MF or Main Salmon with Kids? - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 02-16-2018   #1
Never enough free time
 
Red Lodge, Montana
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MF or Main Salmon with Kids?

We have a couple of families that typically float together. Somehow or another we got application dates crossed up and our group got both a MF and Main on the same launch date of August 10th. They were supposed to be staggered just in case, miracle of miracles, we drew both and could stitch it all together. Dabgummit, we pulled both..... but can only do one. My wife landed the Main.

I know the obvious answer is to do the MF and ensure that the Main goes back in for the rest of you...except. I have the youngest kids in the group (7 and 10 and well seasoned junior river rats, and yes, it really is all about them. My 10 yr old is a lazy stack monster and has spent enough river days that the worst part with him is waking him up to hang on when we happen to float up on something worth paying attention to during one of his afternoon nap sessions). I think they would probably have more fun on the main, and I'd be less stressed on the sticks. The rest of the group will almost certainly want the MF, and so do I to be honest.

If we split up our normal group and did the Main, we could bring along some people that have never had the opportunity for a multiday before, and a couple of others that simply wouldn't be comfortable on the MF.

We've done the MF Flathead from Schafer Meadows at below recommended put in level (but not with kids) as well as some rock garden dancing on the upper Stillwater, so I at least know the drill with low water. We've also done Deso with 100 degree temps, so I know what's up with kids and heat as well.

I haven't run the MF before, but the group is very solid, with multiple past and current river guides as well as other outdoor professionals.

If we had only pulled the MF I wouldn't think twice about it (assuming "normal" flows ~2'). Anybody done both with kids this age? Am I overthinking it?

I've seen enough "what if's" turn into "oh poop's" that I tend toward the cautious now..cautious being a relative term for our lifestyle

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Old 02-16-2018   #2
 
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Montrose, Colorado
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I'd skip the MF and run the Main if I were you. With this year's snowpack, I think you'd be lucky to get >2' on the MF. Even with seasoned rafters, there could be a lot of broaches on the upper sections of the MF. The Main will be much more manageable and less stress on you with the kids.
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Old 02-16-2018   #3
 
Denver, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duckins View Post
I'd skip the MF and run the Main if I were you. With this year's snowpack, I think you'd be lucky to get >2' on the MF. Even with seasoned rafters, there could be a lot of broaches on the upper sections of the MF. The Main will be much more manageable and less stress on you with the kids.
Most recent snowpack report says normal flows for the summer months. That snowpack is 100% of average.
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Old 02-17-2018   #4
 
Walterville, Oregon
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Originally Posted by MontanaLaz View Post
I haven't run the MF before, but the group is very solid, with multiple past and current river guides as well as other outdoor professionals.
Multiple past and current river guides as well as other outdoor professionals who you know and trust? Why don't you ask them instead of random strangers on Mt Buzz? After all, they are river guides so what could possibly go wrong?
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Originally Posted by MontanaLaz View Post
Anybody done both with kids this age?
Yes, multiple times with several kids as young as 4 (low water in August).
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Originally Posted by MontanaLaz View Post
I've seen enough "what if's" turn into "oh poop's" that I tend toward the cautious now..cautious being a relative term for our lifestyle.
You tend toward the cautious and you are asking folks on the Buzz for advice about your children? Every year there are threads asking about taking kids on the MFS. Buzzards don't know your skill level as a boater, your risk tolerance, or anything about your kids. Only you can decide if you should do the MFS with them.
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Old 02-17-2018   #5
 
Garden Valley, Idaho
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My wife and I have done both with our girls (they first did the Middle Fork at ages 3 and 4). The girls greatly prefer the Main. The water is warmer and they spend most of the day floating alongside the rafts on SUP's. They are really prefer the big beach campsites readily available on the Main. They have done both rivers multiple times and the night before the lottery they are praying for a Main slot. They are 10 and 11 now and we are lucky enough to be doing the Main again this summer.
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Old 02-17-2018   #6
 
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Montrose, Colorado
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Originally Posted by theusualsuspect View Post
Most recent snowpack report says normal flows for the summer months. That snowpack is 100% of average.
Like I said, it'll probably not be >2' on August 10th.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE...rdb5364381.pdf
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Old 02-18-2018   #7
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Red Lodge, Montana
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Thanks for the replies. I was a bit surprised that one of the people in our group, who I expected would be one of the biggest advocates for the MF said they'd prefer the main simply because they weren't interested in going light for a low water trip. "I want to fish the MF but would rather have all of my creature comforts with me on the main."

@keithh20
This exactly the feedback I was looking for.

@Wadeinthewater
I appreciate the concerns. I have read many of the past threads and was attempting to address the typical questions that seem to always come up relative to skill level, comfort, tolerance for risk, group makeup, etc. The question I was trying to ask in not should I take the kids on the MF, but rather, since I have options, what would be more enjoyable? It seems as if you have done both with kids. To be more direct: What would your kids have enjoyed more?

I am asking strangers on an internet forum for input because I wanted some independent opinions from people who will not be advocating for the trip they would prefer. As a group we talked about skills and comfort levels before we landed on application dates. Had we not gotten our wires crossed and messed up on the dates, we would have done whatever the lottery gods blessed us with. Had we just gotten the MF, I wouldn't even have asked the question. I would have simply prepared appropriately.
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Old 02-18-2018   #8
 
Walterville, Oregon
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Well that makes more sense. I have been down the MFS my kids and others and now my granddaughter many times when they were young. I have only been down the Main once, and not with my kids. My kids loved the MFS, but I think they would have also been fine with the Main. Major factors determining enjoyment for them were other kids to play with, hot springs to splash in, rocks to skip, sleeping in a IK at night, a combination of water, sticks and sand to mess with, paddling an IK and a quick dip in the river. As long as those factors are present, what's not to love for a kid? Your kids will have a great time on the MFS if you have the skills and are comfortable taking them.
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Old 02-18-2018   #9
 
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That is the graph/report for the Main Salmon. The MFS is much much lower.

Quote:
Originally Posted by theusualsuspect View Post
Most recent snowpack report says normal flows for the summer months. That snowpack is 100% of average.
Given all factors you report, barring a huge surge in snowpack or rain event, I think you would enjoy the Main more. More water, more comforts, more sand beaches (there are comparatively few on the MFS), and better kid swimming (more and bigger eddies at camp/stops). The one drawback of the factors you list is fewer hot springs.



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Old 02-19-2018   #10
 
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Northern Utah, Utah
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I took my kids (9 and 12) on the Main Salmon mid August last year. While late summer low water Middle Fork trips are my personal favorite, I was glad I took them on the Main. As others have pointed out, some of the benefits of the Main over the Middle are bigger beaches, warmer water, less work/less stress on the sticks, etc. They're still talking about eating ice cream, playing sand volleyball, swimming in the eddy, and doing flips off the rafts at Buckskin's one afternoon and asking when we can do it again. The Middle's great but it's a lot more work on the sticks, a lot more gotchas at low water, and in general more concerns with kids. Either trip will be a neat experience for the kids, though I think the Main has more kid friendly fun to offer with less worry than the Middle.

Whichever you choose, enjoy the time with the kids.
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