6 ft. on the Hood
May 06, 2012 at 8:59 AM
May 4, 2012.
The Hood is a rare treat for rafters. Access for our boats is a challenge, the river is flashy, and the flow window is tight if you aren't a big water enthusiast. The recommended flow range on the Tucker gauge for rafts and cats is 5.5 to 6.5 ft. This is a read-and-run class IV run with lots of long class III/III+ rapids, and a series of bouldery Class IV rapids in the mile above Tucker Bridge.
Put-ins range from Dee on the East Fork to Tucker Park in the middle of the Class IV section, but most of these require land owner permission or trespassing. All of the put-in options require long carries and some involve rope work. The take-out is in Hood River at or near the mouth.
Above 6.5 ft. the river starts to get big, fast, and pushy and moves toward solid class IV/IV+, and can be run as high as 10 ft. Below 5.5 ft. it starts to get boney and lots of bends start to sieve out, but you can get cats and small rafts down the river as low as 4.8'. I like to IK between 5 and 5.5 ft. and raft or cat above.
Yesterday we hit the river at 6 ft., which is an ideal level for the class IV minded boater. We ran from the confluence of the East and West forks to the Columbia (about 15 miles) in a little less than 3 hrs. There were no significant wood hazards, but there is a throw rope and bag in the river on the right side in the tailout below the Powerdale rapid. We tried to get it out without any luck.
I ran my Spider with paddle assist. If you take paddlers on this run, make sure they know how to dig. With the weight of other people in the boat, I needed the extra power of 2 strong paddles to make several moves and to punch a couple of holes that we could not avoid. The cat boats had lots of play water at this level. We had mild spring weather in the mid-50's with lots of sun breaks, but the water was cold (snow melt) and the wind was blowing in Hood River. Most boater's opted for drysuits. At then end of the day everyone was flush with mild wind and sun burn.
Double Mountain Brewing (which is in walking distance from the take-out, is in the middle of a kitchen re-model, so food was not available, but the chips and salsa were free and the beer was tasty.