One of our popular rafting trips in the spring is the Upper Klickitat River. This full day stretch of class III+ whitewater begins on the flanks of Mt Adams and runs to the southeast. Starting in a peaceful old growth forest, the flora slowly begins to change as the river flows towards the eastern Washington desert. By the end of the day, a large desert canyon replaces the old growth, and the Klickitat meanders its way through massive basalt walls.
Given the continuous nature of the whitewater on this section and the large amount of trees on the shore upstream, wood falling into the river and getting stuck is always a concern. To make sure that the river is free of river-wide wood blockages, Wet Planet sends a reconnaissance team to the river each season before we run commercial trips.
On Tuesday, March 31st, Tyler Houck and I kayaked this section to check out the situation. Overall, it’s good to go for our upcoming trips! Here are our findings as follows, which may be helpful information for private boaters:
Remember, wood can move any time, so use caution and your own best judgment!
- The road leading to the put in is in similar shape to previous seasons. Most of the road is easily passable, but there is a short section near the river where four wheel drive and clearance are helpful.
- There continues to be a lot of wood throughout the run. Most of these pieces are easily avoided but could pose a risk to swimmers.
- There is a new log right after the beginning of the “Miracle Mile” section of the river. This log comes a few hundred yards downstream of a large pillow rock in the middle of the river that splits the flow and forms a hole at various water levels. While the log is currently blocking the standard line on the right side of the river, it is easily passable on the far river left side. This is the most significant “new” piece of wood.
- The log jam in the first part of the run is still there and remains a hazard. It is easily avoided by going left of the island. There are multiple signs in the trees on river left above the island and a large wooden arrow at the top of the island. These signs are noticeable but would be easy to miss if not paying close attention.
Author Dave Seal is river manager, raft guide, and kayak instructor at Wet Planet and will be teaching rescue courses starting in the 2015 season. When he’s not on the river, you can find him ski patrolling at Mount Hood Meadows or mountain biking in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge.