WA-Boater's Submission - Entered on 9/5/2011 10:33:00 PM
There is currently no Gauge Data on this stretch. Please Email us if you have details about a realtime gauge for this river.
Minimum Recomended Level: 250 cfs Maximum Recomended Level: 800 cfs
Currently there is a huge blow out in the road just downstream of Elkhorn Campground, the take out listed in Korb's book. Park downstream of here after driving as far as you can (further downstream there is a gravelly washout, and you will need a vehicle with good clearance to drive through it. Four Wheel drive isn't quite necessary though) -continue up to where the road is blocked by a big mound of earth. Then start hiking... the hike in is 3-3.5 miles. It is recommended that you allocate at least 2-2.5 hrs for this hike. See the Putin Details for more specifics.
The hike from the blow out takes you up a trail through the woods, then back down to pick up the road again. Scout "The Maze" as you hike by it. Take the next two right hand forks (follow the dominant road, not the grassy left hand forks).You may hike about 3.5-3.75 miles when it's all said and done, provided you can find the proper place to leave the road and scramble through the woods to the river:
You want to put in somewhere between the Park Boundary downstream of Dosewallips Falls. You'll see a small wooden sign (but careful! it's not the first sign you pass!!) on the left side of the road welcoming you to Olympic Nat'l Park, prohibiting Pets and Firearms! Look for the dense burnt forest to your left, and hike past two or three huge bucked logs that had fallen over the road and been cut through by the trail crew. a few yards before a gate, head down into the burnt forest. There's a huge rocky hill that you want to stay to the right of until you find a draw down to the right in a diagonal, upstream direction. If you find yourself at any point going up any massive, rocky hills, you are getting cold. You may encounter some boundary markers on trees that resemble liscense plates. Follow these toward the river-- getting warmer! Some flat rolling hills over fallen burnt trees should funnel you right down to the river fairly painlessly.
--just be aware that it would be easy to burn up an extra half hour or more just trying to find the proper put-in spot, so 2-2.5 hrs should be budgeted for the hike in. An aggressive kayaker accustomed to hiking into runs might bang it out in as little as 1.5hrs with a good pack system.
Too much beta? Welcome to the power of the internet. You'd be smart to print this and take it with you if you want to save time hunting for the putin.
---There is an alternate Putin you can use just below here if you want to avoid the first rapid, but it will take more effort to reach, and ropes to lower your boats. If you've come this far and are determined enough to run this section of river, you probably have the skill to just run the first drop. see the Run Description...
Take out below the rapid known as "The Maze", after a few small class III rapids fizzle out to class II. You'll see the huge graft of earth missing from where the road blew out.
Wood, Wood, and maybe some Wood. But hey, it's the OP!! Ents stumble into this drainage and others to die. Or maybe just to take a nap in some refreshing, cool water? Regardless- Between the November 2009 trip and the May 2010 trip, many pieces of fresh wood were added on for you to enjoy portaging or cuddling with! Scout these otherwise Read'n Run style boulder gardens with great care!
https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/wrx/wrx/flows/station.asp?wria=16 Dosewallips gage @ 500 cfs (11.5'') was a medium flow for Elkhorn canyon on an 11/14/2009 trip. This was, of course all rain fed. On a subsequent trip executed on 5/8/2010, the flow was 420 cfs online. The flow seemed to be about the same for both trips. The trip in May occured at a time when temperatures were moderate. Any snow melt that was feeding the Dosewallips was coming down from higher elevations, and should be expectated to correspond with a lower gauge value on the online gauge. If you go run this, please give us feedback when you return. tell us what the numeric, online value for that day was,how much CFS was actually in Elkhorn Canyon itself, and how you'd roughly label it: Low, Medium, or High...
This run flows really smooth at a good medium flow such as 250 cfs or so! Get it while it's in prime shape. It's only a matter of time before it gets clogged with wood again.
Run Description [Season: Lots of rain, or snowmelt]
Assuming you pop out of the woods where we did in our November 2009 trip, there is one class II bend to the right before you immediately encounter a very narrow canyon rapid. It can be scouted on R. Right from the top, or you can get a glimpse from the canyon rim, but the bottom of the rapid remains obscure: The turbulent lead-in is undefined whitewater that may contain subsurface piton rocks at lower flows,or powerful hydraulics at higher flows -scout carefully. As this squeezed flow steepens it dumps into a knobby pourover on R. Right before falling off even more steeply into an undercut wall on the left. Get a piece of the boof and you'll likely avoid getting smashed into this wall. Other scouting options include finding a way to the river that spits you out at the small class III rapid below this. Hike upstream to where a large rock on R. Left looks up at the base of the drop. You can set safety here, or Putin here if you don't like this first rapid, but there is no easy way to portage this at river level. This stood out as one of the more intimidating drops in here, so if you're comfortable with it, the rest of the run should be fun. It will also be more technical and tedious, however.
A few rapids into the run you will come to one very distict boof flake, proudly displaying a glassy fan of water. Run right off the peak, and maybe you'll feel one of the softest landings you've ever felt from a 7 foot boof or however high it is. Later you will wish there were more like this.
Below here are some typical OP-style boulder gardens with course textures. But they flow surprisingly well with just a few exceptions. This drainage, like most of the OP runs on the East Side of the Olympics, runs through what is described in the Korb Book as "The Peripheral Rocks": lots of chunky basalt, chaoticly scattered throughout the riverbed as if Nature just randomly created these boulder gardens yesterday and then forgot to come back and fine tune where the river needs to go. This run is like a cleaner, more affable cousin of the Hamma Hamma.
All these boulder gardens would be more "Read 'N Run" if not for the wood. The PNW is always shifting wood around, so everything is bound to change frequently.Overall you'll find a nicely defined pool/drop riverbed anatomy with large enough boulders to produce functional eddies throughout. Some rapids set in wider sections of the canyon tend to have more of a messy configuration of boulders (similar to the Upper Hamma Hamma but MUCH cleaner). While these spots were technical and more tricky to scout, they still had a nice flow. Don't take your unseen routes for granted though: Some of those ledges, while only 4-6' high, offer up some serious pin potential.A few clusters of rocks seem to back up some of the drops and generally sit where they don't belong.
A notable spot in the middle of the trip had two consequetive Offset Boofs, each about 8-10' high: Boof the right side of the first falls, then saty on your line as you follow the water toward the left shoulder of the second boof. This second drop has more of a horse-shoe shape, though, so stay high on the shoulder as it sweeps around to the left and be sure to boof. This hole can be kinda Hungry, so set safety! Linking these boofs is pure joy. This seemed to be one of the more enjoyable drops we found. Certainly one of the largest, most consolidated rapids.
One huge oldgrowth will likely be there for a while: It leans off of the R.Right bank at a low angle and challenges you with a tricky limbo move. It's tight and the whitewater is respectable from the lead-in to the run-out and everywhere in between. To portage this, you can ferry out to a gravel bar island above the giant Dead Ent. From here you can see a dark alcove of an eddy big enough for only one boat on R. LEFT. This is an obscure detail, but by far the easiest place to portage this rapid. Get out here one by one and climb over two large boulders to where a class V put in awaits: a narrow slot big enough for you to set your boat and launch into a tight little pin prone, turbulent spot. Take extra care to set safety as your boaters launch one by one.
The run will lighten and the canyon will open up well before you get to the bridge above "The Maze". But this last rapid provides a nice little encore before you reach the T.O. Hopfully you scouted it during the hike up and saw the wood that collectively barracades 4/5th's of the River's width. From the road it looks like a portage, but there's a secret 'lil route down the Right at the bottom. Thread your way down and make sure you get to the far righthand bank for safe passage!