Blue skies, fun whitewater, and an energetic and unforgettable group of folks made this weeks Middle Fork trip incredible.
We started off at Boundary Creek with a level of 2.56 feet, an excitingly technical and challenging flow. Our group consisted of the IRJ guides, Julie Guthrie, Andrew Wilkin, Skip Volpert, and Will Volpert, as well as 10 first-time Middle Forkers from all over the U.S.
Getting ready to board the rafts:
Pushing off from Boundary Creek, we immediately ran First Bend Rapid, followed shortly by Sulphur Slide, Rams Horn, Hell's Half Mile, and Velvet Falls.
Dave and Carole above "Pinball":
After a lunch stop at Boy Scout, we continued downstream and ran The Chutes, a tight and technical rapid with multiple routes. Julie's paddle boat crew styled the run while Andrew in his big oar boat practiced some "style spins" on the way down. With no boats experiencing any "stickiness" we headed down to Powerhouse rapid. Before entering the rapid we pulled over on the right bank to take a short walk downstream to the old water wheel.
Middle Fork history along the banks of Powerhouse Rapid:
The paddle boat crew at the bottom of Powerhouse Rapid:
A few miles downstream was our first night's camp: Sheepeater. Sheepeater has a great hot springs on the bluff above the river. A big buck came down to camp and hung out overnight while we slept under a cloudless and star-filled sky.
The paddle boat, after a hard day's work, relaxes on the bank at Sheepeater:
Stopped at Lake Creek to scope-out the new rapid and log situation. The guides with empty boats didn't have any trouble although Skip did have a rather close encounter with one of the logs. Ran through Pistol Creek without any problems and stopped at the Pistol Creek camp to have lunch. Here we blew up the kayaks and Zack and Cord tested them out all the way to our camp at Little Soldier.
Zack and Cord at Pungo Rapid with the "spatula wave":
Matt tests out the oars:
At Little Soldier we set-up the fly rods. Zack and Dave each caught their first fish off a fly rod. After some strawberry shortcake we played the "fork game" and the lovely dart game.
David shows a good stance during the special dart extravaganza:
Ran Marble Creek Rapid and then stopped at Sun Flower hotsprings and enjoyed a quick soak/shower before heading downstream to Jackass Rapid. Zack captained the paddle boat for most of the day up until camp. Carole rowed Julie's oarboat and the sun kept on shinin'! When we reached camp at White Creek some of us went on a hike upstream while Andrew and Will went across the river and climbed the White Creek ridge.
Day 3 Paddle Crew:
View looking down at camp from the White Creek Ridge:
When Andy and Will got back down from the ridge they discovered that - horrors! - one of their kayaks had been taken away and the remaining kayak was mainly deflated. Skip and Matt were probably to blame for this prank however their lingers a remaining doubt that Carole was the mastermind behind the operation.
That night we entertained ourselves through Ann's mind games, "good moon, bad moon," "Zoot and Zot," and the pictograph game. Ann also had a close encounter with a swimming snake...
Left camp early to allow time for a float to Loon Creek and a hike up to the hotsprings. Had the place to ourselves and soaked the three days of river grime off our bodies.
Warren at Loon Creek, 22 miles from the nearest road:
The group returning from the hotsprings refreshed. This is where we nearly lost Breck!:
At Hospital Bar we spotted some Big Horn Sheep near the hotsprings. Carole and Dave took a plunge in the kayaks at the next rapid, also known as the "spatula wave."
Dave in his kayak just before taking a swim:
Matt and Warren across from the Hospital Bar hotsprings:
We stopped at Upper Grouse for lunch and then ran the Tappan Rapids. The kayaks made it through all four of the Tappan rapids without incident as well as Haystack, Bernard Creek, and Jack Creek rapids. When we got to Driftwood we set the stage for some late night "Elephant Croquet" and "Rock Toss" competitions.
Carole caught her first fish and Andrew made her kiss it for good luck. It seemed to work pretty well, as it seemed her line always had a fish on it. Cord also had some success with the fish and also took a swim after his fly rod. It was a fairly windy day but the sky was clear and the sun was bright. Day 5 proved once again to be the ultimate "Canyon Appreciation Day." We stopped at Rattlesnake Cave, floated by Waterfall Creek, stopped at Cutthroat Cove for lunch, and then hiked to Veil Falls.
Cord, Breck, and Zack at Rattlesnake Cave:
Making the way up to Veil Falls:
After stopping at Veil we pushed off and immediately ran Wall Creek and Porcupine Rapids. At Redside, Ann joined the 2007 swim team when her kayak got pushed upside down by Sevy's Rock.
Cord and Ann just above Redside Rapid:
Above Weber Rapid, Breck switched places with Ann in the kayak and we continued downstream. The kayakers made it through Weber and then Son of Weber without incident, but at Cliffside we all witnessed some kayak carnage. Breck found himself just a wee-bit too far left at the bottom of the Cliffside and ended up swimming. His kayak started floating downstream but the paddle crew was able to snatch it and still catch the eddy at Cradle, our camp for the fifth night.
David and Zack taking a break on the paddle boat:
Our last night on the river featured some wine tasting, great food, and spectacular scenery. Cradle is by far one of the most scenic camps on the river and probably the best camp to top off an excellent trip.
Chief Dishwasher, Skip Volpert, at Cradle:
The last day of a great trip is tough. First, it's difficult to say good-bye to so many new and old friends. The great thing about six day trips is that the people on the trip actually get to know each other and many friendships are created. However, the last day of the Middle Fork offers so many great rapids and incredibly scenic turns that you can't think about saying good-bye until you're actually at the ramp at Cache Bar. Matt and Cord kayaked the biggest rapids of the trip, including Rubber, Hancock, Devil's Tooth, House Rocks, Jump Off, and Cramer Creek.
Skip hits the big wave at the bottom of Jump Off Rapid:
With no kayak carnage and no swims, we made it to take-out in time for a great lunch. The guides packed-up the boats and equipment into the trailer, the rest of the group shuffled into "normal clothes", the bus was loaded and we headed back to Salmon.
Group shot at the take-out:
For all of you who were part of this trip, thank you for joining Idaho River Journeys on the Middle Fork. We look forward to seeing you again on the river and can't wait for another round of "rock toss" or "elephant croquet." Thank you, especially, for all the great memories, laughs, and smiles.
Your guides and friends,
Julie, Andrew, Skip, and Will