From Chaos to Tranquility: Launching on the Middle Fork Of The Salmon

The mechanics of it all are mind boggling. Seven launches per day. 30 people per group. Five nights on the river. Five months straight. Sure a few launches go unused and some groups are not at capacity, but roughly 1,000 people are on the river at any given time during high season.

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It sounds crazy, and at the boat launch it feels crazy. When the water drops in late July another dimension is added. The first 25 miles are bypassed and everyone fly’s into a dirt airstrip in the heart of one of our country’s largest Wilderness complexs. A one way flight from Stanley, ID (population 63) becomes the hottest ticket in town and Indian Creek turns into one of the regions busiest airports.

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Fixed wing Cessna’s buzz in and out. Dust flies from the prop wash. Eager boaters hurriedly shuttle dry bags, boats, and kitchen boxes to the water. Moving like ants each group seeks to ready its craft. Final adjustments are made and groups push off in what becomes a staggered start. Oddly enough, after the chaotic beginning the river becomes quiet.

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There is room for everyone. Groups spread out.  Sound management, carefully tweaked to handle the traffic, allows everyone to experience the river on their own terms. The Middle Fork of the Salmon still offers a truly great Wilderness experience.

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