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clark
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This may be a crazy question, but here goes... So, we've got an invite to do the main salmon in the end of june, but we've also got a little kiddo who is under 2 yrs old.

People I've asked so far have said no worries, just be careful, walk the larger rapids and keep her connected to you at all times. Seems good, but I wanted to get a read from others. Any thoughts from those that have taken a little bugger down this stretch? Obviously there is risk involved, but... doable? And for those that thinks its a bad idea, please begin with the bad parenting comments. :)

Thanks,

Clark
 

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Can be done, buuuut kiddo would have more fun with grandparents at a zoo if you catch my drift.
 

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Wrong time of year

I have guided on the Main for 12 years and I would take my 2-year old down there in a heartbeat. But I wouldn't do it in late June. The weather could be awesome, but if it's cold and rainy, you'll have a really tough time keeping the kiddo healthy and happy. That's probably a bigger consideration than the whitewater.

My willingness to take a toddler also stems from the familiarity I have with the river and my confidence to nail every line. I would really hesitate to do the same on a river I don't have memorized.
 

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We took our son down in August when he was 23 months old. He ran every rapid. It was our first time down as well although we had a very experienced trip leader. Black Creek rapid seemed like it could be stressful with a little one if you're not confident running it - from our scout on the right I don't recall seeing an easy walk around.

Honestly by the end of the 8 day trip I was more stressed out about him in camp than on the river. That's a lot of days in a row of making sure they don't run into the river every second. It helps a lot to have an understanding and responsible group that also keeps an eye on them in camp.

To the naysayers hinting at the zoo - yep our son loves the zoo, but also loves doing river trips with his folks :cool:
 

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Until a child is strong enough to self rescue or assist in his own rescue, it is a large but calculated risk. If im running my own boat and its my child then its on me to make the call. Personally i prefer not to take other people's children under the age of 5 on class 3 water. Its fun for everyone untill its not.

Crooked River Whiskey. Not for everyone.
 

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I'll add that some of the walks around rapids (Big Mallard, Elkhorn, Chittam come to mind) might be harder than the river run. If you don't flip, of course....
 

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I consider myself a pretty loose parent. My daughter went on a low water middle fork at 8. Both my kids have been rafting since toddlerhood. My son is 4 now. I am not considering him for a multi day river trip this year. He is just too much work + He isn't old enough to remember. Is it safe enough? probably, mostly, usually if your skills are high enough. He just wouldn't want to be on the water that long every day, and he is a picky eater.

He is a trooper but I just don't want to spend my limited river time looking for cookies and applying sunscreen and guarding the bank all day.

Add in the groover mystery and it is just tough.
 

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I would hesitate to recommend taking a child that young down a run you have never done. Once you have seen the stretch you are likely the best to judge your own ability, your child's tolerance and the risk threshold you accept.

Other questions I would ask before recommending a Class III-IV multiday trip:

1) Has your child been camping yet? If so, how did that go?
2) Has your child been on a day river trip before?
3) How does your child tolerate heat and sun?
4) Have you done pool swim sessions with the kid before (not sure what age that starts for toddlers)?

Best of luck.

Phillip
 

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June is a bit early I'd wait for lower water to really slow tihings down. Your first time down I'd say no plus the kid likely will not remember any of the trip. Walking the "bigger" rapids not much help when a swim can happen in "small" rapids. Lot more to factor in than just rapids. Had a three year four and five year old on our trip last late Aug. into Sept., the group was very experienced and their (former/now part time river guide) dad had been on the Salmon over 300 times the kids also had about 1,500 river miles.
 

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I took my 3.5 yo on a short section of the lochsa. Below split, from the bridge to the next take out. I don't think I would take him on a long multi day yet. Possibly in September. I have had him on the Yellowstone for 4 nights. I prefer roadside so there is a bail out option. The yellow jackets are a concern of mine on the main.
 

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I started one daughter at five and the other at 3.5 on the Middle Fork. They both did great and I wouldn't trade that for the world. I also know the MF very well. They did walk a couple of things.

Two is a different story. And camp will be very stressful as the parent at that age. And damn they move fast. Especially when you aren't looking and to them it is still a game to run away at that age.

Both my kids had multiple flat water day trips starting at two to learn PFD etiquette and how to be in a boat and some overnights before we did the big trips. My youngest was pretty scared at one loud rapid the first time. It kind of echoed back up the canyon and she nearly lost it. Once through she wanted to do it again.

From someone who started early myself, I wouldn't. Not that time, for that length.
 

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I had a reality check on the main two years ago when my 8 year old came down with a really bad rash with sickness right after put in. Only then do you realize how isolated you really are. It is an easy river that turned into 6 days of hell for the entire group and looking back it could have been a lot worse if we need medical attention (two nights I would have taken her to the hospital if it was an option). I would add to the conversation to be really honest with yourself and imagine really worst case or even something that would not be that big of a deal like a flip. Then look at the risk "vs." reward with a two year old. At two, the reward was just not there for our family.
 

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I would not take my child on such a trip. It just doesn't sit right with me as way too many things can go wrong. A screaming child can also ruin a nice relaxing day for everybody. A swim could mean disaster. My oldest is almost seven and she can swim well and has seen some class 3 stuff. That being said she has never swam in whitewater and I want to know that she can make it to shore before she does anything with length to it. I hate thinking about a swim where I have to save my child and myself. It's a lot to shoulder for this dad.


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Toddler

You asked for opinions, here's mine. As parents, we are always doing risk/reward calculations. As outdoors folk, most of us want to expose our kids to things early. We want to encourage love of nature. We want to encourage them to take risks. But a pre 2-year old is too young to get any of that out of a late June Salmon River trip, at least nothing they could not get out of car camping with mom and dad. So, low reward for the child. Risk? Seems pretty high in comparison. A child that young has no chance of self-rescue, of understanding instructions, or telling you enough to know whether that tummy ache is appendicitis. Late June is frigid water, and stuff happens, even in seemingly innocuous places. When I see parents do things like this, it sometimes seems like it is more about the parents ego than providing a great experience for the child. Take em on a warm water flat water trip. In a couple years throw in some mild whitewater, preferably with a few other little sprites to play with. You have a lot of river seasons ahead of you with your child. Enjoy.
 

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I think the comment about it is fun until it is not is perfect. I have a 3 year old and I am itching to get him on the water but I set a rule for myself in that I will NEVER take him down a stretch of water unless I have run that water at a similar CFS level before. The risk is just too high to make it worth it. For some they don't see it being a big risk but stop and really think about the risk versus the reward.

And I also agree, I could not even imagine the work it would be to take a kid on an 8 day trip. I look forward to doing it often with my son when he is a few years older but right now I would blow my brains out in frustration with all the BS it would involve.
 

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I wouldn't, for many of the reasons listed above.

Beyond just your ability to nail the lines, sometimes things happen. The toddler could fall out on his/her own. In other circumstances we always talk about "dressing for the swim" and preparing for the unexpected, but with a two year old, how much preparation can you do? I don't like their chances should they take an unexpected swim, whether in a rapid or not.

Beyond those more immediate reasons, I'd also suggest other issues: the yellow jackets can be horrible, as can the rattle snakes. The weather is pretty intense in there, whether cold/rainy in the early season, or blazing hot in late June. I think it will likely be blazing hot this year. Then you have poisonous plants, the chances the kid gets sick... it would be too much for me to put a 2 year old in a wilderness setting like that, removed from immediate care should they need it. Granted, the Main is a lot better than the Middle Fork in this regard, but even still.

And then there's the last factor of... is everyone else on the trip completely on board with a two year old, and all that entails?
 

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Caveat --- I am not a rockstar / class 5 oarsman.

The only variable I, as a parent consider: if said child has to swim a Class III or IV what could happen?

I would not make decision based on the 99.9% safety factor --- I would base it on that 0.1% worst case scenario. On river we should assume self-rescue all the time --- I don't see how a 2 year-old could ever do that.




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