Oct 20, 2010

Tumwater Canyon is a Summertime Classic

the goods...

End of summer and it's been wet on the west side of the Cascades. Drizzly wet and definitely not sunny. Wishing for hotter temps, I've been travelling a bit. Weekends have been filled with sun while the west side sulks in the beginnings of what is predicted to be an epic wet winter. The cloudiness takes a little bit to acclimate to if you haven't lived in an environment like this. I moved from a small town in Indiana where it hardly ever rained. When it did, though, some of those storms would shake the house!

Coming from all that sunshine and moving to Seattle right before the flooding began in the fall of '90 was quite a wake-up call. I stared at the TV. I was 16. I didn't even know what 'whitewater' meant. The news choppah hovered in front of 287 foot tall Snoqualmie Falls as it thundered off an impressive 78,000 cfs into the canyon below. It was foolish to try and get a view from the 'viewpoint'. The spray was BLOWING and the water was chocolate milk. As I sat and watched, my brain filled with terror. Where can all this water go?!? I believe it's still the all-time high flow. It was so unbelievable to see. I had no idea that the world of kayaking even existed. Glad I came to my senses.

It stays dark pretty much all winter on the western slopes of the Cascade mountain range. And things can get depressing, I won't lie. There is one savior amongst the wet and mossy ruin... when water runs through your veins, whether you paddle or not, you know. The plop plopping brings new meaning. Good friends are on the way...

A calm moment in Tumwater Canyon

Logan experiences peaceful reflection on the Tum

As we wait for our good friends to show up, the rivers remain low. However, one safe bet for some end-o-season goodness is Tumwater Canyon. Tumwater, in the spring, is the second closest thing Washington has to the Zambezi (the closest example would require removing several large dams from the Columbia and lettin' that ol' girl RIP!!). Only big-water class V stompers like Marco Collela and Darren Albright paddle the Tum come spring-time. After high water and the Tum comes down a bit, the rest of the kayakers like to come out and have a go, too. Low-water Tum is also a good training ground for the up-and-comer, too. Even at low water 1500 cfs, sunny and hot is always on the agenda cuz that's the way we like it!!

The weekend started about 10am Fri morning when Totten showed up. It took a few minutes to get my affairs in order, but soon enough we were on our way to Bavarian loveliness. The sunshine always puts a smile on my face. Today was no exception. Fuqua, Rob, Logan, and several other smiling mugs joined in for a splendid day on the river.

Totten and I find sun and good times

Once at the put in, things usually move along at an easy pace. The rocks down by the water are so warm and radiate the blasting furnace of heat pouring down from above. Tumwater is so goood. 

put in

A few minutes to warm up and you are the top of The Wall. Also known as Quarter Mile, The Wall is the longest rapid in Tumwater and certainly has the most boofs! It's my favorite, followed very closely by 2 others. The Wall starts out with a fun ledge boof out over a chundery hole. Plop through a few more holes until you get to the next ledge about 30 yards downstream. Then eddy down a bit before the next pitch. Take a breath, peel out. Line up, and figure out what holes to try an miss!! Get throttled down through and around the "Airplane Turn". Don't flip!! Eddy. A little bit of fun be-bop, then the last pitch. More boulder garden fun!!

little D getting cutesy above The Wall

what a cute little man?

Rob pushes little D out of the way

does it get any cuter than this?!?!

yours truly...   dealin'

Hans & Fish cruise through The Wall

kickin' it

what a cutie

Totten, Yeager and Adrian

A long runout will put you at the top of the short lake. Paddle for about 10 mintues to find a 25 foot dam. Runnable with enough water, scrape-able in most other seasons. Most people walk around and put in for... The Dam Rapid. Kayakers aren't the most creative people when it comes to thinking up names for things. The Three Amigos! are the next three 'tweener' rapids. Then... Chaos.

Careful... the dam is serious

Fish spocks a line at the dam

Hans and Fish, kickin' it...

yes that was really stupid and a LOT of fun!!

Kris Yeager kills the boof at Chaos

A-trian droppin' bombs

yeah buddy!!

By now Totten and I were all fired up!! Logan and everybody else was, too. We all dropped into Chaos one by one. Totten got a little janked up on a rocky ledge an flipped. Ouchie. Everyone else made their way through. I boofed the crap outta that bottom ledge. Screw gettin' stuck in that one.That hole is just MEAN. The runout from Chaos is really fun, with a steep-continuous Idaho-kinda feel. Now you're at the rusty bridge. A great little beach to lounge in the sun and finish a run, or... prepare...    for the gnarliest are yet to come. 

P.O.W. is STEEP and FAST, with LOTS of HOOOLES an stuff. I've been running the left line lately, super fast with a big hole to punch half-way down. Enter center, aiming for the left side of a wave. Steer a little left as you crest the wave and drop in. 20 yards down, start aiming right, until you can see the curtain of water pouring off the side of the giant mid-stream rock in the very center of the rapid. This is the crux. As that curtain of water comes in to view, so does the apparent sluff of the river bed. It all tilts a little left and pinches down into a frothy deep hole. This hole can ruin your day. I've seen it happen. Punch the %#^k*Ng shist outta that hole. Blow through the curtain, drop over a couple quick ledges. Then the main 5 foot slurper. It all happens really fast!! To finish, just downstream of the slurper, is the most fun hole to get stopped in you could ever imagine. I call it the Typewriter Hole. Hit this thing DEAD SIDEWAYS and maybe drop an upstream edge, just a little. Roll. Cartwheel. Whatever strikes your fancy. This is a rodeo creeker's wet dream. Hold a  brace 5 more seconds... ahh, eddy. The hole autofeeds you into the right eddy, no matter how you hit it!!! That's some good business, raht thurr. Good practice for the Payette.  P.O.W. is just so good!!

Super Joe cleans up

playboat style...

Everyone has smiles at the bottom. The  next half mile consists of some technical fun boulder gardens, straight down to the final chapter in Tumwater Canyon. Last Exit. Last Exit hands out a BEATING if you don't to come correct. She's a pretty gal, but you best know yer biznass if you come a-callin'. She don't like pretty boyz that talk a lot. She's a sweetie who deserves respect. I've been entering right, off a three foot boof, then slip out to the center. As I pull out I can see the riverbed heaving. It's a sight to behold. Have some right angle, going off this next big ledge, don't get pushed left. Having a clean line off this ledge will set you up to miss the line of rocks below, but don't go too far right. You'll go into a deadly rock syphon-cave against the right bank. Don't do it! Then, water carries you toward a big boulder. Catch one of the waves in front of the big rock to surf you right, and away from the scuzzy rock pile immediately downstream. Don't ask why it works, just know it does. Then either eddy quick (recommended) or bash down through some holes to the very bottom of the rapid. If you caught the eddy (recommended), you now have the choice to power-drive across the main jet of current to the left side. Carve past a large center hole and drop down the final pitch, carving across a beautiful twisting flume to a lovely pool of green on the left bank. Holla at will. Slap some high-5's an do it again!!

Hans & Fish saddle up


Rob wonders, which way ?

I'll give 'em the 'ol  1-2...

hang on, Rob!!

duct tape DOES hold in class V

Rob McKibbin, champin' it!!!

Exit is high-speed

...and badass



I'm tellin' ya, it don't get a whole lot, much better. Walk back up to the cars, have a beer. Relax while everyone runs shuttle. What? We're going again? Yeah!!

Sat morning we woke up at Logan's and proceeded to cook the biggest pile of bacon I've ever seen. I laughed when I saw it! There was just so much. We made some eggs and lazed around. I went back to get another piece later, and it was ALL gone!! We better paddle 3 laps today. Met up wit all the bro's at noon, there were at least a dozen of us. Blair, Chipper, Adrian, Totten, Logan, Yager-bomb!!, EVERYBODY!!!

blue angels runnin' Exit

I love Tumwater, but even more I love good times on the river. This weekend had no shortage. Smiles all around. Thanks goes out to everyone for rallying over to the east side for some hot sun and cool whitewater!! See ya next time. Hopefully the river will have enough water...


No comments: