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How do people arrange to run the Middle Fork and the Main Salmon together? Is there some forum where they match up permits?

On a sunny hike at Phantom Ranch in early May while we waited for hike-in boaters, I asked my companion—a more experienced rower—about long western river trips. Outside Grand Canyon, nearly every famous trip is 4-7 days long. Main Salmon, Selway, Labyrinth-Cataract, San Juan, Desolation, Salt, Rogue, Owyhee, Illinois, Yampa, Lodore. It seemed odd that only Grand Canyon is a 24-day outlier.

It's nice to detach entirely into river time in Grand Canyon.

We mentioned the Middle Fork and Main Salmon, but at the time I didn't know that the commercial outfitters routinely run them together as a two-week trip. We just knew nobody could arrange to get the two permits together, given the need to match dates and the difficulty of winning even one (and it gets harder every year). It's somewhat like the San Juan with its two main segments, but the BLM reserves a minority of permits for through trips. And those are still just 6-8 days.

So it made me wonder. People must want to try this. Most river runners are pretty agreeable. Is there some way strangers arrange to link permits and share?

(I ran the Main in August 1999 and am looking forward to my first Middle Fork on 27 July. That's a long pause in between.)
 

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I’ve turned the corner, most I’ve seen do it as an early season middle fork and then get on the main before permit season. Unreal trip, the changes in the river and landscape as you float is pretty exceptional. The pre-season main can be a bit of a logistical challenge but worth it. Otherwise, need to get the permit God’s to align or coordinate with others which is getting more challenging. Although it looks like you got a pretty reasonable offer on the other thread - jump on it. Shaving a day off the MF to extend down the main is worth it :-D

If going preseason for these Idaho trips you better be ready for what it can throw at you for both weather and water.
 

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On a slightly different topic, besides the Awesomeness of a middle through main trip...

If you ever want to do a longer than 1 week trip, without major permit god help, You can do it combining trips on the green and Colorado.
I Have done Loma through Cataract, and also Sand Wash through Cataract on the other side of the drainage. You could also put in for cat on the white or Dolores, Yampa to, but that permit has gotten ridiculous to ever get, as well.
Permits for most of these runs are all easier ones to get, and although you get some civilization part of the time, they still can make for some super fun 3-4 week trips.

Middle through Main, sure would be awesome though!!!
 

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How do people arrange to run the Middle Fork and the Main Salmon together? Is there some forum where they match up permits?



We've done it in main season with lucky permit draws/picked up cancellations twice in a row and also linked permits with people from the Buzz, forever friends made that way. In fact we have a MF for late June and possibly looking for Main permit holder around July 4th ish.

But why stop at MF/Main? Turn the second corner, run the road section and down the Lower into the Snake. That's what we did on two of our trips, about 20 days on the river and a well needed shower in Riggins. It's a wonderful trip if you get the chance.
 

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I'd love to do Lodore all the way to Lake Powell, then the big ditch. Definite retirement bucket list...in 20 years lol.
 

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I'd love to do Lodore all the way to Lake Powell, then the big ditch. Definite retirement bucket list...in 20 years lol.
In the immortal words of Warren Miller, “ if you don’t do it this year, you’ll just be another year older, when you do”.

Don’t wait to long, we never know what the future holds for us... make sure you do all the things you want to do, and enjoy this life we are blessed, with. :D
 
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We've done several long link-ups, including Boundary Creek to Heller Bar and Flaming Gorge to Lake Powell. My strategy involves focusing on getting the hard permits during early or late season, then filling in with cancellations, and being flexible with the types of boat we're willing to use.
 

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Like most rivers, the Main has an "out of control" season. You can launch with just a MFS permit, turn the corner, and get a self-issued non-lottery permit if you are willing to go late season.

The trip I want to do next is to get 3 MFS permits. spend the first week on permit 1 running Boundary to Indian. Take permit 2 Indian to Flying B. Finish the trip on permit 3 for the lower river. This is the megabucks jackpot of permit logistics obviously.

If I drop an anchor in the river and sleep on my boat in an eddy, can I legally stay a 2nd night in Impassible?

If that's too much permit nonsense for ya, this is the year to run EF Owyhee to Rome. It's longer than a GC trip, free-flowing, and no permits needed!
 

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My dream is to do Marsh Creek to Heller Bar, but if Slide is good to go, then Marsh Creek is getting pretty low. There's probably a tiny window when it could happen, but it would require landing a MF permit at exactly the right time. Last year, I did a 9-day high water Marsh-Middle-Main trip, came home, picked up a May 29 cancellation on the Main, and then went from Corn Creek to Heller Bar in 10 days. So I guess I did it, but in two trips.



If I do another Main to Heller Bar trip this year, I will start higher up on the Main at Spring Bar. This adds another 29 miles above Corn Creek and some good rapids and camping. Roadside sections often offer some excellent rapids (the "Daily Section" from Riggins to Lucille is just as good as anything on the Main), and stopping in Riggins for steak, salad, and beer is a real treat.
 
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A good option to deal with the slide being too high is to do a quick shuttle from Hammer over the hill to Pitsburg and continue from there. If you get to Riggins and its low enough you can easily keep on floating.



My dream is to do Marsh Creek to Heller Bar, but if Slide is good to go, then Marsh Creek is getting pretty low. There's probably a tiny window when it could happen, but it would require landing a MF permit at exactly the right time. Last year, I did a 9-day high water Marsh-Middle-Main trip, came home, picked up a May 29 cancellation on the Main, and then went from Corn Creek to Heller Bar in 10 days. So I guess I did it, but in two trips.



If I do another Main to Heller Bar trip this year, I will start higher up on the Main at Spring Bar. This adds another 29 miles above Corn Creek and some good rapids and camping. Roadside sections often offer some excellent rapids (the "Daily Section" from Riggins to Lucille is just as good as anything on the Main), and stopping in Riggins for steak, salad, and beer is a real treat.
 

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Like most rivers, the Main has an "out of control" season. You can launch with just a MFS permit, turn the corner, and get a self-issued non-lottery permit if you are willing to go late season.

The trip I want to do next is to get 3 MFS permits. spend the first week on permit 1 running Boundary to Indian. Take permit 2 Indian to Flying B. Finish the trip on permit 3 for the lower river. This is the megabucks jackpot of permit logistics obviously.

If I drop an anchor in the river and sleep on my boat in an eddy, can I legally stay a 2nd night in Impassible?

If that's too much permit nonsense for ya, this is the year to run EF Owyhee to Rome. It's longer than a GC trip, free-flowing, and no permits needed!

Interesting idea about 3 permits. You could do this in October. In the off season you can spend multiple nights in the lower canyon. I've stayed at love bar and then lightning strike the next night.
 

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If I do another Main to Heller Bar trip this year, I will start higher up on the Main at Spring Bar. This adds another 29 miles above Corn Creek and some good rapids and camping. Roadside sections often offer some excellent rapids (the "Daily Section" from Riggins to Lucille is just as good as anything on the Main), and stopping in Riggins for steak, salad, and beer is a real treat.
Awesome, plus you avoid 45 miles in and out of wear and tear on the North Fork to Corn Creek road.
 

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as mentioned earlier the owyhee can be linked a couple different ways for a really long trip. Barker river expeditions offers a 21 day guided trip from the head waters of the east fork to three forks, then to Rome, then to Leslie gulch. If you didn't want to deal with the east fork owyhee, which usually has a major portage at the falls. you can do the south fork from pipeline down.
 

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FWIW, I've got a July 15 Main Salmon permit, followed by a July 22 Yampa permit, and I'd love to hear from someone with a July 6-9 Middle Fork launch that might be interested in trading spaces and/or combining trips.
 

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Buddy of mine (kayaker) got in on two trips and did a Main-Middle. Floated Corn Creek to Riggins on a Main permit, then flew with his boat to Indian and ran the Middle down to his truck.
 

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Why not do the entire Main Salmon? The river doesnt dry up below Carey Creek or disappear above Corn Creek. There's plenty of mileage to be done.

There's some fun rapids between Carey Creek and Hammer Creek. Just be prepared to push the oars on the flats.

Sent from my VS995 using Mountain Buzz mobile app
 
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