Yesterday J.R. and I were excited to see a new section of river so we headed out to Washington’s Washougal River. Flows were a little low, but we really wanted to do some creeking and decided to check out the North Fork of the Washougal.
We were immediately impressed with this beautiful canyon and the fun Class IV rapids right from the start.
About a mile down Hagen Creek joined on river right and Teakettle Falls was immediately below the confluence. I took a quick look and decided to portage and set safety as J.R. prepared to run the main drop. We had low water (7 feet on the main Washougal Gauge) so the only option was to drive hard left to avoid some nasty looking rocks at the bottom.
Below here there were many great boat-scoutable rapids with a few quick scouts. The next big drop was Double Falls, a super clean 20 footer followed by a tight squeeze through a tight crack with some nasty hydraulics. We both drooled at the 20 footer and quickly decided to portage.
The portage led us to a small ledge where we had to balance in our boats while we put our skirts on before a 10 foot seal launch into the river. My spray skirt barely fits my kayak and I vowed to get a new skirt after balancing precariously while struggling to get it on my boat.
Below here there were many fun rapids and we started to relax which nearly got us in trouble a couple times. We’d be chatting in easy rapids and then barely eddy out above good sized drop that needed to be scouted and even once above an unexpected low head dam. Luckily we were able to make a last minute move each time!
Our final portage was at Bowey Falls, a nasty looking crack drop that I couldn’t imagine running. J.R. found a great way to slide down the rocks and do a big seal launch at the bottom. He even makes the portages fun.
The rapids kept coming and we particularly enjoyed a final gorge that had some wonderful scenery.
If you’re interested in doing this run, check out the North Fork of the Washougal description at OregonKayaking.net. We had 7 feet on the Washougal River at Washougal gauge which was definitely a bit low. It would be more fun and much cleaner at higher flows.