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Looking at a Lower Salmon trip in Mid to late August --- Have a few questions:

1) Is there any reason to consider Vinegar Creek to Hammer Creek Vs. Hammer Creek to Heller Bar?

2) What are recommendations for length of trip --- can it be done in 5?

3) Should we plan for 2 days to get from confluence to Heller? And are the references to Snake Lake / brutal winds as bad as advertised?

4) Input on best places to camp and recommended mileage splits by day?

Any other input would be greatly appreciated --- just cuz I'm not smart enough to ask the question doesn't mean I don't want the answer :)
 

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Mobile Lower Salmon River map

Not sure if this will help much but here is a mobile map I've made for the Lower Salmon. River miles are included between boat ramps and campsites and suggestions from the BLM on how to navigate each of the holes and rapids. Mountain Outfitters in Riggins sells the map or shoot me a message if you need a copy.

Scan the QR code once to download PDF Maps, then scan again to download the actual map. Both are free.
QR_LowerSalmon.jpg
 

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You can call Michelle at all rivers shuttle. She has the river maps, ice and info. We put in at a new area she recommended to us. Forget the name though. Leave early and you will conquer the snake lake just fine. Stay out of the massive eddys.
 

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This isn't my area of expertise but here you go:

The main deterrant for me on hammer to heller is the drive. I would consider starting at vinegar if I had kids along and a daily shuttle bunny making it a series of day trips. If I really didn't want to drive home through Lewiston. Or if my crew wasn't down with a full widerness trip. This may be different coming from the other side of the rio.

Vinegar to Hammer would be fun trip but have a different character. it is all roadside, much of it highway. hammer to heller has a wilderness feel.

Both can be done is 5 days without much rush.

I have always had luck on the Snake. We hit the confluence in the afternoon of day 4 and go as far as we feel like. If windy we give up early. If not we make some miles. The next morning we bust out early and just make a steady pace to the ramp. In low (august) flow I think without wind it takes about 4-6 hours total from the confluence rowing the flat bits and floating when there is current. I remember not getting a terribly early start and getting to the ramp before noon. I want to say it is 20 miles on the snake?? THe map knows.

A group rowing/paddling hard will finish about an hour ahead of that. Not worth it.

For me packing a motor isn't worth it either. At least not yet.

But to be fair in the future I will probably arrange a jet up to Pitt and spend more time on the salmon and none on the snake. Probably launching higher than Hammer too. It makes more sense to me.
 

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Looking at a Lower Salmon trip in Mid to late August --- Have a few questions:

1) Is there any reason to consider Vinegar Creek to Hammer Creek Vs. Hammer Creek to Heller Bar?

2) What are recommendations for length of trip --- can it be done in 5?

3) Should we plan for 2 days to get from confluence to Heller? And are the references to Snake Lake / brutal winds as bad as advertised?

4) Input on best places to camp and recommended mileage splits by day?

Any other input would be greatly appreciated --- just cuz I'm not smart enough to ask the question doesn't mean I don't want the answer :)

If you want a remote wilderness style trip do Hammer to Heller. To park at Heller you need a discovery pass from the state of washington I believe. I've done this trip a lot in August and it can be busy that time of year. I would suggest camping earlier than later as you can get into some heavy camp competition after China rapid. I would take a least 5 days. We always do 6 with a layover. We've also always camped the last night down on the snake past geneva bar. It makes it easier to get to the ramp in the morning than camping on the salmon and pushing all the way out. The snake is really cool in my opinion it just has the jet boat traffic. Check out cherry creek on river left. There are some of the best beach camps anywhere on that stretch of the Salmon and you can't really go wrong with camps, some have shade and are highly coveted. On the snake, i would not camp at Geneva bar. This camp is on a lot of the maps and it is the first major one after the confluence so it sees a lot of people. Jet boats like to camp here too because of the deep water up to the beach. We camped there years ago and took the lower bar as the upper was taken. We had a group come in and split us and camped in between and then a group of jetboaters camp downstream of us, so we had 4 groups on geneva bar. I was so pissed! Much better to go downstream of geneva there are plenty of camps. The ramp at Heller can be really busy and it is possible to derig upstream of the actual ramp and get a trailer pretty close to the water.
 

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Hi
If you are going to Hammer Bar...
--Stop at the Kilgore Ranch farm stand near Whitebird and get fresh corn and produce.
--There’s a drinking water tap at the Hammer Bar ramp but it tastes terrible…tank up someplace else.
--Our map showed few campsites above Snow Hole so we stopped before the canyon and camped on a shady bar near Bart Creek. It turns out there were lots on campsites in the canyon above Snow Hole rapid, including a great beach on the left just above Snow Hole.
--The nicest part of the trip is the 5 miles or so just upstream from the confluence. There’s a sandy bar to camp on just above the confluence on the left.
--At Heller Bar, disassemble your raft at the primitive ramp upstream from the main ramp near the start of the parking lot. It’s calm there and out of the way of the jet boaters and ramp traffic.
Have fun!
 

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On the Snake: Doing it all in a day with moderate headwinds is quite doable. We camped 2-3 miles upstream of the confluence on day 4 of 5, with the Lower Salmon running about 5,000 cfs. We launched around 9 AM on day 5, and were at Heller Bar around 2 PM. We had moderate headwinds (5-10 mph) the whole way on the Snake, but it never felt like work.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
 
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