Day 5: Main Salmon - Groundhog to Mann's Creek

Trip Start Aug 11, 2011
Trip End Aug 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Mann's Creek Camp on the Main Salmon River
What I did
Whitewater Kayaking
botchi ball

Flag of United States  , Idaho
Monday, August 15, 2011

Today began with an hour of yoga on the beach. We had banana pancakes and sausage for breakfast. We then changed into our river gear and packed up our tents, sleeping bags, mattresses and our clothes and loaded them onto the raft.

Today we were going to be paddling 18 miles and the river level was at 8,000 cfs. This was going to be an easier day in terms of rapids and we were going to make a few stops along the way.

While the guide crew was finishing packing the rafts we had a mandatory roll session and pep talk in the eddy. It was becoming clear that most of the ladies were concerned because they were not rolling. Anna discussed the need for patience and timing for a big water roll. Rolling does feel different in bigger water than compared to what most of us were used to running. 

The guest ladies asked me to be their leader and to continue to pick our lines. I did my best to run good fun lines and keep us out of trouble. I could see frustration, apprehension and a bit of fear on the faces of some of the gals. I talked to a few of them individually to try to calm them down.

When everyone was ready we set off. Our very first rapid was in front of the beach we camped on, it was class II+ Whiplash Rapid and it was a fun wave train, you just needed to avoid the odd eddy line coming off of the river right bank.

We passed by Reed Creek Camp and Lemhi-China Bar and Lisa told us about the tragic mining history and the story of the Chinese immigrants who lived and worked in the area. We then ran class II China Bar Rapid, we ran left of center to avoid the large hole just left of center. We then passed Gaines Bar, Gaines Bar Camp, and Rhett Creek Camp.

We then pulled over on river right. Lisa and Laura got out and walked up to a rock wall on the beach. They showed us some of the pictographs. Like before no one really knows exactly what the pictures mean but they were interesting to see nonetheless.

We bypassed the Blowout Pictographs, Paine Creek Camp, Boise Bar Camp, on our way to our next rapid class II+-III- Boise Bar Rapid. Our line was in the center with a bit of a left hand angle to avoid a large hole at the bottom on river right. We had a swimmer here and once she was back in her kayak we continued on our way. 

We paddled past No Mans Creek Camp, Teepee Creek Camp, Painter Mine, Mike's Lunch Hole and Camp, and Painter Beach Camp on our way to our next stop.

We pulled in on a beach on river left and there were a few rafts already docked there. There wan an odd looking tower built on the property out of stone that faced the river. We found out that this was Buckskin Bill's Little Buckskin Camp at Five Mile Bar. We were going to tour the place and also have lunch there. We walked up the beach to the house. When we got to the garden Lisa began to tell us about Buckskin Bill, a mountain man, who sort of homesteaded the bar. He built the tower to defend his land from the Forest Service who claimed that he was living illegally in the canyon. 

The grounds were nice and there was a garden, also a museum that played a short movie on the life of Buckskin Bill and housed some of the guns he made and the knives he used. Buckskin Bill is buried on the property, he died there in 1980. There were skulls of moose and various other animals that he had hunted and killed all over the property. 

When out tour was finished we had sandwiches on the beach with cookies and fruit. There were several other rafts and boats docked on the beach at Five Mile Bar, the people were also touring the place. It is interesting how on the Main Salmon you can paddle almost the entire river without really seeing other people but yet there they were docked on the beach at Five Mile Bar.

Once lunch was finished we continued down river passed Pebble Beach Camp, Haynie Bar Camp, Bluebird Hole Camp and Wilson Bar Camp until we came to our next rapid class II+ Action Jackson Rapid. It was an easy run that consisted of maneuvering around two large holes.

Next we came to class III Ludwig Rapid, we ran left of center through the huge choppy waves. I believe we had a swim or two here as well.

Afterwards we bypassed Mackay Bar Pack Bridge, Dead Man's Camp, and Mackay Bar, we then came across the entrance to the South Fork of the Salmon River that confluenced with the Main Salmon. We paddled up a small, rocky side stream and paddled down the tight, rocky, creek-like South Fork of the Salmon until we entered back into the Main Salmon again. 

We then passed the South Fork Camp, South Fork Island Camp, Cove Creek Camp, Red Harian Camp, Pine Tree Hole Camp, Flat Rock Camp, and Norm Close Camp.

There was alot of flat-water today and alot of wind which made paddling through the flat-water rather tiresome but after the adrenaline filled day we had yesterday we were all ok with a little flat-water. There were plenty of small unnamed rapid and big wave trains between the named rapids but there was alot of flat-water.

We pulled into a beach on river left which was Mann's Creek Camp which was going to be our camp for the night. We began our routine off stripping off our river gear and letting it in the sun to dry. We then got our tents set up and our sleeping bags laid out. Many of us decided it was a great day for a shower so we all stripped and jumped into the river. We soaped up above the tree line and used buckets of river water to rinse off with. It actually felt pretty good. We then got changed into street clothes.

I found some bones scattered on one end of the beach so we got out one of the trail guide books to see if we could identify what animal it had come from. There was one huge scapula that could have only come from a moose, there was also the distal portion of femoral condyles that looked like it belonged to the moose as well. I also found several smaller ribs and a sacrum that may have belonged to one of the big horn sheep.

While dinner was cooking we had some trail mix and drinks and played a round of botchi ball on the beach. I never played the game before and was surprisingly good at it. Some of the other ladies were playing a game of hackey sack or reading around the fire.

Tonight was Italian night in the river, we had lasagna, salad, garlic bread, sausage and tiramisu for dessert. Canyons's food is so good! We stayed up for awhile talking but we were so tired that we went to bed pretty early.
Main Salmon River Info:

Girls at Play:

Canyons, Inc.:

Main Salmon River:


Salmon River Guidebook:

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