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Discussion Starter #1
This is our first trip on Hells canyon. We are running from the dam to heller bar. Looking for info on campsites and what the river is like at these water levels, rapids, etc...? Looks like the flows fluctuate a lot depending on power needs. Also wondering what it is like on the lower section (Snake Lake), we will not have a motor. Sounds like it can be a long push at the end... Get up early to avoid the wind. We plan on taking 7 days to run this section. Really have not run a river with a lot of Jet Boats, so not sure what to expect with that traffic.
 

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Jet boat traffic really varies, obviously if you have the M-W on a motor free week it is best for the top part. Weekends are BAD especially down lower below the Salmon confluence, if we are through there on a weekend we try to go later after the traffic though early morning would work too. Of course if you are rowing you want early to avoid the winds. Most jet boats are courteous - the occasional jerk will buzz you and try to run you off the water.

Water levels change by as much as 6 feet over night, so tie boats carefully and don't leave anything unattached on shore.

I like the camp at Battle Creek as we usually get a late start and don't have to run the biggies until the second day, also a cool cabin to check out across the creek and great apricot trees. We always look at Wild Sheep and Granite, they are big but straight forward. A couple of the others Rush? Waterspout? have enormous holes but you would have to be asleep to be there.

We have had problems with dirty camps, like poop dirty (ick). I would recommend thoroughly checking out camps before starting to unload, nothing worse than unloading on a great beach to find the shady area at the top full of poop and TP. Not sure if it is boaters or hikers but can't help but think removing those out houses a decade ago was a mistake.

Kirkwood is a must see and the hike to suicide point if you have time. Also Cache Creek is a great shady stop on the last section.

Have fun, I'm trying to find a cancellation in August to take a visitor down.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for all the info we really appreciate it.


What are the bugs like on this section. Can we sleep outside at night, or should we plan on sleeping in tents.


Also, can we filter water along the way, or should we bring all our water for the trip. Seems like there are good side streams to filter. We have a basecamp filter and multiple hand pumps.


What is up with this heat in the Northwest. I was thinking our Trip on the San Juan was going to be hot. Looks just as hot up there. Good thing the dam release it there or I am not sure there would be any water to float.
 

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Thanks for all the info we really appreciate it.


What are the bugs like on this section. Can we sleep outside at night, or should we plan on sleeping in tents.


Also, can we filter water along the way, or should we bring all our water for the trip. Seems like there are good side streams to filter. We have a basecamp filter and multiple hand pumps.


What is up with this heat in the Northwest. I was thinking our Trip on the San Juan was going to be hot. Looks just as hot up there. Good thing the dam release it there or I am not sure there would be any water to float.
We have a mid-August launch, and have done it several times previously. I just discovered that Rivermaps has a guide book that covers Hells and the Lower Main; lots of good information in there on camps and general logistics. I'd highly recommend getting one of their books before your launch (don't work for them or anything, just appreciate their efforts).

Flying bugs have never been an issue on the Snake for us, but I have never seen as many big creepy spiders anywhere as there are down there. As a serious arachnophobe, that is a serious deal killer for me sleeping out, but others on our past trips that don't share that phobia have slept out without any issues.

Regardless of flow, this is a big water trip so I wouldn't worry about the weight of carrying water. You can usually refill at Kirkwood, although in 2012 they warned that it wasn't potable. It would be a great source for filtering though. We had a miscount of water bottles on that trip that forced us to filter water directly out of the river. Nobody got sick, but the base camp filter we used doesn't do anything for the agricultural and municipal residues that end up in the river as it passes through southern Idaho. Not recommended! There is potable water available at Pittsburgh if you are continuing on down below.

It is supposed to be over 100 in Bend today. We are at 3700 feet and that rarely happens. We usually only get a week or two of "hot" weather, so a lot of folks (including us) don't bother with AC in our houses. We are fortunate to cool off pretty well at night here, but still a challenge opening up at night and closing up during the day to keep it comfortable in the house when it pushes 100.

Have fun on your trip!
 

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Second that on bugs have been down in July the last few years and not had a problem, must have missed the enormous spiders too :) I go either way on sleeping out vs tent though with hot nights even the tent mesh makes a difference to comfort level.

Slightly cooler than it was but reckon on triple digits down there regardless. We have always carried all water for the Wild and Scenic section. Kirkwood has to say their water is non potable for liability reasons - we have drunk it unfiltered but I guess we like to live dangerously. There are a few other creeks that run year round eg Sheep Ck, Granite Ck.

Yes, the Rivermaps book is good info but unless they have improved the printing it is barely waterproof - weird as we have others in that series and they are fine but the pages of that one stuck together and the ink ran the first time out :cry:.

Have fun.
 

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Yes, the Rivermaps book is good info but unless they have improved the printing it is barely waterproof - weird as we have others in that series and they are fine but the pages of that one stuck together and the ink ran the first time out :cry:.

Have fun.
I've had good luck with all their others too. I just picked up the Hells one yesterday, so it hasn't had any opportunity to get wet other than the potential for spilled cocktails while I was reading it last night trying to stay cool on the porch!
 

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As far as bugs go, I ran into one of the worst groover beetle infestations you've ever seen down there. Thousands inside the groover and when you opened the lid to do your business they would try to fly out, it was unbelievable!! Then they would fly out covered in poo and fly off on down to the next camp presumably. It was gnarly, they could land on your kitchen table covered in shit and get into your food, changed the whole trip.
 

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As far as bugs go, I ran into one of the worst groover beetle infestations you've ever seen down there. Thousands inside the groover and when you opened the lid to do your business they would try to fly out, it was unbelievable!! Then they would fly out covered in poo and fly off on down to the next camp presumably. It was gnarly, they could land on your kitchen table covered in shit and get into your food, changed the whole trip.
What????? Groover Beetles? No shit? Never heard of this one. Sounds horrible.

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I forgot to mention the groover beetles. I've only encountered them once down there, and it was worse on the lower part below Pittsburgh. They are some sort of tiger beetle, like this:

Common Shore Tiger Beetle (Cicindela repanda)
Are they pooh eaters? Must carry some nasty diseases. Noro, Hepatitis, C-Diff, akkkkkkkkk 😲

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Are they pooh eaters? Must carry some nasty diseases. Noro, Hepatitis, C-Diff, akkkkkkkkk 😲

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Don't know anything about them other than there would literally be dozens of them crawling around the groover contents. The didn't seem to care if a butt was blocking their view out or not, but it was a bit unsettling to say the least. We'd seal the stragglers up inside after the morning groover call and they would all be deceased by the time it opened up again at the next camp, to be replaced by fresh recruits. It was pretty disgusting, and I had pretty much blocked it out.
 

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My experience was more in the multi hundreds range. Looking back I think that sealing the groover after every use would have virtually eliminated the issue. But I have the river bank system so it would be easy to just place the lid on top after use and not allow any bugs into the groover. They were only the worst down lower in the canyon. It made for quite the conversation at the cleaning station in Asotin. ahahhah
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Groover Beetles sounds nasty. Might try to keep a lid on the groover to avoid that fun. We have the riverMap book and we are really excited to check out this section. Thanks for the update on the bugs. The biting, stinging kind keep us in the tents. With the heat, sleeping with the spiders might be the option. We are floating all the way to heller bar and have our shuttle lined up with Hells Canyon Shuttle. We will plan on topping off the water at Pittsburg, but otherwise we will carry all the water we need. Definitely do not like the taste of fertilizer in the water. Ug...


I also want to confirm that we do not need a self issue permit past Pittsburg and our wild/scenic permit will cover the lower section. We plan on getting the invasive and Washington pass through the shuttle company.


Question about number of boats. Do inflatable kayaks count, or just rafts and catarafts. Looking to bring an inflatable kayak for fun.
 

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Groover Beetles sounds nasty. Might try to keep a lid on the groover to avoid that fun. We have the riverMap book and we are really excited to check out this section. Thanks for the update on the bugs. The biting, stinging kind keep us in the tents. With the heat, sleeping with the spiders might be the option. We are floating all the way to heller bar and have our shuttle lined up with Hells Canyon Shuttle. We will plan on topping off the water at Pittsburg, but otherwise we will carry all the water we need. Definitely do not like the taste of fertilizer in the water. Ug...


I also want to confirm that we do not need a self issue permit past Pittsburg and our wild/scenic permit will cover the lower section. We plan on getting the invasive and Washington pass through the shuttle company.


Question about number of boats. Do inflatable kayaks count, or just rafts and catarafts. Looking to bring an inflatable kayak for fun.
Sounds like you are set to go. Your permit from Hells Canyon Creek covers you all the way to Heller. Supposedly either Oregon or Idaho IS permits are acceptable on the Snake, since it is the border. Anything that floats counts against your total boat limit. The limit is intended to mitigate conflicts with the jet boats. If you get the opportunity to watch one of those big jet boats go through Wild Sheep or Granite, definitely take the time to do so. It is pretty amazing to watch; a whole different type of river running that I don't think I'd have the fortitude to do with 40 passengers on board!

Have a great trip.
 

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I am launching for the first time on July 7. With the water level fluctuations, is a sand stake recommended, or are there enough trees available?


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I am launching for the first time on July 7. With the water level fluctuations, is a sand stake recommended, or are there enough trees available?


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There's not a lot of sand beaches between the dam and pittsburg. Most likely you'll be tying off to a boulder or shrub, or if you're lucky a tree.


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I just got off Hells last Sunday. It's hot down there right now. EXTREMELY HOT. So prepare accordingly.

We did 3 days to Pittsburg. That was about right.

First night we stayed at Oregon Hole. This was a pretty awesome spot. I'd have taken Saddle Creek but an outfitter group claimed it first. Look for those two spots if you can.

Second night we stayed below Suicide Point at Hominy Bar. That place was also very nice. I would have also considered staying at Kirkwood Bar.

Didn't have a problem with jet boaters, though we did see about 15-20 per day.
Didn't have a problem with insects (other than the usual), saw no snakes, or littered beaches; YMMV.

It was too hot to sleep in a tent, but I would recommend a cot if you can pull that off. Otherwise, I'd bring a tent and figure out some way to cool down, like some sort of cool pad or neck roll thing.

While you must have a groover, if you plan it right you really don't need to use it. You can go at the put-in, and then there's a public facility at a cabin about halfway down (I forget the name). You can go again at the takeout... but I'm not sure of the situation below Pittsburg.

Wild Sheep was by far the biggest rapid, but the line and move are pretty easy - hit left of the center-left rock, follow along and pull center after the second rock to avoid the exposed rocks at the bottom. Bit hits in the main current that are fun. Definitely scout.

Granite was pretty easy and unexciting at our flows - just miss the big pourover and that was about it. Scout for sure

Waterspout we just read and run, but there are some moves to make in there.

We took tubes and a SUP - I'd recommend it. The Class II and flatwater get pretty boring for passengers, and it's nice to lighten up the raft for those stretches.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That brings up a question about campsites. Are the first come first or do you reserve sites at the launch with a ranger.


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That brings up a question about campsites. Are the first come first or do you reserve sites at the launch with a ranger.


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Unless they made changes this year, they are all first come first served.


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