This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  oldmanriver 1 month ago.

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  • #18079

    CJW4D
    Participant

    Earlier this May, Terry and I set out to Idaho for a pre-season trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon.  For years, we have heard tales of this beautiful stretch of river, and after having paddled sections of the Main Salmon, as well as South Fork Salmon, we decided it was time to check out what the Middle had to offer.

    Going into it, about all we knew is that this 100 mile stretch of river cuts through the Frank Church Wilderness, which is the most remote wilderness in the lower 48.  Upon arriving in Stanley, we learned that the Put In road to Dagger Falls was still closed due to snow, which left us with two options; 1) pay a pilot to drop us at an air-strip roughly 20 miles below our intended put in, or 2) paddle Marsh Creek 20 additional miles into the headwaters of the MF Salmon.   It didn’t take long for us to decide that paddling in on Marsh creek sounded great.

    We spent the night primitive camping outside of Stanley, and made our way to the put in bridge early the next morning.  After gearing up, we put on the smallest of creeks, in hopes we had the right one :).      The creek was great,  with other tributaries dumping in by the dozens, the creek was swelling in volume by the minute.

    Our goal was to cruise about 20 miles the first day, down to Dagger Falls.  Everything was going great with just a few mandatory portages from wood, when suddenly I realized my boat was rather full of water.  I thought to myself, “maybe I left the drain plug open”…  Moments later, that little bit of water was well above my hips and completely covering my lap.   I swung into shore and when I popped my skirt, I had to laugh, as my 80 some odd gallon boat was well over 3/4 full.   Upon flipping it over, a fist sized hole was found in the stern of the boat; Literally, you could fit your fist in it.  A previous weld to the back of my boat had completely detonated, and now we were in a pickle.   We have both welded many boats prior, but never have we welded such a massive hole and needless to say we were both skeptical.

    With us being only 10 miles into the run, we realized it could be the end of the trip;  If our welding efforts failed, we had some grim looking options of trying to hike back up the banks 10 miles to the put in, or floating a busted boat 10 miles downstream, then hiking out the 20 mile closed road to a hwy.     The first option quickly became out of the question as there were so many tributaries, some much large then the initial creek we started on, dumping in.  This would have made it nearly impossible to assure we would follow the proper creek back to the put in bridge. In addition, a driver had already came to pick up our truck and drive it the 9 hours away to the take out…        Option 2, well that sucked too, so we decided the weld had to work 🙂 🙂

    After a few hours of heating, cooling, smashing, bashing, and mashing, we had a mutated stern that looked as good as we were going to get. The real test would come the next day when we put back on the water.

    Day two came and much to our disbelief, my boat was possible dryer now than it was prior to the hole!   Now all I had to do was make it the next 110 miles without hitting a single rock, twig, or big boof or that sucker was going to blow.

    We paddled roughly 30 miles on day two and set up at a beautiful beach campground. Day 2 of paddling was probably my favorite, as it was the last 10 miles of Marsh Creek, and the top 20 miles of some pretty good action from Dagger Falls.

    As day 3 rolled around, we got an early start and paddled roughly 8 hours, putting just over 55 miles under our belt.  While it was a longer day, it helped make up for the short day we had on Day 1, and left us with 25 or 30 miles for our final push on day 4.

    The water quality throughout the run was spectacular; The gauge read just above 4 feet, which kept the current moving at a steady 6 miles an hour through never-ending waves trains and fluffy class 3/4 whitewater.

    After our 30 miles push to the take out, we realized our car was not there, which had us a little worried as it had been 4 days since we left it at the put in.  With a stroke of luck, our satellite phone came in handy and allowed us to check in with my wife, who called the river outfitters to see what the scoop was with my car;  It turns out, either we had taken out a day early, or there was a mishap with our communication, because the car wouldn’t arrive until later the next day.  Ahh some cold Busch Light was too close, yet so far away…

    After waiting around at the take-out for a handful of hours, we heard a truck coming up the dirt road; It was a group setting their own shuttle for their trip and Terry was able to hitch a ride 2 hours down the dirt road to retrieve our car.

    All in all, the whole experience was one to remember; While it isn’t the most hairy, scary whitewater, it provided a better look into what multi-day kayak trips are all about, as well as how to pack, how to handle a loaded boat, logistics, etc.

    If you are looking for an unbelievable class 3/4 overnight experience, the Middle Fork of the Salmon is definitely worth checking out.

    Enjoy,

     

  • #18081

    WyoMike
    Participant

    Chris:

    I really enjoyed this!  Thank you for posting it.

    Be safe.

    Mike

  • #18094

    DeWayne
    Participant

    Chris

    Great post! Looks like a bucket list kind of trip. Thanks for sharing

    DW

  • #18102

    Byron
    Participant

    “Breakfast in Hell” 🙂

  • #18105

    oldmanriver
    Participant

    Happy to see that you were able to do a pre permit run. Did you put in on cape horn creek or did you drive in to marsh creek on a gravel road? I got back this weekend having done a low water trip on the middle fork putting in at boundary creek. For those planning to run marsh creek into the middle fork be very careful of wood in the creek.

  • #18106

    oldmanriver
    Participant

    Happy to see that you were able to do a pre permit run. Did you put in on cape horn creek or did you drive in to marsh creek on a gravel road? I got back this weekend having done a low water trip on the middle fork putting in at boundary creek. For those planning to run marsh creek into the middle fork be very careful of wood in the creek.

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