Roundtrip River Running

| September 12, 2012

At what elevation do deer turn into elk? Is there always snow on Everest? Do you finish at the same place you start on this river? These are all excellent questions, and in the case of an upcoming packrafting trip, yes, you do start and finish at the same point on this river.  This reminds me of an MC Escher etching showing water flowing uphill, but in this case the trick involves a 20+ mile hike midstream to regain elevation lost on the river, then connecting with another river which eventually leads back to where you started from.

Masterminded by Forrest McCarthy and friends, this 8ish day trip connects parts of the Main Fork of the Salmon River and the Middle Fork for roughly 150 miles of whitewater paddling through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness area.  Aside from lots of planning, what really makes trips like this possible are the durable yet lightweight Alpaca Packrafts which are capable of handling rough rivers with heavy loads, but at about 4lbs, can then be collapsed and carried.  The connector hike between rivers should be brutally heavy, but at least it will be 50 pounds of the lightest gear know to man.  :)

I’ll try not to lose my camera on this trip, and if so, I’ll post up some photos of what should be an epic adventure.
Help support and slice through the Wilderness with a Gerber River Shorty Blunt-Tip Knife from Click on the photo below…

Category: Packrafting, Trip Reports

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (5)

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  1. Clyde says:

    I’m confused. The Middle flows into the Main and it’s a popular combination trip–there are no sections that require a portage. So are you saying your skipping some of the trip? Or are you doing a standard Middle-Main and then hiking back to the put in?

  2. We are starting on the Main and finishing on the Middle Fork – walking from the South Fork of the Salmon to Big Creek (a tributary of the Middle Fork). We plan on taking out the same place we put in.

  3. atommy says:

    Did this happen? Andrew, your lack of update on this trip is disappointing. That’s right, I said it.

  4. Andrew says:

    Hi atommy – Yes, the trip happened right before I crashed my blog, so there has been an extended delay. A TR is in the works as this was such an excellent trip.

  5. atommy says:

    Nice. Looking forward to the TR and pics. Gotta say, the Alpaka changes everything.

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