Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Middle Fork Salmon River

We launched on Sunday, 9/25, about 2 in the afternoon. You load your boat up on this humungous ramp and slide 'er on down--or in our case, push hard to get it down the ramp as the boats were so heavy they wouldn't slide.

The clouds and rain that hit us this first day and night would be the last we'd see on the trip.

Spent out first night just a few miles from the put-in, at Gardell's Hole. Very nice site. We got rained on overnight, and in the morning our tents and tarps were coated in frost.

The next day we got into some serious fishing. The rapids were tight and the boulder gardens required much jumping into the water to free up the boats, but that made for an active day in the raft and was actually really fun.

Camp was busy and fun. Always work to do, always cocktails being made.

And there was costume party for Linda's birthday. Derek washes the ball...

And the scenery? Sheesh. Some nice hot springs, too. This is sunflower.

The fishing only got better, too. The cutthroats did not disappoint--they were plentiful, and they were hungry. Most were in the 8 to 12 inch range, but we pulled a few nice ones out, along with a veritable butt-load of rainbows (future steelhead).

I spent a little time on the oars, but our boat was big and heavy, and my skills not quite up to the task of keeping us off the rocks. So, Zach gave me a few turns, but he was at the help for most of the trip. Which, for me, meant more fishing.

The views were amazing, whenever I could look up from reading water or watching a fly to appreciate them.

The camps and sites were fairly spotless, too. Nice to know that rules and protections, when respected and enforced, can work, keeping this stretch of river all but pristine in the face of thousands of visitors every year.

Camped in among the boulders our last night out. Lived like the mountain sheep. And saw some, too.

7 days passed in a flash. We were busy nearly the whole time, but that's the price you pay for going with friends and not on a commercial trip. And it was fantastic. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

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