Middle Fork of the Salmon June 25-30, 2007

I know- it’s almost September and I’m writing about June. Finding time to update has proven harder than I thought. With trips stacking up behind us and the abundance of great memories threatening to burst like a log jamb at Pistol Creek rapid, it is time to put some of it down in writing. The good thing is, the reason I’m late is because we have been out in the field running trips and paddling.

Group shot June 25th Middle Fork Salmon, ID.

Our June trip felt like a reunion, that’s part of the fun for us, and there were a whole lot of redshirts around to confirm the feeling. We had old friends from as far away as Florida and North Carolina, Washington state and Colorado. This group is made up of a bunch of folks that just really enjoy one another’s company. It’s not an exclusive group by any means- their warmth and enthusiasm are like a rolling snow ball, they just gather up everyone in their path and bring them along. Get on a trip with them and you may find yourself part of the snowball.

Our first morning we pushed off from the put-in eddy at Boundary Creek that is often more rubber than water due to the groups that are all finalizing their rigging in preparation to launch. It doesn’t take long for the frenzy of the put-in to be replaced by the enjoyment of the river.

The first camp greeted us with a chilly morning that saw folks warming fingers around the campfire and Ian, one of the raft guides, holding up a stiffly frozen pair of shorts that he had left out next to his sleeping bag on the raft where he had spent the night. This would prove to be in great contrast to the down right hot temperatures we experienced later the same day and much of the rest of the trip.

There was a great deal of talk amongst the raft guides about the newly formed rapid at Lake Creek. Thunder showers from the previous Fall and Spring runoff had combined to push logs and material into the MF Salmon at the mouth of Lake Creek. This caused some re-routing of the flow which set up a potentially dangerous live- tree slalom course in the river. This was of greater concern to the rafts than the kayaks as our boats were easily shouldered and portaged the 100 yds. needed to get back to a safe place to re-enter the river below the rapid. As it was, all rafts had great runs, including the behemoth sweep raft that is unique to the Main and Middle Fork Salmon Rivers.

With luck we got the camp at Marble which can only mean one thing for kayakers – SURF SESSION. This wave never ceases to put a smile on your face, even while it is peeling your eyelids back. It is high speed fun with easy access (Thanks to our human rope tow, Denny.) and an inviting run out that makes for a good spot to push your surf and rolling skills while having a lot of fun at the same time. Mary and I enjoy it because we can dish out some pointers and sit back and watch people improve. Camping there means we can do an evening and morning session. In the end, Molly, the gal from Texas, put us all to shame for sheer enthusiasm and endurance. Those that didn’t want to surf in the a.m. made their way to Sunflower Hot springs just downstream.

Molly G. in Marble Wave.

Molly shows us how they do it in the Lone Star State.

For the rest of the trip we enjoyed beautiful weather and clean lines as well as great camping. The crew from ECHO took great care of us keeping us well fed and hauled our gear downstream on the rafts. Some of the kayakers had non- paddling friends and family join the trip and they were able to relax on the rafts or try their hand at the inflatable kayaks.

View of Camas Creek camp.

Lunch stop at Camas Creek

There are a few more things to share such as the imprompt raft repair clinic that Dewi performed (not his fault), or the skit that Tessa is likely never to repeat again. Let’s just say they fall into the category of what happens on the river stays on the river. Before people parted company we heard plans of yet another reunion trip for 2008.

Group at White Creek camp MF Salmon, ID.

Swapping stories in camp.

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