A couple weeks ago, I took some friends down the Upper Tumwater section of the Wenatchee River. It had been a while since I’d paddled this stretch, but it is a very wide section of the river and the rapids are seemingly less difficult than the main section of Tumwater Canyon. It is still considered class III-IV, especially when paddled at higher volumes.

The first rapid of the run starts after about 3/4 of a mile of flat water. It consists of a large entry wave followed by several exploding laterals and tapers off into some boogie that braids through a shallow boulder garden. The day we paddled it, we dropped in just assuming everything was all good. Bad call on my part.

 

 

About 100 meters down stream from the end of the meat of the rapid, a 20 meter long log was stuck on a rock and was spanning a generous portion of the river. In your boat, it is easy to get around on either side. However, as I looked upstream to check on the crew coming through the rapid, two of the guys were coming out upside down. One of them hits his roll while the other throws a couple attempts before swimming. Showing urgency in our hand signals and voices, we motioned for him to swim right. He was not making any progress and we watched him and his boat float right into the log. Fortunately, the log had been cleaned of branches for the most part and he flushed out the downstream side immediately, along with his boat.

We were all pretty puckered watching all of this go down in a section of the river where any response would not have been timely given the width and speed of the river in this spot. Luckily, everything worked out and we got the paddler and all of his gear out of the river shortly after his encounter with this log.

This was a big reminder to always check out whats going on in the riv. Things can change daily, especially in an area where flows fluctuate drastically and there has been a recent forest fire.

When the Wenatchee River comes up to 8-9K this guy should flush. There will inevitably be a ton of wood coming down the river this spring so keep your eyes peeled.

 

Cheers,

 

T-Pot