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Author: Zachary Collier

Kayaking on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River is so well-known that it is simply referred to as the “Middle Fork.” It has jaw-dropping scenery, world-class fishing, hot springs, great camp sites, and wildlife. Whitewater kayakers appreciate the continuous whitewater punctuated with a few big rapids each day. There are also some great play spots and tons of catch-on-the-fly surf waves. What to Expect Beginning at the Boundary Creek Launch Site, the whitewater is continuous and challenging through Pistol Creek Rapid at mile 22. Below Pistol Creek… Read More

Rock Cress high above the Illinois River

One of the “Outstandingly Remarkable Values” that contributed to the designation of the Illinois River as a National Wild and Scenic River is botany. Some of the plants and wildflowers are common and others are rare adaptations to the serpentine geology. California Lady’s Slipper The California Lady’s Slipper is a rare orchid found in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Each stem can have up to 21 flowers that are fertilized by trapping insects in their pouch (or slipper). Tolmie’s Star Tulip These beautiful flowers are also… Read More

Creature Craft on the North Fork of the Smith River

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity row a Creature Craft down California’s North Fork of the Smith River. These unique inflatable boats were inspired by an unflippable Russian whitewater boat known as the Bublik (Russian “bagel”). The Bublik has two large bagel shaped tubes separated by a wood frame that is typically crafted at put-in. This unflippable Russian boat design allows Russians explorers to run many of the large volume, continuous rivers found in Siberia. The Bublik has the ability to go into big… Read More

Camping along the Owyhee River

Most of the well known whitewater rivers flow through Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or National Park Service land and many are National Wild and Scenic Rivers. The land surrounding many of the the iconic multi-day river trips are additionally protected as Wilderness or National Monuments. As a user of these public lands it’s good to know a little about each designation. Most public lands are managed the United States Forest Service (USFS), Bureau of Land Managment (BLM), or the National Park Service (NPS). National… Read More

Inflatable Kayaking in Bhutan

Last year I was shown photos of the headwaters of the Mo Chhu (Female River) near Laya, Bhutan revealing a section of the river that could potentially be kayaked. I immediately began planning a recce. At home we call this a first descent while Bhutan it’s referred to a “recce,” a trip to see if a river is feasible for other groups. It is a unique experience to paddle a river that nobody has ever done. The pre-trip planning requires extensive map work as well as… Read More

Middle Fork of the Salmon River

1. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act is 48 years old! President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act into law by on October 2, 1968. The act turns 50 in 2018. “We are establishing a National Wild and Scenic Rivers System which will complement our river development with a policy to preserve sections of selected rivers in their free-flowing conditions and to protect their water quality and other vital conservation values.” – President Lyndon B. Johnson 2. Wild and Scenic Rivers have… Read More

Kayaking the Chetco River

It is truly an honor to outfit trips on the Chetco River through the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. This extraordinary trip begins with a 10 mile hike (with a heavy pack) to the river followed by 20 miles of paddling Class III and IV rapids (and some portages) in an inflatable kayak. It’s a challenging journey but you are rewarded with absolute solitude and beauty. Last week a few hardy souls joined us to make this epic journey at a flow of 500 cfs. The Hike First of… Read More

Using Pins and Clips with Sawyer MX-G Oars

During our whitewater rowing schools the conversation often turns to boating gear. The right equipment looks good, is durable, and will set you up for success on the river. The wrong gear can create headaches and can be potentially dangerous. It’s also nice to purchase from gear companies who are active members of the whitewater community. Oars The three main oar manufacturers are Saywer, Carlisle, and Cataract. I prefer Sawyer Oars since they are made in Oregon and have a thicker shaft. Here are the oars… Read More

Rafts on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River near Boundary Creek

At 11:27 AM on August 21, 2017 there will be a total solar eclipse on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Total Solar Eclipse: This rare event occurs when (a) moon appears in the sky far enough up that it appears to be the same size or larger than the sun and (b) it passes exactly in front of the sun and blocks out all light for a short period of time. Viewers must be in the path of the totality in order to experience… Read More

Nearly Flipping in the hole at Velvet Falls at 6.5 feet

High water on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River begins at 5 feet when the river is quite continuous, the water is cold, and recovery from a flip or swim can be difficult. Here are some things to consider before paddling the Middle Fork at high water: Everyone should have PFDs that fit them well, have plenty of flotation, and are relatively new Wetsuits or drysuits should be mandatory for everyone Guides should be experienced with high water, proper boat spacing, and flipping rafts back… Read More