|Skykomish — 1 - Index/Powerline to Railroad Bridge ©|
Play Rating (1-10): 7
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Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from SKYKOMISH RIVER NEAR GOLD BAR at 6/18/2013 2:56:57 PM)
SKYKOMISH RIVER NEAR GOLD BAR
||NWRFC | FC Page
||USGS - NWIS
||06/18 14:30 PDT
Minimum Recomended Level: 1000 cfs Maximum Recomended Level: 15000 cfs
There are some long standing, sensitive access issues between locals and boaters. DO NOT put in at the base of Sunset Falls. Currently this access point is closed. Please do not put in there. Residents and land owners have made complaints and will have vehicles towed and fined.
Be cool in Index. Avoid poaching private property. If you don't know, be friendly and ask. Wave Trek may grant you access but you need to ask them personally.
Split Rock: This place can be a zoo sometimes. Try to avoid unnecessary shinanigans on HWY 2. There's a lot of traffic and we could permanently lose access if ever there was an accident related to boaters playing "frogger". Split Rock is private property. Avoid parking on the river side of the HWY, and pick up a little litter if you see some. Do your part.
There are two commonly used Put-Ins for this run. Cable Drop on the South Fork Sky is used during lower flows. At Hwy 2 mile 35.1 (just west of the bridge across the Skykomish) take FR 6020 0.4 miles to a parking area underneath a big powerline tower. A trail a short distance upstream of the parking area leads down to the river at a point just upstream of Cable Drop Rapid. At higher flows, people generally Put In in the town of Index on the North Fork. Access can be found on R. Left under the railroad bridge, or you could ask Wave Trek if you can use their private Put In on R. Right. Derfinitely Don't put in here without permission, though. Sometimes in the past they've asked paddlers to sign a awiver.) Downstream at Llama Ledges, less than a mile south of Index on R. Right there is Forest Service land you can use. Sometimes there are sketchy "home steader folks here though. You can also Put In at the confluence of the North and South forks at the Hwy 2 bridge (mile 35.1 on R. Left). Its Forest Service land.
The railroad bridge over the Skykomish at Highway 2 mile 32.5 (elevation 295í) is used by many as a take out for this section, or as a Put In from "Railroad" to Big Eddy. But its a steep hike in or out. There is a parking area on the north side of Highway 2 with enough space for a half dozen cars (more if you get creative). There have been occasional problems with breakins to shuttle vehicles. Most boaters use the pull off a few hundred yards upstream where the road is closer to the river at Split Rock (Highway 2 mile 32.9). Others, including rafters, takeout at the fishing access downstream (Highway 2 mile 30.4). If you plan on taking out at Split Rock, be respectful to the property owner, and park on the southside of HWY 2. If you see trash pick it up like a good steward, even if its not yours. Try to avoid playing "Frogger" too much on HWY 2. Be as low profile as possible. We may be one accident away from being shut down here. Respect.
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LEVELS: The has been run as a very wide range of flows, from as low as 350, which it only reaches in drought years to over 60K (flooding).
400-1000: Low Low, but still fun. At these levels kayakers can easily break boulder drop down into 3 separate sections. Very low for rafts
1000-2000: Low, but very fun. Different lines start opening up in boulder drop. Entrance to BD is tight for rafts still.
2000-3000: Medium low, lines start to clean up and the river has some push to it. 2000 is often a low water cut-off for rafters.
3000-5000: Medium, the entrance to BD opens up nicely for rafts, waves and holes getting big
5000-7000: Medium-high, Everything is padded out, but expect some big holes and waves. Commercial rafts start flipping more often.
7000-15,000: BIG, Consider Boulder Drop class V and other rapids a half step harder. Except at the bottom of this range the Mercy Chute is usually the best option
15,000+: Really BIG! Big water, very fast. S**t happens on the Sky at these levels. Ask locals. Plenty of stories abound. Run only if you're a strong paddler with IV-V big water skills.
More info on flows in the run description below.
The place to meet other Seattle-area boaters (paddle and be home for dinner). SkyFest has been held in yearís past, but there are no current plans to hold the festival. Although the Low Flow is 1000 cfs, boaters may be found regularly making runs through boulder drop and other parts of the river all the way down to 400!
Run Description [Season: Year Round]
This run is one of the most paddled runs in the State. Read Shane Turnbull's highly detailed description in the Bennett Book. With boatabl flows year-round, this run can have people on it every weekend. It has been run as high as 85,000, It gets run above 25,000 more routinely, but if you are just getting your feet wet flows over 5,000 will feel very intimidating and over 15,000 is experts only.
At flows below 3,000 people generally put-in on the South Fork above Cable Drop, a short Class III rapid. There are fun playspots that develop throughout this drop, so keep an eye out. Below here the river splits around a large rock/ gravel bar. Most people go left and dodge under the old-growth spanning the channel. Stay hard left and you will slip right under it. Be careful at higher flows.
When the Sky is running above 3,000 cfs most people put on the North Fork of the Sky in Index. It has some nice mixed boulder fields, rock gardens, and a few gravel bars. Boofs and playwaves can be found at most levels also.
Below the confluence of the N. and S. forks at the HWY 2 bridge (you can also put in here if you are so inclined) there are more fun rapids with generous pools and long rock gardens with beautiful views of the Gunn Range and Mt. Baring. The first rapid below the bridge is straight forward and forgiving. Run right for the best waves. After the next pool the river bends left and then right through some boulders. This rapid is called Garbage. Stay with the main flow and Butter The Biscuit at lower flows (perfect slide rock). Around the next corner is Anderson Hole. It's a short, straightforward class III at low flows, but it forms a good sized hole that can be nasty at higher flows. Run right or left, the route on the left is easier and at flows under 2,000 a surgey fun pourover hole forms.
In the distance you will see some large boulders looming and the river drops out of sight. This is "Boulder Drop", the long, complex Class IV you will want to scout if you donít know the lines. Scout on the right, portage left or right (left is easier along the road). The lines through Boulder Drop change with different river flows, so if you are unfamiliar, SCOUT.
You can break this long rapid into three defined segments. Most paddlers enter it in the main channel on River Right, which affords two basic choices. Most go far right. This makes it easy to eddy out on the right in "The Bubble Pool", above the Picket Fence.
The second part of the rapid is called the "Picket Fence". At flows under 4,000 you can do the Airplane Turn, The Needle or Nedís Needle. Between 4-8,000 Nedís is the most aggressive line. Paddle hard. The Needle is a hair easier, but a bigger move. Above 8,000 the Mercy Chute is the best bet. I have seen many different lines run at many different levels, but these are pretty standard lines. Above 15,000, be very careful in this rapid. The Picket Fence itself becomes a monstrous hole with a horrible backwash. Be warned. Expect massive holes at high water.
Chutes and drops are run on the left as well. Choose your route carefully. You just may wind up stuffed behind a rock, or find some unsuspecting hole that'll grab your stern and suck you back in. The diversity of Boulder Drop is impressive. Formidable at high water, technical at lower flows with linked moves and big ferries possible. A great rapid aspiring creekers should get familiar with!
Once you go past House Rock, the last feature to contend with has been referred to as "The Ledge" and more commonly Ledge Wave. See Ledge Wave in all it's glory at 8,000 when rafts have about a 50/50 shot. Take care not to flip above the ledge. Getting washed over the last pitch of Boulder Drop, especially at flows under 3,000 can cause serious injury. It's a jumbled mess of rocks and several paddlers have been injured here by washing over the ledge upside down.
Below Boulder Drop there's a few really great rapids. Directly below is The Weir, which becomes a really big surf wave at 15,000+, but can be a sticky ledge at lower levels. Use caution here at high water. Run left of center down the tongue, but be aware of the sieve on the far left.
Below here is Bonsai!! which has some good waves and holes, including loveable "Lefty". That huge boulder in the center just upstream of Lefty makes a HUGE HOLE AT HIGHWATER (Above 10K).
A shallow rock garden feeds towards Lunch Hole, which sits against the R. Left bank. This hole can be mean and surprisingly retentive roughly between 3,000-4,500 cfs. Swimmers can be coughing up water after being on the menu. It doesn't happen often, but when does it's near drowning ugly, so watch people here. This rapid is named because traditionally rafters stop on the sandy beach on R. Right.
The next rapid is a real gem and perfectly named: Aquagasm. This roller coaster ride is big, fun and has some awesome hits. The lowest wave/ hole can flip rafts around 4-7,000 so beware. It's typically been good surf between 4-6K, but changes every year. The general line is to start right, drifting into the center, but watch out for a big hole that forms at higher flows called Pat's Plunge. It can be wicked. Aquagasm is always a blast.
Finally, there is one more boulder garden before you get to the Split Rock wave. Decent eddy service behind the split rock on river left, but as levels drop so does the quality of the wave and the eddy. Takeout at the bridge below, after running Railroad rapid (left of center or right of center), or at the actual Split Rock takeout. The Split Rock surf wave and actual Split Rock takeout are separated by a few hundred yards of flat water.
*Boulder Drop at a level for class III boaters not ready for class IV; the level seen in this video (shot around 600-700cfs) is friendly and has some great eddy hoppin fun! Also, the boulders exposed are quite the sight! The bottom of BD is the crux at this level and is easily portaged if you're unsure of your skill.*
[flash width=425 height=344]http://www.youtube.com/v/SO9OKvi_UWE[/flash]
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