I made it up to the Cal Salmon the other week, coincidentally during the U.S. National Rafting Championships. It assured lots of people in the campground and easy shuttle partners. I have to say that after paddling the race course (at a leisurely pace) I didn't envy those who tried to sprint down the long stretches of flatwater at these low flows.
The next day we did the Nordheimer and Butler sections on the main Salmon. We started before the race, hoping to done and on the road at a reasonable time. We managed to catch up to some locals at Cascade Falls, the first big rapid, and got to follow their lines through Freight Train. After leading a new river the day before, I got lazy following people and dropped into a sticky hole that I only escaped upside down. A good reminder that you're always responsible for yourself and not to let up.
It was definitely frustrating/humbling/embarrassing to swim on the easiest section of the weekend. I'm sure that being out of paddling shape and tired at the end of two days of solid whitewater had something to do with it. But mostly it was the lack of mental sharpness, the focus it takes to stick your roll quickly when you need it and hang on long enough to make it past the rough spots. Some more time on the rive would probably cure me, but the water's already gone. It's back to the ocean, which has many lessons of it's own to teach. Hopefully I'll take them with me the next time I get back to a river.
Here's a quick video of the action: