Friday, July 8, 2011

Salmon Valley Assault: The Classics

The last few weeks have seen fantastic flows on the Cal Salmon river. It has been sitting around 5000 cfs, which means that everything has enough water for great paddling, plus a bit extra. With multiple runs on most of the rivers, here are some pictures of the last couple of weeks. 

North Fork Salmon: 10 Mile to the 4 Mile marker

The North Fork has a very awesome section, particularly the top two miles. Lots of boulder garden rapids that flow quickly into the next rapid. The run has a few must-make moves which become easier during lower water. I got down this run four times in two weeks, all at different levels and usually taking an hour or so. From the seven mile marker to the four mile marker is a bit easier, with long rapids bouncy rapids and some good boof moves. Most of the rapids have a shallow feel, with a steep nature.

Me getting the line right (P: Zak Shaw)

 South Fork Gorge of the Salmon: Limestone Buffs to Mathews Campground

This run is my favorite run in the Salmon Valley because it is accessible, you can see a couple of the rapids from the road and it has lots of cool boofs. Woolly Creek has some better rapids, but you have to hike in to get there (which is hard to justify when it's a hot day and all I want to do is be on the water). South Fork Gorge takes about an hour to paddle once you know the lines. I think we took 45 minutes when it was flowing higher - about 5000 cfs at Somes Bar.

When the run is high, the rapids come at you quick and the flat water can still back loop you. When it starts to get to a medium flow (3500) the holes have more punch and a bit more suction, but the rapids slow down a bit and there's a bit more time to think.

This run has a lot of character, with rapids called Fake Amusement Park and Amusement Park (proper). The last three rapids are in a vertical walled gorge, which is very cool to paddle through.

Me (P: Zak Shaw)

Me, halfway through the first major rapid (P: Zak Shaw)

Zak poised to paddle

Lining up one of the many boofs (P: Scott Harding)

In the thick of the last rapid (P: Scott Harding)

Nordheimer (Main Canyon on the Salmon)

This run is great. It has a big water feel while still having lots of boofs and creeky movies. It has some fantastic rapids like Bloomer Falls, Airplane, Cascade, Achilles, Grants and Freight Train. The run takes about an hour if you know the lines, longer if you want to surf along the way. To make the run a bit longer you can carry on down though Butler to Brannon Bar. This gives you an extra 45 minutes and The Gaping Maw. This has been a great afternoon run as the water has been warm and a shorty is all you need. 

Me boofing Airplane

Jess on Cascade (P: Zak Shaw)

Jess lining up the tongue on the new rapid

Me chasing down Ben Jackson

Hitting and side surfing The Gaping Maw

Thanks to Jess Matheson, Ben Jackson, Zak Shaw, Peter Kettering, Rush Sturges, Ben Marr, Matt Coles, Scott Harding, Dave Farkas, Silas Beaver and Graham Charles. It has been awesome to get so many laps on these classic runs with great people. I've had a really good time in the Salmon Valley.

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