liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Trip Report: Farmlands Section of the White Salmon

So you drive past the Middle White Salmon, checking the gauge at Husum. We had a fat 3.6 feet, which is only .2 highter than the flow I was told was the ideal first time flow. It felt juicy to me. A small difference at the Husum gage will be a big difference in those little basalt canyons, only two boatlengths wide.

We put in below Sidewinder. Apparently people put in above it and then walk it, but our guides (Bruce and Scott) considered it more reasonable to just go to the bridge below. So we did. The river immediately drops into a gorge and stays there for the first few miles. The whitewater starts out class II, then III, and IV, with slower sections in between, or at least places where there are several eddies. At this flow the drops were all big watery----splashy, diagonals crashing on you from alternating sides, sometimes a bigger hole. Not much rock exposed to boof from. A few ledges steep enough to boof. A few waveholes fluffy enough to retendo in. Not too bad. After the first section ramps up for a while there's a ledge that you boof left, and then Lava Falls, which is nothing like the rapid on the Grand Canyon. There's a big log sitting in the middle of the lip of it. It's just a straight off ledge drop into an aerated hole, but they tell tales about how it's a double hole with a cave behind the ledge, and how people lose boats and stuff in there all the time. The hole is backed up by the left bank because the entire drop is diagonal, so you run it on the right. We didn't, though. We had a pack of first timers and a fat flow so we were conservative and walked this and Off Ramp. Between the two there's a long class II section where it opens up. Off Ramp is a pain in the ass to walk and didn't look that hard, but I went with the group and portaged. I am trying not to be an ass and go run all this stuff that nobody else runs. It must be harder than it looks. There is definitely a tree in the outflow, and only a little bit of the tree is visible at this flow. From there down it's class III mostly, with a couple of steeper rapids that don't have any big hazards that I saw.

runs in narrow basalt gorges, rock walls to water in many places
bedrock ledges
cold clear water, springfed off Mt Adams
gradient: 60fpm
length: 5.1 miles
class: IV-V
made wild & scenic? proposed in 2003:

*below Trout Lake Creek (estimate) (current flow 480)
*at BZ (est) (current flow 950)
*most people use the foot gage at BZ--river left below bridge
*below Northwestern Lake (current flow 1300)
*near Underwood (current flow 1340)

*best first timer flow: 4.25 is highest anyone has recommended, 3.4 recommended by conservative boaters, over 3.0 recomended by Or kayaking
*too high: 4 feet for some, others go higher, 4.5 is OK
*too low: so far lowest I've heard of it run is 2.75, looks like plenty


As of 10/5/08 there is a log in the left side of the little island drop after Off Ramp. The way
this is wedged in there, it probably won't move in high water and may become submerged and hard to
see. With this log the left side is unrunnable.

Tags: kayak, risk, river, washington, whitewater

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