Thursday, August 14, 2014

175 Miles on The Forks of the Salmon

Hey there boys and girls,

We here at into the outside would like to issue a very sincere apology for our recent lack of blogging personality. Matt's been changing the world in Africa, Jacobs's been managing field burns on the weekends for his job, and I just haven't felt to love as of late. Truth be told, I'm not entirely sure what's happened this summer. In comparison to years prior, we've really struggled this summer getting missions to come together. McCoy creek came and went, shortly followed by the clear fork cowlitz. Before too long the Ohane and the Grand Canyon of the Elwha had both come in and promptly dropped out. We've all been so busy with our own shenanigans that most of our creaking plans have gone by the way side. We have generally failed this summer when it's come to 'shredding the gnar.' Alas.

That being said, I did start my 2014 summer off on the right foot. That proverbial foot was planted in the heart of Idaho for 10 days at the end of June with some fine folks. Disclaimer: For you visual learners out there, I've littered this text heavy post with lifestyle shots from the adventure.

Some of the crew mugging at Dagger Falls

The first leg of our trip started coming together all the way back in February when I managed to pull a June 21st permit for the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Salmon. I hadn't been so lucky in the last few years so I quickly put out the word and began to assemble a stellar group of individuals to tackle the 100 mile section. There already exists a trip report on here from our high water 2011 excursion, so I'll keep this fairly short, but that's not any nock on our 2014 trip. We opted to take 6 days this time and pretty much brought everything besides the kitchen sink.. With multiple gear rafts, plenty of eager kayakers anxious to pull their weight, and amazing weather, the middle fork was smooth like butter. I opted to row a raft on this trip, which allowed me to really take in the beauty of the canyon (with a beer in hand.) there was a lot less stress than last time with the moderate water level and every day was more fun than the previous. A particular high light for me was hiking 3 miles up Big Creek and play boating down the big water steep creek to the confluence. I got to practice my high bracing!

The Line-up at the Middle Fork 'get-in'

Every nigh we were treated to amazing meals and tasty beverages. Each campsite was great in its own way, even though we kinda struck out in the camp site allocation process. And we even got some great play boating in at the marble creek wave. The middle fork never disappoints!

Big Snag? Or Polly Lake?

After we finished up with the middle fork, myself, Dan, Jarred, and Jesse loaded up the ol' subby and headed for the small hamlet of Yellowpine, ID. Picking up my buddy Nick from Colorado along the way, we pulled into "town" around 1am before bedding down for the evening. Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse at this point and the "30percent chance of rain" that was forecasted reared it's ugly head with 100% ferocity.. We woke up the next morning to rain showers and temps in the 50s. We helped ourselves to a good ol fashion country breakfast in "down town" yellow pine before loading up the kayaks and embarking on the second leg of our Idaho World Tour. The plan was to take 3 days to self support the East Fork South Fork Salmon (EFSF, 18 miles?) down to the confluence with the South Fork proper, then boat the classic multiday section of the SF before tackling the 25 mile paddle out on the main Salmon. All together, we had lined up a 75 mile section to accomplish.

Living the Good Life

Pulled Pork and Cold Beer Amongst the Pines

Although I don't have any stills from the white water portion of this trip, I still wanted to put together a report for the soul purpose of adding my endorsement to this section of river. The EFSF and the South Fork are incredibly classic sections of white water. At the level we had (4ft) I never felt that creek got any harder than 4+, but it maintained itself at that level for miles on end. Big crashing waves for days on end. This section is rightfully labeled as one of the better self support runs in the country and I'm stoked to have finally checked it out for myself.

A Couple First Time Bootie Drinkers

The highlight rapid for me is the first of the big drops on the South Fork, Devils Creek. The rapid required a strong move from left to right through some diagonal holes to avoid and nasty bit on the bottom left of the drop. Everyone came through just fine and the move wasn't overly difficult, but man was it fun!

Typical Scene on the MFS

After finding a choice campsite on river left (approx 12 miles into the SF) we caught a few hours of sunshine, between the rain storms, and cozyed up with a bottle of crown royal for a damp, cold Idaho evening. The next morning we awoke to consistent rain storms and wet gear. Having only brought dry tops along, we made the call to push for the take out that day, rather than spending a 2nd night out in the cold. The 2nd day on the river started with a bang. Just like day 1, endless miles of big water class 4 with some pusher stuff mixed in. We scouted a few times here and there, but everything was boat scoutable for the most part. Seriously, 1/2 mile long class 4+ big water boulder gardens! Does it get any better?

The Thriving Metropolis of Yellowpine, ID

Loading up for our self support leg.

The Sun did break through once , providing just enough time to dry some gear and snap this pic.

We were all a little bummed to see the SF come to an end at the confluence with the main salmon. After eating a hearty lunch at the confluence camp and waving at the passing multiday raft trips, we started the 25 mile slog down to the vinegar creek take out. This section was really pretty horrible. In the future, a second bottle of liquor or perhaps bribing your way onto jet boat might be more ideal. That being said, we made the best of the afternoon and knocked out the miles in just over 3.5 hours.

Alas, our trip had come to end. We loaded up the rig and headed into Riggins where we promptly gorged ourselves on ribs and Idaho Microbrews before getting a few miles of the drive home under our belts.

Both the middle fork and the SF combo was an amazing way to kick off my summer. I was stoked to get so many great days on the water with some many excellent friends and family. Thank you all for making it such an amazing time. It was so great, I may just have to head back to Idaho this Labor Day for another classic weekend on the NF payette. But I suppose that's a story for another time. For now, I just need to get to work on figuring out how to make this bliss last forever.

Catch y'all in the next eddy,


1 comment:

Gar said...

Thanks for inviting us, Nate. Great group of people. Although MFS was lower water than in 2012, I think there were more swims on this trip. I'm glad to report that my brush with the law did not result in a return trip to Idaho and time in the Challis slammer.