Saturday, February 19, 2005

White Salmon: Farmlands

The horizon line at Lava Dam.

Ah, President's Day Weeeknd. Must be time for a road trip. Our local rafting club, Washington Recreational River Runners had plans to meet up with Oregon boaters from sister clubs for a weekend on the White Salmon. We rolled out of town Saturday morning while the rafters were already gearing up for the Middle White run. Our destination: The Farmlands.

I had been reluctant to sign up for creeking this weekend because I seem to have decimated my boats recently. David offerred me a SOTAR IK though, so off we went. After quick scouts of Lava Dam, a 14 foot falls, and Sidewinder, a nice sliding ledge with nasty cross-currents, we found ourselves at the putin. Don magnanimously agreed to carry the helment camera this trip.

Video: Helmet Cam footage -- putin through Doorbell.

Photo Gallery

The first section of canyon offers fun class III drops through a narrow basalt gorge. All these drops can be boat scouted, and eddies are plentiful unless the water is high.

The White Salmon canyon above the putin.

David at the putin.

David and Don drop in.

Steve in an early drop.

Eric in an early drop.

Steve in an early drop.

Eric in an early drop.

Steve in an early drop.

Eric in an early drop.

Mike enjoys the canyon scenery.

After several fun drops, you'll arrive at the first horizon line, which appears shortly after you pass under the first bridge on the run. The drop can be scouted right, but is straightforward. The next horizon line is Sidewinder. Scout or portage right. At the flows we had, the right side entry wasn't available, so folks opted for the left line through the seam. After a one-for-five success rate on this drop, I opted for the portage.

Video: First drop

The first significant horizon line.

David in the first drop.

Mike in the first drop.

Video: Sidewinder


David in Sidewinder.

Don in Sidewinder.

Eric in Sidewinder.

Below Sidewinder, the run continues through several fun class IV drops, until pooling up above Doorbell, which can be scouted left. This drop looks clean, but has a nasty rock in the middle of the channel at the bottom, as I found out. I nailed the rock trying to move right, and came up from my swim to see the boat wrapped perfectly on the rock.

Steve, below Sidewinder.

Eric, below Sidewinder.

Steve, below Sidewinder.

Eric, below Sidewinder.

Eric, below Sidewinder.

Yes, I rang the doorbell. You'd think someone would answer. Don was up on the boat before I could hike back up to get a rope to the boat. Thanks Don! Video of the boat retreival.

Below Doorbell the White Salmon drops over the best rapids on this run. Several fun ledges and boulder gardens fill this section. I took a swim at Little Lava and had a hard time fighting out of the hole until Eric fished me out. Thanks Eric! After adjusting the boat the next day, I think this swim had a lot to do with the trim of the boat. After unwrapping the boat at Doorbell, I found the seat loose. I tightened it back down without thinking about the position, it being a borrowed boat, and it was about 3" too far backwards.

Steve, below Doorbell.

Eric, below Doorbell.

Frozen springs on the canyon walls.

Shortly below this stretch comes Lava Dam, the single biggest drop on the run, which can be scouted or portaged right. Watch out for the cave on the left.

Video: Lava Dam

Lava Dam.

Don runs Lava Dam.

David runs Lava Dam.

Mike runs Lava Dam.

Below Lava Dam, the rapids gradually taper off and the canyon opens up for a mile or so. As the walls start to build again, the river pools above Offramp, a nasty slot on the left with a clean move on the right. This drop can be scouted or portaged left.

Steve below Lava Dam.

Eric below Lava Dam.

Video: Offramp


David drops off the right side of Offramp.

Mike probes the gut at Offramp.

Below Offramp, the drops pick up a little bit to III/IV as you approach the takeout below the Green Truss bridge.

Video: Typical drop

A typical drop in the lower canyon.

Eric runs the drop.

Don nails his line.

Steve in a boulder garden.

Mike boofs a small ledge.

The final drop above the takeout.

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