Middle Fork Salmon Information - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 09-26-2012   #1
 
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Park City, Utah
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Middle Fork Salmon Information

Hey all,

Any suggestions on information for floating this here river? I have tons of time on class II stuff, can I do this with a 14ft raft, two people? When is the best time safety wise to do the trip? Any good guide books out there for the Mid?

You only live once!

JB

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Old 09-26-2012   #2
 
Evergreen, Colorado
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Originally Posted by James Brown View Post
Hey all,

Any suggestions on information for floating this here river? I have tons of time on class II stuff, can I do this with a 14ft raft, two people? When is the best time safety wise to do the trip? Any good guide books out there for the Mid?

You only live once!

JB

Not to be flippant with you but your question is like asking "can you explain women to me?"

There is so much, so much, it'd be hard to know where to start... Yes you can do it on a 14ft raft, yes you can do it with 2 people (but why when all your friends will want to go) assuming you can score a permit date. I've always heard the perfect time to run it is 3ft in July. There is a great floaters guide, with rapids descriptions and maps, campgrounds, general info, history, geology, wildlife etc. But for the life of me I can't remember the name of it... You can start by searching this forum for Middle Fork Salmon, there are tons of threads on it...
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Old 09-26-2012   #3
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Originally Posted by kevdog View Post
Not to be flippant with you but your question is like asking "can you explain women to me?"

...
Agreed!

anyway

Here is a good starting point book.

Middle Fork of the Salmon Guide Book at NRSweb.com
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Old 09-26-2012   #4
 
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The Leidecker book (above) is probably the best book out there on the MFS. Searching the forums in the Buzz for more info will probably serve you best...there are tons of threads with great info.

Agreed with the above as well.....everyone will have a different opinion.

I personally prefer late May/early June with high potential for cloudy days with rain/snow, a Marsh creek launch, and a rippin' flow...but that's just me.
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Old 09-26-2012   #5
 
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Boulder, Colorado
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I have tons of time on class II stuff, can I do this with a 14ft raft, two people? When is the best time safety wise to do the trip?
The Middle Fork is a wilderness Class III and IV river. You should be comfortable rafting roadside day trip type class III-IV before you go on the Middle Fork Salmon. Being in the wilderness adds a serious commitment to any trip. Frankly class II boaters aren't ready for the Middle Fork. But when you have gained the right skills you will have a great time on the Middle Fork.

Safety wise 2.5 to 3 feet is probably best - depending on snow-pack and weather that is usually late June to late July - but it can vary a lot year to year. Lower and it gets more technical with rock dodging and greater possibility of oars/oarlocks getting jammed or broken, and greater possibility of putting a hole in your boat (you should be competent in patching your raft before attempting any wilderness run). Low water also increases the possibility of wrapping your boat. Can you set up a z-drag system to unstick a pinned or wrapped boat? If the first z-drag line doesn't work do you know the next steps to take? Higher water increases the possibility of getting surfed and or flipped. Do you know how to work to stay upright while being surfed? Have you practiced this? How to get out of a sticky hole? How to re-flip a loaded gear boat? At mid-high water many experienced class III-IV boaters have epically bad trips. I'm talking flows of 4-4.5 feet and above. Conversely strong class IV-V boaters can have epically good trips at those levels.

The Middle Fork is amazing and beautiful. If you have the skills and proper preparation it can be a magical trip. I would recommend running the Main Salmon first - it is easier and more forgiving. If you aren't a class IV boater yet - work your way up to it. If you haven't done multi-day rafting trips before start on class II and III multi-day trips. I would also recommend going with a experienced group, or at least a group that has some experienced members.
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Old 09-26-2012   #6
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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Concur on above comments. MF is not recommended for beginners. Early season and high water are especially dangerous due to hypothermia, cold water shock and flipped boat incidents. Be careful! Go late, when it's warm, and water is down.
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Old 09-26-2012   #7
 
Newberg, Oregon
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Originally Posted by James Brown View Post
Hey all,

Any suggestions on information for floating this here river? I have tons of time on class II stuff, can I do this with a 14ft raft, two people? When is the best time safety wise to do the trip? Any good guide books out there for the Mid?

You only live once!

JB
You have plenty of time to work on your rafting skills,it may take 10 years before you score a permit!
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Old 09-26-2012   #8
 
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Sandy, Utah
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Originally Posted by raftus View Post
The Middle Fork is a wilderness Class III and IV river. You should be comfortable rafting roadside day trip type class III-IV before you go on the Middle Fork Salmon. Being in the wilderness adds a serious commitment to any trip. Frankly class II boaters aren't ready for the Middle Fork. But when you have gained the right skills you will have a great time on the Middle Fork.

Safety wise 2.5 to 3 feet is probably best - depending on snow-pack and weather that is usually late June to late July - but it can vary a lot year to year. Lower and it gets more technical with rock dodging and greater possibility of oars/oarlocks getting jammed or broken, and greater possibility of putting a hole in your boat (you should be competent in patching your raft before attempting any wilderness run). Low water also increases the possibility of wrapping your boat. Can you set up a z-drag system to unstick a pinned or wrapped boat? If the first z-drag line doesn't work do you know the next steps to take? Higher water increases the possibility of getting surfed and or flipped. Do you know how to work to stay upright while being surfed? Have you practiced this? How to get out of a sticky hole? How to re-flip a loaded gear boat? At mid-high water many experienced class III-IV boaters have epically bad trips. I'm talking flows of 4-4.5 feet and above. Conversely strong class IV-V boaters can have epically good trips at those levels.

The Middle Fork is amazing and beautiful. If you have the skills and proper preparation it can be a magical trip. I would recommend running the Main Salmon first - it is easier and more forgiving. If you aren't a class IV boater yet - work your way up to it. If you haven't done multi-day rafting trips before start on class II and III multi-day trips. I would also recommend going with a experienced group, or at least a group that has some experienced members.
Great information from raftus. I had a good amount of class III day trips and several Main Salmon trips under my belt before I "graduated" to a July 2.5ft Middle Fork trip. I now have done many late season MF trips which are great fun but always involve getting stuck on rocks in one way or another. The Leidecker guide mentioned above is also my favorite. As raftus said.....the Middle Fork is indeed an amazing and magical place. Work your way up to it with some Deso and Main Salmon trips to make sure you're ready, then find a knowledgable group to go with.
KJ
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Old 09-27-2012   #9
 
McMinnville, Oregon
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The MF at any level is way beyond Class II skills. Floating in a single boat is asking for trouble, you need to plan on rescue support. The river is deceptive, in the fact difficult rapids do exist that need to be scouted. The remoteness is a challenge in itself. The easiest level is probably around 3', but Velvet, Powerhouse, Pistol, Tappen, Redside, Weber, and the lower section will eat your lunch if you are not prepared and up to the difficulty. Do not take this river lightly.
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Old 09-27-2012   #10
 
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I did 2.1' on a loaded 18' leopard, launching from Boundary. On the first day it was pick your poison. You knew you were going to boof a rock, which one to avoid, which to straddle, decisions decisions etc.

At 3+ you can get some really fun and challenging water. A 14' raft if you can steer it and read the river, no problems. I would never attempt any whitewater without another vessel etc for support. three craft /five people is a good minimum group size.
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