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My wife was lucky enough to pull a permit on our first attempt, Launch = July 15th. Hoping that flows stay high enough to run the whole trip without a fly in. We will be running a 16ft jacks daddycat with 14-16ft round boats for the rest of our party (Yes, I am very sorry to say it is a full trip at this point)...
I have read most related posts (some great early season epic reading!), but it would be great to get some inside info from the collective. I'll be getting the rivermaps guide as well as the nice looking comprehensive guidebook, but let me know about 'don't miss' hikes, camps as well as logistical considerations and all that.
Reading a 4 page thread of mostly denials has us feeling pretty lucky...
Thanks!
 

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Most everything one can legally do on the MFS is covered in the Leidecker Guide, including flow characteristics for that time of year. The first thing I would do is go to the FS website and download the page that has all the camps listed with river mileage or just wait for it to come in the permit package you will be getting. Then I would begin to get an idea about how many miles I want to boat on a daily basis, which hikes, hotsprings, ect. the group wants to do and plan which camps accommodate those desires. Then, because you will not get your first choice of camps every time, have one or two alternates in mind. That is where I would start planning. If the flow is 2' and above, I would boat from Boundry to Cache gear and all. There are too many cool features in the upper reach that I would not want to forego with an Indian fly-in and launch.
 

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The most recent snow year like this one was 2005.

Mid-July level then was 2.1'.
Actually last year wasn't too far off from this statistically. Low snowpack (70% in MF Salmon drainage) until mid Feb or so. I think it got up to about 100% by April. So it's a longshot, but El Nino tends to bring late season precip to us. Just hopefully it's snow, and not rain. There's a lot of winter potential left up here, that's for sure.

Here's a bunch of good info: More data than almost anyone could want. Info from Ron Abramovich, Idaho NRCS Snow guru
________________________________________

To access the Adobe Acrobat version directly, you can click on the following link or copy and paste it into your internet browser.
ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/ID/snow/watersupply/bor/2010/borid210.pdf

You can also access the report from Idaho Water Supply webpage.
Snow Survey Water Supply and Reservoir Storage Products | Idaho NRCS


We updated the snow indexes and graphs on these pages. The graphs are very interesting and show the chance of snow recovering to April 1 levels or not. Or not even making it to Feb 1 or March 1 levels by April 1:
Historic Data | Idaho NRCS

Upper Snake River Snow Index | Idaho NRCS
 

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Wow, I did not know it was THAT bad!
Have a May 23 MF, hoping for enough snow that the road is closed AND
there is enough water for Dagger Falls (5'?).

Is it possible that the road could be closed AND there is not enough water to float Marsch Creek?
I know anything is possible but likely?
 

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Wow, I did not know it was THAT bad!
Have a May 23 MF, hoping for enough snow that the road is closed AND
there is enough water for Dagger Falls (5'?).

Is it possible that the road could be closed AND there is not enough water to float Marsch Creek?
I know anything is possible but likely?

Hold my magic want while I get out my crystal ball.

Just flapping shit. Seriously, it's early still, really. I'm going to hold onto my belief/fantasy that it is going to dump in February and on. I remember the winter of xxxxx where it didn't snow until Feb and then didn't stop.

Really, it's bad, bad enough I went boating Sunday, and I've never boated in the winter. That had a lot to do with skiing causing back pain and the need to work the rust out so I can go do some boating in WA soon.

There's been some precip over the last few days, and the forecast is for continued spitting from the skies.

I think last year the snowpack didn't take a jump until late March/April, which isn't all that uncommon. Many people say we get the most snow after the ski areas close. It used to seem like that a lot more than in the last 10 years, except last year was back to that old pattern, what a treat.

Just wait and see and pray for snow and then a cold spring to hold it up there.
 

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Hold my magic want while I get out my crystal ball.

Just flapping shit. Seriously, it's early still, really. I'm going to hold onto my belief/fantasy that it is going to dump in February and on. I remember the winter of xxxxx where it didn't snow until Feb and then didn't stop.

Really, it's bad, bad enough I went boating Sunday, and I've never boated in the winter. That had a lot to do with skiing causing back pain and the need to work the rust out so I can go do some boating in WA soon.

There's been some precip over the last few days, and the forecast is for continued spitting from the skies.

I think last year the snowpack didn't take a jump until late March/April, which isn't all that uncommon. Many people say we get the most snow after the ski areas close. It used to seem like that a lot more than in the last 10 years, except last year was back to that old pattern, what a treat.

Just wait and see and pray for snow and then a cold spring to hold it up there.

Yeah, two years ago my daughter and I skiied Brundage, Tamarack and Sun Valley the first 10 days of April. Had great snow, plenty of powder and did not see a rock all week (or crowds). Driving from Donnelly to Sun Valley we scouted the NF Payette and helped a group of Boise catboaters
drag their cats over the snow to run the Lower 5.

PS: is that a majic wand or a broom?
 

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Won a Middle Fork Permit - need help forming a group

Hi everyone - new to the forum.

Well, I sort of spontaneously put in for a permit and received an email yesterday saying that I had won a Middle Fork of the Salmon permit. Launch date Friday, July 23rd. After reading a bit I realize that this year, because of the snowpack, there may not be enough water to start from the top, but I don't really know anything about the middle fork because my wife and I have never been there.

Here is the thing, my wife and I probably have a small group of people that would like to go do this, but we don't know anyone experienced with that river and also don't have any equipment...lol. Aren't the permits good for up to 24 people? We do however work at WSU and U of I, so I know we can rent whatever equipment we need.

I guess I'm posting this up becasue I'm not really sure how to get this going, but if anyone could provide some suggestions, it would be much appreciated.

Thanks
 

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Private Message sent with some info. If you do a search on Mountain Buzz you'll find a ton of threads and info about Middle Fork trips. Enjoy!
 

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First of all congrats there are people who have been submitting for years and never get it.

This is an experience of a lifetime. If you've never floated a river for a week however this can be a daunting task -- mostly in organization and preparation. I advise you get at least 2 people in your group that have experience with longer trips who can help plan and make sure you are equipped properly.

There is a good float guide avail that explains most of the rapids. At late July flows its pretty tame river, the biggest issues are going to be avoiding rocks especially in the upper canyon. Once the level goes below 2' I've heard most fly into indian creek, which is not going to be cheap. Unless this is a drought year and there is no snowpack however July is usually OK. We did a trip on July 4 last year at ~3.1ft and three years ago at 2.5ft. Both were very manageable.

You want to make sure your boats are not overloaded. 2 people per 13' raft max. Don't overpack -- think carefully about what you need. I can go the whole week with clothes that fit in a 50l drybag, shared tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and personal items. You probably want 3mm wetsuit for day 1-2. Don't bring any cotton! Fleece pants, fleece top and a rainjacket for camp. I've heard of snow there in late June ...

Make sure everyone knows how to throw a rope, etc. Make sure anyone on the boat can help pluck a person out of the water. Its not a dangerous river but if you are a newbie make sure you raft enough to have experienced what can go wrong on a river. I recommend spend a weekend on a river and practice all the fundamentals. Get involved in a local activities group and meet some people -- you won't have a shortage of skilled people interested in joining you on this river. And don't bring anyone who likes to sleep in late ...

The issue with the permit size of 24 is you only get 5 nights on the river. So you need to be extremely efficient in terms of organizing your group and you don't get much chance to see what there is to see on the trip. At that point its more of a cattle herding operation, you will be getting on the river at noon and hurriedly setting up camp at 9pm and will never want to do this again.

Our first trip was 5 nights -- 5 of us with 2 gear boats and one paddle cataraft. Good trip but we should have done 7 nights.

Our second trip was 6 nights -- 16 people with a bunch of newbies, 3 gear boats, one paddle boat, one cat, one paddle cat and one surf cat. I missed most of the river trying to keep everyone afloat ... this would have been a much better trip except we had some gear issues, were overpacked, and we got rain most of the trip so there was some exposure issues.

I advise a group of 10 people -- you get 7 nights on the river which takes a lot of the stress of the trip. You can probably get all the paddling done in 3 or 4 hours on the water --- more if there are problems. You can camp in some of the nicer smaller sites that the outfitters can't use. You still have enough people in your group that if there are problems that you can do your own self rescue etc.

-- at that time of they year with 10 people you will want 4 lightly loaded gear boats, and two kayakers since they are usually the most skilled in terms of the river, and are very mobile can help get boaters stuck off the rocks etc.

Enjoy!
 

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And check out the Idaho Whitewater Yahoo Group. You'll probably make lots of new boating friends there that can help you out!
 

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On the subject of weight - remember that you can pack backpacking style if you want to keep your boats light. Sure that means no coolers loaded with NY Strip steaks, but it also means a lot less time spent packing and unpacking, setting up a kitchen, etc. Then again NY Strips taste great with a nice beer sitting in a recliner after a day spent paddling and soaking in hot springs.

I will second the advice to get some folks with multi-day experience involved in your trip.

A great resource for planning multi-day trips is the RRFW wiki site - sure it is meant for the grand canyon, but the logistics for a 7 day trip are a lot like those for a 16-25 day trip. And rules for things like groovers, fire pans, cooler management etc are fairly universal. Rafting Grand Canyon

My last trip on The Middle Fork was late May at high water. We only saw one other group, and largely had the river to ourselves. It snowed 6 inches on us. We loaded my raft to the gills, supporting 9 people - 3 kayakers, 2 paddle cat paddlers, 3 passengers and me. Worked great at high water. Would be a nightmare at low water.

I will second the idea that 24 people is a lot to manage - especially if this is your first multi-day river trip. But really it is about expectations - if you are fine with leaving camp around 11 or noon and being on the river into the evening it will be just fine. Also if you get everyone to agree that you get up at 7 am everyday and bust a move you can leave camp as early as 10 am. If you haven't done multi-day river trips before I know that 3 hours from waking to getting on the rivers sounds like a lot, but it is fairly normal.

Ask lots of questions. This site is a good resource as is the Idaho Whitewater group on Yahoo groups.
 

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The old graph does show normally snow at this time is 70% of peak.

Last year at this time it was 50% of peak.
 

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my other thoughts:

when you pick your crew good to have someone with medical experience. make them your doctor. For our trip we has a PA. We had two Knife unfolding injuries before we put in (showing off our new knives). Plus we had a drunk newbie use an axe on some driftwood, slipped, and required some stitches. Plus he actually stitched up a 3" tear in my tubes with surgical stitching before we applied a patch !!!

limit yourself to one steak meal in the middle of the trip. Pack your coolers in layers ... ie first meal on the top, last on the bottom. Everything is arranged so that your meal is at the top of the cooler and its defrosted when you need it. Take your coolers into someplace where they can chest freeze the whole cooler ... you'll carry an extra lot of weight in ice if you don't pack it right and you are fumbling from cooler to cooler looking for something. Ice takes up a lot of space in the cooler and weighs a lot expecially in the first few miles where the river is shallower ...

my wife did a wonderful job on our first trip using mostly dried goods with some canned items. The less ice you need the better. So make sure your cooler situation is such that you don't ever have to open the cooler until you are prepping food (seperate beverage cooler). Use everclear to make jungle juice to save space. Your beers can be chilled in a bag on the side of the boat by the river water ...

contact me I can give you her trip planning for 5 people you just need to adjust based on number of days, etc.

try and be as minimal as possible. Remember you need to row that crap. A cooler top or drybox makes a nice bench for two people with a folding seat pad.

Water:
plan for 1 gal per day per person, for 10 people and 7 nights thats 10*7*8lbs = 560lbs so you will probably want some filtration method ...

make sure you test out all your new gear before you use it. We spent 3 days on the water before we got our water filtration system to work properly --- a lot of manual filtration pumping until that happened ...

Remember your filter willl last 50x as long if the water feeding it is cleaner. A lot of benefit comes from letting the water settle for at least an hour before you filter. Ask some guide groups where they stop to get spring water much cleaner than using river water (get a greywater container you can fill this up at small clean tributaries that aren't fed from cattle grazing areas).

we experimented with a gravity feed system with a simple carbon filter. -- added bleach to the water in the top and let it sit to settle and kill the viruses --- this creates "tributary quality" river from the river water. We passed this through a 2micron carbon filter to remove the chlorine taste but this doesn't do anything for cysts ... then we used our backpack filters so they wouldn't get trashed from not using prefiltered water. This year we will have a much improved system ....

for any ice you bring along you should use freeze bottles of water not cubed ice --- when they thaw they they are still sealed allow you to at least drink the water.
 
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