Russell Fork – Flannigan Dam to Carson Island

Posted by Spalding Hurst

October 28, 2012

Here is a really great trip report by Adam from our run on the Russell Fork on Saturday.

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My heart quick­ened as even the small­est squeak remind­ed me a train could be com­ing. Fum­bling in the dark I droped my water bot­tle then try­ing to catch it like domi­noes goes my boat and then final­ly my pre­cious snick­ers bar witch was half shoved in my mouth the last cou­ple bites of ener­gy wast­ed. I pull it togeth­er know­ing time is of the essence portag­ing through a long and dark train tun­nel. As I emerge into the day­light fel­low pad­dlers were gath­ered awing over the deep gorge cut­ting through the moun­tain the misty breeze fill­ing my head. Think­ing back to the rapids just run, but often skipped by most boaters of my expe­ri­ence level I feel as though I’ve chipped off anoth­er bit of what it will take to pre­pare to run the mighty mile long sec­tion of class five water. The Van­tage point of the tracks makes the tiny boats below appear to move effort­less­ly through the nar­row boul­der laden pass. Flow­ing like ducks in a stream they make their way down one by one. Appre­ci­at­ing the flat­ness of the tracks in such a remote and undu­lat­ing land­scape we make our way down river stop­ping every few steps to peak through the near­ly bare trees and catch glimpses of the noto­ri­ous fea­tures below. Stop­ping at a rail­road tower we looked for the trail down to El Horen­do. A fire was being built and peo­ple were gath­er­ing to watch the well known Lord of the fork race. We stopped and ate sit­ing on the huge boul­ders lin­ing the banks as we watched boat after boat drop over then dis­ap­pear and reap­pear emerg­ing from the frothy depths. The expres­sions on the boaters faces were con­ta­gious as smiles broke out one by one. After time passed we real­ized we weren’t gonna get any warmer sit­ing around. Onward and up the steep ver­ti­cal we climbed to the tracks. Then boats dragged and shoul­dered we looked for the trail down to put on past cli­max. Feel­ing like goats on a cliff we scram­bled down. Putting in and look­ing up stream at the end­less cas­cade of drops in cli­max was a feel­ing of walk­ing out of a store with out pay­ing for the mer­chan­dise. With more rapids to run and appre­ci­at­ing the ease of trav­el a boat pro­vides we shoved off. After hav­ing put on at the Flan­na­gan damn and run­ning the pound and upper Rus­selfork pass­ing gar­den hole like it was a dirty gas sta­tion run­ning the warm up rapids before tow­ers prac­tic­ing our rope skills, hik­ing the tracks for a mile, hik­ing down to el horen­do and then up and down again to the river below cli­max it was time for cig­a­rette. I don’t smoke but the rapid was fun. We surfed rat hole ran the meat grinder and float­ed right into camp the end.

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