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Does anyone know whether there are rules on the middle fork about splitting groups? I recently saw this article in current issue of Outside Magazine in which “Far and Away Adventures” boasts that they routinely send their sweep/gear boat ahead to snag a campsite, set up the tents, start dinner and “happy hour is well under way”.

On some rivers, this behaviour is prohibited. Is this standard commercial behaviour?
 

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I am not a MFS expert by any means but the sweep boats travel a lot faster than your average raft. Good luck keeping up with them!


All camp sites are assigned/reserved with the rangers so they are not going ahead to "snag" a camp. It is standard to see them out ahead of the rest of their group.
 

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Shapp
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Does anyone know whether there are rules on the middle fork about splitting groups? I recently saw this article in current issue of Outside Magazine in which “Far and Away Adventures” boasts that they routinely send their sweep/gear boat ahead to snag a campsite, set up the tents, start dinner and “happy hour is well under way”.

On some rivers, this behaviour is prohibited. Is this standard commercial behaviour?
It is apparent you signed up for Mt Buzz without googling your question in the slightest because you would realize that all the campsites are reserved for each night you are on the river. That doesn't take an expert to figure out. Just about anyone that has researched the MF will find out shortly about the campsite reservation system. Once you leave the ramp your camp sites are 100% locked and loaded. Pretty much all the outfitters on the MF Salmon send their gear boats and swampers ahead to get camp prepared for when the guests arrive.
 

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Actually, while this practice (I've heard it called "camp-running") is no longer advantageous on the Middle Fork due to the reservation system, it is still commonly practiced by commercial groups on runs like Hell's Canyon. I've talked to raft guides who will swear on a stack of bibles that their company doesn't do this, but don't be surprised when an empty gear boat (from the same company) shows up at your camp at 09:00 and waits until you leave so they can snag it. Granted, the last time I witnessed this personally was in 2015 (when it happened on two nights out of a three-night trip!), but I have no reason to think that anything has changed in the last few years.
 

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That's because there is no reservation system on Hells Canyon, there is a limited reservation system on the Main Salmon. I know of no issues with people crashing or stealing camps on the Middle Fk. I am sure there is an off chance of an emergency or incident that has caused groups to get behind schedule but usually just for a night.
 

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Yes, I'm well aware of which rivers have campsite reservation systems and which don't. When the Middle Fork switched to their reservation system, I had my reservations (pun intended, sorry), but I have found that it works very, very well. It is SO NICE to take a lazy morning in camp or really take your time and enjoy the stops along the way downriver when you know where you will be camping that night. It works great for me, anyway.

As for the Main's system, I am not so keen about it since I am almost always in a small group and larger groups invariably bump me out of any reservable camp I might request from the rangers. OTOH, I have found that it's much more fun to just play it by ear and go without any reserved camps. There are many nice non-reservable camps to choose from, including some big camps and camps with good shade.

I've never run the Selway, but with only one launch per day during the control season, I can't imagine there is much need for camp-running. Plus, the rapids are harder, which tends to make groups stick together for safety. Which takes us back to Hell's Canyon, where camp-running was, based on my limited experience, pretty damn common. I'd love to hear if folks are still seeing commercials do it a lot.
 

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It is SO NICE to take a lazy morning in camp or really take your time and enjoy the stops along the way downriver when you know where you will be camping that night. It works great for me, anyway.

/QUOTE]

That does sound nice, no stressing about what campsite you may have to take.
 

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Yes the commercials send a sweeper on hells canyon, but the real problem is the power boaters that take every sandy/swim beach camp site for a week. I never have a problem with the commercials by just being a little flexible and negotiating at the launch.
 

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Yes, I'm well aware of which rivers have campsite reservation systems and which don't. When the Middle Fork switched to their reservation system, I had my reservations (pun intended, sorry), but I have found that it works very, very well. It is SO NICE to take a lazy morning in camp or really take your time and enjoy the stops along the way downriver when you know where you will be camping that night. It works great for me, anyway.

As for the Main's system, I am not so keen about it since I am almost always in a small group and larger groups invariably bump me out of any reservable camp I might request from the rangers. OTOH, I have found that it's much more fun to just play it by ear and go without any reserved camps. There are many nice non-reservable camps to choose from, including some big camps and camps with good shade.

Really great on the Middle to be able to plan a layover day or be able to have lazy mornings.



I enjoyed the mix of reserved/non-reservable campsites on the Main. Nice to have a few nights you know you will have a camp, and fun to take a mulligan a few nights and have a bit of unknown in your campsite selection--or maybe you want to make a longer day or a shorter day on the fly.
 

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I enjoyed the mix of reserved/non-reservable campsites on the Main. Nice to have a few nights you know you will have a camp, and fun to take a mulligan a few nights and have a bit of unknown in your campsite selection--or maybe you want to make a longer day or a shorter day on the fly.

Yeah, and even though I didn't reserve a camp on the Main on either of my two trips down so far this year, it was still nice to know that big groups and commercials were most likely going to be staying at reserved camps. That makes it a little more predictable for those of us not using reserved camps.


I do wonder about one thing: Is there anything stopping a group (commercial or private) from reserving one camp and then grabbing a non-reservable camp instead? The reason I'm asking is because I tried to reserve Blackadar for my first night, but got bumped out by a commercial group. Then the commercial group never even showed up and the camp sat empty that night. Pissed me off a bit, but maybe they had a legit reason for the no-show.
 

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When the Middle Fork switched to their reservation system, I had my reservations (pun intended, sorry), but I have found that it works very, very well. It is SO NICE to take a lazy morning in camp or really take your time and enjoy the stops along the way downriver when you know where you will be camping that night.
I like it also. When did they switch to the camp reservation system?
 

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I do wonder about one thing: Is there anything stopping a group (commercial or private) from reserving one camp and then grabbing a non-reservable camp instead? The reason I'm asking is because I tried to reserve Blackadar for my first night, but got bumped out by a commercial group. Then the commercial group never even showed up and the camp sat empty that night. Pissed me off a bit, but maybe they had a legit reason for the no-show.

Only if you want to put yourself in the position of having to be a whistleblower. :( Sucks that's probably the only real way to get it enforced if it's being abused.

If one knew that the rangers were collecting such data, one could let them know a reserved group let their site go. If it was a trend with a particular private or commercial group, perhaps they would do something.




Other than that, hang on the beach until 7pm, and pitch your tent at 7:01pm. I realize that the reserved sites are dictated more by preference due to their natural features, but "if only" they were the first in a string of several nearby campsites, one could float to the next non-reservable campsite if you found a reserved one full before 7pm.

It's not a terribly difficult system; hopefully people don't make a practice of abusing it.
 

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aeb, did this discussion answer your question? I see you simultaneously posted it on the (Idaho) River Runners Anonymous group on Book of Faces, but you disappeared after posting it here!
 

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In reply to another post about the Main-- The river guidelines specifically state it is not allowed to send a quick boat ahead to snag an unreserved camp. Groups have to stay together. Only Fair.
 

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In reply to another post about the Main-- The river guidelines specifically state it is not allowed to send a quick boat ahead to snag an unreserved camp. Groups have to stay together. Only Fair.
Move along, this is not the thread you are looking for. This thread is about the Middle Fork Salmon where you must camp every night in your pre-assigned camp. There are no un-reservable camps. The rule you state does not apply here.
 
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