True expedition style!

Salmon River Canyon - Blitz Mission

It's always a treat when you return home from a big mission and have your local expedition come into play. Word spread that the Salmon River Canyon was a bit high last week and with that knowledge the mission was forming. The Seattle boys consisting of Paul Gamache, Scott Waidelich, Ben Hawthorne, & new B-ham resident Cody Howard rolled into town Friday night in proper form and saturday morning I woke up with a yard full of kayakers including Austin Rathmann and Rob Bart ready to get into the mission. After debating on how to run the shuttle, the logical idea was to load up 7 paddlers and boats into my rig, drive to the take out, and hike 6 miles up to the put in. The other option was to take two cars to the take out, drive a 3 hour shuttle (one way), run the river, drive another 3 hours in to get the put in car and a couple hours out and go home. With a 6 mile hike under our belts we had the car waiting at the bottom and 7 very excited paddlers scouting Split Falls. Highlights of the trip are different for everyone in this canyon for me the scenery, once again, was Epic, the waterfalls Epic, and two bros bombin Final Falls, EPIC!

Ben Hawthorne half way through the hike in

Scott Waidelich taking the first paddle strokes on the Salmon, dropping in above Split Falls

Paul Gamache on Split Falls

Rob Bart on the put in falls

Austin Rathmann left at Lil Niagra

Cody Howard charging Vanishing Falls

Paul exiting Vanishing Gorge

Cody on the only true rapid in the Canyon

Austin on Frustration part one
*Cody ran this shortly after and moved the new pice of wood in the LZ

Austin on Frustration part two

Scott dropping off Frustration part three

Austin running a new line on In Between

Paul Gamache decided that he had nothing better to do that day than have lunch at the top of Final and as EG would say, "run the stout". He was a bit too far right and corrected as he fell, but his boat didn't fully cooperate. Cody Howard watched Paul's line from above and decided to give it a go. The next thing I witnessed was the biggest dry hair line ever! Personally I like to run a waterfall, no matter how big, and not even get my face wet. This is why I don't run BIG waterfalls, I like to stay in front of the waterfall and stomp it, but the impact always has to go somewhere. Cody pulled that line on Final Falls and upon impact I think we all had a slight heart attack as we watched him land flat and float away upright. The next couple seconds were crucial....fist pumps and a paddle being thrown to the sky relieved us of our worst thoughts. Cody and Paul were fired up!!! After the disbelief wore off a bit we rallied to the take out and made it back to Hood before the sun went down.

Paul leading the charge on Final Falls

Cody Howard Huckin Huge

The final piece of the Salmon Canyon puzzle, the elusive gauge rock

*The flow was on the low side of good and I don't think it will hold much longer!
The next day we were all beat down, but we couldn't let Cody go home without seeing the L-Dub. After all his first paddle strokes in the PNW were off of the waterfalls of the SRC and he left no runnable drop unrun.

Props to Paul and Cody for steppin' it up on Final Falls and thanks to Paul & Ben for the use of the photos!

FINAL FALLS UPDATE August 30, 2008
On July 30th, Keel Brightman & I went back into the Salmon River Canyon. Both of us have been there a few times each and were confident that we could make this a quick day mission, but this also requires leaving the climbing rope behind due to weight on the 6 mile hike in & dealing with it at Final. The first time I was in this canyon this is how we did it, but committing to a 70 foot cliff jump takes a little acceptance. Acceptance that once your in that position, you have no choice but to jump or run Final Falls. To keep things moving along on this trip we committed to jumping Final Falls. The run went smooth as we ran most of the falls blind since I had been in there 4 days before.

Once at the top of Final Keel & I were stoked there was only one more major obstacle in our way. I walked over to the lone tree on river right and spotted my landing in the whitewater below. Now I know that Luke Spencer & Mike Northrop had hit bottom the previous year, but after reviewing the video it appeared that they just stepped off and didn't make it into the LZ of the falls. So that was my plan, take one big step, and land in the whitewater coming out of the falls as I had a few years earlier. I stepped out, had good free fall, and spotted my landing all the way to the bottom, braced for impact, went under, and spread my body to slow my descent. Just before I went all the way down I hit the sandy floor below the falls, maybe 8-10 feet underwater.

Once I swam to the side I warned Keel, but he was in a position to take news like that and put it in the back of his mind because that couldn't get him down any easier. He jumped and landed just left of where I did (a little closer to the Falls) and said he hit bottom pretty hard. Luckily, we both have a tendency to scollop our body's under water after a cliff jump to slow ourselves down as soon as we hit water. So after the last 4 people to jump Final Falls have hit bottom in various spots in the pool we decide we will never jump from river right again. River left may still be good, but it is much more intimidating than the right side. Needless to say, If you go into the SRC take a climbing rope, you will need it!

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