Fall Colors Float - Oct 2019, 1500 cfs

North Santiam Fall Colors Float

Submitted by Norma Allensworth

Photos by Norma Allensworth and Jo Wright

Wilderness First Aid Class needed to happen the first Saturday of October -- traditionally the weekend for the North Santiam Fall Colors Float.  Saturday, October 12, about 15 boats, 25 people, and one dog set out from Packsaddle Park to take in the fall ambiance. Even the drive on I5 was beautiful and colorful as a pink, misty sunrise dawned. 
Packsaddle Park was awash with fallen leaves and the weather was clear with some clouds.  Many layers (think Christmas Story) kept me warm and comfortable throughout the whole trip.  The flow was 1,500 CFS, and this being our first trip down the North Santiam, a few rocks lurking under the surface  introduced themselves.

The weather stayed clear -- with a few minor sprinkles in the afternoon. It was so nice to meet other rafters in the association and see old friends we've boated with before.  
The first big rapid was Spencer's Hole. In an attempt to keep Brenda's dog safe (i.e., not certain if that  would work on a cat), I held him in our raft, or rather his collar as he sat patiently and unsuspecting in the bottom. When we hit the hole, one completely undulating wall of water came over the front of the boat, soaking and propelling him rapidly into the upper reaches of my arms. I held onto one strap and one dog through the rest of rapid and he remained safe!  
Carnivore, the next rapid, was mellow at that level. Mill City Falls was concerning tipping into it -- I could feel my eyes expanding bigger and bigger -- but once over the edge it wasn't so bad. Matt Saucy was great in telling us what to look for and where to go.  

We then had lunch a little park right below Mill City Falls. Nice opportunity to visit and get to know our fellow boaters more. The rest of the afternoon was a relaxing and mellow float, with lots of visiting back and forth. Before arrival at the North Santiam State Recreation Area, we had another colorful sighting -- a rainbow colored unicorn -- an amazing find in the wild.  Similar to a sighting of Bigfoot!  
All in all it was a fun day with lots of laughter, good conversation, and excellent floating.  Thank you, Matt, for planning, hosting, and sharing with us your beautiful home river.