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Monday, May 18, 2015

Prospecting down the Skykomish

Saturday was Paddle Trails Canoe Club's 45th annual Spring Bash. The board made breakfast for all, then there were some rope throwing games, for both distance and accuracy, and afterwards we split up and headed out to several different rivers/sections. There was a Snoqualmie River Powerhouse run, a Big Eddy to Sultan run on the Skykomish, and I lead a group of nine intrepid folks down the Skykomish from below Boulder Drop to Big Eddy. The river was flowing right around 2,000 cfs, which, from previous experience, can be a little boney in a canoe. Naturally, I decided my 16 ft Prospector was THE boat for this. As you can see, it has airbags in the end and a kneeling thwart, but other than that, it is 16 feet of fun and empty space.
Ed and Grace peeling out at the get on below Boulder Drop.
There was a bit of rain and wind at the beginning of the run- this is me trying to keep everything aligned going into the first Ledge Drop.
It was rainy and a little windy at the top of the run- to the point I had to change my trim to a less desirable position for river running, but better than going down sideways!

Looking upstream to Boulder Drop - I was swimming there not so long ago.
Leslie was especially color coordinated on Saturday.
Looking down through Aquagasm.
I have done this run numerous times, in both kayak and whitewater canoe. I have run the lower section, from Split Rock down to Big Eddy, once in large canoes, and we broke 2.5 of 4 boats. With a little more skill and hopefully some luck, I thought that I would have a go at both the lower and the more difficult upper section of this run.

The two rapids I was most nervous about were Aquagasm, near the top, and Railroad, which is just after Split Rock, the first rapid of the lower section. Both are long, and the first has at least 300 yards of large V-shaped wave trains that purposefully try and fill your canoe to the brim. 

Railroad is a little more technical and rocky, with water pushing towards rocky weirs where one could easily get hung up in a canoe.

Right in the midst of Aquagasm.
Big curling V waves.
Yep, trying to fill the boat.
I certainly took on some water coming through Aquagasm, but not enough to make me tip. Success!

Surf break at Split Rock.
During the Bash in the morning, I won the distance throwing contest, with an 85 foot toss. (three of us tied at 64', so we tied a second bag on to see how far we could get. Little did I know that I would need the practice later.

Leslie finishing her surf...

A nearly spot on throw.
Got her!
After rescuing Leslie, we passed Split Rock and headed down Railroad. I took the right line to try and minimize cross-current maneuvering to minimize the chances of a broach or pin.

Lining up at the top of Railroad.
Threading the needle between two rocks.
Ed and Grace lining up a boof.
Nailed it!
Looking upstream at Fisherman's.
Leslie had a bumpy ride down Fisherman's Rapid (without boat), and we figured the fastest way down to her boat in the eddy was tandem. Easy with a Prospector!
Leslie picking a line.
Kevin working down river.
Ed and Grace were masters of this boat. I just got one and can't wait to outfit it and paddle it!
Trim and pry!
Snack break.
Dave and Leslie making their way down to the take out.
It was a successful bash and a successful paddle. I really enjoyed the challenge of taking the Prospector down a technical run with lots of eddies and rocks- at higher water, with less of those, it would be much harder, and important to keep to a clean, dry line. We broke no boats, had a handful of swims, and lots of fun catching as many eddies and surfing as many waves as possible. Can't wait to get out again soon! (next week).

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