2001 Lower Salmon River

April 20, 2001 at 8:22 AM

The Lower Salmon in Spring of 2001 by Ed Aristo

Water started at 9,000 cfs and went to about 14,000. Perfect Level for the Lower Salmon.

We launched on Thursday evening at 5PM, the wind picked up a mile down stream and we made it down to Woodruff Gulch, five miles. Set up camp with a nice windbreak and had dinner just before dark. Rained most of the night with a strong wind. Quit about 4 AM.

Set the alarm for 5 AM and launched at 6:30 Friday morning. We made 30 miles by 2:30 pm down to Eagle Creek. Another great site for a small to medium group. The water level was perfect for all the runs.

We were able to read the rapids from the top of the drops without having to scout. Demons Drop was a fun roller coaster ride. Half and Half was a speed bump. Snow Hole was straight forward waves. At China Bar you could run left or right. Left was the safe rout with no waves. If you ran right, the river pushed harder to the right but you could still make the run below the top hole. My friend, Jim, was rowing and I could not convince him to get into the waves below the hole. After we passed the run he said, "He should have run them". Everyone went left and it was BORING!

It was 70 degrees and sunny, WOW. There was a huge caddis fly hatch from Woodruff to below Eagle Creek. Fish and bugs flying everywhere. We did not bring rods. Hiked around and dried stuff out from the night before.

Saturday we launched by 6:45 AM. Started raining half mile down stream and did not stop until camp. Slide was great. One drop over the lip and huge waves with just a little lip crashing back. Somewhat of a reflex (angle) but as we turned into the waves it became a great ride in the ocean. The class 2 rapids below slide were the best rapids of the trip.

Mark hit Eye of the Needle and slid along the second wave parallel instead of turning into them. He stood his raft on the side, launched himself to the floor and popped both oars out of the stirrups. We would of helped him but too busy laughing! He had plenty of time to adjust and re-gain his composure.

Made it down the confluence and saw no rapids down to Jim Creek Camp by 10:30 AM. We thought is was mid afternoon because the cold rain made it longer. We setup camp in the driving rain and had a one hour rain break for on a hike
up the ridge.

Sunday we launched by 6:30 AM and made it to Hellers in 3 1/2 hours. Cold but calm. Home by 6 PM.

We saw big horn sheep, elk, deer, wild turkeys, osprey, kingfisher,
chuckars, etc. Sturgeon and trout leaping out of the water. The hills were emerald green with new grass growing where it burned last year. Wildflowers in full bloom. It was one of the top canyon runs on my list. Only saw two jet boats and four people on the Salmon. The only way to float!

We hope to do a summer run in July. We are running the Riggins stretch from one camp and going up and down the river.

Tags: Lower Salmon Heller Bar Hammer Creek
Category: Trip Report

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