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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On a trip launching June 15th on the Selway this year, so very excited and possibly a little scared since they are getting snow now. Got the RiverMaps guide and have been doing the internet thing. Looked here and was surprised to not see a thread specific to flows and a couple other questions I have. Think our group is going to be 5 rafts/5 kayaks and are seasoned with correct expectations. From what I have read and seen from video it looks like 2-4 feet is considered normal and fun, then 5 feet and above is big water. A video of it at between 7-8.5 feet made it look really big and continuous but manageable, however that obviously does not do it justice. Familiar with Idaho weather and variables that can change things pretty quick, this is the last one on the list!

Understanding the gradient and how much water you pick up as you go, I would love to get some opinions on the levels ranging from 3 to big as you have run it. At what point to the rapids below moose creek start blending to one? Personal cut off levels and your reasoning :)

Any better guide books than the RiverMaps?

Locals with their best guestimates on how the snowpack will look?

Any other Selway specific information is welcome and appreciated. Just watching the snowpack and counting the days.
 

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I have done it as low as 7K cvs at the bottom. 3.7 on the Paradise gauge and up to 15K at the bottom about 6.5 at Paradise.

Last spring we did it at up to 11K or 4 to 4.5 gauge and that was the most carnage I have seen. There was some carnage on every trip though. Raft and cat carnage. On the high water trip I did the far right line in Ladle and got surfed in a smallish but tenacious hole for about 10 minutes. Pried my way out with a high brace stroke with a 10 foot carlisle. Always interesting. Always incredibly beautiful.

I would do it again ( with the right crew) at up to about 20K. We pulled the plug one year when it was 35K and dropping. I thought it would be down to the right flow and it ended up being 19K when we would have launched and I had an all-star crew but it's hard to see five days out when it is raining hard and no one wanted to run a round boat. The kayakers were pretty pumped but that's the way it goes.

Like the Middle Fork many of the drops wash out or start to at the higher flows, but some do get worse and the recovery zones shrink for sure. Maps are hard to use out there as you are moving quite fast and a good part of the time everything looks completely different.

It's very weird how to gauge flow out there. The lowest trip saw boats getting stuck in Ladle rock dodging and a huge hole river right in Double Drop that you had to run. One of the bigger features at that flow.

Last spring at supposedly not a huge amount more flow it seemed as if all the rocks were covered in Ladle. But I was chasing two upside down boats and missed the eddy so ran Ladle right down the middle without scouting. Part of the problem may have been that I had someone else lead who had just been down two weeks prior, but I have quite a bit more experience. Should have trusted myself more and I think we might have eliminated some of the chaos.

Take your time. Plan an extra day or two and have a ball. One of the very best. Congrats on the permit.
 

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Sounds like you have your base info covered pretty accurate. I think 4.5 to 5.5 is a pretty similar experience and requires the same skill set and caution. Strong class 4 to 4+ skills in a wilderness setting....figure that you will be on your own. Above that level, you should probably not be on it without prior high water experience. And all captains should spend the time to scout the Juice down to at least No Slouch and Miranda Jane if you've not seen it before at those flows. There is an obvious route at each rapid but not necessarily obvious on a read and run.
All that being said, flows are pretty likely to be below 4 to 4.5 by mid June even on a normal or bigger year, unless we have a late melt.

Carvedog, your 15 kcfs run should have equated closer to 5 feet paradise unless all the water was coming from the top.
 

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Carvedog, your 15 kcfs run should have equated closer to 5 feet paradise unless all the water was coming from the top.
Ted you are right on the 5 feet to 15kcfs correlation. I was in a kayak and it seemed bigger. Went back and looked at some of the flows. The one trip we came off at about 18K and that was closer to 6.5 if I remember right because Moose was not that substantial compared to what it can be. May 22nd to 26th 2003.

Twas big.
 

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So...ya gonna shovel out the road over fir creek two days before us again this year? Love ya man. :)
Wellllllll……we have the 16th but not sure I can make it. I wasn't too worried about shoveling until this recent cycle but we are still below 2007 SWE at Banner on the same date and that year I drove in without much work on the 14th. Marsh could still be pretty burly with the logs coming down and tons of natural avalanches in this area lately.

If I can get the surgery I need I will have to do that unfortunately but I won't know for another month so my spring is pretty unsettled right now. Sure was fun seeing you guys on the Selway last spring. Did you guys get some good pics or were you too busy marveling at the shit as it unfolded?
 

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The Selway can spike very fast overnight on you as well. I did a trip a couple years ago. We launched in late May and it was all self support kayakers. I don't remember the Paradise gauge but its was 14,000cfs when we put on (4.5ft?) and the last night it poured all night and in the morning it was running 24,000cfs (8.5ft?). We camped at a pretty big island on river left a couple miles above Wolf Creek. The island wasn't much of a island after all that rain on snow. I moved my tent 3 times as the water kept rising and at 6 am a few of us were so wet in our tents we decided to put on our dry suits. We made coffee and waiting for others we were smart and camped a little higher to wake up. It was good that we were awake so we would keep pulling everyone's gear up on higher ground. The paddle out was a blast and the waves at the bottom of Wolf Creek were huge.

Very interesting evening. We were lucky not to lose a paddle, pfd, skirt, etc.

Don't discount rising water levels while you are on it.
 

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And I am going to modify my earlier thoughts on mid June flows for this year. Had a chance to look for some analog years that match current snowpack, and there was plenty of juice left in those years for 5.5 to 6.5 in mid June. My best match years right now are 1999, 1996, and 2008.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks much Idahoans, appreciate the insight (and banter). Was just starting to dig around to start comparing years boicatr so appreciate your data.

Have been involved in a few interesting rain swollen rivers, luckily not in Idaho, but appreciate that as a concern now more than ever. Keep the Selway stories coming...
 

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This thread is much appreciated. I would like to know of the highest flow which this river has been boated, and would you do it again at that flow. Big shout out to Carvedog, get your surgery and let's get after it again soon. Love from Colorado.

Wade
 

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Last spring we did it at up to 11K or 4 to 4.5 gauge and that was the most carnage I have seen. There was some carnage on every trip though. Raft and cat carnage. ...

Last spring at supposedly not a huge amount more flow it seemed as if all the rocks were covered in Ladle. But I was chasing two upside down boats and missed the eddy so ran Ladle right down the middle without scouting. Part of the problem may have been that I had someone else lead who had just been down two weeks prior, but I have quite a bit more experience. Should have trusted myself more and I think we might have eliminated some of the chaos.
OK, you've finally triggered me to dig up the GoPro footage from that wild day.
I'll be posting it as soon as the YouTube upload finishes (likely a few more hours).
I think we were chasing just one upside down boat through Ladle and Mike's flip was somewhere below (Little Niagara?).
Anyway, it was an amazing trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Bump. 128% in the Clearwater drainage although long way to go. Love the highwater stories and vids - please keep them coming
 

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Jumping in here with a question for anyone with Selway experience. I am on the trip with kayakfreakus, launching June 15. I'd appreciate any thoughts on a low water level cutoff for taking a big 17' cat (pushing 8' wide).

Cheers,
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So 141% and it appears still rising, gotta bump this again. We have been watching the weather patterns for both Lowell ID, and Darby MT. They have both been staying cold at night and somewhat warm during the day, and have also been seeing rain here and there. Guessing the rain is snow up high and still driving things..

So the clearwater drainage is a lot bigger than just the selway - what snotel sites should we specifically be looking at? Some of the individual site numbers look pretty staggering.
 

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Selway trip- End of May...

Kayakfreakus- Questions well said. I'm invited on an end of May trip and share many of your concerns; mostly regarding this years heavy snowpack/run-off. (Something we obviously don't have here in drought-striken California). Will be watching the weather and flows closely as the date gets closer. Have an all-star crew, but I am ever deeply respectful of powerful high water in wilderness settings. Hope to give you a update sometime in the beginning of June regarding the Selway at high water.... (and not be blabbing about our Keg-float back-up on the Main if the water is too high)

Carvedog- You seem well informed and a great resource. Thank you for sharing your knowledge/opinion. Hope to see ya all on the river someday.
 

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I have some high water Selway experience and some thoughts:

  • The Selway deserves its reputation at high water (>5.5'). Lots of folks haven't launched. Some of those that have had to hole up for days, fly out, hike out, or lost boats. Take the remoteness and severity of this river seriously at high flows.
  • Based on existing snowpack, the Selway will be high (>5.5') for most of the time from mid-May to mid-June. Of course this depends on how the melt happens, but there is a good likelihood of consistent high water. Cross your fingers for cool overcast weather on your May dates or a big warm up in May for your June dates. The water for huge flows is already on the ground.
  • The Selway is flashy. This can go both ways. Just be aware. I have been in twice at 6.5' and once at 7'. One of the 6.5' was a fair bit harder than 7'. The other 6.5' was easier than a few runs between 5' and 6'. It varies a lot and can totally change character in a few hours.
  • Wood moves around starting at ~7'.
  • Ladle and Wolf Cr get easier. Everything else gets harder. Double Drop, Little Niagra, MJ, and No Slouch are all serious at high flows. Based on experience, a swim in the Ladle or LN zone could easy extend a mile downstream through MJ and No Slouch. An unlucky swim line or extended period in the water here could kill someone. The Selway is not the place to learn big water skills.
Stay safe and have fun!


PS: the Selway is almost certainly going to be too high on May 27th so if someone could please cancel that permit :D:D:D
 

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Selway May 24

Thanks for all the G2 on this thread. I'm currently holding a May 24th Launch on the Selway with the plan to bail out over 5.5 ft. It's sounding like we might see those levels if I'm reading the gauges correctly.

Is the general consensus that it will be over that? If not, I do also have some space on my permit if some experienced Selway floaters would like to join our group. We have all run high water, but the Selway does look like a different animal.

Appreciate your feedback.
 
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