Whitewater Forum: Sky Valley Update
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Sky Valley Update

Printed From: ProfessorPaddle.com
Category: General
Forum Name: Whitewater Forum
Forum Discription: Open Discussion Forum. Whitewater related subjects only
URL: http://www.professorpaddle.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=15832
Printed Date: 24 May 2018 at 7:25am

Topic: Sky Valley Update
Posted By: huckin harms
Subject: Sky Valley Update
Date Posted: 04 May 2017 at 2:04pm
Hi there folks. Did a bit of driving around the Skykomish river drainage today.

The Foss looks clear of wood (hiked down to Ken&Barbie)in the crux zone. It was a healthy medium.

The Rapid has some sticks in the lower section of the last mile. There is at least one show stopper easy to see from the road. It wouldn't be a hard portage, but nonetheless.

The Lower Tye also has quiet a bit of wood still making it appear less appetizing. It has been getting some attention as of late, but scout carefully.

The East Fork Miller has a 'trail' that is newly blazed to reach the log jam island that is the start of the good IV section on the Eastfork avoiding several jams upstream. The trail is easily found just a quarter mile up the road from the bridge with the Westfork. There is a narrow grassy pulloff to park along an old cut zone. If you go more than 1/2mile, you've missed it. It's got some orange ribbon marking the route, there is a bright orange highflyer skeet disc that marks the entry into the woods. Takes less than 10 minutes. This too is running at a good flow.

I didn't check the stick for TopTye... my guess is it's above the stick.

That's all for now!

Posted By: cbishop1
Date Posted: 04 May 2017 at 2:38pm
Nice Mike! Let's go boating!

Colby Bishop

Posted By: outdoorjunkie88
Date Posted: 04 May 2017 at 3:59pm
Thanks Mike. Gonna be out there this afternoon. @ 5 if you Want to join

Drew C.

Posted By: water wacko
Date Posted: 04 May 2017 at 8:52pm
Tye is nice and clean, so is the Foss. Paddled it a couple weeks ago. Thanks for the update!

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman

Posted By: septimus prime
Date Posted: 09 May 2017 at 2:38pm
Great news from the county on the NF Sky road repair:


NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY OF THE FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT - The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) signed a determination of Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on April 14, 2017. This finding is based upon the evaluation of the Environmental Assessment (EA) as issued on September 19, 2016, and thoughtful consideration of public and agency input, including comments received at the public hearing on October 12, 2016 for the Index-Galena Road Milepost 6.4-6.9 project.
Notice of Availability
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)
NEPA Comments

Jon Shell Bee

Posted By: huckin harms
Date Posted: 22 May 2017 at 7:22am
Good news: Jacks pass is open! Northfork Canyon is now accessible. Nf laps down thru El Nino should be prime with the high water. Drop me a line if your headed around, and I'll try to join. Low water 4.6/ Med 5.0/ above 6 will be full using the foot guage at Galena. https://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/river/station/flowplot/flowplot.cgi?id=SNGW1

Posted By: kevinh
Date Posted: 30 May 2017 at 10:55pm
Thanks for the update Mike! I hope you get some NF action this spring

Posted By: huckin harms
Date Posted: 31 May 2017 at 8:56am
Got some on Sunday. Galena@5.3 Let's Make a Deal is wood free for the first time in a long time! Drumbeater is also wood free now. Rest of run is clear as well. Lots of changes in the braided channels but nothing significant to mention other than RIP Minefield. It's filled in and flattened out. The road is in good shape.

Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 31 May 2017 at 1:01pm
Great To Hear- Mike- Hopefully soon I will have a new drysuit and be back in the saddle kayaking. I plan to give you a shout anytime I shoot for any N. Fk missions.

And great seeing you above the Mercy Chute entrance Sunday afternoon when my Raft Crew and I were Broached precariously next to Jupitor Rock* (That's the giant light grey slab of granite that pools up the eddy above the Mercy Chute entrance. I doubt you'll find that name in any guidebook but it is The Proper Name for that huge flat boulder. At low water kayakers often will wade out and climb up on it to scout better)

Man, getting chocked up between two doghouse sized boulders (the lumpy little dark grey ones immediatly R. Right of Jupitor) is not fun at this flow. That's supposed to be part of the low water game. Not something to deal with when 10,700 cfs is asserting its will out there.

Anyway it was great seeing you and Dufay at that moment whether you woulda been able to help or not. Not sure if you helped my stray crew member out of the water after we all got dump trucked, but if you did, Thank You!! At least he was eddied out in the cool calm shade along the right bank there. I'll take as much Mercy as Mama Skykomish chooses to grant me and my payload.

I know its off topic but I'm going to post a second post detailing the account just for the fun of it, since I haven't even logged on here in a long while...


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 31 May 2017 at 3:24pm
Ok, I know this off topic but I just don't want to start a new thread.
This last weekend on the Sky was OFF. THE. HOOK.

HUGE ACTION for any human out there in a raft
Sure, these higher flows are nothing short of exciting in a kayak and definitely quality Big Water paddling, but honestly kayaking BDROP is child's play compared to commercially guiding people down in a raft. At any flow whether it is 1300 or 13,000 (like it was on Monday's trip).

**Shouts Out to Mike Novac, a North Bend boater whom I've had the distinct honor of paddling with in the past on our garden variety local gems...On my afternoon trip when the custies walked down to Cable Drop, Lo and Behold there was Mike dressed in custie garb! Seeing him was a special surprise- he was taking a companion out with us. When he requested to be in my boat of course I was all about it. I had a clean enough run on the A.M. trip, so seeing him was just one more variable to put me at ease. Despite 37 years of whitewater experience, or perhaps because of it, I can't help but get just a tiny bit nervy about these Big Water raft trips on the Sky. Some of my worst carnage in my entire career has gone down at Bdrop. I've seen many guides over the years a little too concerned for their own personal safety to be honest. I really wouldn't care what happens to me so much-its the guests I worry about because I care for their well being. But where my own personal concern enters the equation has to do with the knowledge that by signing up for this, I am obligated to do everything in my human power to put humpty dumpty back together again- if it means coughing up a lung or bursting my own heart in the process.

But Mike was my Front Right paddler and his companion Tammy held down the Left Front solid. It was only 8,600 or so but there are so many possible outcomes when you raft Bdrop at these flows, nice to have a ringer or two. Beautiful line through Mercy Chute and when I needed the back paddle strokes to back ferry away from Flypaper at the bottom, Mike, Tammy, and the other four crew members made it happen like champs. Thanks in large part to Mike and Tammy I was able to complete Saturday with some smooth sailing and save my nerves for Sunday when the law of averages would catch up as they always seem to do rafting BDROP...**

SUNDAY: It was probably about 10,700 when our trip got to Bdrop. And this time, No Mike Novac in the boat to stack the deck in our favor. It was a heavier boat, containing the demographic we fear for most at these flows: two older guys who want the action but have heart attack potential, or at least we have to consider such.

At the put in the two older guys qualified themselves:
John wasted no time informing me of his 10,000 miles as a guide on the Arkansas, Arnie also was a guide back in his day but more on scenic floats. I put them in the front due to their presumed experience and for weight distribution. The two Hawaiian native couples had never rafted but in my mind all the smartphones, cars, fast-food,walmart netflix and other corrosive influences in the world can't entirely overwrite the Watermanship imprinted in their ancient Maori genes. This would in fact, prove to be the case once the eggs fell out of the carton...

So after our normal Scouting Ritual we were entering "Door Number One" (far right very top of Bdrop) At 10k + more water is going right of Jupiter. We like to hook left in front of Jupiter back out into the main flow then approach the Mercy Chute on far right. Mama Sky had other plans though and soon there we were chocked up between those two ugly little lumpy dark grey boulders. The heavier boat lowered the waterline and damn if 10,700 or whatever it was wasn't just THE magical flow for this scenario. I sh*t you not if you added or took away 200 CFS this probably wouldn't have happened. I had seen this potential in my minds eye in the past and today was the day Bdrop made me confront it. Each paddler was big enough that it reduced the excess space required to play the normal low water games to get unstuck, and we were there awhile as I tried to problem solve and very gingerly extract us from this very perilous predicament. Harms and Dufay came down and I cheerfully greeted them despite my rising stress level. After two near flips and two near wraps, I had shifted the weight toward the back and the boat was coming off as best it could. It took a lot of exertion on my part and I was on pins and needles. One wrong move and the whole crew, including myself, could find ourselves swimming the Mercy Chute from the very top. Not good.

As the raft tried to slide over those damn lumpy chunks of Andesite, it dump trucked vertical and all of us got dumped out of it except the two Maori girls. I had my paddle and two swim strokes reconnected me to the raft. The girls were already taking action.
"PULL ME IN!! PULL ME IN!!" I commanded one girl and she did.
This allowed me to use only 50% of my energy. If you are guiding the sky at high-water you gotta try to budget how and when you spend your energy. Especially if you are an old man like me. Arnie was the first swimmer I saw so I commanded him
"ARNIE YOU ARE GETTING IN THIS BOAT NOW!!!! Help Me out! PUSH DOWN ON THE ROPE!! KICK YOUR FEET!" And Arnie complied beautifully enough. Damn if those stout hearted Maori Chics didn't manage to get John the ex-Ark guide and one of the Maori dudes back in the boat in that span of time. Those girls are my heroes. I now to my astonishment had 5 out of six back in the boat and maybe more than a few paddles.

The stray Maori guy, Ekolu, was about 5-10 feet from the bank facing us shellshocked trying to process what to do next as the current again took downstream possession of the raft. He looked like he was in the most chill, static spot. I Stabbed a gesture at the river bank behind him like a spear that might shatter the very rocks themselves. "TURN-AROUND!! GET-OUT-OF-THE-RIVER!!!!
Then as the current focused us toward the Mercy Chute entrance, Ekolu was left to his fate. I don't know if Dufay or Harms were able to assist him or if they even needed to. My boat was now a mess of bodies and paddles. weight distribution off, people facing different directs, laying on the floor ect. I was saying all sorts of stuff to try to get them organized but I know how hard it is to get them to assemble after that because its just inherent chaos. I got Arnie on the Left paddling. You could say that I didn't quite have to entirely R1 this weight through the Mercy Chute and I didn't quite get the luxury of R2'ing it. I guess I'd call it an R1.6 configuration. It wasn't pretty when we got down at the Hand Of God Ledge but everyone stayed in.

"PADDLE-ARNIE!!! PADDLE-ARNIE!!! PADDLE-ARNIE!!!" ...pretty much I demanded SO much of that guy. He got to be a hero too that day cuz without him we surely woulda flipped at Flypaper. Instead he reached deep down and gave his all. Another "GET DOWN!!" command as we exited the Mercy Chute right of Flypaper, then more "PADDLE-ARNIE!!! PADDLE-ARNIE!!! PADDLE-ARNIE!!!" all the way into the eddy to the Right Bank where we could finally come to rest. Soon Ekolu was working his way down the mossy rocks towards the boat.
Damn. All's well that end's well. I was worried about pushing Arnie So hard as well. He actually wasn't the only one paddling I don't think but the rest of the crew seemed relatively incapacitated and he was my Rock so i focussed on him. Plus he was on the left where I needed strokes the most.

That is a sufficient account of pretty much exactly what went down. Pretty Action Packed to say the least. I'm grateful for the stout courage my crew displayed in the face of adversity, and even more grateful Lady Skykomish showed us any mercy at all.

Monday I was spent from all that- depleted physically, mentally...I'll be 100% honest- when I woke up at 6:00am I just wanted to Cut And Run. Flee. Get in my van and high tail it out of there towards Monroe far from the river where there's asphalt, gas stations, stores and all that other human crap.

But I couldn't. Monday The Sky was probably about 12,500 or so coming down from 13k with morning and afternoon trips scheduled. I wasn't scheduled but a guide or two were trying to get me to take their trip... i just was not up for it. I'd been working about 100hrs the previous week completing a tile job, I got a leaky drysuit, and my nerves and body were shot. Felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Lactic acid build up, etc. But I couldn't leave my homeboys hanging. My buddy Haltown especially. No question this would be way higher than he'd ever seen it and justifiably he was nervous. But I didn't even have a kayak w/ me. Jojo let me borrow his medium Shiva and I volunteered to be a 3rd safety kayak and we had Alaskan Matt in the Cat boat. So we were able to divide and conquer since it was a four boat trip.

Once you get up to 11k, Cable Drop itself becomes a formidable Raft Flipping Beast at the bottom where that sick boof is on the left- well its a HUGE ASS hole at that flow extending almost the width of the river. At 12.5 or whatever tho, there is still a break in the V towards the right but the right diagonal, while dwarfed by its neighbor, is also bigger than the raft. actually at 11k it might be more of a unibrow. Anyway that went clean. We had a dump at "Oh sh*t" (Nick Boofman calls it "Bromance" -dude stick w/ the Kayak Porn haha just teasing.). We're calling it "Oh Abe" cuz he seems drawn to it like a magnet, haha. He's only a few seasons into guiding, this guy Abe- and I'm really impressed with how he has risen to the occasion. Local to the Gold Bar/Index area, his Soul Connection w/ his backyard river is apparent. Leave the Wenatchee for all the carbon copy rookies most of whom choose never to become Real Boaters. sorry if that stings someone out there but then stop posturing and fronting at The Beer Garden like a bunch of unkempt carp, get off your ass and boat. You come over to the Sky and you got no choice. You gonna run payload down her Voluptuous Jade Highway you gotta be a boater. Never The Same River Twice, either. this is especially true on the Sky.

Bdrop went really well but Flypaper was exerting its gravitational force. And my man Lonestar (Seth) -Sheeeeit- when his boat came through the drop I swore I heard Barry White playing as if from some iPod in Davey Jones Locker at the pool below Flypaper, so smooth was his line. And Jojo practically Seduced Flypaper with his edgy, Uber Phat line as well... I guess that Barry White is still playing...Poor Abe had the infamous Flypaper dump but it was mopped up surprisingly quick. The action got swept out of the Arena but I stayed up in the eddy with Seth's raft -cuz Alex and Briar are quite worthy safety boaters and Alaskan Matt Stuck around with the cat. We had to have safety left for Hal. His run wasn't the prettiest but it was suitably awesome and Haltown got to have a clean run Put-In to Take Out and you know how much a relief that musta been for him- he's never run it nearly that high but he did great!

I am really impressed by guides like Seth, Haltown and Abe- who've not only stepped forward to put on a pair of Big Boy Pants that would make David Byrne think we really have Stopped Making Sense- but actually filling out those Big Boy Pants. Makes all the chatter in the Kayak Shuttle rigs about "Stepping It Up" sound cute and quaint by comparison. And props to Alex and Jojo because they are Great Boaters and Great Guides with lots of positive energy to share with our guests. despite all the hiccups and imperfections inherent to pulling off any busy weekend of rafting anywhere, they've shouldered a lot of leadership and responsibility in what is at times a very legit and serious highstakes adventure that cannot be Walmartized in the slightest. And props to Steve, too- because he is largely to credit for architecting a great framework of protocols we dutifully try to adhere to, to the T because these methods and protocols help strengthen the safety net as best we can.
I gotta say that I feel honored to be able to share water with these guys, ALPINE ADVENTURES!!!

Props to our guests. They are completely out of their element most of the time, and to the extent they invest themselves in the adventure, it is enriching and genuine, and really like no other raft trip in the region for a bunch of reasons.
Props to the other companies on the Sky who play the same highstakes sport we do by running that Bdrop beast- Always comforting when OAC is there because there is great strength in numbers. And Lance always brings a few thousand CFS of Soul any time he shows up w/ the Wildwater Crew.

ok I shouldn't have had to warn ya that would be a long one, huh?


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 31 May 2017 at 3:43pm
damn that's a classic jP post if ever there was one.
This post is about Sunset Falls and the status of SnoPUD's Stupid Hydroelectric proposal that will raise rates for Soho customers while threatening the ESA salmon, steelhead, and bull trout, and possibly make the Landslide next to Sunset Falls worse since they want to blast a 20 foot diameter tunnel just 300 feet or so away from it. F'd up 100%.

The Skykomish is an amazing river. While the Hydro threat is in an odd limbo at the moment, these proposals can drag on for a long time. So The Threat has NOT passed. The Skykomish is STILL threatened by Trump-style ass-hat logic (read, hubris and stupidity). The Skykomish is STILL #3 MOST THREATENED RIVER in the U.S. When I have any updates or calls to action I will share them so please stay alert.

I'd like to ask any boater listening who cares (and I know most of you do) to invest some spare time reading about the details to become as informed as some of us have about this threat. I ask you all to do this so that YOU can be an affective extension of outreach. Spread the word. Please talk about it with each other when you're at Split Rock, Or Big Eddy, on the river, on some other river...wherever. Just keep this topic near the top of the pile because it is important and we can stop it from happening if each of us continue making tiny efforts from time to time. Read something here, send something there, talk about it among the boater community and beyond. When you spend your money at some restaurant or store in Soho county, if you are clever you can have an influence especially with the locals of Soho County, many of whom may not even know the threat exists.

I'm always willing to furnish info on request, so don't hesitate to contact me. I just don't log on here much anymore but lots of peeps got my # and will share it w/ you.

Ok that's it for this dispatch- KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT!


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