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Umatilla Run Description

Class:      GMap
Not Listed
Trip Date: 3/16/2007
Written on: 3/22/2007
Written by:

The Umatilla near the town of Umatilla provides a unique play opportunity for the desert boaters of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon. Many of the features are formed by man made channels blasted in the basalt bedrock bed. Below 1500 cfs this run is a real boat beater, so don't bring your shiny new playboat at those levels. At levels above 5000cfs I'm told the waves on this run become destination quality, and some of the holes get really hungry. Put in below the dam. There are two surf waves right at the putin, one or the other will usually be in depending on flows. There is eddy service, but you have to pull yourself up through the willows growing in the eddy to get back to the waves. Downstream of this there's a section with a number of catch on the fly waves, usually found on river right. After passing these waves there is about a quarter mile of swift moving flatwater leading up to the class 4 Double drop rapid. Start Double drop center left. There is a great play wave at the top with eddy service at the right levels. The eddy is on river right and is wide, but short. Paddle hard to catch the eddy if you get blown off the wave. After the surf wave follow the main current, slowly working your way left. The double drop in the rapid is on river left, right at the bottom of the rapid. Look for a sloping right to left move around the meat of the first drop and ride out the second drop. Catch the eddy on the left at the bottom of the rapid and spend some time playing on the surf wave there. Downstream is some more semi flat water with the occasional catch on the fly surf leading up to the dam. There is a play wave center right on the dam, although you will want someone who knows the line to show it to you. The other option is to go center left down a ramp and follow the current to the left. About fifty yards downstream is a great wave with eddy service on the left. There is another one shot wave just below this wave, then you ride out the rest of the rapid and head under the highway bridge. Once past the highway bridge keep an eye out for a basalt island on the left. Go just left of this island and make the move to the right side of the second island (left leads to some really nasty man made ledges with burly keeper holes). Hug the right side of this second island and be ready to make the move to the left as the river goes around the island. This is a blind move, but if you stay about six feet off the island as you round the corner you can do a two part drop into the eddy next to the spin hole. Go too far right and you'll bounce down a boat beating slide. Play in the spin hole as much as you want, the run is almost done. When you miss the eddy and go past the third island keep an eye out on the right for a basalt cliff. Stay close to the cliff and keep an eye out for a notch. Eddy out at the notch and takeout. Although it is a boat beater at most flows, the slide downstream is runnable at extremely high water, but stay away from the left side, where china hole presents a serious hazard.

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