Image of the 100 year old timber crib bridge just upstream of the Northwestern Lake bridge.  Photo: The EnterpriseDeconstruction of the Condit Dam Project continues on schedule with another big hurdle crossed earlier than expected.  River recreation enthusiasts – especially those who have longed for the Lower White Salmon River‘s perfect class II-III whitewater – will be pleased to hear that the new take-out is only days away from completion, according to PacifiCorp’s Project Manager, Russ Howison.

As the erosion wore away at the thick mud slabs lining the river banks, the White Salmon River dropped lower into the canyon.  Three months after the initial draining of Northwestern Lake the timber crib bridge only just began to emerge from beneath the depths of the sediment.  The former bridge, serving as a sot of time capsule, stood in contrast with the Northwestern Lake bridge, just feet downstream.

Within the last month PacifiCorp has extracted the bridge, removing the hazardous structure from the path of river travelers.

“Good news, the contractor crew has successfully gotten the center timber crib structure out of the river channel above NW Lake Bridge,” stated Howison in a letter to the local outfitters. “There is still quite a bit of debris removal and in-water work along the bank at this location so we will be working in the area for several more days to minimize hazards and stabilize the area as best we can.”

With this structure gone only one task stands in the way of opening the Lower White Salmon River to boaters: the take-out.  However, this is expected to happen within only a few short days.

The new whitewater rafting and kayaking take-outs for the Lower White Salmon River are nearly completed.“We have also completed the major work on the temporary take-out at NW Park, and have a few tasks left to finish up.  We are currently planning to open the temporary take-out for public use this Friday, April 20. We will be sending out and update this Thursday to confirm but it is currently looking encouraging that the take-out will be open for the coming weekend,” said Howison.

The temporary take-out will be located downstream of the former Northwestern Lake boat ramp access point.  The permanent whitewater take-out is still under construction and will be located upstream of the ramp.

Before heading out to the river this weekend, however, keep in mind that the lower river will only open if everything goes as planned.  With such a great track record for staying on or ahead of schdule, PacifiCorp will likely have things ready by Friday evening.

by Susan Hollingsworth, writer for Wet Planet Whitewater, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, American Whitewater, and any other river-related publication she can find.