Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Last October we hiked in 10 miles down Camas Creek to the last 40 miles of the Middle Fork. We did a side trip up Big Creek for some great Alpacka creeking. This was a wonderful way to access the Middle fork without the expense of flying in. You still do need to get a river permit, have a fire pan, and pack out your poop.

Check it out:

Just finished a trip on the middle fork in late July. It was my first overnight trip in a packraft, though I’ve had a lot of white water experience in the past. The river was running about 2.2 ft. and I was accompanied by 4 oar rigs, 2 kayaks and a paddle raft (11 of us total). I carried all of my gear (sans food) on a drybag strapped to my boat (weighing about 15 pounds). The trip was fantastic, with the upper 40 miles being my favorite as it has a smaller creek feel, but the entire 8 day trip (from dagger falls to the main fork) being as great as any river trip I’ve ever been on. Even in the higher flows of the main’s creamer creek rapid, the pack rafts maneuvurubility made it scary though reasonable to avoid the monstrous hole that forms on river left. I found this river to be a great place to learn more about the packrafts capabilities and how DIFFERENT it is then either a canoe or a kayak. I find strokes natural to both of those watercraft useful in a packraft and as I already had a lot of experience reading rapids, the class comparatively safe III+/IV- whitewater was manageable. Tappan falls was the most difficult rapid for me, as there was a mandatory punch through a sizable hole. I was thankfully able to avoid any flips, and only fell into the water once while trying to leap from the paddle raft to my rig. I also spent some time learning how to surf, and though I never flipped, I did manage to fill my boat up on more than one occasion. The key seems to be weight placement: Lean forward to catch the wave and then lean back once the water catches your boat if approaching from an eddy. Weight on the front of the boat helps and a brace on your strong side seems to allow for steering. I was surprised to find that only one of the at least 300 other boaters I saw had ever seen a packraft before. First people thought I’d be a liability on the trip and then when a boater in a 14’ oar rig took a swim on a rapid, people seem to start paying the little packrafter a little more respect! All in all, I think the middle fork is a FANTASTIC trip for a packrafter and with a support crew, one can do it in style, though there is a trail along 6/7’s of this section of the middle fork, making for a lot of packrafting opportunities. In July, the temps are warm, the water at a great level and the weather generally sunny. Couldn’t have asked for a better maiden voyage! I’ll be planning on many more packrafting adventures in the future…