2020 Middle Fork Hazards and Access Thread - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-01-2020   #1
 
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
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2020 Middle Fork Hazards and Access Thread

I waited as long as I could to start this thread. I need something to check daily and a shred of hope for my 5/24 launch, so here goes.

There are obviously extra access issues and considerations this year. Ideally this thread can proceed as it has in years past with a focus on road access, flow prognostication, safety issues from the host of knowledgeable\local people that normally contribute.

With that in mind, any thoughts on potential road openings days or flows? Past year comparisons? SWE has been looking good for our launch date until the last few days. Our hopes are an open road and sub 6 ft flows for 5/24.

Also, when does the half melt prediction generally come out and where do I find it?

Thanks and stay healthy all.

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Old 04-01-2020   #2
 
Boise, ID
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There was a 6.5 earth quake approx 9 mi SE of Boundary Campground yesterday. I think a bigger question is, what is the damage to the road if any and did it kick any nasty slides off on the road? It would be nice to take a sled in but that area is also near Idaho's epi-center for Covid and under stay at home. Stanley has sent out urgent requests for all outsiders to stay away. They can't support any Covid cases out of Stanley. Wood River is at capacity.

Salmon Challis Forest District also shut down floating and basically accessing the area for Covid through 4/30.

75" of snow at Banner. SWE is 21.1. It's still winter in the area and barely going above freezing during the day at 6k.

I've also heard rumors of outfitters seriously considering whether to cancel the summer or not. Might not have as much outfitter support on getting the road open. THOSE ARE RUMORS ONLY. Don't ask me to substantiate sources on it.

So, info other than snowpack predictions online might be tougher to come by. I usually try to drive in as far as I can early in my LC with lockers and chains. Not happening this year.

I hope this all passes and people get their trips in though but might have to be patient for any intel from the ground.
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Old 04-01-2020   #3
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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I sincerely hope I'll see you there on 5/24. Got an invite on an early season permit the same day.

But I'm honestly thinking it won't happen. MT and Idaho haven't even peaked yet with COVID-19 cases. Salmon-Challis NF has closed Boundary, Cache, etc through 4/30, and I am fully expecting that gets extended.
----
Yet, I'll gladly play along.

SWE at Banner Summit is very similar to low snow years 2005 and 2015 (I was on a 5/14/15 4.0' launch). Until yesterday, SWE was holding about 18", and I was seriously hoping that we'd see low snow through March which is typically the last time it will ramp up.

https://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/snow/snowplot.cgi?BASI1

It jumped up to 21.1" SWE in the last 36 hours, bringing it closer to an average year.

I had heard anecdotally that the road to Boundary had been open most of the winter, but 2" more of SWE in 1.5 days (and 1.7" SWE a week prior to that) is a LOT of new snow.



So...was cautiously optimistic, now more realistic and need someone on the ground to say what the road looks like.
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Old 04-01-2020   #4
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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https://www.facebook.com/sawtoothnat...60608283967785
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Old 04-01-2020   #5
 
Idaho Falls, Idaho
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Earthquake fall out

It may be too early or really but looking at the flow graphs, I would bet there was some blockage from last nights rock-n-roll.

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Old 04-01-2020   #6
 
Boise, ID
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Hey, maybe we get some new rapids out of the deal. I'd imagine Marsh will be blocked and have a bunch more lumber when the slide paths melt.
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Old 04-01-2020   #7
 
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salmon, Idaho
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Here is the closure notice that has been put out for the middle fork and main until april 30th who knows if they will extend it. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...eprd717073.pdf
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Old 04-01-2020   #8
 
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyhfamily View Post
It may be too early or really but looking at the flow graphs, I would bet there was some blockage from last nights rock-n-roll.


Wow, thats a crazy drop!
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Old 04-01-2020   #9
 
thornton, Colorado
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April "fool's"???

Quote:
Originally Posted by DidNotWinLottery View Post
Wow, thats a crazy drop!
That's what I was thinking..
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Old 04-02-2020   #10
 
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Kalispell, Montana
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Saw a repost of a repost...from Idaho Whitewater FB group in an Idaho backcountry pilots' group. Another post said they'd flown from Dagger to Indian. Not sure if it was the same people.

Looks pretty brown down low.


The MF snowpack went from 78% to 87% last week.
Nothing definitive from all this incomplete data, but it's fascinating to contemplate.
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