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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm in the process of planning a 12 day trip on various sections of the Salmon, and need a little beta to get things going. We'll be putting on the Goat Creek section of the South Fork of the Salmon around May 21st and taking out at Heller Bar on the Snake around 12 days later so we'll do South Fork Salmon into Main Salmon, continue down Lower Salmon, then hook up with the Snake for 20 miles until the takeout.

What are roads like in Idaho in mid-May - is it ludicrous to drive shuttle from Heller Bar to Goat Creek? If there's snow is this a no go?

I've never done anything beyond two nights self supported in a creeker. What's the max food and gear one could stuff into a Nomad 8.5 (I was thinking 4 days of gear and food, is that reasonable)? What do you guys think about drop shipping food rations into towns like Riggins or White Bird?

Any spectacular hikes along the way we should look into?

Thanks for any advice on this!

- John
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Access to the southfork might be tough; there is still a lot of snow even in late may. I think they plow South fork road (074) so that should get you to where you want to be.

Why are you going so early?
 

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PawPaw
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And what are you going to do when you reach The Slide on the Lower? Water will likely be high at the end of May. You best be knowing what your getting into with that- I would use serious caution at levels above 30 grand.
 

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I assume the south fork at high water is the stikine prep you refer too. From what i've heard slide isn't crushing at 30k, but is a tree eating beast at 80k taken on only by stunt-minded 30 ft snout boats.
 

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PawPaw
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Hey CQ- I see your posts on here now and then...

The slide above 30 grand is gnarly. It is gnarly at 25. Huge wave/hole. Sucker eddies on both sides- no portage and a terrible scout. I have done it at 30 in a fully loaded 18 and we barely made it. Just saying, it could be a serious mood crusher and is indeed the only reason why most outfitters wait till mid summer to begin their commercial trips down there. Except for Barker. YouTube it... Good luck and rig to flip.
 

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Hey justin! I'm aware of that, but If he is looking to do the sfs the end of may, slide will be the least of his worries. I don't recall off hand where goat cr comes in, but if it's above surprise etc it is for a different caliber than 99.9% of boaters.
 

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If you haven't done the SF Salmon yet, I would do that at a lower flow than what May should be. Just pull the permits and start on Marsh Creek instead for a MF trip (I think your dates are pre lottery?). Slightly smaller, and super quality whitewater, more other stuff. Consider a larger boat. Sounds sweet either way.

If you go for SF Salmon, be prepared for big, blind whitewater with ginormous waves. And don't swim. Ever.
 

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I guess first things first right? SF before the Slide... I have done the SF too but at low water and I still made one portage. But I have always been warned of the high water on the SF. It does seem like this gentleman may need to make make some reconsiderations. I line the idea of starting on the MoFo.
 

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I'm in the process of planning a 12 day trip on various sections of the Salmon, and need a little beta to get things going. We'll be putting on the Goat Creek section of the South Fork of the Salmon around May 21st and taking out at Heller Bar on the Snake around 12 days later so we'll do South Fork Salmon into Main Salmon, continue down Lower Salmon, then hook up with the Snake for 20 miles until the takeout.

What are roads like in Idaho in mid-May - is it ludicrous to drive shuttle from Heller Bar to Goat Creek? If there's snow is this a no go?

I've never done anything beyond two nights self supported in a creeker. What's the max food and gear one could stuff into a Nomad 8.5 (I was thinking 4 days of gear and food, is that reasonable)? What do you guys think about drop shipping food rations into towns like Riggins or White Bird?

Any spectacular hikes along the way we should look into?

Thanks for any advice on this!

- John
Fluid Glass Network
I am going to assume that you have the skill and there is always a line through the slide in a kayak. Hell you can port the slide in a kayak. The Lower at 80K and the stikne have nothing incommen what so ever.. Not even close! Next you should be able to get to the goat section via warm lake by car or snowmoble for sure. You can atleast get to the sfs well above goat run. Lick creek road may or may not be clear. You can get supplies at Mackay bar and riggins. Drop shipping is doable but you can just bring cash. It shouldn't take more than 2 days to run out the SF and then another 2 to riggins. Then no more than 4 days to get from riggins to heller. You'll need to layover and take your time to streacth it out to 12 days. The shuttle is 1 hour from ltown to heller. 3 hours from ltown to mccall. 2 hours over lick creek or 3 hours via warm lake. The road over lick creek is beautiful. 4 days of gear is reasonable. But you'll never need more that 3 days considering all stops alone the way.

PS. Lay over at riggins and get a ride up the little salmon for a day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all the replies everyone!

I've never boated out in Idaho and didn't realize the May water levels would be prohibitively high like that. I was trying to avoid permitting season, and we're a college group so May is the optimal time when everyone is still in one place. Even if we did the trip it would go by too quickly as the last poster pointed out.

Looks like we'll try our hand at a Middle Fork permit for August and enjoy a more leisurely float!

- John
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If you aren't looking for a class V experience (which SFS in May will be) you might consider the Jarbidge Bruneau.

Other venues for very long floats in May would be:

MF Salmon to Riggins (or heller bar)

NF John Day to Cottonwood (couple dams above service creek, dunno the sitch on that) Service creek to cottonwood is 130-odd miles by itself with great hiking.

Minam into Grande Rande. fly into Red's Horse ranch, go all the way to Heller Bar

Deschutes -- a quick car assisted portage of Shearar's falls and you can link up the upper and lower des chutes. The town of Minam surely has someone who'd meet you with a trailer to assist in that portage.

SF Salmon is very hard, consequential class V. I've done it only a between 1.8 feet and 2.4 feet in IKs. Had friends lose limbs and see god at 9'. Can't emphasize enough that in snowmelt temps and high flows, this is an Illinois at 4,000 cfs V-V+ with serious consequences kind of trip. Only folks with rescue experience and solid self-rescue skills should consider the SF in May. Maybe that's your group in which case, have fun and be safe.

Folks looking for a IV+ experience on the SF should go run it in the low 2' range, which it will often hold into late July. No one there when it's low, and you get those white sand beaches all to your lonesome. One of my favs.
 
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