The Middle Fork of the Salmon River – A Comprehensive Guide was first published in 2006. By then, author Matt Leidecker had been guiding for fifteen years on the river and saw a need for a more thorough and complete guidebook for the “Crown Jewel” of Idaho’s Wild and Scenic river system.
Waterproof Paper: The first, and most important decision was the type of paper needed to withstand the rigors of a Middle Fork trip. The existing Forest Service guidebook tended to stick and peel after getting dunked in the river. The synthetic, waterproof paper produced by YUPO offered an excellent, fully waterproof stock that is bombproof. The UV-cured inks do not peel when the book dries after a dunking. It even floats!
Rapid and Camp Descriptions: For many boaters, the rapid and campsite descriptions are the nuts and bolts of a river guidebook. On a free-flowing river like the Middle Fork, the rapids may have dramatically different moods between high and low water. For this reason, rapids are described at Extreme (when necessary), High, and Low water levels. Campsite descriptions include information necessary to identify the camp and alert boaters to tricky pull-in situations.
Hiking: It is not uncommon or a river trip for guides and guests alike to get caught in the social eddy of camp. Often, they don’t travel more than 200 yards from the boats. Over the years, Matt learned how to make the most of his free-time while guiding and explored many nooks and crannies of the canyon. The hiking section will hopefully motivate and inspire people to explore the canyon.
The beautiful topographic maps that serve as the base layer is an excellent hiking companion. Route are marked on the maps, and descriptions are included toward the back of the book. The hikes run the gamut from easy trail walks out of camp, to extensive scrambles up the surrounding ridges. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy the exploration.
Geology: Matt performed his undergraduate geology research on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Knowing the rocks is fundamental to a thorough understanding of the landscape. Matt has incorporated his original research on the glacial history of the Middle Fork into an overview of the geology of the Middle Fork.There is also a section describing various geologic points of interest identified on the river maps.
Matt was also fortunate to be guiding during a period of recent geologic activity along the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Fires and landslides have scoured the canyon walls of the Middle Fork resulting in more than fifteen new or altered rapids. The guidebook includes a detailed description of these recent events as well as a discussion of historical and recent fire activity along the river.
History: Even though many of the historical landmarks along the river are slowly fading back into the landscape, the Middle Fork has a rich history of settlement along the corridor. The guidebook includes brief historical points of interest in the mile-by-mile text. In addition, the 3rd edition contains a brand new section discussing the early mining and settlement history along the river.
Photography: Being an accomplished photographer (Impassable Canyon – Journey Down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River was published in 2002) there are certainly no shortage of stunning photographs that are sprinkled liberally throughout the guidebook. More than just pretty pictures, however, they are chosen specifically to illustrate the rapids, hikes, and scenic overlooks in the canyon.
For many, A trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Middle Fork of the Salmon River – A Comprehensive Guide was written so boaters could make the most out of their time in this beautiful wilderness canyon.