Salmon River (Nordheimer)
|Stretch:||Nordheimer campground to Butler Flat|
|Flows:||500-?,000 cfs. Current Dreamflows gauge|
|Gradient:||48 fpm average|
|Shuttle:||6 miles (10 minutes) one-way|
|Season:||Spring from snow/TD>|
|Featured in Videos Nordheimer Race '07 and Nordheimer Race '08|
I have wanted to get onto the Cal-Salmon for as long as I can remember. However since it is a 5.5 hour drive for me I have been waiting for a time when I could stay up there for a week and explore all the runs in the drainage. However, I seem to never have found that time. Thus when Paul decided to organize a race down the run and a party to go along with it, I decided that was the weekend to finally end up up there.
I found that this run is one of the most beautiful runs I have ever been on. Furthermore, the rapids were great. All of them had cleans lines, enough consequences to keep you honest but not so many that you were scared. The scenery was amazing, there are numerous marble gorges and although the road is only a few hundred feet away most of the run, I never noticed it making this run feel secluded without have the extra danger involved with actually being secluded. In all, I loved the Salmon and am now looking forward to spending a week up there to explore all the rivers and creeks in the drainage.
The only runs I have done on this stretch have been at 2,300 cfs. So I am sure the lines change as the water differs. Also there are numerous rapids in here that are not making the write up, there would be no way to remember all the class III in here.
Also, thanks to Any Coit for his contribution of photos to this write-up.
- Bloomers (IV). The site of an old landslide dam, this rapid is fairly straight
forward. It consists of 2 drops, it is best to be moving right across them as just
downstream the water piles into a wall.
The Maze (IV-). A long read and run bolder garden rapid, continues for what feels like a half mile.
- Lewis Creek Falls (III). The river piles into a midstream rock and flushes off and
can push into another rock on the right.
- Airplane Turn (IV). The river drops over a steep drop. The usual line is the left
side which is steep. At our flows we were also able to run the right side of the
mid river rock, dropping over a hump and into a rather large hole.
- Cascade (V). The river plummets over a very steep drop with many lines to choose
from. As water comes up you can boof the center ledge or run the right slot. At our
lower level we could run the left channel, running our way through two very large
holes or we could pick our way down the middle in between rocks and over drops.
Achilles Heal (IV+). This rapid comes when you see a bunch of large bolder blocking the river. At our flow we could enter on either the right or left side of a mid-river rock at the top. Either way, start moving left in a hurry. The water slams into the wall creating a very large cushion which then pours into a very large hole.
- Whirling Dervish (IV). The river splits around a rock and drops into some large holes.
We ran down the right side. In a kayak it was fine, in a raft it pushed us against
the right wall a little but still was fine.
Last Chance (IV+). This rapid is strewn with holes that you must run through leading up to a hole that you must avoid. The idea is to run down the gut and then bolt right once you are able in order to avoid the making hole at the bottom. The biggest problem with this rapid is that there is no slack water between the end of this rapid and the beginning of Freight Train. There is an eddy on the right though in case you run into problems.
Freight Train (V). The move itself is not hard in this rapid, just make sure you nail it. You enter the rapid down the center and run some holes and waves. Then the river splits around a horn rock. At 2,300 the left was a sticky hole but apparently as water comes up that is the line. At 2,300 we went right of the horn rock into the cushion from the rock behind it in order to cut left after the horn rock. From there the rapid is over. Keep in mind though, after the move the water is shallow, kayaks and rafters were skipping over the shallow rocks at Mach 1 so being upside down would hurt. Also, just down river where the river pinches together at the end of the rapid, there is a large pocket undercut on the left that swimmers or flipped kayaks head to.
- Butler's Ledge (IV). On the first right bend you come to your take out. If you are
taking out you don't get to run this rapid, just like if you are putting in here you
don't get to either. Not really sure what the lines in since I didn't run it either
day but looked read and run down the center moving left.
Take out: Heading up Salmon River Road from Highway 96 in Somes Bar, you drive until you reach Butler Flat (maybe 7 or 8 miles). There will be a forest Service sign for Butler Flat. If the road goes from 2-lane to 1-lane on you, turn around and drive one hundred yards the other way. There is parking upriver 100 yards from the actually river access on the right.
Put in: Drive another 6 or 7 miles up river to Nordheimer Campground. Enter and head into the camp straight. Follow the dirt road down to the river. You are not allowed to leave cars here however so drop your gear and park the car up at the camp area entrance (I don't know if that is ok, but we did it).
View Salmon River (Nordheimer) in a larger map
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