2010 Klickitat River

May 19, 2010 at 8:15 PM

River/Section: Upper Klickitat River
Put-in/Take-out: 19 miles from gaging station raft put-in to Leidl Campground.
Launch date: May 22, 2010
Flow: 2400 to 2500 cfs (at Pitt)
Nature of run: Class III+, continuous with significant tree hazards and fast maneuvering required. Snowmelt; cold, dark canyon. Wet suit or dry suit highly recommended.

We had seven boats (6 cats and one raft; no passengers). The weather was great. No rain, partly sunny and some good views of Mt. Adams from the Glenwood Valley. The flow was 2400/2500 cfs, which at the higher end of medium is a nice intermediate level in a raft. There is less rock dodging at this level and lots of Class III waves.

We found no channel wide trees on the routes we chose, but as always on this run, there was lots of downed wood lining the banks and closing off some channels. Always scout blind corners on this river! Tree hazards change every year.

Edirors Note: In 2011, after the trip report was written, an extremely hazardous channel wide tree lodged in the right side of Jeff's Island, completely shutting off the main channel and requiring a low water sneak in the left channel that was not at all obvious from upstream.

The dam provided a little excitement. We took a lunch break and scouted from the left. The tight left channel left of the island appeared to have changed some from what I remember in past runs. While still passable and the safest route, it seemed to have less flow and required some rock bouncing to get through. Most boats chose the higher risk run of punching the weak side of the hydraulic center left to avoid the rocks. Most were fine and had enough momentum. But this hydraulic is very deceiving and very strong. You have to keep pushing hard even after you think you are past it. One cataraft underestimated the strength of the hydraulic, quit pushing too soon and got pulled back in. It was probably a fairly brief surf in real time but seemed like a pretty long surf to those of us watching and contemplating rescue options. His surf, like others I have seen here, was pretty stable and he was able to keep the boat straight until it spit him out on the far right where the hydraulic breaks up. Still, a swim would be very dangerous.

All in all, it was a great run at a relatively easy flow. There are no rapids that really stand out (other than the dam), but still lots of continuous Class II and Class III whitewater. While we didn't have one of those 80 degree Spring days that can be pretty common on this run, we did have decent weather and great scenery. It's the scenery that really makes this worthwhile.

Trip photos are here:

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