Interest in Middle Fork of the Salmon? - Page 4 - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-14-2019   #31
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 162
It's a shame this thread isn't titled, "Newbie Paddler wants to do a High Water MF Salmon Trip," because there's been a lot of good info posted here and yet I doubt it will show up if someone in the future does a search on the subject.

Anyhow, what doesn't make sense to me is why anybody in their right mind would want to join a high water multi-day wilderness river trip where one member of the party (let alone the permit holder!) is not skilled or experienced enough to be there in the first place. Think about it: a newbie kayaker is not just a liability in his kayak, he's a liability even just riding a raft. EVERY SINGLE PERSON on this kind of trip needs to have the paddling skills, rescue skills, and experience to be there, and a year of WW does not come close to qualifying.

Secondly, anybody who actually does have the skills and experience to do this trip knows that there will always be cancelled MF permits available during high water. It doesn't matter if high water happens in mid-May or early July, there will always be permit holders who realize they simply do not have the skills to do a high water trip. For some folks, 4 feet is their max for a launch at Boundary while others can safely launch at Marsh Creek at 7 or 8 feet. The higher your skill level, the more options you have.

Finally, for all those folks holding late May/early June permits just hoping and praying the level doesn't go above 4 feet, please take a look at the hydrographs for the past 10 years.
Yes, there is a small chance the flow will drop down around 4 feet during that time, but even if it does dip that low, you'd better hope you don't get a couple days of hot weather near your launch date because that's all it will take to send a wall of water crashing down behind you. At 4.0 feet, the flow is only 3,370 cfs, but at 8.0 feet, it's 13,900 cfs, and it can ramp up that quickly in just a couple days. If your skill level is just barely enough to allow for a safe launch at 4.0 feet, do you really want to bet your life the flow will stay that low for the next five or six days?

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Old 03-14-2019   #32
Join Date: Nov 2018
Posts: 1
Originally Posted by busta3396 View Post
Hi everyone,

I am brand new to this forum. I joined because I recently won a lottery for the middle fork of the salmon river. The put in date is May 28th. This is a 100 mile stretch of river with rapids up to class 4, the flows should be very high in late may. Unfortunately I have been unable to get a friend with a raft to join me, and I only have one other friend with a kayak who may join, contingent on me able to recruit more people. If anyone is interested in running this stretch of river please get in touch with me. If I cannot recruit enough experienced kayakers, and hopefully get a raft, I will be returning this lottery permit.

I have a non lottery permit for the 19th I was told it may be to high to run. I have made back up plans for the John Day on the 19th as well. I may be able to join you with a raft if your still planning to go. It is best to contact me on Face Book I am Brian Lee Lee, I check this sight only once or twice a month.
Thanks, Good luck Brian Lee
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Old 03-15-2019   #33
Dipshit with the most.
carvedog's Avatar
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,799
Originally Posted by raftingwhenican View Post
I have a non lottery permit for the 19th I was told it may be to high to run.
Says who? Maybe too high for you to run....but lets be real here it's going to be in the 6 to 7 foot range. And that is well beyond a lot of peoples personal threshold but not 'to(o) high to run'.

I also have a permit for that date. Maybe it will be perfect and I will see you there.
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Old 03-20-2019   #34
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 4
Ok so I have been away from this website for a little while and so I came back to read all of the replies.

First, I really want to mention I appreciate very much the wealth of information people have been posting. I am happy such a community exists for this sport and it is great to know many people happily share information like this. I still need to do some more due diligence to research as much as I can about this river before making any sort of hard decisions. I did not expect this thread to get so extensive, it is really amazing to hear everyones stories and some very strong opinions about making this trip happen or not.

For now I have accepted the permit, but it is really more of a move to delay the decision, as I can cancel later, also it is not clear if the path to the put-in will be open or not. I will try to reach out to people who are interested and who have PMd me.
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Old 03-20-2019   #35
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 4
I do have one question,

Is there a way to find out if there is a log jam before being on the river? Or do you just hope someone that was on the river earlier reports it after managing to deal with it?
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Old 03-21-2019   #36
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 94
The rangers usually will tell you if there are any problems when you pick your campsites. If you are on the river and you hit a downpour, be careful.
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Old 03-21-2019   #37
Andy H.'s Avatar
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,593
For river conditions, follow this thread:

2019 MFS Access and Alerts

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 03-21-2019   #38
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 162
Rangers? What rangers? If you claim a pre-season permit or win an early season Middle Fork permit in the lottery, you have to plan for the fact that Boundary Creek Road might not be open on your launch date. And if the road isn't open, you'll be launching on Marsh Creek and you won't meet any rangers until you get to Indian Creek.

The best place to find beta on Marsh Creek and the upper section of the Middle Fork is right here on the Buzz. If you're lucky, someone who just ran it will post info about the latest logjams and strainers. But, honestly, if you're doing a high water trip, you have to assume you might encounter new wood hazards the whole way down. That's just the nature of a high water trip! If you can't handle high water conditions, then don't get a pre-season or early season permit!

Last year was my first high water Marsh-Middle-Main trip and the level was 6.66 on the day we launched on Marsh Creek. It was an AMAZING trip and my best experience ever as TL, but we didn't see more than a handful of groups the whole time. There are SEVEN private launches per day available at that time of year but I doubt more than three permits a day got used. That's total BS! If you're holding an early season permit, you need to be prepared to launch at high water on Marsh Creek or cancel your permit far enough in advance that someone else can use it.

If I could make one single change to the permit system it would be this: You can cancel your permit anytime you want, but if the level is below 6 feet on launch day and no one else claims your cancelled permit, then you get hit with the penalty: No permit for the next three years. That would certainly motivate a lot of people to get real about their chances for launching. Sh## or get off the groover already!
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Old 03-21-2019   #39
Bellingham, Washington
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 162
busta3396, you've been a great sport for hanging around on this thread and I am hopeful you will make the right decision about your permit either way.

As peeps have already said, Marsh Creek and the upper MF is fast, continuous Class IV at high water, so if you want to do this trip, then get comfortable in those conditions. It is entirely different than pool drop Class IV.

Also, the thing that really struck me about Marsh Creek is the extreme peril of a swim at high water. The water is moving super fast from bank to bank and there are precious few eddies. If you swim in one of those LONG continuous sections, you have the choice of hanging onto your kayak for a brutal, possibly bone-breaking, near flush drowning swim to calmer water, or abandoning your boat and trying to swim to shore. Except the shore is lined with wood hazards so if you misjudge your ability to get to the bank, there is a very good chance you'll get swept into a strainer. In short, swimming here is not really a safe option so your roll has to be bombproof. Better yet, stay in control and don't flip. Good luck!
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Old 04-07-2019   #40
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Nederland, Co. nearest town., Either grace or kerfuffled
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 196
Based on your stated experience level, I think your gonna find High water Middle Fork way over your head....& REALLY cold!
I'd really suggest finding some very experienced kayakers/rafter to join you, or go in July. You're gonna have your hands full with extreme high water MFS.
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