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002 Discussing Outfitters and Alternatives to Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Posted by on March 7, 2014
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Bob Ward

Fiction author with a zest for adventure travel. Blogs, tweets, videos, and pins for research and fun. He also hosts Ward's Adventure Travel Research & Trip Journal, a weekly podcast available on EFN, iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and more.

In our 2nd episode, dad and I talk about a variety of topics, including Rafting the Middle Fork River in Idaho (which starts at 35 minutes into the podcast). We begin the episode by patting ourselves on the back thoroughly regarding the overwhelming success of last week’s launch–lots of positive feedback from listeners, enthusiastic approval by both iTunes and Stitcher radio (they seem to agree that our concept has value to the world), how I spanked 10,998 comment spammers for 25 bucks, and more. I updated dad on several things he didn’t care about. He updated me on the fact that last fall he bought a Honda 250 motorcycle and hid it under a tarp beside the cabin, but I can’t have it or ride it because it’s his. We drank margaritas and told heroic stories about motorcycle riding, ditch jumping, and wheelies.

The meat of our episode begins at marker 35, where we execute a hard segue into the important business of planning our next trip. We start with an overview of our previously agreed two options: River Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon and Hiking the Appalachian Trail. We discuss ideal dates for both trips, and figure out we have a logistical conflict.

I explain to dad that the best dates to raft the Middle Fork depend on your personal objectives. Do you seek fast thrills? Do you want a laid back float? The section of river in question is 100 miles long and there are 100 individual rapids between the put in at Boundary Creek Launch and the take out at Cache Bar. I hand dad my cool map of the river, which he sets aside without a glance. Here is the link to the map. Get it! It’s awesome. It’s one of the neatest maps in my vast collection. I educate him on cost, which depends on the outfitter. I told him I follow Mountain Travel Sobek, and their costs ranges from about $1500 to $2,500 (all said and done). 

JUNE is the best time to go, in my opinion! Why? Because I want the wildest ride and the fastest water. It’s still class III and IV, and there are some rapids you’ll need to walk around, but the risk of death is still small. June trips are only 5 days, simply because you’re rafting the river faster.

JULY and AUGUST the river is lower and slowing down, and those trips are more leisurely, but still fun. Six days on the water from put in to take out.

Then I propose an alternative…

How about merging my family’s Grand Canyon trip with a rafting day. The water will not be as white, but since I’m also planning to go with my wife and kids on vacation at the end of June, perhaps to the Grand Canyon would be the only workable choice for me to do a bit of rafting this year. (If I can’t raft the Middle Fork in June, I’m less enthused about committing to doing it, but only because I may get just one chance at a Middle Fork trip and I want it to be wild!)

Moving on…

We end up deciding to focus our next few planning sessions on hiking the Appalachian Trail. It’s a trip we both want to do, and it seems to work better for us given our other travel commitments. 

We joked briefly about which of us would get eaten first by a black bear, and we discussed our individual strategies for how we would outrun each other when chased.

That’s about it.

Oh, yeah…

Some interesting talk about Kip Stone’s love scenes in both Sea Turtles and Mountain Cabin, and how dad is a voyeuristic pervert who has re-read both of those romantic parts about 30 times each.

Then I cue the sign-off music for the world’s listening pleasure!


USDA Forest Service: Floating the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

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