Turns out Aniol Serrasolses, Tyler Bradt and Todd and Brendan Wells just barely squeaked by in setting their new 24-hour paddling record June 3-4 by clocking 287.5 miles on a high water run linking the Middle Fork, Main and Lower Salmon rivers. Even though their record, still pending approval from Guinness, might well tally “closer to 300 miles than 287,” just a few days before, on May 30, another set of rafters set the mark of 282 miles on the same stretch of river.
Just two-and-a-half days earlier, Idaho rafters Jon Barker, Ian Faurot and Shane Moser floated the raging waters of the Salmon system 282 miles in a 24-hour time period, besting the previous record of 273.5 miles in 24 hours, set by Andy Corra, from Durango, Colorado, in 2010 during the Yukon River Quest. They did so by rowing an 18-foot cataraft and taking turns behind the oars to rest.
"I have been doing this type of 24 hour trip highlighting the Salmon and its tributaries for 25 years,” says Barker, a longtime raft guide for Idaho’s Barker River Expeditions. “If there was a recognized record of 273.5 miles, then certainly our 282 eclipsed that on May 30-31. It’s kind of cool that a rowing attempt and a kayaking attempt on the Salmon both broke 274 miles within 52 hours of each other. It’s a pretty crazy new best distance for both.”
As fro monitoring their progress, Barker says they ran from exact USGS mileage coordinates on the Middle Fork and Main/Lower Salmon rivers. Far from commandeering the limelight, they’re in it for the rush more than any record.
“I’ve been highlighting the Salmon drainages for 25 years,” says Barker, who has made several 24-hour attempts on the Salmon of between 200 and 250 miles—one of which, with teammate Clarence Reese, inspired the book “Anything Worth Doing.” “We always stay in the background and just sort of do these things. I know that’s odd, but we’re unsure about publicity. We would have only told friends about this one, but the fact that we bettered some 274-mile mark and a second group did it on the Salmon two days later is a pretty neat story.”
While their record was short lived--with Bradt, Serrasolses and the Wells brothers kayaking 287.5 miles on slightly higher flows barely two days later—Barker tips his water-logged hat to the new record-setters.
“Absolute credit to that kayaking team,” he says. “They’re the fastest. Maybe ours qualifies as the farthest distance for rowing in 24 hours—though I tend to cringe at the ‘R’ word.”
But wait, there’s more. While not a record attempt per se, on May 10-11, Idaho kayakers Kyle Smith, Sam Wells and Mike Bond also entered the floating fray by paddling 300 miles of the Salmon River system in a 32.5-hour push. On flows about 15,000 cfs less than Bradt’s and Barker’s, they put in on the Middle Fork’s Marsh Creek at finished at the Snake River on the Oregon border, 25 miles south of Asotin, Wash.
“Initially, when we started rolling this mission around, we thought that making 300 miles in 24 hours would be possible,” says Smith. “But as we got closer to our window of free time, we knew there was no way we would catch the flow window we needed. At our 24 hour mark, we were about 40-50 miles short of what those other kayakers hit. But their experiences were spot on: Crazy moon, incredibly black around Riggins, and psychedelic describes it perfectly.”
“Hopefully, some day we'll be in the right place again with the right flow to chalk up a few extra miles onto that record,” he adds. “It’s so awesome that the other group of kayakers was able to be in the right place at the right time with right flow, and had an awesome crew.”