Middle Fork Whitewater

Whitewater on the upper section of Idaho's Middle Fork of the Salmon

I’ve never before managed to capture a decent shot of the whitewater on the upper stretch of the Middle Fork of the Salmon. The river up there is basically non-stop fast, continuous, tricky rapids, and when you’re running it is not a time you want your camera out or your attention distracted. But the Main Salmon trip I was supposed to be on this week cancelled because of high water, and I filled some time by driving a shuttle for our Middle Fork crew. I was able to hike down three-quarters of a mile or so and wait to shoot them coming through a good rapid. I think this one is known as Cable Hole, but the rapids are so many up there that even after fifteen seasons I’m not always sure which one is supposed to be which (plus I don’t care; I know ’em when I see ’em, whether I can put a name to them or not), so I may be wrong.

Here’s a grab shot of First Bend rapid, which is literally 50 yards below the boat ramp. Quite a start to a river trip!

First Bend rapid on Idaho's Middle Fork of the Salmon

2 thoughts on “Middle Fork Whitewater

  1. I feel the same way about technical canyoneering, Jackson. Most of the time, I’m focused on fixing ropes or anchors, and don’t feel like my attention should be given over to photography, although I’d love some images from some of the deeper, more obscure canyons in Zion.

    Great images–keep ’em coming!

    • Thanks Greg! Yeah, any activity where you have a technical and safety aspect to deal with makes photography all the more difficult. I have enormous respect for folks who take top-notch mountaineering photos and the like. I also try to maintain a very high standard of never inconveniencing my fellow guides for the sake of my pictures, and on multi-day trips that doesn’t just affect whitewater shots, but means a lot in terms of camp and kitchen work also. I’d get more keepers if I went there, but I feel that as a guide or just as a friend, your responsibilities to run a good, safe trip always have to come first.

      It is worth mentioning, though, that you shouldn’t necessarily put the camera away when the going gets tough. Safety and logistics come first, always, but it’s possible to get some great shots in edgier situations if you can work fast and stay aware of everything. Wilderness slideshows don’t have to end with “and then the weather moved in and it was epic and I stopped taking pictures.”

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