Water levels in the Columbia Gorge treat paddlers great the majority of the year. The White Salmon, Little White and other local runs flow far more than the majority of whitewater rivers in the US and we are spoiled to have such great whitewater so close. Consistent water levels 8 or 9 months a year is something that you can’t complain about. However, as with most rivers, the rivers are getting low this time of year so this gives paddlers in the area an excuse to go up to British Columbia where the creeks and rivers are just dropping into prime water levels. I got five days off work at the Kayak Shed to check out a few rivers that I thought would be dropping in.
After hours and hours of scanning topo maps in SW BC, I had a few on hit list that I thought may have a lot of potential. The entire summer was basically a waiting game, watching levels and weather to try to get an idea of when a creek is going to have enough, but not too much water. The first on my list was one of BC’s newest Provincial Parks: Mehatl Creek. This creek flows in to the Upper Nahatlatch and drops about 1000 feet in 2.5 miles. What we found was an almost epic section of waterfalls. It ended up being a beautiful hike but a little too burly and manky to safely paddle. A few photos:A beautiful 30 foot falls into a 40 footer that was so close to being good but notice the boulders at the bottom of the 40 footer. Spectacular sight nonetheless.
Evan Garcia wishing it were a bit cleaner.
These would have been the signature drops on the run with some quality class five mixed in but it ended up being a not very attractive work/fun ratio. So our game plan changed.
Next on the list was a section of river only about 10 minutes away: the Upper Nahatlatch. This was a steep section of river that dropped about 500 feet in a mile and a half. What we found was similar to the Lower Mile of the Ashlu at high water levels. Not sure if this section has been run but it would be a great end of season run if your in the area and want to get into some steep boulder gardens! Half the water in there it could have been a great run.
A stout section on the Upper Nahatlatch.
So after a few other semi-unsuccessful scouting missions we decided to go and paddle some whitewater which we knew would treat us well: the Ashlu Watershed. The Ashlu has three of the best class V runs in the states within a few miles of each other. I was lucky enough to get on the elusive Tatlow Creek which is a tributary to the Upper Ashlu. The run is short but probably the best 2K of whitewater I may have ever paddled. The waterfalls go something like: 6-6-6-20-25-5-5-twisting drop-s turn-35-10-45-20-portage-5-5-2. So yeah, the number speak for themselves. Being in the depths of the Tatlow Gorge is a pretty amazing experience. A few photos I snapped:The boys amped up and ready to get their shred on at the putin. From here the creek just starts dropping deeper and deeper into the gorge. Once your in, your in.
Storm Trooper Evan Garcia with the Sweet Rocker Helmet
styling the 25 footer in the new LiquidLogic Jefe
. If you haven’t seen the outfitting in this boat it is awesome. Super simple and basically a lazy boy in a kayak!
German Max taking her deep , but surfacing upright in the stable Pyranha Burn
A kinked 40 footer on the Upper Upper Ashlu. AT2
in hand and ready for meltdown!
The Ashlu is such an amazing place and is so close to us here in the Columbia Gorge that any paddler should make it there. It has something to offer for everyone, from class two up to class five. The water is a glacial blue and there are huge snowcapped peaks all around. It is only about 30 minutes from Squamish, BC and is well worth any paddlers time. Unfortunately, the Ashlu has undergone drastic changes in the last year due to a micro hydro project but the river is still absolutely amazing. For more photos and updates on the hydro project check out http://www.therangelife.blogspot.com/
Thanks for reading and we will have more whitewater updates soon!