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Discussion Starter #1
Never won a lottery, so time to figure out plan Bs. I see that for Main Salmon you can launch as late as June 19th with unlimited launches allowed. What is the downfall of just securing, maybe even a Monday launch rather then weekend? Just less solitude and crowded campsites?
 

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A monday launch would be less crowded than the weekend. The main consideration that time of year is high water. It can still be running pretty high and if Idaho has a cold spring it can be peaking around then on big snowpack years.
 

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I ran the Main Salmon in early June 2011. We were the only group that day, and no group after us for a few days.

We started on like 15,500 CFS, and six days later we took out at Spring Bar at 40,000+ CFS , (56,000 at Riggins gauge). The drift wood becomes a huge factor. Nothing more scary than rafting side by side with a 30 foot pointy limb ponderosa bobbing along. Chittum rapid was fun.... good luck
 

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I got a reservation for June 19 (Wednesday) launch on the Main Salmon as a back up to the lotteries, which I guess was wise since I got skunked this year.

My big concern is that the water levels will be too high for a family trip and maybe too high for me period. I guess I have a little while to see how the snow totals end up.
 

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I have gone pre-season (18th or 19th) 2 of the last 3 years, and probably will again. Last year there were 14 groups scheduled when we did; I think only 10 groups launched, most were smaller sized groups though, and the boat total may be less than a permit day. Ramp conditions not crowded, campground sites available, parking was sort of tight. You can still reserve downstream camp sites. Flow likely to be high enough to limit camps somewhat, about 17kcfs for us last June. Gives some of the normally smaller rapids some kick.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
My big concern is that the water levels will be too high for a family trip and maybe too high for me period. I guess I have a little while to see how the snow totals end up.



I am in the same boat. If its epic water it just wont be a good idea. I have 7 and 9 year old boys. Maybe I should reserve the 19th as well, and if its looking to be too much just cancel at some point....
 

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I did an early June Middle Fork Trip last year and about half of the group turned the corner and did the Main. It was a lot of fun doing the transistion between the more technical medium sized Middle Fork and the Big Water "down the middle over the big waves" Main.

There were surprisingly few people on the river too. We saw a few groups, but only once or twice a day. It felt WAY more crowded during the permit season trips I did. On one of them we did the Jet Boat option where you get picked up and driven back to the top with all of your gear...and you really get a true idea of how many people are on the river. It felt like most camps were used and we passed groups on the water a lot too.
 

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I am in the same boat. If its epic water it just wont be a good idea. I have 7 and 9 year old boys. Maybe I should reserve the 19th as well, and if its looking to be too much just cancel at some point....

The good thing about the preseason trips is that late cancellations are fine, we've run preseason at really low (less than 2 foot on the ramp) and close to 7 feet (the top of my comfort zone) in that week before permit season kicks in. It can be really cold that time of year with possible cold longish swims if things go South. If you have the flexibility just watch the gauge (& weather) carefully.
 

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What do you think a family friendly water height limit is?
Trying to attach the Corn Creek ramp sign, not sure if I succeeded. I don't think we have ever had kids on an early season, we've had a couple of darn cold, wet trips. Then again we've had July trips when its rained every day too.... Idaho


Corn Creek sign.jpg
 

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Anyone know what level Whiplash gets nasty? I know at High Flow the main concerns are Elkhorn, Whiplash, and Chittam plus giant ponderosas.
 

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This trip preseason as well as Hells Canyon preseason are my back up plans as well. Experience levels dependent I probably would recommend taking anyone that can't self rescue (small kids, first time swimmers) as the preseason river is quite different. The has the potential to create a lot of space between swimmers and the boat. Plus the water will present some hypothermia risks. Additionally the salmon river watershed is currently sitting at 102% of normal, and forecasted to go up.
That being said, I think Hells canyon would be an easier pre-season trip as it is dam released and may've less wood. At least less 'active wood' running the gnar with you.
 

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The “extreme” range is definitely where the floating logs and silt laden river comes into play.

I thought the 15,500 CFS level, around 5.0 feet “High” on that sign was perfect and beautiful. Big waves, not pushy for the experienced boater. Easy read and run for the most part. No serious wood issues at that level on my trip. And the fish were bitting on spoons and spinners (especially downstream of tributaries dumping in clearer water). But then again my trip went from 15,500 to 20,000 to 40,000 in just a few days due to a big 2011 snow pack, 90 degrees and a few thunderstorms.

The 5.0 feet “high” range would be scary to the novice and people without similar experience. Definitely too big and cold for small kids and those that can’t self rescue.
 
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Anyone know what level Whiplash gets nasty? I know at High Flow the main concerns are Elkhorn, Whiplash, and Chittam plus giant ponderosas.
The whitebird gauge was at 70k both on our last two trips. Two Years ago alot of the water was coming from below and whiplash was read and run fun. Last year the water was coming from the top and it was the real deal. We scouted from the left and there was wood stuck in the brush so lining was not an option. There was as series of 12-15' waves with a consistently breaking monster at that bottom. We went 50/50 with the lead boat flipping when he entered 5 deg off of square. It was a dynamic corkscrew flip and very smooth, ie. not a surf and surge deal. A fully loaded 16' with three people went over without hesitation.

We had a front row seat and managed to square up and hyside on the bow of the 16' Hyside and came through hairy side up. It was not a sure thing but turned out good. We caught the swimmers and boat fast but didn't couldn't catch as eddy for about 3/4 mi. Rigging test passed and everything stayed put.

Chitam was big but you can sneak in right.
 

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Anyone know what level Whiplash gets nasty? I know at High Flow the main concerns are Elkhorn, Whiplash, and Chittam plus giant ponderosas.
I've always heard 7 feet for Whiplash. I don't want to be there to see it. I'm a wuss, 61/2 was my limit, too fast, too cold for my comfort level. Some enormous waves in weird places, like a weird lateral at the corner on 5 mile that I swear our cat climbed up and up before finally coming back down right side up.
 

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Put in at 8.5 and rising one year and whiplash was to this date the gnarliest thing I've ever hit in a loaded boat.

Anyone know what level Whiplash gets nasty? I know at High Flow the main concerns are Elkhorn, Whiplash, and Chittam plus giant ponderosas.
I've always heard 7 feet for Whiplash. I don't want to be there to see it. I'm a wuss, 61/2 was my limit, too fast, too cold for my comfort level. Some enormous waves in weird places, like a weird lateral at the corner on 5 mile that I swear our cat climbed up and up before finally coming back down right side up.
 
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