High water runs on the Gorge seem to be all the rage this year, as well they should be. At least two groups of paddlers fired up the Gorge above 7000 cfs this fall, four of us decided to check it out at 5200 cfs a few weeks later (anyone have dates for that previous high water event?). All of us were in playboats, only one was around for the 7000 cfs event.
The run was remarkably uneventful, this trip report is intended to serve as a comparison of levels. Although the amount of water moving through the gorge was intimidating, I felt that this level was not significantly more difficult then 4000cfs. In fact many of the pourovers present at 4000 and lower wash out at this level (sometimes forming interesting playwaves).
In short the wavetrains and eddylines were epic, the holes were predictable if you know the run. Things went very fast in mercury/nozzle, stay on your toes and resist being forced too far to the left. It's tempting to let the current work you in that direction because your vision down the center line will be obscured by huge waves (but no holes). Stay center left through mercury and it will launch you through the tongue/seam at the nozzle. If you do get pushed left there is a bailout eddy in the left corner immediately above the horizon line at the nozzle. From this eddy there is a manky sneak line around the nozzle. Make your decision early if you are getting pushed left, the left side hole at the nozzle horizon line looks evil (the center left line drives you to the right of this hole, splitting the hydraulic formed by the nozzle horizon line).