Upper Klickitat May 27, 2012
May 29, 2012 at 1:59 PM
Section: Parrot Landing (raft put-in) to Leidl Campground, 19 miles
Date: Sunday, May 27, 2012
Flow: 2800 CFS (Pitt)
Group: 1 paddle boat, 1 cat boat, 1 kayak and three IK's.
Summary: Great day overall, no portages, one scary surf at the dam, lots of tree hazards to avoid, but clean routes if you take the right lines.
Details: There are two completely blocked channels that are not obvious and not easily seen: Jeff's Island (right side blocked, run left the same as last year) and Russian Island (very long island, downstream of Jeff's 1/2 mile or maybe a little more, left side blocked run right). It's important to know where those are. Jeff's Island is the least visible and was well documented last year.
The other routes were visible, but as always on this river you have to be very, very diligent and look very far ahead. As others have reported, there is more wood than in past years and lots of hazards to avoid. Some of it looks to have been cleaned up some from what has been reported earlier. But openings were narrow and a few could get more restricted as flows drop.
The dam is a serious hazard and should be scouted. The hydraulic extends further left than I recall, there is a log below the right side of the hydraulic and the recirc. in the middle was huge. The left channel sneak route is still blocked by a log and not availabe. There is a very safe option (in my opinion) by running left of the hydraulic, beaching the boat temporarily on the shallow rocks at the head and to the right of the island and then pushing off well clear of the hydraulic. Most of us did that with no problems and very minimal risk. The commercial trips were punching the far left side of the hydraulic and skirting the island. That line is fine, but it is hard to see as you approach the horizon, there is rebar that can tempt you to make last minute corrections that kill your momentum, the line is easily missed and if you don't have enough momentum you will get pulled back in. The recirc. is very decieving and very strong. Our cat boater missed the line entirely, tried to maneuver around the rebar instead of gaining momentum, got surfed sideways to the right and was there for a very long time until we could get a rope out to him. After several unsuccessful attempts from the right bank immediately below the dam, we were able to get a good long toss from the upstream side of the dam from the shallow rocky water out from the right bank. At this flow the hydraulic would not flush him out to the right, even though he was very, very close to where it looked like it should flush. I know that many boaters can easily hit the line and run the left side route, but I have also seen several people underestimate the strength of that hydraulic and the recirculation and end up getting sucked into the hydraulic. It has always ended ok, but it can be a very dangerous situation.
All in all, in spite of the incident at the dam, it was a great day.