Trip Report The River of No Return?

Shapp

Active Member
#1
Well, they call it the River of No Return, but luckily I was able to return again for a September 3 launch in a special year. It is the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rives Act this year and the Middle Fork was one of the first rivers designated in 1968. We ran the Middle Fork Salmon River from Boundary Creek to Cache Bar, a 99 mile trip through the Frank Church Wilderness of No Return. Once again a stellar trip. Our last trip at low water was 2015:
https://www.washingtonflyfishing.com/forum/index.php?threads/110448/
We had a bit more water this year than in 2015, and the weather was stellar. Only saw 1 other private group and 2 outfitters in 8 days. Due to the low number of peeps, we had hot springs within reach from 4 of our camps. Westlope cutthroat could not be kept off a hopper. Also had a packraft run on Big Creek (a side tributary). A pictorial report below.


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creekx

spent spinner
#5
Nice report. Bucket List!

Did you have 17 rafts in your group?! Are some of those Aire 143D's? Thinking about a new, larger raft.
 

Shapp

Active Member
#6
No, we had 12 (raft/cats), none were Aire 143Ds. We had 6 packrafts rolled up with us for side creeking

We had:
1 Sotar Cataraft
3 hyside minimax
1 hyside prototype max
1 hyside 13' ( I think)
1 hyside max (I think)
1 super puma
1 super duper puma
1 16' Avon raft
1 Aire 14' R
1 NRS 14' raft

All the vessels (except the packrafts) are in this pic:
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Shapp

Active Member
#7
I heard a crazy story at Indian Creek guard station on the trip. For those unfamiliar, Indian Creek guard station is about 28 miles downstream of the upper Boundary Creek putin on the Middle Fork Salmon and only accessibly by backcountry airplanes. When the water gets low (say by early to mid-august) a lot of people fly their gear (and boats) into Indian Creek because the thought is the upper river is too low to navigate with loaded boats. Some people (and most outfitters) run empty boats off the top from Boundary Down to Indian Creek and pickup people/gear. We have always just gone off the top from Boundary with our full load, even at very low water. Yeah I got stuck a couple times, but nothing crazy, but we are low water specialist.

We stopped in at Indian Creek to fill up water jugs and chatted with the USFS peeps for a bit. One USFS guy related a story about how he had to spend a bunch of time arranging for a group to fly out from Indian Creek the day before we were there (which I believe he said cause about $2500). Apparently they had launched from Boundary Creek and were 3 days late getting down to Indian Creek (keep in mind the USFS knows your schedule as all campsites are pre-assinged ahead of time). They were overloaded with little experience apparently. Mackay (guide outfit) encountered them at Powerhouse Rapid and the group apparently asked the guide outfit if they would row the private group boats through the Rapid, which is long and multifaceted, but not one of the harder ones at that flow, which they did then gave the boats back to the private group. I can't imagine what this group did at Sulphur Slide or the Chutes or Pistol Creek rapids. The crazy thing is that the river gets significantly easier once you get to Indian Creek. The USFS person also mentioned they were from Georgia, not sure how accurate that is. Anyway, it would have been interesting to see what that all looked like, but I am glad we weren't a day faster and encountered them above the Chutes or Pistol.
 

creekx

spent spinner
#8
No, we had 12 (raft/cats), none were Aire 143Ds. We had 6 packrafts rolled up with us for side creeking

We had:
1 Sotar Cataraft
3 hyside minimax
1 hyside prototype max
1 hyside 13' ( I think)
1 hyside max (I think)
1 super puma
1 super duper puma
1 16' Avon raft
1 Aire 14' R
1 NRS 14' raft
So those were Pumas, thought they looked bigger. I have a Super Puma and love its ability to maneuver shallow water and skinny chutes, but really just a two-person boat. Too small for the family now.
 

Shapp

Active Member
#9
Fore visual perspective, the most upstream red boat is a Hyside Minimax, followed by a green Aire super puma, purple Aire super duper puma (my boat), red 14' NRS, orange 14' Aire R, blue (hyside max prototype I think), yellow minimax, red 12' sotar cat, green minimax, yellow hyside max, yellow 16' avon, 13' hyside (I think).
 

bk paige

Wishin I was on the Sauk
#11
Thanks for sharing, its on my bucket list of things to do. Been talking with a freind thats done it before, I dont think it would take much convincing.
 

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