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Keep up with all the latest news from Solitude!

Salmon Valley Honey


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As the owner of Solitude River Trips, spring time is often a hectic blur of preparation, anticipation, cleaning, re-cleaning, and fiddling with gear that I can hardly wait to get wet.  But one of my favorite pre season chores is going to get the honey!

Salmon Valley Honey is located in the agricultural heart of the Lemhi Valley, where they press, treat, drain, and bottle their honey.  Owned by Dan and Lisa Mudd who have hives along the Lemhi and Pahsimeroi Rivers of central Idaho.

Last time I was there I learned about eating honey comb!!  Taking a teaspoon of the honey, comb, wax and all every morning will help strengthen your respiratory system and your immunity to bee allergy.

 

 

 


Odd Fellows Bakery


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Arguably the most important part of any sandwich is the bread!  Craig McCallum, former guide on the Middle Fork, has now turned to the profession of baking.  He owns the Odd Fellows Bakery on Main St. in historic Salmon, Idaho.  Craig is up every morning long before the sun rises to fire up his hand built wood fired oven.

          

Solitude River Trips packs his delicious goodies for on the Middle Fork.  Craig knows how to bake and package treats so that they stay fresh and sumptuous during the trip...treats such as sandwich loaves, cookies (sugar, ginger, chocolate chip), pretzel rolls, sesame buns, and more.

           

We fly fresh food into the river on bush planes halfway through the trip so that we can have fresh ingredients until day 6.  This is a serious luxury on a multi-day wilderness river trip, and one of the most delightfully fresh items are craig’s doughy decadanceies.  It is surreal to enjoy freshly baked bread in the middle of 2.3 million acres of wilderness.

 

 


Ponderosas of the Middle Fork


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This ancient ponderosa stands at the confluence of #camascreek. It is one of my favorite trees. When it was a sapling the sheepeater natives sat in its shade and sharpened their arrowheads for hunting salmon and other fauna; in the 1860s white and chinese miners passed it en rote to unknown wilderness destinations; in 1879, capt bernard's "sheepeater campaign" met beneath it to ponder their tactics; in the 1890s Charlie Norton, man of nerve, rested here after being mauled by a grizzly; in 1931, Henry Weidner pulled his canoes up to it on the first ever Middle Fork river trip; in the 1970s, some outfitters started their trips next to this tree after packing guests and gear on horseback down Camas cr; and on high water years we tie our rafts to its enormous trunk.

 

 

These ancient Ponderosas stand guard over the Little Cr. guard station, and were deeply rooted before the US Forest Service was ever imagined.  Guide D.K. ponders deep rooted thoughts at the edge of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

 

This vanilla scented behemoth ponderosa marks the upstream pull-in at "Stateland Left" camp, one of Solitude River Trip's favorites:

 


Guide to planning a Middle Fork River trip....without an outfitter


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The Middle Fork is one of the most beautiful, diverse, challenging, and famous river destinations in the world.  People travel from all around the world to experience the spectacular Impassable Canyon and wet their lines in pursuit of native cutthroat trout.  Depending on the water level, it can be a raging whitewater hurdle or a technical dodge.

One of the most important, and sometime unnoticed, roles of a Middle Fork river guide is to respect and protect the incredible river resource.  When you arrive at your camps they appear untrammeled, and you will encounter many delicate cultural and ecological specimens.  The pristine nature of the Middle Fork is no accident, and it is important that if you are passing through the Middle Fork canyon without an outfitter you educate yourself on the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Leave No Trace Policy!

If you are not visiting the Middle Fork with an outfitter, here is some basic information to help you prepare for a private trip:

Middle Fork River trip

LOCATION & NEAREST TOWNS

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River runs over 100 miles through the 2.3 million acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.  This is one of the most rugged and remote areas in the contiguous United States.  The town of Stanley, ID is the closest jumping off point for people traveling to the Middle Fork.  Riverwear, River 1, and McCoy's Tackle are some stores in Stanley that are full of friendly people who have lots of information for boaters and fishermen/women.  At the end of your trip, the closest major town to the take out is Salmon, ID.

ACCESS

The two most common launch points are Boundary Creek/Dagger Falls Road (which is the only road access launch point for the Middle Fork), and Indian Creek (public airstrip at mile 22).  The elevation at Boundary Creek is ~5,800 ft.  The other two commonly used public landing strips along the Middle Fork are Thomas Creek (mile 33) and Bernard Cr. (mile 64).  Indian Creek is typically used in the spring when the Boundary Creek road is still snowed-in, or during extreme high/low flows.

SEASONS

The most popular time to float the Middle Fork is during late June  to early August.  The Highest flows are typically the first week in June, but flood stages can begin in May and last well into June on big snow pack years.  The road into Boundary Creek usually opens around this same time of the year.  You can call the Middle Fork Ranger District for road condition updates.  Typically by the last week in July, the water is getting “low”, and by the end of August, a flight into Indian Creek to launch your trip may be the advisable choice.  The Middle Fork is floatable through October, but ice becomes a potential danger in November.

To get a grasp on how to read the river gage (located at mile 32), click here: MY EXCELLENT RESOURCE PAGE FOR WATER LEVELS, FLOW PREDICTIONS, AND AVERAGE TEMPS ON THE MIDDLE FORK!!

 

PERMITS AND REGULATIONS

The Middle Fork is permitted and regulated by the Salmon Challis National Forest and the ID Fish and Game.  To make a reservation, you need to go through the rec.gov system.  Because there is significantly more demand than the regulated use capacity, you will need to enter into a lottery system on Rec.gov to be drawn for the date you want.  Make sure to have your reservation in the lottery before December.  Once you have your reservation confirmation, you need to get your permit at the guard station before launching for your trip.  Don’t miss you meeting the previous afternoon at 3:30 if you  when you select your assigned camps.

If you are fishing or hunting, make sure to observe all ID Fish and Game Regulations.  You will need a license which you can buy in Stanley, ID or online at Idaho Fish and Game's Online Licensing Page

 

LEAVE NO TRACE!

The Middle Fork is in a Wilderness Area, as well as a Wild and Scenic River corridor.  This means that it is regulated with a leave no trace policy.  The Forest Service representative at your launch point will give you a briefing on the Leave No Trace policy.  You will need a fire pan, groover, and a way to carry your trash with you.

 

RECOMMENDED READING

The best guide book for rowing the Middle Fork is Matt Leidecker’s “The Middle Fork of the Salmon River: A Comprehensive Guide”.

Another excellent history book is Cort Conley’s “The Middle Fork: A Guide”

Salmon Challis National Forest's Wilderness User's Guide


September Foliage


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Another September full of incredible fly fishing on the Middle Fork has come and gone like a fleeting peek at an otter playing in the cold river current.

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

 

Sandwiched between the hedonistic heat of August and the inclement deluge of October, September is the magnificent window of opportunity for any fly fisherman/woman seeking solitude, comfortable relaxation, and really really fantastic fly fishing. 

Fly fishing on Middle Fork Fly fishing on Middle Fork Fly fishing on Middle Fork

 

The most spectacular change of colors in the Idaho wilderness is not the flaming yellow of the cottonwoods, nor the blazing red ninebark covering the rugged hillsides.  It happens in the river.  As the cutthroat trout embrace the relief of cold water with aggressive hysteria, their bodies respond with a display of jaw dropping coloration.  Their whole being is engulfed in the seasonal gorging and migration.

fly fishing  Fly fishing on Middle Fork

 

A huge part of our September trips is the sporting camaraderie only found in the wilderness!  Siblings, spouses, friends, guides, and our solitary selves re-identify in amazing ways on a 6 day fly fishing trip.

fly fishing  Fly fishing on Middle Fork

fly fishing

fly fishing  Fly fishing on Middle Fork

fly fishing  Fly fishing on Middle Fork

 

Enjoy these wonderful photos courtesy of Kat Smith Photography

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

Fly fishing on Middle Fork

 

A huge thanks to our fantastic guides and fantastic guests

for making this September such a successful and magical fishing season!!!

-Willi and Kat (and Brooke)

 Fly fishing on Middle Fork

 

 


Greatest Guides Under the Summer Sun


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We hear it all - from the phenomenal food, to the unforgettable sunsets - but the most consistent praise we get, without fail, is for our guides.  Nobody can help raving about the amazing people who escort them down the beautiful Middle Fork of the Salmon River.  Guides are everything!  Without them we would be just another river company.  They are the blood in Solitude's veins, they are the reason why people come back.  So here's to Solitude's solid dudes!! Cheers fellas, and thank you from the bottom of our big ol' Solitude heart!! 

River Rafting Guides    

 

Here's what people are saying:

1. The guides were all good at learning and using the clients names.  2. Paddled with Barker...he was very good and knowledgeable.  3. Mike was very helpful volunteering to teach my grandson to fly fish.  4. Trip had a lot of rain but the guides and camp jacks did a great job of taking care of the clients. -John.V. D.

 

River Rafting Guides         

 

"​The guides were incredible.. helpful all day and working /cooking … morning and night. Looking back , I’m even more impressed with how well they work as a team.. getting everything done so efficiently… and in good spirits.  You run a great organization." -Kevin T

 

River Rafting Guides

 

​"The guides were outstanding and I really appreciated that they were older." -Estie H

 

River Rafting Guides  River Rafting Guides

 

"For me, I fly fished all day every day and made memories I will never forget, but the most impressive part was the ability of the staff to make each day seem effortless.  From packing and moving gear, to answering questions, providing fishing insight, to making sure that perfect picture was taken, I could not have asked for more."  -Cole M

 

River Rafting Guides

 

"Secondly the phenomenal service by your guides.   They took great care of my "city dweller" family without ever being dismissive, or disrespectful of our ignorance of camping/rafting/fishing.   They treated my daughters with extreme care (as a parent there's no greater service)." -Oskar V

 

River Rafting Guides    River Rafting Guides

River Rafting Guides  

River Rafting Guides  River Rafting Guides

 


Watercolor


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It's always astounding to witness the wilderness' boundless inspiration manifesting through creative travelers!  This July we were fortunate to host Char and her paint on the Middle Fork.

We set up an "art boat" for her, and her paintbrush was busier than DK's oars! 

watercolor paintings by Char at Middle Fork Salmon river    paintings by Char at Middle Fork

 

Enjoy some of her colorful work:

watercolor paintings by Char at Middle Fork Salmon river

watercolor paintings by Char at Middle Fork Salmon river    paintings by Char at Middle Fork

watercolor paintings by Char at Middle Fork Salmon river

watercolor paintings by Char at Middle Fork Salmon river    paintings by Char at Middle Fork     

 

watercolor paintings by Char at Middle Fork Salmon river

 

Char in her element beside Camas Creek:

watercolor paintings by Char at Middle Fork Salmon river

 

 


River Celebrations!


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We kicked off our 2015 season with a wonderful trip full of birthdays, anniversaries, kids, hiking, and lots of swimming (even in June!!)

River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork

Ellie and Scott compete in the family standing broadjump championship at "Stateland Right" campsite.

 

River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork  River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork

We all celebrate in different ways: Barry celebrates his 49th birthday with 49 pushups (and gets some others to join in too!), meanwhile Red and Shuron celebrate their 34th anniversary by relaxing at the "top end" of the Middle Fork.

 

River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork  River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork  River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork

During a quick hike across Sunflower Flat on the old Hood Ranch homestead, we found a magnanimous "bachelor group"  of Bighorn Sheep Rams.  Our riverside stroll worked up such an appetite that was soon quelled by hydrating fruits and other such decadences.

 

River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork  River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork

Exemplary fishing guide Roger Goth teaching the girls how to catch native westslope cutthroat trout (left), and a group of paddlers driving though Pistol Creek Rapid (right).

 

River Celebrations Salmon Middle Fork

3 princesses enjoying the "Princess Boat"

 

 

 

 


Loon Creek


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These photos are from a recent fly fishing adventure into the headwaters of Loon Creek, the 2nd largest tributary of the Middle Fork.

Loon Creek Middle Fork     

The Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness essentially consists of three immense drainages: The Main Salmon River, The Middle Fork of the Salmon (largest tributary of the Salmon River), and Big Creek (largest tributary of the Middle Fork).  Each of these dominating watersheds has countless tributaries and feeder creeks.

Loon Creek Salmon River

As we float the Middle Fork we gain spectacular views from the bottom of the canyon, but the headwaters of the tributaries remain hidden from sight.  When we get an opportunity to hike just a small distance up from the bottom of the river canyon, we get a perspective of how vast and massive these trout fisheries really are.

 Loon Creek Middle Fork   Loon Creek Salmon River   Loon Creek Middle Fork

Fly Fishing is a great excuse to learn about yourself, your friends, strangers, and new places.  Countless trails, scrambles, swims, and tight lines are just waiting out there...and all in the name of fly fishing!

Loon Creek Salmon River   Loon Creek Middle Fork

Loon Creek Salmon River

Each tributary has its own distinct vibe which is defined by the particular section of Idaho Batholith which it has whittled over last 6 million years.  And each with its own human history as well.

Loon Creek Middle Fork     Loon Creek Salmon River

Loon Creek Middle Fork  Loon Creek Salmon River  Loon Creek Middle Fork

 

Cheers and reflection:

Loon Creek Salmon River  


Sandals and Shooting Stars


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Spring has flown by as the days lengthen, the rivers swell, and the mountains turn green.  Oenothera, shooting star, and lupine are popping up almost as fast as the tevas, keens, and chacos.  Soon Solitude’s guide community will be amassing from across the west for their seasonal pilgrimage to Idaho’s wilderness.  Snow cat drivers, teachers, ski patrollers, butchers, and nurses are coming out of their retreats for another long awaited season on the Middle Fork.

 

    

 Sandals and shooting stars: wildflowers and river guides return to Idaho

As I gear up, I can’t help thinking how great last season was.  Thanks again to all of our wonderful guests for making it such a success!  The two most important parts of a great river trip are great guides and great guests.  I am so grateful that Solitude has both of these, and we are looking forward to meeting new faces this summer as well as welcoming back some familiar ones!

Contact Details

Solitude River Trips
504 Neyman St
Salmon, ID 83467
Orvis endorsed fly-fishing expedition

"Every time I see Solitude River Trips in my newsfeed I am reminded of a trip unsurpassed in its majestic and imposing scenery, it's knowledgable guides so willing to impart knowledge to ambitious fisherman, the relentless sense of peace and contemplation." - Phil M, London