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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have run the Main at all levels up to extreme, and LS at med water, but what do you all think of trying to plan a Main and LS trip combo, launching from Corn Crk just prior to June 20th permit req day and getting to Slide rapid at about July 5th when it usually drops to a sane level? I have seen videos of running Slide triple rig style at near 40K, and looks doable, though wild, if it ends up that high when there. Feedback on running rapids between end of Main and LS launch site? Snowhole at high water? All comments welcome.
 

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I ran just the main salmon in early June 2011 with a group of 13 people. We started at corn creek around 15,700 cfs (high to just below extreme). At the first day it was cold with light rain, and still snow on the mountains. On day 5 we had made it past the south fork confluence and decided to take a layover at a nice camp with a large beach even at high water, I think it was called "swimming pool" or something. At night we had heavy rain and thunderstorms. In the morning the beach was gone, and the river had risen significantly with full size pine tree rolling along like bath toys. We estimate the river at that point was 40,000 cfs. By the time we broke camp and rigged the boats, we had pulled the boats up higher several times, and estimated we were shoving off on 45-50,000 cfs. Anyways, the river was scary and heart pounding, with huge waves and floating wood being a serious hazard, as sharp points of logs came very near our rafts in each stretch. Two rafts flipped at insignificant rapids from rogue waves. The heavier oar rigs could not stop. The rafts were righted in current and class 3 big waves (pretty quickly). At chittham rapid we stopped to scout. We portaged some gear and two paddle rafts. One raft barreled through the meat of the rapid clean and gracefully, the other heavy oar rig chose to row into the eddy (then wasted 20 minutes rowing out). We chose to take out and camp at spring bar. The river water was touching the roadway (and yes we camped where your no suppose to camp cause it was flooded).

We had made 40 miles of river in about 5 hours, with scouting, setting safety and wasting a hour or more with a portage. We drove by snow hole, it looked easy at that level but definitely insane big water. Ruby rapid looked like it would kill someone, class v+. When we got to riggins we were informed that we were likely on 58,000 to 61,000 cfs through chittam rapid, the river was 68,000 at riggins.

I run large volume out here in massachusetts in the spring or during floods, 80,000 cfs+. But the river here is wide and the rapids are spread out. The main salmon and chittam at 50-60,000 was some of the biggest rapids I have ever run.

It was epic dude...just epic... Go for it and stay safe. Find a period of dry weather and no heavy snowmelt in the forecast.
 

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Slide @ 27K has a nice line that really shows itself as you roll into the first wave but you really don't get a good view from shore. That line become increasing more difficult approaching 30k and all but disappears a 32K. @35K you really need to be thinking about a jrig motor boat type thingy. The biggest issue with the slide is the recovery. 4 miles of nasty eddies all the way to the snake. Supper hard side hilling with no trail on either side of the river. Some sort of big boat with a skill oarsman will be needed. A motor helps! Running the river above 40K @ whitebird is HUG eddy fences and super pushy with most rapids washed out. You can go from river right to left in the blink of an eye just about any were. IMHO the lower at 17K is amazing! huge roller coaster wave trains all the way down. Ruby aint all that. Eveything above the slide is big water 4+ at bestest. My gps clocked me a 17 mph dropping into elk horn this year!


Running the Slide Rapid @ 80,000 cfs - YouTube
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the above comments on Main/L Salmon combo in spring. Our epic MF/Main trip in years past saw us on the Main at also about 65K, and Chitam was, no poop, one enormous exploding wave well over 20 ft tall, with an ugly eddy on wall on left. We all made it incl kayaks, except our 12ft paddle raft was tossed 6 ft higher off the top of the wave with bodies flying everywhere... no mishaps, just wet. Anyway, as to Slide, boaters, sounds like you really do not want to be down there at 20-25K, though I think there is a nice youtube video of a triple rig (3 16-18 ft rafts), properly tied, running it "sideways" with an oar out on front and back, that make it aok (think it was over 40K for level). Is that just insanity at say 25-30K if level went to that when you arrived there?? ie, if properly running a triple rig-tied set up, what is MAX to run Slide and hope to make it?? BL
 

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Back in the late 70's, a coworker of mine was on a trip with Frogg Stewart from Holiday River Expeditions and they ran it triple rigged at 65K. Frogg went a week later at 72K. From what my coworker told me they were pretty lucky to have made at 65K and apparently Frogg would never do 72K again. Like dirtbagkayaker said, it's the recovery and eddy lines that are dangerous at those flows. There was a death this year at 23K from a boat that didn't flip...There is always the option of taking out at Eagle Creek. Most shuttle companies will drop a car there and a lot of commercial companies do their training early season high water from Vinegar Creek to Eagle Creek in a couple days or so.
 

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I've been considering a similar trip, marsh, middle, main, lower.

Anyone know the mileage from vinegar to eagle?

Vinegar to riggins is 28

Riggins to White bird is 36

I'm fuzzy on white bird to hammer.

Hammer to Eagle looks like 39

so marsh is like 20ish
middle is 98ish
main is 96ish

soo clearly 300+ miles.

Any other spring trips do this? time ont he water? couple weeks maybe?
 

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Seems like that trip would be tough one to time correctly.
If Marsh/Dagger are at runnable flows, wouldn't the Lower Salmon be too high?

2012 we planned a Marsh Creek to Riggins trip but cool weather made Dagger too low to run so we did Boundary to Riggins, approx. 220 miles in 6 nights.

Most of my Colorado friends are more familiar with the Grand Canyon than Idaho rivers and thought a GC length trip in 6 nights was insane. But given the long daylight in early June, it did not feel rushed at all.

We put in at 4' +/- at Boundary and it warmed up nicely and it was 55k at Riggins so we had good flows.
 

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On a pre-season Main trip a few years back we ran into a group near Riggins that had put on the Salmon up near Challis and floated all the way to Riggins. Challis to Corn Creek is at least 120 river miles, Corn to Riggins is 126. High mileage (30-40) days at medium to high flows on the Salmon is very doable.



I've been considering a similar trip, marsh, middle, main, lower.

Anyone know the mileage from vinegar to eagle?

Vinegar to riggins is 28

Riggins to White bird is 36

I'm fuzzy on white bird to hammer.

Hammer to Eagle looks like 39

so marsh is like 20ish
middle is 98ish
main is 96ish

soo clearly 300+ miles.

Any other spring trips do this? time ont he water? couple weeks maybe?
 

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Ahhh.....time and money.... If I did not have to work... I would totally run from upstream of stanley all the way to Lewiston, idaho. Lots of layover time. Maybe walk from the riverbank into the town of salmon and riggins to get some more beers (maybe bring a wheel barrel), give the jets boats money for a beer run, and take 3 weeks to a month for the run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My thoughts on the timing are that it is often dicey for levels and weather doing a pre-permit trip on MF, so try to get a mid-June MF permit and if you get one use it as starting point for this long trip. If you don't, then go for a Main trip to start it, maybe even putting in some miles above Corn for added length, and get big Cramer as a warm up prior to Corn Crk. We did the Main at 68K years ago in only 2 1/2 days, incl a very easy 52 mile day coming off the MF onto the ripping Main. Only huge rapid on Main was Chitam, and Ruby/Lake Crk on shuttle out looked really big. I would say Main at spring flows is 3-5 days with some time at hot tub and bad weather day, etc then a day to get past Riggins, easy day to LS put it, and maybe 4 on LS. As to timing, Slide is the key thing, gotta put in (on MF or Main) knowing the water is nearing the peak crest, and that it is going to be below 30-40K at Slide by time you get there (ie about 20K at Whitebird guage WHEN YOU REACH RIGGINS; if too high either wait it out or have shuttle come to Riggins instead of all the way to LS take out in Wash state (call shuttle co to confirm it from Riggins). The putin camp for LS is extremely nice, and you could certainly do a re-stock on some food items and beer in Riggins, then go down there for a few days if it is dropping. Hey, it's a roll of the dice for levels but look at USGS history; LS peaks near July 1, so in all but a big snow year you can run Slide usually a few days after that. Last year we had someone come off a MF trip and meet us for our Main on June 27, had perfect levels, and if he would have just kept going he would have done the above trip -- longest whitewater trip in continental USA. Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
For anyone who has run Upper Salmon from Challis down, how was Sunbeam dam/rapid at spring flows? Considering doing entire Salmon, Challis to Wash state takeout putting in June 15th, so pre-permit on Main. I estimate about 3-4 days Challis to Corn Crk. Would all depend if it was a med to low snow year, and not real hot already to have Slide rapid on LS going to crazy level at end of June. Super experienced group from CO - anyone out there interested if your permits fall through for you?
 

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For anyone who has run Upper Salmon from Challis down, how was Sunbeam dam/rapid at spring flows? Considering doing entire Salmon, Challis to Wash state takeout putting in June 15th, so pre-permit on Main. I estimate about 3-4 days Challis to Corn Crk. Would all depend if it was a med to low snow year, and not real hot already to have Slide rapid on LS going to crazy level at end of June. Super experienced group from CO - anyone out there interested if your permits fall through for you?
you want the water level to be up when you run sunbeam.. if it's two low it pushes you left and there is a lot of rebar still in the dam.. When the water is up you can skirt right.. also if you are running from challis down you dont hit sunbeam at all.. it would be more like from mormon bend down up by stanley.. and onother added not that would be helpful and could ruin your day if not known... when the water is up in salmon you want to run right of the island in town.. you wont fit under the bridge on the usual left hand run..
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
summary thoughts - good on-line free BLM river map avl for Salmon all the way from Vinegar through the Lower Salmon, with river mileages, rapids, etc. I clock this trip at 260 miles from North Fork, ID to Heller Bar takeout in Washington. Totally different river and climate from top to bottom in June. I would consider the total run from Stanley down also, but adds another 3-4 days on it, and a few rapids of uncertain nature incl Sunbeam dam and large riverwide ledge rapid above North Fork. Trip would have several large rapids on it as is, incl Cramer, Chittham, Ruby, Lake Crk, Snowhole and then Slide as finale. Big water trip, with a triple rig setup for running Slide in order most likely. Ideal put-in being June 10th for MF, or June 17th at North Fork.
 

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A few years ago we ran marsh to clarkston pre season and took 30 days. The slide was still in the upper 30's and despite having a snout was still more that I wanted to deal with. We took out at hammer and put in a Pittsburgh to continue our journey. It wasn't my first choice but was much preferable to floating out to the snake on the bottom of an upside down motor rig with 3 people and two dogs.
 
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