Feb 19, 2016


Waterfalls can be a lot of fun. Running waterfalls in winter can present other challenges you don't think about until you're on scene, like that log at the bottom being extra slick for setting safety. Or the rocks on the bank being iced over, making it just about impossible to get in the boat and launch. Scouting the location beforehand may be a good idea, especially in winter and if you've never been there before.

On this day a big group of us rolled out to Kalama Falls in southern Washington. Nick Baughman and I met Wes Dixon at his place early in Seattle and we rolled in the Previa from there to meet up with a crew from the Gorge and Portland. Nate and Heather Herbeck, along with Josh Armagost and Johnny Ott rolled up from the south to meet us near the turnoff to get back into the Kalama. A few miles later and we arrived at the gate, which is usually locked. If it is locked, the land is private and it is advised to not get caught driving back in there as it's a hefty fine and they may confiscate your kit. Kalama is sweet and not far from the road. Another crew showed up just before us and we were able to head in together.

I know it's all logging territory back in there, but the water in the Kalama is so clear and has such a beautiful color it makes me want to head upstream and see what else is in there. As such this would be my second time here and we all had mostly good lines. Evan Garcia, Kyle Hull, Liam Field, Brendan, Jamboy, and a couple other gorge boys were hot to drop and fired off lap after lap. It took our crew a few more minutes to get in there and we were able to watch most of their lines. Kalama isn't a gimme, even though it looks awful pretty from the bottom. There's a little bit of funk in the lead in that can mess with your momentum, pitch and all that. It was certainly at a higher flow (which I liked) and the boil at the bottom was pretty massive too. Sweet!
dat funky lead in
Nate and Heather brought a spiffy new camera they'd just picked up and were stoked to put it to good use. It was easy to do with 15 kayakers ready to charge! Luckily for us there was only 6-8 inches of snow on the ground and the recent floods had scoured the slime and slippery moss off the surrounding bedrock, making it a lot easier to walk around. Scouting from the right was pretty easy and an easy ferry move at the top made for pleasant scouting from the left too.

A few lines over rotated a little, a couple boofed a bit and Wes even threw a backflip off the top while Brendan Wells sailed off in his boat. Couldn't have picked a better day with a better lot of paddlers! Wes had a sick line and at some point I wound up going, having one of my best lines off a bigger waterfall. Nate went next and wound up boofing it a little. His boat didn't like what he did and kinda... punched him in the face. We all gathered around and decided it might be a good idea to head out, but Nick was still fired up and wound up charging off the lip having a pretty sick line to finish the day. Sick!!

Nate is none the worse for wear, in a couple more weeks he'll be back at it and so will we. All in all a pretty sick day, lots of stoke! and a couple videos to round it out. Thanks to Nate, Heather, Josh, Johnny, Wes, Nick, and all dem gorge boys!!  SO GOOOD

Sheer Madness edit-

 Nick Baughman edit-