jP's Submission - Entered on 2/12/2012 10:42:00 AM
Gauge Information (Last updated with USGS at 5/17/2013 9:17:10 AM)
SF STILLAGUAMISH RIVER NEAR G
||NWRFC | FC Page
3rd Party Gauge
||05/17 08:15 PDT
Minimum Recomended Level: 5.1 ft Maximum Recomended Level: 6.2 ft
Head out the Mountain Loop Hwy and just past the Al Paca Ranch on the left there will be a driveway at the bottom of the hill on the right with a wooden fence. Drop boats here, but park your car back at the Al Paca ranch, making sure to check in with the owner if you end up parking in their lot. They are friendly and accomodating, but you need to let them know if you are going to park there. You can also park in the turn out if you dont want to park at the ranch.
Drive out to Granite Falls and head out on the mountain loop hwy towards Monte Cristo. There is a large pull out on either side of the road just before a bridge over the river. This is also the parking for the trail that leads down to Granite Falls proper.
This run gets spoken of casually by local class V boaters who run it a lot. Make no mistake it should be treated as a class V run. The canyon is remote, and hiking out can be difficult. People have gotten hurt in here. The run also changes frequently so even if you think you're familiar, don't take it for granted. The geomorphology is constantly revising itself after every major highwater event, keeping the nuances fresh, and keeping you on your toes. This is why more water tends to be better.
First off, it's interesting to note that the name "Stilliguamish" means "River People".
There are many rapids, with many of routes and moves. Due to it's changeable nature, it's almost never the same run twice!
CHECK OUT RECENT CHANGES SINCE THE 12/12/2010 FLOOD HERE (also watch the cool video below):
The run starts off with a mile flatwater paddle before about 1/2 mile of II-III. Once you are wondering when it is going to start ... it does. The river quickly comes to a turn with a class IV ledge that can be run several different ways ("Funky Winkerbean"). Once you're past the first ledge you quickly come to "T1" next to the first tunnel on R. Right. You may want to get out on the right if you want to scout "T2" and "Last sunshine", perhaps portage them. You can portage T1 on the left if you are otherwise comitted to "T2" and "Last Sunshine". T2 has an incredible boof between two humps of water in the center of the channel.
Last Sunshine is the most vertical drop on the run. The standard line is to drive hard left against the R.Left wall,airing your boof out over a compound slope into some turbulent water where several seams of whitewater merge together. As you enter the slide you'll spot an abrupt kicker. You want to shoot out to toward the middle of the river to get away from the Left Wall after you land.
After Last Sunshine there's about a half mile of solid IV-IV+ rapids (depending on flow),and as you go up on the water level it gets much pushier, but also smoother and more filled in. Continuous action all the to "Hotel California". At the bottom of the drop is a healthy hole. Avoid the center.You scout and portage on R. Right.
After this drop the river pools up beneath granite walls with a waterfall cascading in on R. Left. Around the corner you'll see a huge remnant of the railroad- a concrete structure on R. Right. This is "Hole in the Wall". The contemporary line is down the left, boofing the left shoulder of the pyramid shaped "Spire Rock" into some turbulent folding currents.
Below Hole in the Wall you will paddle through another class IV-IV+ rapid before coming to "FacePlant". It has a manky boulder garden at the top then funnels down into a powerful and unpredictable "V" wave. The current will tend to push you hard left anyway you slice it, often feeding you into a sizeable maw tucked against the bottom left corner of the rapid. This hole will usually flush quickly after a brief but sometimes violent thrashing.
Shallow rocks lurk right of center making it a bad place to be upside down.
Immediately downstream is "Catcher's Mitt". This is a ledge that has a great flake in the middle but just behind the flake is a dangerously positioned pin rock. If you hit that flake sideways you could be in a world of trouble... just like D1's Air Boof Pin. You can boof the ledge drop on R. Left- watch out- people occassionally get worked over here, or you can take a line down the R. Right bank: the flake rock recently shifted and canted to the right, providing a nice glassy fan of water to run through provided you favor the right side of it. A cluster of ledge drops wait immediately below here, so stay on your line. These holes have become more sticky recently and tend to grab boats with no momentum.
What could come after "Catcher's Mit" but "Short Stop": The right channel sends most of the current into a pocket tucked into the right wall big enough to trap wood, or on rare occassion a boat.
Next is a really junky boulder strewn mess is right below here traditionally called "Z-turn". We don't take the "Z-turn" line to the left these days since a nice boof ledge has formed on R. Right. If you run down the center through the "Junkyard" be sure to favor the right as far as you can get- at lower flows there's serious pin potential in the center of the river. Stay on your toes.
Another 1/4 mile or less of Class IV brings you to "Landslide Rapid". This is a complete Class V+. Totally clean of wood now. Scout it for yourself and decide. Most people portage it along the R.Right bank (the rock may not be stable every time you visit so bring a swiss army knife in case you have to cut your arm off). Watch your footing on cold clear mornings.
Below Landslide there's a simple class III+ ledge in the center of the river, followed by "Garbage". SCOUT This!! (on R. Left). Click on the Rapid description on the right side of this page and read it. Run the canter of the main channel close to the R. Left boulder. Watch for piton rocks anywhere in here at flows below 5.4'. They move around every highwater event. Careful not to get to the outside of the turn on the left--There's a huge ugly log, and the water sieves out beneath the large boulder flanking the current. Lately (as of 2010)the right side of the river has cleaned up. Lines come and go over there, so scout carefully if you run right.
After "Garbage" there's a long series of various class III-IV rapids with multitudes of runnable routes. Eventually you come to some more horizon lines cluttered with large boulders. There's a 5' wide boof (maybe a 6' drop or so) next to a large boulder on R. Left. Enter here, usually catching an eddy on the Left or in the center afterward. Below here you can take the tall boof in the center (It's been called "20ft falls" but it's really only 12'-15' if that.) or you can follow the main current around to the right (Rob calls this the "Cat's Paw"). There's a class IV runnout,and then some calm water.
The next big drop is "Off Broadway", named after a certain talented paddler who also has a talent for acting. A broken boof ledge can be boofed right or left of center. Watch for pin hazards at lower flows. **Paddlers should scout the lower half of Off Broadway and know what they are comitted to. The Right side seam now feeds into a horseshoe pocket that has handed out some beat downs recently. The boulders flanking each side of this drop shift around frequently and dramaticly. Watch your step. Paddlers should consider going left at most flows until the floods change this one again.** Scout on R. Right.
A technical class III rapid ends with "Rob's Hole", a nice class III surf spot. Shortly after some slack water you'll begin descending into "Conversation". The canyon walls narrow up and get dark as the gradient steepens and funnels around a corner into big and powerful waves. You'll get several facefulls of water that may obscure your vision, but quickly you'll find yourself in a short, swift eddy chamber above another broken ledge drop. Most people run along the right bank and find the obvious boof, although there are other routes. The Conversation boaters are having in 2012 is that the holes on the right are much beefier these days. A few boaters have been detained for questioning. The left channel is a little more forgiving now.
A pooled up canyon connect Conversation to the final ledge called "Mrs. Robinson". You can run left or right. The left is very sticky and the right is too. Watch this ledge it is sticky!! It'll generally give you a pass but many a boater has been owned here. There's a nice flat pool for collecting gear.
Another 1/4 mile of class II-III brings you to a final class III-IV drop called "Spinal Tap"or "Miracle Fabric". Run just to the left of the large boulder, and smash through some random pourovers, waves and holes. That opens the run up to about 1 mile or more of a flatwater paddle out.It's very scenic through here, and the current keeps moving at all but the lowest of low flows. Don't forget to keep your eye out for the stick guage on R.Right when you start seeing houses, and play the guessing game with your buddies about what you think the guage will read...
There one final class IV- rapid before you will see the Bridge Over head... Get out immediately below the bridge on R. LEFT, because granite falls is just below.