June 12, 2007

Middle Fork Salmon; Idaho (III - IV)

Dagger Falls

Running Dagger Falls, V; June '07
Camas Creek
Running Camas Creek Canyon, V; sequence 1; June '07
Sequence 2 (the big drop)
Marble Creek Surf Wave


Sparky said...

So I may be a bit biased with this description as I just got done with a seven day trip on the Middle Fork with awesome people and amazing weather. All in all, this is my favorite river anywhere, with fantastic wilderness, pristine water quality, great whitewater (with numerous Class IV and V tributaries that can easily be accessed from the Middle Fork), sweet hot springs, and spectacular camping. You really can't ask for much more than the Middle Fork Salmon delivers. This is truly a trip of a lifetime - if you get invited on a Middle Fork trip, don't think, just go.

I recommend taking seven days to do the trip - we did it in five one year and the days were way too long. Allowing enough time lets you experience what the Middle Fork is all about - campspots that shouldn't be rushed away from in the mornings, great hot springs, and more beautiful hikes than you can shake a stick at. If experienced kayakers are in your crew, they should consider running Dagger Falls just above the put-in at Boundary Creek (a relatively easy Class V drop that is a great jump start to the first day) and hiking in to do some tributaries with stomping whitewater (Camas Creek and Loon Creek are the best and also most difficult - this is obviously not an option at really low flows, say 2.5 feet and below, but still worth hiking in to look at...Loon Creek has one of the best hot springs around, about two miles up or so, just below the whitewater).

Another great aspect of the Middle Fork is the world-class playboating, with countless beautiful, glassy-green waves (bring your playboat!). Marble Creek, pictured above, is among the best and is one of the nicest features anywhere.

You should really take time to research camping spots on this run, as you have to hash out where you'll be camping on the whole trip with the ranger at the put in. You only get one hot springs campspot per trip, so do your homework! I recommend picking up a copy of Matt Leidecker's new book about the Middle Fork - it's a really good resource for all aspects of this river.

The only downside to the Middle Fork is that people from all over the world want to come experience it - everyone definitely has the right, but this makes it extremely difficult to draw a permit (it's permit regulated all year long - see the Four Rivers lottery application to put in for your preferred dates). Most people have never experienced raft chaos like the put in at Boundary Creek. Seven parties are allowed to launch per day, and with maximum group size at 24...well, you get the picture; be prepared to deal with large numbers of people. Luckily, river folk tend to be pretty cool, and you might just make some new friends.

I can't stress enough how amazing this journey through the heart of the largest roadless area in the lower 48 (Frank Church complex) is. All I can say is good luck with the lottery!

Middle Fork logistics: Class IV.
Put in is at Boundary Creek near Stanley, Idaho. Or in super low water years you might have to fly into Indian Creek to avoid the lower volume upper stretch. The take-out is at Cache Bar on the Main Salmon just west of the town of North Fork. Hire someone to do your shuttle; trust me, it's not worth it to do the drive - the last time we did it ourselves, it took us about 12 hours and we didn't have time to sleep before we put on! We learned this lesson the hard way!

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wow that's amazing, I just made this once in my life and is pretty cool, thanks for share the videos and the photos.