Monday, February 11, 2008
Washougal River: III (IV)
On Friday, Jan. 11th, it rained. It rained a lot in the Columbia Gorge region. It rained enough for the Washougal river in southern Washington to get pretty high. What is normally a class II/III- residential run had turned into a fast big-water section. Even with the extra water, the run was mostly class II with a couple III's and one class four: Big eddy. The one rapid was fun with big waves and holes scattered across the river for a few hundred yards. Other than that, the most difficult part was the put-in.
Ryan convinced us to launch on the NF of the Washougal, which would add an extra mile of river and some excellent play waves. The access here is decent for kayaks, but challenging for rafts. We ended up belaying the boat down a hillside until it got stuck. From there we played around with throw ropes off the bridge for a while until we could finally board the raft.
Once we launched, the river was very fast. In the first mile we encountered several outstanding surf waves. Unfortunately, I was in my creekboat and couldn't take full advantage of the playboating all down this run. I was able to surf my Huka on some of the longer, faster waves however where displacement hull got up on plane.
Further downstream, there were many more small surf waves with great eddy service, such as the one pictured above. I had trouble staying on the waves with my sluggish boat, but Will and Danielle in the raft did just fine.
We made our way to the take-out without incident, other than me flailing through some of the big water in a boat designed for steep creeks. Damn, I shoulda brought a playboat! As per usual, beer and kettle chips awaited us at the take-out and we gladly indulged.
I would consider this run fairly comparable to Lake Creek into the Siuslaw River, only without the world-class playspots. It's best when it's high, the rapids are all pretty easy with one big class IV, the river is littered with surfing waves, but consequences are fairly high. With the wide, fast river, a swim could easily mean a lost boat. This is not a run for kayakers with unpredictable rolls. Be careful out there and have fun!