As most folks are aware, the river levels have reached the low point that we all knew was coming. Just these past few days we were running the Upper Skagit River in a torrential downpour, thinking to ourselves that “this must be brining the Sauk and Skykomish to runnable levels”; well, we were wrong again. The rainfall didn’t do much for the river, although it did wonders for the local flora, and helped reduce the terrible fires that have been devastating British Columbia and parts of Washington. The hot temperatures and dry conditions create the perfect scenario for large forest fires.
On the river, the views have been spectacular. The people that have been on the river with us have been truly amazing. We’ve seen small families, friends meeting again after many years, and people from other parts of the United States as well as from other parts of the world, getting to see the wonders of the North Cascades for the first time. All of the guides are happy to get to meet and know these interesting people and share with them the amazing decor of the river corridor.
Because the Skagit is so large, and has over 300 glaciers feeding into it, there is little worry about the Skagit becoming too low to run. River levels have stabilized between 2000 and 4000 cubic feet of water per second, which is definitely enough water to run. On most of our trips the rafts do not touch any rocks on the entire 9 mile journey. On some of our 5pm trips we have even been able to schedule a time for a rock jumping activity for some of the guests, where we’ve seen many younger rafters gather the courage to take the plunge.
The Sauk and Skykmomish Rivers are not runnable. We like to think that this is a transition year for the Sauk, which has been our beloved “go-to” whitewater river for a couple of years. The Sauk has a large fir tree that has plastered against the walls, barricading the entire river, making it difficult to pass. During the winter floods this tree was dislodged through high water erosion. The Sauk takeout has also changed, with improvements made to the Beckman location; certainly we can look forward to a better operation on the Sauk when next year arrives (pray for snow).