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100 year flood

Well paddling is officially back on in full force on the West Coast. We are experiencing what they are calling the 100 year flood. Rivers are all setting record levels. Houses are flooding, dams are blowing out, cars falling into rivers and a few of us idiot kayakers are trying to paddle.

Today started out with a great plan. Tao and I were going to do a quick run on the Husum falls section of the White Salmon river and then meet Sam Drevo and his friend from Portland Dave to do an afternoon run on the Hood River. Yah it was a little high but class 3/4 with some water should have some great play and some wave trains, it should have been mellow. No need for creek boats I’m going to paddle the 420. That would have been a good idea on a normal high water day but today was no normal high water day.

After deciding that the rapid at the put in was possibly death, we decided not to continue down stream, and figured we would go meet Sam and Dave to paddle the Hood first and then come back to the Salmon in the afternoon.

We drove to the put in of the Hood debating wether or not to put on, and ran into a local paddler who said they looked at the gague and had paddled it higher the year before. Solid information, lets giver. We found out later that the gauge had drastically changed with the flood. We put on and it was huge. We ran the first rapid which was a boat width wide toung through two death holes followed by one of the few eddies on the river. As we were all swirling around in a log filled boiling eddy, one of the 5 paddlers said “this is #$@% stupid, I’m out”, and hiked out. Then there were four.

We continued down the massive freight train a few more rapids and ran into what looked like the ocean, but was actually the West Fork of the Hood which had probably four times the amount of water that we already had. The wave trains now had the biggest waves I have ever seen. 20-25 foot waves seemed to be par for the course. However the waves weren’t the problem, it was the turns in the river that were the real problem. The biggest boils and holes on almost every corner.


We discussed hiking out around almost every corner but decided to keep going. Sam, Tao and I caught an eddy above what looked to be the boil of death, but unfortunately Dave did not. He went around the corner and out of sight into the abyss. We were stuck in the eddy with no safe option of chasing him. After realizing that there was no way out of the river we crossed our fingers and started chasing Dave down the river through massive waves and boils. It sure would have been nice to be in the Burn. We finally bailed out of the river at dark and took a big deep breath.

Hopefully it will be a little lower tomorrow!