An update on area whitewater conditions by contributor Andy Jaynes.
Whitewater has Arrived! While winter may be just behind us (though it’s still snowing occasionally in the mountains!), whitewater season is in full swing. With the sudden recent warming trend that began several weeks ago, and a deeper than normal snowpack, the rivers in the Northern Cascade Valley are filling up fast bringing whitewater galore. Over the past several weeks, as part of Whitewater Raft Guide Training with Alpine Adventures, I’ve had the opportunity to run sections of the Skykomish River twice (Class III – V), including a brief swim on the outskirts of Boulder Drop, and the Wenatchee River three times (Class III).
The Drunk Tank at 11,200 cfs, Drunkards Drop Rapid on the Wenatchee River. Photo by Nic Allen, taken on April 24, 2012
If you haven’t heard, the rapid on the Wenatchee River known as Drunkard’s Drop which included the Trinity Waves, has a new feature. A mini-van-sized boulder along with some smaller debris crashed into the inside bend of that corner during a landslide this past winter. The river was changed forever. What remains is a very large and potentially dangerous recirculating hole just downstream of the boulder, now coined The Drunk Tank.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to raft about 13 miles of the Green River, from Kanaskat-Palmer State Park to Flaming Geyser Park mostly Class III and IV. While the Skykomish and Wenatchee Rivers had both provided stunning views in previous weeks, the Skykomish with Mount Index and Mount Persus looming over your shoulder and the blooming apple and pear orchards along the Wenatchee River this time of year, when you’re on the Green River, you feel like you’re on another continent. Moss-covered trees and house-sized boulders line the river banks before entering into a deep gorge with 300-foot rock walls blocking all views of and access to civilization.
Rafting on the Green River. Photo by Andy Jaynes, taken 5/5/12
Paradise Falls on the Green River. Photo by Andy Jaynes, taken 5/6/12
Washington has some of the best whitewater in the country ranging from Class I to Class V+ for even the most extreme whitewater enthusiasts. Considering the heavy snowpack, this year’s river season is bound to be one for the record-books.
Check daily water flows and levels for at www.americanwhitewater.org to determine the best time to go and always wear adequate protective gear. The weather links on www.icicle.tv also have the latest information for water levels on the Wenatchee River at Peshastin and Monitor. Gather your friends, get out your wetsuits, fleece layers, boats, and paddles and make your way down to the river. I promise you won’t regret it!
Bridgecreek Rapid on Icicle Creek. Photo by Andy Jaynes, taken on 4/27/12
Near Snowcreek on Icicle Creek. Photos by Andy Jaynes, taken on 4/27/12
Don’t have your own raft or the experience do run the rivers yourself? Go with the pros! Following is a list of companies who provide guided rafting trips on many of the rivers around Washington ranging from Class II (small waves) to Class IV+ (extreme rapids, bound to get wet!).
– Alpine Adventures – www.alpineadventures.com
– Osprey Rafting – www.ospreyrafting.com