About our recent trip to The Middle Fork of the Salmon and the Yellowstone area
Getting on the Middle Fork of the Salmon requires that you enter one of the most hotly-contested river lotteries in the country. That’s right … unlike the state of affairs when I first started running rivers, all the multi-day river trips of interest in this country are rationed and access is gained by winning in the lottery. That is, you or a friend wins. In this most recent case, the second Middle Fork trip for Kathy and I, our friends Michele and Marcos Puiggari won, and invited us. They recently moved to Missoula, MT from Santa Fe, but we’ve remained in touch. Marcos and I are fishing buddies, and we helped him acquire his first raft. The other participants on the trip were Marcos’ brother, Diego, (also a fishing nut), and two couples from Missoula.
So, why is the Middle Fork so popular? Well. its entire drainage is located in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, a vast tract of land that occupies most of central Idaho, and also includes a long stretch of the so-called Main Salmon. That means no logging or anything else, which results in astounding water purity and clarity, and an un-excelled cutthroat trout fishery. One can also catch rainbow trout, bull trout and pikeminnow in the river. At the lower water levels of late summer the rapids are not particularly difficult for someone with a modicum of rowing experience, and the water temperature invites swimming – altogether a very pleasant way to pass a week away from it all, in the bosom of untrammeled wilderness. Ah…
The Middle Fork is 100 miles long, but we elected to fly in to an airstrip at Mile 25, to avoid low-water difficulties in the first 25 miles of the river. The trip went off as planned, with no incidents.
and lastly, here’s a shot from the Harriman State Park on the Henrys Fork (of the Snake River), near Yellowstone, where we wade and float-fished.