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I've read some of the threads on this in the past but would appreciate any new info. I have a post-lottery permit on Sept 6, which is ? 3 days after the end of the lottery. I would prefer to float the entire river, from Boundary Ck down, maybe if necessary flying some heavy stuff into Indian Ck.

I know there's a polished late season MF crew here - could you share your tips on what makes it work best? Small cats, such as my Sotar 12, or spread the weight with a larger one such as my Hyside 16? I've heard some say the big scows still do ok then, can't imagine that after seeing them on the Main.

Are there certain techniques that work best and is there usually a clearly defined channel or often a big, wide fan of shallow rocks? What to take to help get off rocks - is it generally just getting out and pushing or more of a ropes rescue deal - and what's the estimated level of danger? Do things ease up after Indian Ck?

Anyway, stuff like that. Anything you can offer as advice is appreciated. Might have some openings too.

I'm also considering adding a Main trip and continuing on down for a two weeker!

Thx.

- Jon
 

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I've gone in Sept at 1.7' and loved it. low water means big beaches, and low water is beautiful water.

I ran a 12.5' sotar legend. It had all the group gear and cooler for a party of 7, everyone else paddled.

was really no trouble at all. I wouldn't consider missing the upper canyon, just be strategic. We skipped beer weight, and we filtered water rather than carry it all. That allowed us to have steaks and whiskey.
 

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slickhorn speaks truth.

I bring a large boat because.....that is what I have. There is a combo of wide fans of shallow rocks type places to get stuck and picket fences of large rocks.

If you "have" to bring lots of stuff bring a larger boat. Think pounds per square inch of tube on the water. If you can bring the little boat by trimming and doing a resupply if necessary you will likely be happy you are not pushing the highside through some of those slots. Just do it. However you do it.
 

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one tip I remember from my low water trips: extra oar blades. Easy to go through a few in the shallow upper bits, especially when you are tired, out of patience, and start flailing and lever'ing with oars.

I never had to do anything more than hop out.

Run the tubes/floor a little soft to slide over things.

balanced, trim loads are key.

ask vets in your area what a good training run is. Here in Seattle, the Green Gorge will train you for the mfs ideally. go at 1100 to simulate 1.7'. Go at 4000 to simultate 6'. Bet there's something similar near you to dial in those short, shallow strokes.
 

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Low water MFS

Have an Aug. 30th launch and launched several years ago on Sept. 1st. Small boats are nice, but an overloaded small boat is hard to maneuver and just as likely, or moreso, to get stuck than a similarly loaded bigger boat. Buddy took a 14 footer (7 foot width) and there were no problems with getting stuck in slots. You need to remember that a bigger boat with a similar load will ride higher in the water and thus, slide over more stuff that a smaller boat with a similar load will get stuck on. Keep your gear off the floor and run a soft floor. As for the tubes, different strokes for different folks. The one thing that I learned after the first day was this: don't try to run away from the small shit only to broadside a bigger rock. Point it and use inertia to plow over the small stuff. It is better to get out and push the boat straight over the small stuff than be broadsided on the bigger rock and have to start using vector pulls, or a pin kit, to get off.
 

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I have nothing to add to the old threads.

don't fly in
Go light
expect to get stuck
fish
expect it to be some work
Expect it to be worth it
Don't panic when early river miles are hard to make

I've run small cats and big rafts and all in between. I prefer a medium cat or small raft. Whatever you own will work fine.


Soft tubes. Big smile. Dry flies

My only low water regrets:
brinigng a rower who was not prepared for techincal water
bringing a large group that necessitated heavier boats
choosing to avoid low water for a few years due to horror stories
Not having time for more trips
 

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Take your cat down some low water Ark and Poudre runs and you'll have no problem with the low water MFS run. In fact, the Rustic sections of the Poudre remind me a lot of the first two days of the MFS at lower flows.
Most of my trips down the MFS have been low water. I've heard rafts float higher than cats but I've always used a cat and prefer them with no floor - makes it easy to slip off the seat into the shallows and lift/push using the front foot bar and then hop back up onto the seat once it's moving. It's also nice to be able to straddle some rocks here and there. All of the hangups I experienced were on smaller rocks and in the wide shallows where at times there is no good defined line. One trip we helped pull a commercial raft from Bozeman, MT off an ugly pin in Tappan Falls - we ended up cutting out part of the lace in floor and deflating some tubes, frame ended up bent - make sure you scout that one. Line is straight forward but at low flows there is (was? it's been a few years) a rock on river right that can snag you good. you.

I wouldn't skip the top 30 miles, especially that time of year - it's a fantastic run and you'll have it all to yourself. I doubt they run that late in the season, but watching a big sweep boat (raft) navigate the upper part in low water is a sight to see - lots of respect for the guys that run those.
 

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Scows and Sweeps

Yep, they still run late season. One pushed off the morning of our last trip (Sept 1st) @ 1.84 ft. Figured if that thing could get down so could we. lots of inertia heading downriver in a 20+ foot scow.
 

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I have done September trips for the past 5-6 years. We always fly in to Indian Creek. Two reasons....we are lazy and don't want to work that hard on the top, and we do 8 day trips with two layovers. So basically we are slackers who like to relax a lot.

It is easier after Indian Creek, but definitely not a piece of cake. Low water MF takes all of your attention on the oars pretty much all of the time. Not a leisurely float. If you're not paying attention you can get stuck just about anywhere. You usually can push your way off of a "get stuck" episode, but you definitely can get stuck in bad places that need a rope.

Run your tubes a little soft to "slime" over the rocks. I got stuck significantly more in my cat than in my raft. Boat design or user error? Who knows?

We bring the same amount of shit on the MF in September that we bring on any trip, but we are not big drinkers, so we don't have a ton of beer.

Shallows, rock gardens, chutes....the MF has it all in the fall. I've never broken an oar or blade, but bent a carlisle blade a little bit once. Friends have dinged blades a few times. Spares are good to have. The phrase "watch your downstream oar" was probably talking about the MF at low water.

We have always lucked out on weather. Never got snowed on. A little rain. Last year was sunny and mild to slightly cool. Lucked out and had the windy day on a layover. Great camps. Great fishing. Great scenery. Hot springs. FUN!!!!!

We launch from IC on Sept. 5th. Since we are slow farts, maybe you'll catch up to us. Green Maravia rafts & cats and one bright red, super cool Sotar raft. :)
 

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Great advice Zach. It all applies to the MF after Indian Creek as well. It might not be quite as difficult from Indian Creek down, but it's no picnic either. I can verify your cat vs raft comparison. I ran it at low water in a 14 foot cat for many years, and switched to a 14 foot raft last year. I got stuck a lot less in the raft. Last year was my best run ever.
 

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Does anybody have an idea of predicted water levels this summer? Hows the snow pack looking? I scored a permit for Aug 13th.
 

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You just beat me to it on snagging the 8/13 date. I clicked on it when it showed it was available, but it wasn't...

Enjoy!


Sent from my iPhone using Mountain Buzz
 

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That shows how much luck is involved. Just randomly opened the page and there it was. :eek: Sorry to pull it out from under you. ;)
Big thanks to Shappattack for the links!!
 

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Does anybody have an idea of predicted water levels this summer? Hows the snow pack looking? I scored a permit for Aug 13th.
The last time I talked about low water and my predictions I was told that my guesses were all fallacy.

Somehow I have managed to open the road to Boundary 4 times in the last 12 years and seen peak 3 or 4 times as well.

Lots of winter left to happen. But.....

even in Stanley there is little to no snow below 6,000 feet. South and East slopes are bare in many areas and some west slopes. This is at 6-8K. This affects more the peak potential than August. There is quite a bit of snow up high. More in the Northern side of the Middle Fork than the Southern.

Less snow on Banner means more challenges getting to Indian Creek.

Maybe if you shared your potential group makeup in terms of craft and low water experience I could give better advice. Also total group size will dictate how many days you can take. 10 and under can go 8 days and I would recommend this. Up to 20 can go 7 days and over 20 need to run in six days.

I love the upper river but realistically you need to assess your group and see what flows are. At a minimum unless you are converted backpackers you should plan on flying a plane load of coolers and beer into Indian. I think you will at 2 feet or below.

Congrats on the permit and I hope you pull it off in style.

Webcam in Stanley. Go to the 10 day review or the last year to get some comparison.

Sawtooth Camera: Live webcam from Stanley, Idaho. Views of the Sawtooth Mountain Range.

Live Web Cam | Flying Resort Ranches

2007 was a very low year. I launched one trip from Boundary on May 16th. We barely had to shovel. It was 5 feet or so. I launched again on June 1st at 3.3 and falling. We still did an October trip at 1.45 feet or about 450 cfs.

Currently the SWE at Banner Summit ( close to the Headwaters at Boundary Creek) is at 16.5. In 2007 it was at 19.6 or very close to where it peaked that year. If it still snows some it could catch up or pass that. All depends on temps and precip in the next three months.


Banner Summit (312) - Site Information and Reports

Go to 'View Historic' to keep comparable snowpacks on different years.
 

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My optimistic guess for mid August is about 2 feet. Almost definitely between 1.7 and 2.1 feet.


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Carvedog,

Thanks for the info!! Sounds like this is your back yard. We areally looking forward to another epic trip.

"Maybe if you shared your potential group makeup in terms of craft and low water experience I could give better advice. Also total group size will dictate how many days you can take. 10 and under can go 8 days and I would recommend this. Up to 20 can go 7 days and over 20 need to run in six days."

Our group is typically in the 12-18 range. We ran a few years back at 2.0 and holding almost the whole way. Everyone agreed to keep it "light" on the gear. Yeah, right!! Looked like a typical big water gear/beer load. No real problems though. We have mostly 13-15 ft rafts.
I was a guide on The Box and Racecourse in New Mexico for 6 years. Ran company boats down to 175cfs on the RC and 350cfs on the Box. Wouldn't take my own boat at that level. ;) Ran the Salt down around 1K a couple times. Everyone is good to super solid with regards to experience.
 

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I'll bet a nickle that it'll be below 2' sometime in July. Gosh I hope I am wrong.
 

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Going on a MF trip launching June 25 and hoping to take out and head to the South Fork Salmon on July 2. Since there are some experts here:

What Snotel sites besides Banner should I look at for the middle fork?

What Snotel sites should we look at to gauge SF Salmon snowpack?

Thanks
 
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