Saturday, September 6, 2008

Wake me up when September ends...

For many, September marks the end of a great summer of boating. For others, the eyes turn to fish and snow. For a few folks who can't get enough rafting, the coastal river gauges start seeing a bunch more hits and traffic. Rain - and lots of it - is the catalyst for some of the best rafting in the West.

Rivers that are too low elevation-wise for snow or just have too small of a drainage for snow-runoff have a special aura to them. Predictability is pretty much non-existent for many rivers and creeks. The obvious is nearly always true: When it rains rivers will rise and when it is dry these same rivers will fall. The window of opportunity is wide for some and narrow for many more. The sense of calculation adds to the adventure and the feeling of success when all that you have planned comes true.

There are a lot of great websites that can help you find these special rivers and creeks.

Punching through on a big water trip (11,000 CFS at the mouth) at
Oregon Hole Rapid on the Smith's Oregon Hole Gorge (courtesy of is a website designed specifically for boaters in the Pacific Northwest. It features a forum page, photo gallery, and member profiles. Lots of great information can be obtained from this site via the forum (member input) and the river gauges displayed on the home page.

Yahoo has a section designed for groups of people with the same interest. The best Yahoo group for boating that I've found is RiverTraders. Lots of stuff comes up for sale and it's an easy place to find a buyer for your river jang as well. Other whitewater groups include PNW, Idaho Whitewater, and PDX Kayaker. These three groups are region-specific to help stay on topic, but rarely do. If you don't like getting a lot of mail, just sign up for the "daily digest."

Another excellent use of Yahoo Groups is organizing your own private trips. If you have people all over the place and need a central location to post messages / files, Yahoo Groups is a good way of doing it. Just start a new group, set it to "private," and then invite the trip participants. When the trip is over you can delete the group or use it for corresponding with each other.

When it comes to specific rivers, the best websites for each one are the following:
* Smith River (CA) - and
* Tuolumne and Cherry Creek (CA) - and
* Rogue (OR) -
* Illinois (OR) -
* Wind (WA) - and
* Washougal (WA) -
* Clackamas (OR) -
* Scott (CA) -
* Box Canyon of the Sacramento -

The best site for flows in the Pacific Northwest is Pat Welch's.
Oh, kicks butt as well!

Happy Boating!
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