Middle Fork Rafting
In the early season, when the river is high, we begin our trip with a two hour bus drive from Stanley to Boundary Creek, the end of a dirt road and the beginning of the wilderness. Boundary Creek is 5700 feet in elevation and the river is really a fast creek. For most of the season we fly from Stanley into Indian Creek, 25 miles downstream. The spectacular 30 minute flight into the Forest Service airstrip is ample compensation for the section of river that we miss, and the remaining 75 miles give us everything the Middle Fork is known for.
The Middle Fork can be viewed as three distinct rivers in three distinct canyons. When we begin, the river is small and fast. The canyon is intimate, and we float past dense groves of lodgepole pine and Douglas Fir.
We cover fewer river miles the first couple of days, but we stop at some wonderful hot springs and arrive in camp tired but with a satisfying sense of a good day's travel. The nights are cool, and we are drawn to the campfire for warmth as well as light and good company. We set a routine of breakfast around 8:00 AM, followed by packing up, loading the rafts and hitting the river around 10:00 AM. We float for about three hours, then take an hour or so break for lunch. We float for another few hours before stopping to camp for the night.
"If I had to choose one river to run, once a year for the rest of my life, the choice would be easy. I would choose the Middle Fork."
- Jeff Rennicke, river guide and writer
In the second section the canyon opens up. The nights are warmer, the vistas broader, and the campsites larger. Walking is easier, and a short hike uphill always reveals views of the river and camp worth several photographs.
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