In The Middle

A Fly-in Playboating Mission on the Middle Fork of the Salmon

With the Idaho drainage’s 2011 snowpack at 261 percent of average this past June, driving the only access road to the Boundary Creek put-in of the classic, 100-mile Class IV Middle Fork of the Salmon was simply out of the question. So with the help of Middle Fork River Expeditions in Stanley, Idaho, the C&K crew launched an aerial assault on the engorged river, flying in 16 boat testers, eight playboats, six rafts, and one cataraft—all in the back of one ancient four-seater Cessna. It took 10 trips over the mountains, timed in-between brief lulls in a three-day snowstorm. But after an emergency landing involving several members of the C&K staff inadvertently being reported missing to the FAA, the last case of Coors was unloaded and this year’s river-running playboat review trip was back on. Check out photographer Adam Elliott’s Gallery image in the December issue of C&K and stay tuned for the upcoming March issue for the complete river-running playboat review.

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  • AM

    Your wanton use of petroleum and your disrespect for the concept of wilderness is shameful. It is contrary to your readers’ values….. What kind of stewardship are you professing….with our subscription funds? I for one would like an apology and a clear statement that this irreverence will not be repeated. Shameful

  • Rob Casey

    See more of my images from the “In the Middle” trip, here:


  • Dave Costello

    Sorry, AM. But we are not ashamed. To be clear: we always practice and encourage leave-no-trace ethics. Everything that was flown-in we packed out—human waste included. And as Edward Abbey says, we believe that “it is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can.” So while we admit to using a shuttle vehicle that runs on gas and regret that our decision to do so does not conform to your own petroleum-free paddling philosophy, we’re not sorry for running the Middle Fork of the Salmon. It was a remarkable experience that we are proud to share with our readers. And we sincerely hope that by exposing more people to this amazing landscape they will in-turn come to care about it more, enjoy it for themselves, and protect it for future generations. –Dave Costello

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