A while ago we talked about the ubiquitous one-day trip. Let’s take a bit of time now to talk about the big brother of the onesie, the overnighter. A good way to maximize your driving around time is to do at least two separate activities, connected by spending the night somewhere. In this particular instance, the two activities are going to be kayaking on the Green Truss section of the White Salmon River and the Upper -
The only other Class V kayaker in
As with most overnight trips, this one started out on a whim. Kim had been interested in checking out the Upper-Upper Cispus run for quite a while, continuing her progression as an explorer of the river environment. I’d been on the Cispus once, alone, with borrowed gear, (thanks, Cooch) six or so years ago, making me an expert on the topic. One evening, while discussing said run after an evening run on the Deschutes in
Now, a brief interlude to discuss photography. I’m a professional athlete. I ride bikes for a living, usually in the woods. People often like to photograph this pursuit. While I’m happy to oblige, this isn’t really why I do what I do. I like to ride, not stop and screw around with photos. Again, when it’s my job, I’m more than happy to. But when it’s not my job, such as when I’m on a kayaking trip. I don’t exactly make time for documentation, other than that of the “one’s own memory” variety… Kim, as a budding pro kayaker, is always taking photos. I use my seniority and blunt manner of speaking to squash most photo attempts, at least those that will intrude whatsoever on the purity of our river experience. So, we don’t have many photos. The ones we have were snapped before I could tell Kim to put that shit away. Sorry.
Since we don’t have any photos whatsoever of the Green Truss run, and we’d done it a bunch of times already, I’ll just say that it was really fun. We ran some waterfalls, raced through some rapids (it was a tie, two-two), watched the sun set, bummed a shuttle from some local guys, and generally enjoyed our pit stop on the way north (by west).
Here’s where the quality, if low-consequence, adventure started. With forest road 23 over the western flank of
After a bonus ten-mile section of buttery smooth gravel drifting, and the drop into the Lewis Drainage, with a stop to admire the moonrise and subsequent reflection on Mount Saint Helens, our adrenal glands were starting to reach their limit. We decided to find a place to throw a sleeping bag on the ground ASAP. Our first opportunity came at a random turnoff on the top of
Morning came early, but was welcomed on account of warm sunshine, granola and the fact that car camping only takes about 12 minutes to completely pack up for departure.
A brief hour of (slightly more responsible due to daylight conditions and possible oncoming massive log trucks) driving on more awesome roads found us at the takeout for the Cispus. Flow looked good and there was, surprisingly for 9am on a Wednesday, another kayaker vehicle parked there. We quickly stashed our shuttle vehicle (my trusty ten-speed) and rallied up to the put-in, hoping to find the owners of the ‘Yota and paddle with them. Turns out we missed them, no bother, the two-person team is always a good way to travel too (unless you want to set up a legitimate rescue…).
Now, I’d remembered the Cispus starting off with a bang, some kind of entry waterfall guarding the miles of classic boulder gardens lying downstream. I seemed to think it was good to go and a good time, but a scouting/personal morning ritual mission determined otherwise. There were a whole bunch of logs in the runout gorge section. Whoops, no happy-go-lucky fifteen-footer to start the day off right. Instead we got a portage to seal-launch combo, which was fine with me, I like sliding off a rock and into the water anyway…
Once we were on the water a good groove was immediately established. Whoever was leading would roll up to the lip of a boulder garden, peer downstream, make a quick call whether to run or scout, or hop to a lower eddy, and we’d proceed. Scouting sometimes to ensure we were on the most fun line, running on a whim and a feeling sometimes, taking some questionable lines, and generally having a great time getting in the groove with the river. Oh, and I did the best rock spin of my life somewhere in there. Better than any New Hampshire Granite spin I’ve ever done. It was amazing…
Now, the Upper-Upper Cispus has two big rapids nestled between all the sweet boulder gardens. Island and Behemoth. We arrived at
Now we just had Behemoth to sort out. Approaching what was clearly the gorge leading to the falls, identified by treetops downstream and an obvious mist, we spotted an unmanned kayak and paddle on the right bank. Thinking the folks before us might have some issues, we clambored out of our boats and across the scree slope. Nobody to be found. Hmmm. At least the search for the abandoned craft’s captain gave us a unique scout of the Behemoth lead-in rapid and falls proper, in addition to some good scrambling on narrow ledges above eddyless, unportagable, grade 5 whitewater… The falls looked sweet, in kind of intimidating, “you’re here so you’ve got to run me” way. Sloping off the ledge and plunging 25 feet into a caved-out, boil-filled punchbowl where it sprayed mist up out of the gorge and into the sunlight, it was quite a sight to see. We probably should have taken a photo… But, we were much more interested in getting back to our boats and downstream as planned. The lead-in rapid holes were bigger than we thought, but we pulled through. I won a quick reaux-cham-beaux in the pool at the lip, meaning I got to go first. Hmmmm, did I win or lose? I fired a boof off the ramp and set it town flat and forward in the pillowy boils below, then snuck around the massive hole guarding the exit to the punchbowl. When I looked back upstream I saw Kim launch a similary sweet boof into the sunshine, but she got kicked into the cavern at the base of the falls. Some maneuvering with a giant old-growth log and a couple proud ferry attempts, while I stood next to the exit hole with a rope, and Kim earned the privilege of exit. Another mile of decreasing difficulty classic boulder garden boating had us out of the canyon and floating to the takeout.
Turns out we almost caught the other crew at the put-in, they were lunching and lounging at the takeout, getting gear dried out for their drive on to British Columbia for some high water summer creekin’. It turned out one of the guys was from
We got some jeep road shortcut beta from our new acquaintances on how to get back to
I had decided to be ambitious and get dropped off in Warm Springs,, about 70 miles north of