Suffice to say that this season has been unusual, in particular the river levels were extraordinarily high during winter months, which resulted in flood stage river levels moving significant river obstacles, rocks, and trees. While we enjoyed tremendous river flows during winter (which we at TRT took full advantage of, I may add), we were rafting our summer flows away at that time. The reality is that the snowpack report has reported a dismal 0% (of average) snowpack for the Puget Sound basin, and a less than 50% snowpack for the North Cascades. Reports from the North Cascades institute maintain that all snowpack above 6,000 feet are at normal levels, which will help sustain our Sauk, Suiattle, and Skagit River seasons, but the Skykomish river basin sits at too low a level to be helped along by the high elevation snow. As a result we are now predicting a very low and short season on the Skykomish.
At current flows, the Skykomish basin is setting record water levels every single day. In fact, most days the river level is around 1/2 of the lowest recorded levels, which date back to the 20s. The Skykomish does have some rain and groundwater, which is sustaining the river above our lower bound cutoff (around 1000 cubic feet of water per second). We will be unable to run the river once it is near, or below that level. We cannot say with certainty when this will happen. Today the river rests at approximately 1,500 cubic feet per second, and is very runnable and fun, but we expect this season to be short lived.
The Sauk River is very rarely running with the same kind of flows as the Skykomish, but the unusual weather patterns over the winter have turned the normal flow charts on their heads. The Sauk drains the Glacier Peak area, and much higher elevation mountains than the Skykomish, so we are actually seeing river levels, which, although much lower than normal, are not as low as what we're seeing on the Sky. The Sauk also has had the misfortune of a giant fir tree being lodged across it, creating an opportunity for all of our guests to experience a real river rescue procedure as we line our rafts and portage the log. The Sauk trips are being put on hold for the moment, but we look forward to running more trips as summer progresses.
The Skagit River is the third largest river on the Western Coast of the United States, it has never recorded a river level of less than 2000 cubic feet of water. We have never been unable to run the Skagit and because it has it's headwaters in British Columbia, we are expecting a long, wonderful season on this North Cascades treasure. While the Skagit doesn't have the kind of amazing whitewater that the Sauk and Skykomish boast, it is a much more family and beginner friendly river, with spectacular views, as well as some good big wave rapid running. The Skagit River flows are at normal rates and have been so all season. As a dam controlled river, the Skagit is not as prone to low water problems like the other rivers in Washington are, and so it is the safest bet if you're looking to book a whitewater or scenic trip this summer and need a specific day for your party.