The Great Salmon Run over 120 miles and gaining nearly 20,000 feet in less than 2 days, endurance athletes are raising awareness about one-of-a-kind Snake River salmon.

Salmon, Idaho - In the predawn hours of Friday, September 30, acclaimed endurance athletes Luke Nelson and Ty Draney set off on a daring multi-marathon run into the heart of wild salmon country: the Snake River Basin. Check out Ty's review of the run on Patagonia's Cleanest Line blog.

Inspired by the one-of-a-kind journey Snake River salmon make each year and by the pristine habitat to which they return, these runners covered over 140 miles (more than four consecutive marathons) of rugged terrain through the Frank Church / River of No Return Wilderness in less than two days.  

sos.donateHow you can help

You can support Luke and Ty’s journey and SOS’ campaign to recover the mighty wild salmon and steelhead of the Columbia and Snake Rivers by making a donation today.  Luke and Ty ran over 120 miles in less than two days.  Can you donate 25 cents a mile ($30)?  50 cents a mile ($60)?  Whatever you can do to support our efforts.  


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The Journey

 big.creek.gettelman.webLuke and Ty began their trek within the Frank Church / River of No Return Wilderness at the confluence of Boundary Creek and the legendary Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Approximately 75 miles later they reached the confluence of Big Creek.  There they head up Waterfall Creek trail into the Big Horn Crags.

The trail through Big Horn Crags led them to Panther Creek.  From there they followed Panther Creek to the confluence of the main-stem Salmon River. After following the Middle Fork for roughly 75 miles, they headed into the Bighorn Crags Mountain range before descending to meet the confluence of the main-stem Salmon River.  All total, these runners covered over 120 miles (more than four consecutive marathons) of rugged terrain through the Frank Church / River of No Return Wilderness in less than two days.

“The migration of wild salmon, particularly to the Snake River Basin, is truly unique,” said Luke Nelson, member of the US Ski Mountaineering Team. “No other salmon migrates farther or higher.  We hope our adventure will raise awareness about these amazing fish and the threats they face.” 


About the Runners

Luke Nelson is a member of the US Ski Mountaineering Team, representing the team in February at the World Ski Mountaineering Championships in Italy. Nelson holds several records, including fastest ascent and the fastest car to car on Mount Borah, the highest peak in Idaho.  He is sponsored by La Sportiva, UltrAspire, First Endurance, and Nuun.

Ty Draney has been running since the 8th grade.  During his time as a professional endurance runner he has accrued several top finishes at some of the toughest mountain races in the United States: Hardrock, Bear, Grand Teton, and Wasatch 100’s. Draney is sponsored by Patagonia, Black Diamond, and UltrAspire.


The Salmon

osborne.sockeye.redfish.webSnake River salmon travel more than 900 miles inland and climb almost 7,000 feet to reach their spawning grounds – the highest salmon spawning habitats on earth, and the largest and wildest habitat left in the continental United States.  No other salmon species on this planet goes higher and farther.

Columbia and Snake River salmon and steelhead were once the most abundant salmon in the world, with as many as 30 million fish returning to spawn each year, nourishing entire ecosystems, cultures, and economies.  Almost half of these fish began and ended their lives in the Snake River and its tributaries in central Idaho, SE Washington, and NE Oregon.

Today, less than one percent of those once-prolific runs remain in the Columbia-Snake Basin.  All Snake River salmon and steelhead are either already extinct or are listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Nine other Columbia River salmon populations are also listed under the ESA.  The decline of these runs has had devastating cultural, economic, and ecological impacts on working communities along the Pacific coast, from Alaska to California and inland to Idaho and Nevada.

The Habitat

River_of_No_Return_Wilderness.captionThe Snake River Basin in central Idaho and northeast Oregon is home to the highest, coldest, largest, and best-protected salmon and steelhead habitat in the continental United States.  It has been called the “Noah’s Ark” for salmon survival.   This area includes millions of acres of protected land including the largest contiguous piece of salmon habitat in the lower 48 states, the Frank Church / River of No Return Wilderness.  

Historically salmon returning to the Snake River Basin transported millions of pounds of marine nutrients - mostly nitrogen and phosphorus – to freshwater environments. More than 150 species of animals are fed by these essential nutrients – a benefit to nature unmatched by any other.

This “Noah’s Ark” for salmon is ready and waiting. Unfortunately, four federal dams on the lower Snake River kill the majority of Snake River salmon on their migration from this one-of-a-kind habitat.  Solutions exist to replace the services these dams provide, but the federal government remains unwilling to consider all options and include all stakeholders in an equal discussion.

Save Our wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region's ecology, economy and culture.




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