Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Grays River

The Grays River lies in the Coastal Range on the South- western tip of Washington. It's a seldom run river, but after paddling it this weekend I wonder why. On Sunday Nate and Heather Herbeck and I met up with some Portland paddlers to explore this amazing river. We arrived at the put-in with overcast weather, but the water levels were at a comfortable 700 cfs. Once on the river we paddled a couple class III rapids before dropping into the first gorge. The first gorge was filled with lots of thrilling class IV ledges, most of which we scouted but had no problem running.

Josh boofs the first ledge

Johnny navigating his way through the first gorge
As soon as the walls along the first gorge began to fade away we saw the first large horizon line. To scout Superbowl, the first class V rapid, we had to climb over a 30ft. tall log jam. Most of us decided to run this rapid and in the end we all ended up having relatively smooth lines.

Johnny on Superbowl

Nate Boofing Superbowl
Less than a quarter mile downstream we came to the second class V, picnic table. We spent much longer scouting this rapid, but after a while Justin Japs dropped into the rapid. After boofing his way through the first steep boulder garden and over the first significant drop Justin flipped over and rolled back up just before the final hole which led into a steep but short gorge. After Justin's line I dropped in and navigated my way through the tight rapid and into the deep gorge. From below Justin and I watched everyone else seal launch into the gorge, and paddle on to the next rapid.

Scouting the lower section of Picnic Table

Myself on the crux of Picnic Table

Heather in the Gorge after Picnic Table

Directly after the gorge the river banked to the left and we came across broken paddle. This rapid was similar to the ledges in the first gorge, and after it there were continuous read and run class III-IV rapids until the river finally leveled out. In the last part of the river we floated through a slow braided section, reminding me of Alaskan rivers, and took out on the river left bank. At the end of the run I was glad to have paddled a new and exciting river, and now I look forward to going back.

The Crew: Brian Youngs, Heather Herbeck, Me, Justin Japs, Nate Herbeck, Josh Armagost, and Johnny Ott

Photos by myself and Heather Herbeck

Sunday, November 1, 2009

High Water Halloween

This year Halloween brought crazy costumes and high water to the White Salmon River. Over a dozen local paddlers met in costume at the Green Truss section of the White Salmon for a Halloween paddle. And though the weather was pleasant, the previous days of rain had brought the water levels up to nearly 3.5 which provided for some of the best autumn flows I've seen. Everyone enjoyed the high flows in costumes of all varieties. Erik Boomer and Christie Glissmeyer stood out in their Power Puff Girl costumes, while others of us followed the "scary mask" trend. At the end of the day Greg Hoskins as Elvis took home first place for best mens costume, and Kim Russell in her Miss America costume took home first place for best womens costume. The participation, enthusiasm, and water levels were all great for this years' Halloween Truss Paddle.

Power Puff Girl Christie Glissmeyer on May Tag

Myself on May Tag... After some aging

She Devil Heather Herbeck
Greg Hoskins: The King... of the White Salmon

Photos: Ethan Smith and Heather Herbeck