Middle Fork of The Salmon River

Mid winter is usually when I start finding out what rivers I've received permits for the upcoming year, so this story starts a little while back.  Either by snail mail or e-mail the permits come back either denied or awarded.  Yampa....no, Salt....nope, Middle Fork Salmon....yes?  Is this a joke, is this real, I ask myself?  It couldn't be.  This is one of the hardest if not the hardest permits to acquire in the US, and I've pulled one on my first try.  Damn, well alright!  It was settled, I would be headed to Idaho mid July for one the most epic trips of my life.

I assembled my crew which consisted mostly of old friends from Durango, but a few new one's too.  In the end it was an all star cast, on an all star trip, that nobody would soon forget.

Only a few on the trip had done this section before, and even by there explanations we never really knew what to expect.  Sometimes I like it like that.

Before I knew it we were all assembled at Boundary Creek (the put in) and I was still worried that the permit wasn't real, and I dragged everyone up here for no reason.  Thank god that wasn't the case!

Boats rigged and ready, we pushed off the banks and were immediately in the thick of it all.  Right out of the gates this river was making you guess your next move.  So much that I didn't even have a chance to break my camera out the first day.  I was too busy negotiating rock after rock, on what was the clearest river I had ever seen.  It was something straight out of a dream.  It was completely surreal.  I still couldn't believe I was here.

Long story short it was the best river trip I've ever been on without a doubt.  I think most on the trip agreed.  It was an great crew, we had great food the entire time, we drank ourselves silly more than once, soaked it up in hot springs, laughed (a lot), pointed through rapids, and came out clean on the other side.  Did I mention that it was sunny and 90 degrees everyday, and our concerns that there was not going to be enough water was quickly squashed, as in my opinion, we couldn't have gotten it better.

Photos, photos and more photos.  Unfortunately being the TL on this trip I was preoccupied with not only making sure I was ready but the entire group was ready.  I didn't even bust my camera out at the put in, nor did I almost the entire first day. I also, in trying to pack light, didn't bring my DSLR, but opted for just my Canon Power Shot S100, which was actually awesome.  Shoots RAW images at approx. 1fps, which is perfect for rafting, on top of the fact that its extremely compact.  That said, looking back I really wish I had covered the trip more start to finish, but like I said I had a lot on my plate, and my priority was the group, not being a photog on this one.


Classic Middle Fork (Day 1).  A ton of the River basin has been burned by wildfire in the past decade.

This was the flow in cfs that we had for the trip.  We put on July 18th and took out July 24.

Flow in Feet, which is how they measure it in Idaho.  We put on at 2.63".

Night one at Sheepeater Camp.

Creigh and Kierstin preparing one of seven of the best dinners I've had in my life.

Wildlife.  Snake eats fish

We make party here?  Night two at Lost Oak Camp.

Moler was all tuckered out.

Not a bad way to enjoy the mid day sun on the Middle Fork Salmon (MFS) River.  We camped across from this hot springs (Sunflower Hot Springs) at Lost Oak and ferried over a few times.

The perfect shower.

Night 3 got as little dirty with Paco Pad Wrestling matches at White Creek Camp. Wrap your self up and ram into your opponent.

Fall down and repeat.

Like I said....Dirty.  The last three photos by Ian Phillips.

Day 4 greeted us with the opportunity to take a hike....

.....to one of the best hot Springs I've ever been to.  Big Loon Hot Springs.  Short Hike, big reward!

After Big Loon we pulled over at the Underwater Canyon for lunch.  Truly an amazing place.  Next time I will surely bring a mask and snorkel and swim the underwater canyon.

On Day 4 we also hit the Tappan Falls Rapid.  Ben and Lacey cruising through Tappan Falls.

JJ and Parker taking the same line.

Creigh and Keirstin powering through Tappan II.

Enjoying a really, REALLY hot day at Camas Creek for night 4.

Koda looking for that rock.  Please don't eat rocks Koda.

JJ was all smiles at Camas Creek.

Casey was in a similar boat.

I guess I was in the same boat too.

Watch out for the rabid bat at Camas.

Day 6, approaching Flying B Ranch were we restocked beer and ice, and had an ice cream sandwich or too as well.  Not a bad pit stop.

Enjoying shade At the Flying B Ranch.  It was HOT here.

Not sure what rapid this was.  Might not of even been a significant one...

JJ showing us how its done.

Night 5 at Survey Camp.  Excellent camp with Ponderosa Pines and sandy beaches.  Kind of  staple on the MFS this time of year.

This was just all time.  I mean a sand volleyball court with 2" of water on top of it.  I couldn't have dreamed this up if I tried.  Photo by Ben Cross.

Waterfall Creek and boats.

Entering the Impassible Canyon.

Cliffside Rapid.  Best waves on the river at this flow.  Zach and Catherine take the sporty left line.

Parker and the Paco Pad slide....


Sand Wrestling.  A staple of any river trip.

Hang on, you might fall in Chris...

Koda and frisbee.

Parker and the beach.

Sunset at our last camp.  Otter Bar Camp.


House of Rocks Rapid negotiated by Casey and Moler.

Ben laying out a backy on the last day...

The last thing standing between us and a perfect trip is Cramer Rapid.  Recently formed by a mudslide this used to be a fun wave train.  Well I think the whole group still thought it was fun.  By and far the biggest rapid encountered on the river, I've even heard rumors that some people rate it on the Grand Canyon scale (mostly because of its size).  It wasn't really that difficult.

Moler kissing the hole....

And with that we called it a trip.  No spills, just thrills, we packed it up and headed to Salmon, Idaho for one more night with the crew before we headed back to our boring day to day lives in CO.  Until next time.....