Middle Fork Salmon July 3 – 8, 2013

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A glance over the bank at Boundary Creek put in revealed some color in the water after a night’s heavy rain.

A gully washer upstream of the Middle Fork’s put in of Boundary Creek the night before our launch didn’t bring the river up, but it did wash a lot of ash from an old forest fire into the river.  The unusual silt in the river made it a challenge to read the water where shallow rocks lurked invisibly just under the surface.

With the challenges of those first 12 miles behind us, we settled into camp at Sheepeater Hot Springs. With a walk of about 300 yards from the kitchen, you can bet there was a hole lot of soaking going on! Nothing better than waking up in the hot springs with a cup of hot coffee in hand!

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Evening color at Sheepeater camp at the end of the day.

Day two was the fourth of July and we were bound for Marble Camp. The river was still turbid but more channelized so it was easier to navigate. This stretch provides a good warm up leading down to Pistol Creek, the key rapid of the day.  From there the rapids ease and it is a nice paddle to camp.

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Sweep boat driver and game master Zack B. ready for the fourth of July.

Marble is home to one of the finest surf waves on the river. It’s nice to camp there because if you don’t have the energy to surf at the end of the day, there is always the next morning.  We don’t always luck out and get Marble camp, but when we do, we make the most of it.

The wave at Marble is, for many, their first high speed surf.  Once established on the wave you feel as if the water is racing by at 60 mph.  The challenge is getting on the wave. While there is a great eddy on river left  to stage from, it is unforgiving if you are unable to scramble back into the eddy before you get washed downstream.  Once below the wave it’s either a tricky ferry from the opposite side of the river, a carry back up above the wave or, if the level is right, a human rope tow whereby someone stands in the water and pulls people past a surge of water that guards the eddy. The water level was right and with one of us positioned on a submerged rock in the eddy itself, we were able to push people onto the wave if they needed an assist. Between a session in the evening and another long one the next morning, everyone was giving it a go, including a 72 year old Henry. What a surf!!

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Normally guiding one of the rafts, Anika borrowed some gear and showed us how it was done.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of the trip, I’ll let these photos tell the rest of the story.  Lets just say this group was into having a good time, from playing and learning on the river to hoola-hooping in camp, we all had a lot of fun.  Special thanks to the crew at ECHO who provided great support; Anika, Zack, Tessa, Colleen and Dewi plus Chris Lewis, our third kayak guide. Great fun everyone!

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One big happy group on the Middle Fork.

Photos and content ©DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking all rights reserved.

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Middle Fork Salmon, June 25, 2013

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Tristin ripping it up on the wave at Marble during an early morning surf.

There were lot’s of familiar faces for our first trip of the season down the Middle Fork Salmon. Tom, who probably has more trips on the MF than Mary and myself combined, made the long drive from Texas, Arn and Deb as well as Jim S. arrived from Colorado, Jane, one of Mary’s old friends from NOC days,  used the trip as an excuse to bring her busy kayaking family together from Maryland. California was well represented by Kurt, Tristin, Dave, Vicki, Pam and Bill K.  Also from Cali was our adopted raft passenger Bill W. who has done numerous trips with ECHO over the years. Once he stumbled onto a trip of ours, he had such a good time he’s now a member of the tribe. Rounding out the trip and all the way from the flooded city of Calgary, Canada was Paul.

For the first day and half we had a steady drizzle of rain and a stop at Trail Flat hot springs along the river’s edge gave temporary relief from the cold.

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Kayakers knocking down the chill of a rainy day with a soak in Trail Flat hot springs.

By the afternoon of day 2 the clouds were breaking and the sun warmed our camp at Marble and shown a spotlight on the surfwave just below. People took advantage of the sunshine to play frizbee golf & bacci ball, hike to a vista point behind camp or just sit and relax.

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One tight family, Luke, Steve, Jack and Jane discuss strategy during a lively game of bacci ball.

On day 3 the diehard surfers in the group enjoyed a morning surf session before paddling down to catch the rest of the group that were enjoying a soak at Sunflower hot springs. Luck had been with us on the assignment of camps and we scored Loon with one of the best hot springs on the entire trip just a mile up the creek.

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Loon Creek near it’s confluence with the Middle Fork.

Paddling into camp late afternoon of day 4 we had covered just over twenty four miles that were packed with great whitewater and dramatic changes in the canyon’s character. We were camped amongst the Ponderosa pines at Survey camp.  The margaritas had been out for an hour now and the guides had strung up a rope between trees and draped it with “dare wear”, a mix of thrift store costumes for all to wear should they decide to. I’m always surprised at who wears what, but hey, “what happens on the river, stays on the river”. Dressed up, seated in a circle, we listen intently as 16 year old Jack gave us his TED Talk (No kidding, to see the original talk, minus the costume, click here). Proof again that you never know what you’re going to learn on a river trip. Our many talented musicians played into the night with all of us enjoying one another’s company and conversation.

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No shortage of good conversation around camp.

Our last two days we paddled through the Impassable Canyon, a name that speaks of the steep terrain.  The river is by far the only way to navigate this rugged landscape. After an awesome morning of great rapids our final day, we confluenced with the Main then crashed through the mighty, Grand Canyon-style Kraemer rapid to reach the take-out. As Henry B says, “The Middle Fork trip references my whole year. There’s what happens after the Middle Fork, and then, there’s what happens before the Middle Fork.” We hope many wonderful things happen in your lives before your next Middle Fork trip!!

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The sweep boat leaves camp early morning our last day in the Impassable Canyon.
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Thanks everyone for kicking off the Middle Fork season with us.

Click photos for larger view.

Photos and content ©DeRiemer Adventure Kayaking all rights reserved.

Good Times On The Middle Fork Of The Salmon – Round Two

I’m not going to sugar coat it, last year’s Middle Fork trip, with unusually high water, replaced the smile that many folks normally have with a look of focused determination.  Everyone got off the run feeling like they had really accomplished something significant, the way you feel when you push your skills and experience and feel tested and pass.

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Lunch stop along the way.

Continue reading “Good Times On The Middle Fork Of The Salmon – Round Two”

Good Times On The Middle Fork Of The Salmon – Round One

Nothing brings a group of people together like a river trip and our June 25th-30th Middle Fork adventure didn’t disappoint. The Middle Fork also didn’t disappoint when it came to showing us all a good time. We were an eclectic group from as far away as Washington D.C., Texas, Washington State, Colorado and California. Rafters, kayakers, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, young and young at heart. It was a super group of folks!

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Mike M. gets a face full in Marble rapid on day three.

Once again we had great support form the crew at ECHO. We were fortunate to have Colleen and Dewi back yet again along with Hata driving the big old sweep boat with the help of  Nathan. In charge of the big picture was Tate who did a great job. Tessa- if you are reading this you were missed. Chris Lewis of Flagstaff was our third kayak guide. We met him when he and his dad came on one of our trips a few years back and we were immediately impressed with his heads up river smarts and paddling skills.

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Kayak guide Chris Lewis shows some great form while making an agressive cut-back on the wave at Marble Rapid.

Continue reading “Good Times On The Middle Fork Of The Salmon – Round One”

Middle Fork Salmon Ready To Go.

Just enough time for a quick post as we prepare to put on the Middle Fork of the Salmon with our first group tomorrow.  We’ve been in Stanley, Idaho, gateway to the Middle Fork since Wednesday using the time to relax, shake off the drive and explore.  We started our visit with some music on the lawn at Redfish Lake with the Sawtooth Mountains as the backdrop- a cold drink never tasted so good! The river is currently at 4.2 feet- a wonderful flow.  The crew will be through here anytime now with the big truck, en route to Boundary Creek to rig the rafts and prepare for our arrival tomorrow morning.  Sure is pretty around here!

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Chilling along side the South Fork Payette River in Idaho on the way to Stanley. The South Fork has some classic runs like the canyon run and staircase.

Continue reading “Middle Fork Salmon Ready To Go.”

Middle Fork Salmon, Idaho 2012 Spaces Filling

Middle Fork Salmon_Idaho

Each year we offer two trips on Idaho’s beautiful wild and scenic Middle Fork of the Salmon. These are six day/five night, raft supported camp trips. Our June 25 – 30 date has spaces for both rafters and kayakers. Our July 3- 8 trip has only a couple spots left. These are primo dates for both weather and water levels on this majestic river. Idaho’s snow pack for the Salmon drainage at present is at 80%, pretty good compared to our dry California winter!

For more information, click here to go to the Middle Fork page on our website or contact us directly at info@adventurekayaking.com. To book a space contact ECHO, our rafting outfitter at (800) 652-3246 or info@echotrips.com. Ask for the DeRiemer trips.

June Middle Fork: Making The Tough Call And High Water.

Twenty Five miles down from Boundary Creek, the normal put in for the Middle Fork Salmon, is the airstrip and boat ramp at Indian Creek.  The ECHO raft crew, our outfitter on these trips, had flown in on July 24th, the day before our scheduled launch to begin rigging. This turned out to be the same day of this year’s spring peak which measured 7.2 ft or 10,500 cfs at the gauge located ten miles downstream of them. A normal flow for this time of year is closer to 3.0 ft.

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Preparing to load gear into the plane for the flight to Indian creek.

As they rigged the crew saw other outfitters deadheading , bringing rafts without passengers down from Boundary Creek. They would pick up their guests at the Indian Creek airstrip and continue on. Of the groups running from the top most had tales of at least one raft in their party flipping. At those flows an upside down boat can go miles before you find an eddy large enough to push it into.  Meanwhile, downstream, two private groups located in and around the Flying B ranch had called it quits and flew out.  A forest service crew in rafts said their gps had shown them going 16 mph through the Artillery section just upstream of Pistol. Continue reading “June Middle Fork: Making The Tough Call And High Water.”