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South Fork Salmon, Day One

Day One: We spent the night at the put-in, so it was easy logistically. Everyone loaded up all their boats and for me being my first time doing something like this, had that moment of “Oh man, I hope I have everything.” The river is super chill for a while. The river turns a corner and the walls narrow in and it is as if you are flying into this canyon and it makes you feel super small. Awesome moment for me. I don’t remember any significant rapids on day one except for Devil’s Creek. There are some awesome wave trains on day one with 6’+ waves that are really friendly.

I’d recommend getting out to scout Devil’s Creek. The level we had, it looked like there were multiple lines you could take. The line that most everyone took was to cut the top diagonal wave with 10/11 o’clock angle and then you can choose to get in the top eddie or not. I did, so that I could get my angle on the next little section. The picture below shows the diagonal coming from the left side of the river with the eddie service directly behind it.

Devil's Creek
Devil’s Creek from above
Joey running the top part of Devil's Creek
Joey running the top part of Devil’s Creek
devil's creek
Joey cutting through the top diagonal

From the top eddie, I peeled out high to drop down to the next section, got into another eddie on the left. Turned myself around, looked down stream for some green water. Took a couple small strokes on the left and ferried myself passed the hole and down the center left of the next hole (the is pretty much center river). Everyone in our crew did a great job with this rapid.

We carried on for another couple miles to find camp and came upon a camp site on the left that is pretty large with a lot of tree cover. We carried down. Then we came up to a nice large sandy beach camp area with pretty good tree cover. We yet again carried down. Just down stream we could hear the next rapid, Surprise, and knew we had just passed up the camp we should have stayed at. So we got out of the boats and walked our boats back up which was a complete suck fest. Do yourself a favor, take one of the first two camping areas!

south fork salmon camping
Walking back up to camp

We set up camp, opened some beers, cooked up some food and enjoyed our night at our new home. The stars were absolutely incredible and we almost had a full moon with us. Day 1 was a success!

Photo Credits: Nobu Suga, Crystal Gustin


I started kayaking in Wisconsin of all places, because this is where I am from. I then moved to San Diego and took on kayak surfing along with heading to the Kern River when water was available. I then made the move to Asheville, NC and have been hooked on this sport since my Wisconsin days. With whatever it is that you do, do it because you love it, not because society tells you should or for other outside factors. Don't simply exist, live!