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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking for information / tips/ beta to best evaluate what anyone should be prepared to deal with on the Salmon River Middle Fork this Spring from 6' to possibly over 7' (with a bigger flush...) - Out party has a June 12 put-in...What is your experience on this section in bigger water?.....Thanks!
 

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There's a good chance the road to Boundary won't be open. Level is just above 4 1/2ft at present. Figure game one with a heavy boat at higher levels the minute you put on.
 

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the Middle Fork at over 6 starts to become class 4 in many areas. Not super hard class 4 but (especially on the top) the kind where you really don't want to be there and you have three strokes to do it in - that is Murph's hole and Velvet in a nutshell. Still tight and technical first 20 miles but add in pushy, demanding and sloppy - the 'teenager' portion of the Middle Fork. If anything I expect the hole in Lake Creek to wash out a bit, but it seems to keep changing along with Pistol, every year. Pistol has her way with me every time it seems. The weirdness of the sideways bend of the hole, the cliffs on left and the two s turns just messes with me - and a lot of others apparently. So like a deer in the headlights I sit wondering when and how hard to pull and what angle the hole will be. The less I do it seems the better the run. The hard part is to just sit there and let the current push you through that ....thing. If you pull left above the zone of weirdness you can end up in a mini room of doom on the left wall. Been there. Didn't flip but felt I could at any moment. Since I was there for a couple of minutes I had time to look about a bit. Too much upswell from the depths to really flip I think. If you do end up here wait for the surge to take you off the wall a bit, fly from your highside position to where you can pole vault yourself off the wall by using your oar ( not in the lock at this point) to skooch yourself into the current. Get ready for a violent, tube sucking eddy peel - and your off.


When you float out the bottom of Pistol crack a beer and relax for a bit, the rest will come too fast to do much drinking and driving. The new rapid at Cove Creek will undoubtedly wash out a bit as Tappan Falls does. Easy to scout right or left as the size of that pool above is/should be still huge. I prefer the left run but will boat scout from above to be sure.

Haystack left starts to open up. I have seen a sweet far right run too. Scout to be sure. Jack Creek will be big and have huge waves. Most of the rocks start to become covered so my thoughts run towards where is the most water moving through than where are the monster holes. Seems easier and funner that way.

Pretty good fun all the way to Redside unless I am forgetting something. Stay right to enter Porcupine, big hole looking in the middle there.

Far right sneak at Redside. Weber is.....big. The closer you get to seven feet the bigger the curlers coming off the left bank get. Just awesome. One of my favorite drops to see big. At 8 feet they looked like ocean waves. And I would love to see these bigger too. You still need to enter somewhere center left as I think there is a rather fearsome feature coming off rt bank above the waves.

Matt Leideckers water proof river guide is awesome as he sketches the rocks in that create the drop so you know a bit more about it than go left or go right.
Small plug for a good friend. I carry it at my store but you can search and find his store too. I have been reading it for hike ideas but the glances at the rapids sections were spot on.

Upper Cliffside. Washed out. Lower take the left run close to the cliff. I have been eying a right side run but there are usually folks following me and ...I end up playing it safe up against the cliff wall.

I go further left at Rubber than most and think I went far leftish at 8 feet. And don't forget about the rapid above Rubber - some call is Son of Rubber and it fits. Flips happen in here.

The rest is kind of an unrecognizable blur. The curved tree on river left will tell you when you are about to fly by Devils Tooth.
And all to soon you will see the cliffs above Goat Creek. I usually stop for lunch above where I don't have to see the road signaling the end of the adventure is imminent. That small beach will likely be under water. Cut right just below the rapid and there is a decent eddy usually.


Once again I start talking about the Middle Fork and I can't shut up. Missing the river apparently. Hopefully soon I will be there.

If you can maneuver in sloppy, technical class 4 water you should be fine. If you find you need to scout all the time then less so, as there is too much, too fast coming at you to scout everything. If your boat scouting is pretty good, you will have a good time.

Hope that helps.
 

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SarahofTheWaves
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As long as you don't have to deal with Marsh Creek, it is super fun at 6-7 feet. Fast and cold and probably rain. Velvet sneaks up on you. Be prepared to read and run. Stay left.
Lucky you to have a permit.
 

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Logs. wood... a good possibility w/ all those old wild fires & high water you'll have some wood to content with as well.....
 

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We ran it this year launching May 18th at 5 ft, took off on the 24th at 6.25. Most of our trip was in the 5 ft range. At that level it was fun read and run. Marsh was free of any real obstructions. Dagger was blocked by a death trap of trees requiring a portage. Murph's was easy to miss and frankly looked good to go as we slid past on the left. Velvet was impressive and required a decent move to miss it on the left. Lake creek was easier than last year with more space and water to miss the hole on the left. Pistol had lines on both the far left and right - the right is safer, but you have to line up way early to make it. We didn't scout anything after pistol - just read and run and have a blast. Big waves in the lower canyon that can surf, typewriter, and flip boats. Hit 'em square with your oars deep and enjoy the ride. Or stay off the center of the wave trains for a safer ride. I haven't seen the river above 7 ft - my friends who have say that it is a blast - but good class IV read and run skills are important as is big water experience.
 

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Several years ago we put on pre-season - Marsh Creek. The level was just below 4' when we put on. It was a late snow melt, kind of like this year. While on the river the temperatures soared - uper 80's to low 90's. The river rose by the feet each day. We cut our trip short by one day - choosing to float out from from Bernard air strip (about 35 miles) the last day. I'm not sure what the level was, but I've been down a few times at levels between 6-7 feet, this was nothing like that. It was likely 9-10'. There was no option but to read and run. We ran most everything to the inside of each turn. Weber was unbelievably huge - we snuck it to the far right, basically in the grass, barely missing what may have been the biggest hole I have ever seen. Rubber was washed out, Redside was indistinguishable. Lower Cliff side was a huge wall of water that was simply impressive to look at- fortunately it could be snuck on the left. We had one kayaker and 3 boats - by good fortune, no flips. A swim at that level would have been extreme. It took us less than four hours to cover 35 miles. We were at the take out just before noon and happy as hell to be there.
 

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Middle Fork high water

Our group ran MF Salmon last year when it peaked around 9'. Definitely be prepared for wood as we had ponderosas following us around every corner. Our only flip was at Murphs Hole. It can sneak up on you and will come quickly so just be prepared and try to go left.

Honestly, the baddest rapid we had was Redside. We made the mistake of following the guidebook and eddying out on river left to run it. No way, it was huge. So we lined our boats upstream and camped and the next day made the ferry to river right and all was good. Almost too easy considering the anxiety we had through the night about it.

Will you have kayaks on your trip? We had two kayaks and just sent them ahead about 100 yards. At every horizon line they just made one signal (right, center or left) and disappeared while the rafts followed. It was one of the best trips I've experienced. High quality and beautiful. Have fun and be safe.

Mark
 

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Hug the inside. Don't count on scouting anything except Pistol.
That's a pretty accurate description of the trip until Indian Creek. Murph's hole above 6+ is HUGE. I did see a successful right run of Murph's hole last year at 7.3ft, but I don't think it usually goes that well...... Velvet can be punched at around 7, and above 7 it can easily be run along the left bank. at 7.3 it was a hole I wouldn't want to hit if I didnt have to. Other than that It's just a fast exciting class IV read and run. The last day through impassible canyon is huge as well, read and run... Weber will be huge, Lower cliffside is easiest run along the left bank(cliff) though there is a line down the center between some truly impressive holes. Rubber is also a big flipper if not entered correctly. The MFS is not like a CO/UT desert river where you enter the tongue and relax, you'll need to be moving your vessel around in big water.

I think the MFS at the 7-8 range is a hoot, but definitely not a good place to swim. When in doubt always hug the inside corner. Have fun, the days are short at high water, and allow for good soaking, bocci, and general cap shenanigans.

Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all the information - much appreciated!!!!!! Dumping in oregon today too--wettest spring since 1892.....crazy year
 

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Watch out for ski jump also. Run right when big, no matter how it looks, but there is a log just before it so watch out.

I found the best thing in pistol at high water was to do as little as possible. Highside, keep track of my oars, and just push through off the pillows. Kind of like Leidecker's book says, make the straight lines on a dollar sign. Pulling back will just shoot you around to the back wall, and you'll be way over rowing.

Weber is a BLAST, we ran it at 6.5, don't let yourself get surfed out of the waves, they keep going and going and going.

Rubber was kind of washed out, it looked like it might be big but maybe everything just broke around me and I didn't get any surfing/playing in.

Velvet, just never give up, keep pulling, and you'll make it. The pour over above the pillow seems to give more time than you think, even if you don't hit the eddy. I think the left sneak opens at 7'? Not sure.

If you're a solid Class IV boater (bigger water, not technical) you should be fine. Some say the MF is like the Lochsa if you subtract 2 feet, plus you've got a load. If that helps...
 

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BmfnL, It hasn't begun. BUT will!
 

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Great graph, Whittlehound. It does appear that she's got more in store. Here's to the slow burn everywhere in the west...
 
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