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New Favorite River: The Lower Wind

Of course my favorite river is always whichever one I'm on. Or was just on. Or am about to go on. Today was my third time down the Lower Wind in Washington, and it is quickly working its way into the list of all time favorites. It's not especially hard. Mostly class III with some IVish low volume rocky stuff, one hard class IV (V-?) called the Flume, and then the series of four drops at the end that most call class IV. The four large drops are 1) vertical 10 footer with an autoboof on the left 2) vertical 20 footer that I like to boof right 3) long bony slide, stupid, dangerous, but kinda fun, 4) the final 10 footer that is a clean (boof right) part of the otherwise rock-infested weir.


This is the autoboof at the first of the final series of falls.


The level was near to 130 CFS, the highest I've seen it yet. It was enough water that the bony top part was a little more interesting, and the falls were still totally forgiving. I've seen these falls at 600CFS when I hiked in to go to the hotsprings, and they are definitely nothing I want to run then. The hotsprings is also no good when the river is that high. There are two pools above the river line but they both run cooler. (At 130 CFS the main pool is perfect with a little rock wall construction at the mouth, and the water is above the little shelf I like to drink from.) The hotsprings are about 1/4 mile below the series of falls.


The nearest drop is the weir, with a runnable channel on river left. The long shallow slidey thing is above. The tallest drop in the distance is the 20 footer.

The group today was Bruce, Tyree and Craig. I rode with Bruce, which is endlessly entertaining. We can't seem to agree on the mechanisms involved in boofing. My take is pure physics, it's about velocity, time, gravity and lever arms. His take is pure physics too, but I don't know where he's getting the energy from. He thinks the bow of the boat stays up because you pull it up with your hip flexors. I don't get how that can be without some force against your forehead that is equal and opposite to the pull of gravity on your bow. He doesn't like my explanations because he just doesn't understand them. I don't get what he doesn't get. Seems pretty obvious to me. We'll have to work on it some more. We were also trying to figure out what generation his kids are. They're 17, 18, and 20. Is that Generation Y? Or is there another budding generation?

The Lower Wind is a favorite because it's close to town, easy access (drive to water at both ends), in a lovely roadless gorge. We saw one really large bald eagle today. He sat in a deciduous tree over the water and craned his neck to check us each out thoroughly as we floated by, then he flew to another tree 100 yards upstream. The water is small and rocky (my favorite) and there is some vertical to get us adrenaline junkies going. Oh yeah, and there is nobody there but us. Four kayakers, that was the total seen on the river and at both access points. If this creek was back east there'd be 40 people there on a Sunday. The locals would have started trying to make money off us. But nobody there, just us and the eagle. Heaven.

Today I was the only one to run the Flume. I thought the fellers were right behind me but they they all shouldered their boats. The portage is class V, treacherous over slimy rocks well above river level. I did the portage once, and since then the river has looked better to me. It's just class IV (+? this is another question in debate). The rapid? Yeah, it's ugly. It paddles better than it looks. So far.

I'm refraining from returning to the Green Truss until after my hand heals. I injured it there, and I cannot afford to be injured right now. I'm too close to the finish line of this program. I have to satisfy myself with the lovely Lower Wind until I finish all the hoop jumping, and then I can start pushing it again if I really feel like it. =-] One good thing about being single: nobody to get mad at me for boating hard stuff.

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