Category Archives: Washington

Souther Creek, WA – Sweeney Falls

Souther Creek is located just a couple miles east of the town of Stevenson, WA on hwy 14 at a spot known as Sweeney’s Corner (Curves between Stevenson and Carson). The falls have adopted that name over the years by locals. There is a small pull out at the creek and the falls can be seen upstream of the road. A short trail takes you face to face with the falls.

Approaching Sweeney Falls
Approaching Sweeney Falls

 

At the base of the falls on the left side (Facing it) there is an abandoned and unsuccessful mine shaft.

Sweeney Falls with the cave in the picture at the base of the falls
Sweeney Falls with the cave in the picture at the base of the falls

 

Looking downstream, back toward the road, from the falls
Looking downstream, back toward the road, from the falls

 

The falls up close
The falls up close

 

These picture were taken just after a heavy rainstorm in the fall/winter. In the summer the flow drops to near a trickle. It is a nice detour stop on your way through the gorge on the Washington side. I have yet to explore further up the creek for kayaking, but I will post when I do.

Wind River, WA – Upper run

 

The Wind River in Skamania County Washington is one of the larger volume rivers in the Columbia Gorge. It has two distinct sections of whitewater separated into the Upper section and the Lower Section. This report focuses on the Upper section. Starting in Stabler/Hemlock and taking out just North of Carson off Old-Detour Rd. About 3/4 of a mile below the put-in the rapids start with Initiation, a long rapid with several different lines.  The following pictures were taken about 5.7ft on the put-in gauge.

Splitting the rocks at the top of Initiation
Splitting the rocks at the top of Initiation

 

Matt King at the top of Initiation
Matt King at the top of Initiation

 

Initiation still going...
Initiation still going…

 

Below Initiation class IV rapids lead quickly down to Ram’s Horn. Ram’s Horn has a big hole in the center/right at the bottom of the rapid and usually run left.

Rams Horn - largest single rapid on the run
Rams Horn – largest single rapid on the run

 

Below Rams Horn the canyon continues to keep you on your toes with fun and challenging rapids.

Matt lost in the serenity of paddling the Upper Wind River.
Matt lost in the serenity of paddling the Upper Wind River.

 

Running the center line at 'Balls to the Wall Right'
Running the center line at ‘Balls to the Wall Right’

 

'Balls to the Wall Right'
‘Balls to the Wall Right’

 

'Balls to the Walls Left'
‘Balls to the Walls Left’

 

Climax is the last significant rapid and offers a few different lines, the center is commonly run.

Running the left line at 'Climax'
Running the left line at ‘Climax’

 

Below Climax the whitewater tapers off and you have about 3 more miles of class III with the occasional class IV rapid.

Whitewater below Climax
Whitewater below Climax

 

Matt playing in one of the many waves below the main canyon
Matt playing in one of the many waves below the main canyon

 

Last rapid before the take-out - Under or around
Last rapid before the take-out – Under or around

 

The take-out is just north of Carson, WA. Take Wind River hwy out of Carson, take a left on High Bridge Road then almost immediate right on Old Detour Rd. drive pas the asphalt and down the hill to the river.

Put-in: Go back to Wind River hwy and continue north to the community of Stabler, take a left across the river, then the next right to swing back around to the river and the parking area.

Alt. Put-In: If the river is running at a good medium flow then you have the option to put in on Lower Trout Creek. Take the left at Stabler then continue another mile to Trout Creek and the old site of the Hemlock Dam.

Flows: Rough estimate – 5ft to 6ft is a low range. 6ft to 7ft is a good medium. Over 7ft. the river starts to get pushy and rapids start to blend together with little recovery time and powerful holes. There is a stick gauge at the put in and an online gauge HERE.

Other whitewater nearby Wind River

Top of the Rock – Headwaters

Money Drop/First Falls

Little White Salmon River

Little White Salmon River, WA

For anyone, the pure beauty of the place is enough to make you want to go back time and time again. Fortunately for paddlers, the most efficient way to see this magical place is from a whitewater kayak. Since 1989 paddlers have been pushing the limits of what is possible in a kayak right here on this river. It is the perfect training grounds for class V paddling. Whether that is personal achievements or paddle technics that are passed on to another paddler and carried to another river or just finding new and dynamic lines that push the progression of whitewater kayaking in general. This river has it all! Easy access, short shuttle, boulder rapids, falls ranging from 10 to 33ft., and a canyon deep enough that it stayed clean of the industrial boom of dams built in the Columbia River Gorge.

The put-in is at the first bridge that crosses the river, on the other side of the river from the USGS Lab in Cook, WA. Just downstream from Willard. A 15 minute warm up on class 3 rapids abruptly ends at the top of Gettin’ Busy.

Gettin’ Busy sets the stage for the Little White. This rapid tests you awareness for what’s to come. If your a little rusty, Gettin’ Busy will let you know just how much. The rapid starts with the Oregon Slot, created in 2007, after a log jam flushed into the first rock drop (entry rapid) to Gettin” Busy.

The Oregon Slot atop Gettin Busy
The Oregon Slot atop Gettin Busy

Since the first log jam more wood has collected year after year forcing paddlers into a narrow channel on the left that requires some technical low water rock paddling in order to not get pinned on the way through the slot.

The top of Gettin Busy, have fun!
The top of Gettin Busy, have fun!

 

Todd Anderson ducking logs in Gettin Busy as Jason Shroeder looks on
Todd Anderson ducking logs in Gettin Busy as Jason Shroeder looks on

 

The variation of lines that you can run in there is mind-boggling. There are many channels, most are good, some are not, but know where you are going in there before you drop into anything. Gettin’ Busy leads straight into Boulder Sluice.

Boulder Sluice durring the making of Haymaker
Boulder Sluice durring the making of Haymaker
Rob Bart taking flight at Boulder Sluice
Rob Bart taking flight at Boulder Sluice

 

This is one of the best high speed, late stroke, take flight lines on the river. Read and run class III leads around the corner and filters through a cluster of rocks above Island Rapid. There is always wood in this section somewhere as well as the river wide log that has been wedged at head hight for the last two years, scout on the right. Island comes up quick…

Keel scouting the new wood in 2007

 

 

 

 

 

Island. The right side around the island used to be a good alterative (sneak line) to running the main line at higher flows, but wood has collected there in the past couple years. The left line (Main Island) is fast and steep with strong laterals.

Looking back up at Island Rapid
Looking back up at Island Rapid

 

Todd Anderson in the runout below Island – 2007

 

Read and run class IV leads into a set of ledges ending in Sacriledge, a sloping ledge drop with a perfect curling green tongue in the center. Sacriledge, like a few rapids on this river, has a cave up against the left wall at the base of the falls.

Chris Leach on Sacriledge
Chris Leach on Sacriledge

 

At higher flows a rescue and gear retrieval becomes slim to none under the walls. Downstream is Double Drop, a sloping double ledge falls dropping about 18′ together. At higher flows the top hole can pack a big punch.

Keel Brightman lining up on Double Drop

 

In the run-out to Double drop is a fast paced curling left reaction wave called Typewriter. Read and run class IV leads down to the Enchanted Forest (right side of the island) above S-turn. The left side of the island (sunny side) can be run as well and it has a sliding bedrock character opposed to the boulder garden character of the right side. The left side is also the faster race line at proper flows.

Log ducking on the Left side of the Island around the Enchanted Forest

 

S-turn is a complex rapid, it drops about 12′ off a vertical shelf into a turbulent pool that pushes left and into a tight slot backed up by a powerful hole.

S-Turn down the center line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The unnerving part is that the powerful hole is backed up by a pocket cave in the left wall where most of the water pushes. Scout this one very well. The right side is commonly run in order to stay away from the left wall at the exit. This is a great place to take a break at nearly the halfway point.

Boogie water leads down to Backender. This double ledge rapid had wood blocking 90 percent of it forcing you to go had right against the wall. In the last couple years the massive boulder in the middle of the river rolled downstream and the logs are completely gone opening up another clean and classic rapid.

Backender down the middle, wide open
Backender down the middle, wide open

 

Around the corner boogie water leads into Bowey’s Hotel, a boxed in ledge hole on the left. (Named after the legendary Bill Bowey). This hole can be more powerful than it looks.

TA clearing Bowey's Hotel
TA clearing Bowey’s Hotel

Just downstream everything slopes into Wishbone Falls and splits the river with the left channel opening up and plunging into a deep emerald pool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The right channel of Wishbone has been run a few times, but is currently full of wood.

Dropping into the middle of the left channel, Wishbone Falls
Dropping into the middle of the left channel, Wishbone Falls

 

You are now in The Gorge where the water flows into a narrow pinch below Wishbone.

The Gorge aka The Narrows
The Gorge
aka The Narrows

 

Three ledge drops and Horseshoe ledge make up the narrow section. Horseshoe can get retentive especially at higher flows with Stovepipe not far downstream.

Looking back up at Horseshoe and the Gorge from Stovepipe

 

As the canyon opens up it flows over Stovepipe. Stovepipe pours off in three channels with most of the water going down the center of the falls then against the left wall into a dangerous undercut. The right side offers more paddle strokes and avoids the undercut wall.

Down the main line at Stovepipe
Down the main line at Stovepipe

 

Todd Anderson riding the center line at Stovepipe with perfection
Todd Anderson riding the center line at Stovepipe with perfection

 

Right line at Stovepipe
Right line at Stovepipe

 

 

Around the corner is Contemplation Canyon (The only piece of flat water on the run) which drains into some really fun waves and off of the Ski Jump. Spirit Falls is just downstream. Out of all the photos and video you have see of this drop nothing compares to seeing it for your first time.  Spirit pours off about 33 feet into the cauldron below. The Spirit Falls and Chaos combo is one of the best sets of rapids I have ever run. Chaos is a tricky 8ft. ledge with a nasty keeper hydraulic against the right wall.

 

Spirit
Spirit

Devin Morton paddling hard off Spirit Falls
Paddling hard off Spirit Falls

 

Always watch for new wood
Luke Bradford and Arron Johnson on the left portage at Spirit Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below Chaos is rapid that contains a lot of logs against the left wall. It looks inconspicuous, but stay to the right and away from the logs. More read and run leads down to the backwards ledge (go with a local..) then down to Master Blaster. One last bang before the Little White lets up.

Keel Brightman taking the right line at Master Blaster
Keel Brightman taking the right line at Master Blaster

 

Master Blaster has several lines, the most common is down the left, staying left of the big boulder. Immediately below Master Blaster are a series of concrete weirs. Be aware of these at higher flows they create terrible hydraulics! At the end Drano lake calmly brings you down and back to your car. What more could you ask for?

Dropping into Drano Lake off the last set of weirs
Dropping into Drano Lake off the last set of weirs

 

Corey, AJ, and Jarred paddling across Drano Lake after a fun run
Corey, AJ, and Jarred paddling across Drano Lake after a fun run

 

For a look at the history of the Little White CLICK HERE…

Flows: The water level is measured at the put-in on the gauge stick under the bridge on the river left side. The bottom of the stick reads about 2.7ft. which is in the low range. From there up to about 3.2ft is the low end. From 3.2 up to 3.8 is a good medium flow (Note that at about 3.6ft you start to feel a solid push from the river). 3.8ft and up is in the high range. About 5 years ago not many paddlers put on above 4.5ft. Since then the top paddlers in the sport today have been pushing the levels up as high as 5.2ft. The river becomes a different animal above 4.0ft. Be very careful at high flows.

The gauge stick at the put-in with water at the base (about 2.6ft)

 

Spirit and Chaos at high flows
Spirit and Chaos at high flows

The Little White Salmon River is located in the crosshairs of the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River. Extreme winter conditions occur during the start of the season. Beware of ice in and along the river. If you know the run it can take less than an hour to run. If it’s your first time without a guide it could take all day. An easy way to start remembering rapids in there is to memorize the lead-in rapids. Every major rapid has a lead-in rapid.

Sometimes it's safer to stay in the river and off the banks
Sometimes it’s safer to stay in the river and off the banks