before permit season?
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Old 01-23-2009   #9
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Thank you all so much for the information, especially safety concerns...always crucial to know. Hopefully I won't have to put a fire pan in my boat! If anyone wants to join our excursion please feel free to let me know. There is only two of us at the moment and with more paddlers and rafters the party will be more rockin' and the safety more secure. Thank you all again.

Josh
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Old 01-23-2009   #10
 
Golden, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berger View Post
Hopefully I won't have to put a fire pan in my boat!
a self supported kayak trip gets some slack on fire pans,ect. you still need them but considerations are made that a raft supported trip doesn't get. give the rangers a call and get the low down from the source.
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