|Little White Salmon — Willard to Columbia River ©|
Class V (V+)
Avg Gradient 238fpm fpm
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Minimum Recomended Level: 2.6 ft Maximum Recomended Level: 4.5 ft
Put in on the River Left side of the bridge at Willard, on the upstream side of the bridge.
Take out right below the entrance to the Fish Hatchery. Behave yourselves here. Keep your gear and boats out of the road, and don't block the entrance to the Fish Hatchery with your vehicle(s). Be cool.
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Generally the prortage around Spirit gets really muddy and sketchy during the rainy/snowy season. Some locals have said they just run Spirit when it's like this, because the danger of portaging is greater.
Easily own of the Crown Jewels of Washington Creek'n!! A fine run as far as class V runs go, and absolutely beautiful. CLASSIC. Lots of really good paddlers from the world over come to paddle and enjoy this river. It's fairly user friendly to the accomplished and qualified paddler, but it can also hand out some serious beat down, particularly at Spirit Falls.
Run Description [Season: ]
The Little White is a spectacular run. You can read the Bennet Book for descriptions of it, and there's plenty of other beta about it online.
Suffice to say that while it is very doable for experienced class V paddlers, it should not be taken lightly. Until you get familiar with the run yourself, it's wise to go in there with someone who intimately knows it. Be confident in your abilities, and in proper physical shape, as it is a fairly non-stop run from put-in to take-out. Especially when you paddle with the locals! Everyone BOMBS it.
Gettin Busy appears right off the bat. Currently the standard way to enter Gettin Busy is to run a short manky channel along the R.Left bank. This little route can hand out pins and/or beat downs, so watch it. In some ways the most difficult segment of the trip, Gettin Busy has a continuous nature and a scarcity of eddies at medium to higher flows. Eddies are always to be had along the way though.If you aren't in excellent shape it could give your cardiovascular system a run for it's money, so be fit!! Later when you know your way staying on line requires a lot less corrective strokes and effort.
Boulder Sluice is a relatively simple boof that yeilds some serious airtime, and many consider this their favorite drop on the run. Favor the left side of the wavetrain as you approach the lip, then rip a boof stroke on your favorite side. After Boulder Sluice, it kinda "gets busy" again for a bit, with more boulder gardens and boogiewater till you get to Island Drop.
Island Drop is a gnarly, manky rapid that can serve out some carnage. Currently it's difficulty is compounded by a low spanning log across the river at the top of the rapid in the approach. It has a sneak route around the right side of the island at higher flows. This sneak route is a manky affair- hook the wood with your left hand as you swing beneath the log at the entrance.
After some more boogie water you get to Sacriledge. Here the water curls slightly to the right as it goes over a picturesque riverwide ledge. Stay on the crisp little ridgeline formed by this curler and boof out slightly to the right of center. There is an undercut cave on R. Left, so be careful. It gobbles up the unwary.
From here on the river focuses and cleans up, and the drops are bigger. Double Drop is run in the center-left for the first falls, and far right at the second drop. Typewriter is just below. Hit the diagonal on the right, moving through it to the right to avoid some wood that is currently at the bottom on the left.
There's a bunch of boogie water all the way down to the lip of S-turn. S-Turn is a double drop style rapid with a riverwide falls you can boof anywhere between far R. Left to center Right. Where you boof determines which route you take through the second drop: Left or Right. The left slides around the outside of the turn against some rocky ledge holes. Watch out fo the undercut cave at the bottom on R.Left. The right plunges over a focused ledge into a hole. Currently in 2010 there is some wood in this rapid, so you may want to ask the locals about it.
Further downstream is a string of random rapids before you reach Bowie's Hotel, a riverwide ledge drop which should be boofed on R. Right. There is another nasty cave over on R. Left by the corner of the hole. There is swift water from here all the way to Wishbone.
Wishbone has an active lead-in through scrapey slides to a falls that you can boof high on the left (depending on water levels) or you can plug the deep pocket of the hole at the bottom - you may go deep but it'll spit you out. It's common for a group to collect itself here in the pool below.
The Canyon below wishbone has some tight technical holes and ledges. You enter left of a fan rock and boof through some stuff along the shadowy left wall, then move to the center for the next constricted set of offset holes. Another stout hole is also run in the center. As the canyon opens up here you can catch some eddies, just make sure to line up for the "Horseshoe Ledge" on the right, and boof out so you don't get chundered in the hole.
Eddy out immediately, because Stovepipe is next.Scout it on R. Left, and portage there, too if you don't like what you see. Most of the river focuses down a central channel, over a glassy hump of water, and plunges down into a pothole between two benches of rock. it's a tight, quirky line, but you can really boof it out. It can be a really fun drop. There is a large pool below Stovepipe, but the surprisingly strong outflow from the falls pushes pretty hard into the undercut Left wall. Be careful and stay away from that wall! If you portage on R. Left, stay on your ferry or you could still get into trouble here.
Around the corner there's about three rapids before Spirit. There's some shallow slides, and then a strangely cluttered class IV rapid. Follow the leader carefully here. Below this rapid is the appraoch to Spirit Falls. Paddle far over to R. Left to scout and/or portage. Spirit is pretty legendary. You just have to see it and experience it for yourself. There's a rope around the tree for lowering your boat back down to the river if you portage. If you feel spiritual, make sure you've had your companions set safety at Chaos. It is a deadly recirculating pocket of nastiness, and has dished out lots of carnage. Spirit itself is the subject of many kayaking videos, and can deliver a wide array of consequences. Don't take this one lightly.
Below Spirit there is a brief sequence of easy rock gardens and a little slide on R. Left, followed by a short pool, and then Master Blaster, the final rapid on the run. There is a gnarly line straight down the center Left side of the river, boofing over a big pourover ledge. This hole is pretty nasty at certain flows, so many people take a sneak route: Eddy out on R. Left right at the top entrance of the rapid. Next ferry across the river to the right through a narrow hallway-like slot. Bounce over some bowling ball sized rocks into a little room of an eddy. From here you can see another skinny route downstream, back out to the center aimed right at a boof. Boof this boulder in the center and you're done.
There's 3 little weirs you slide over on your way out to the flatwater below the hatchery. Two of them are double wiers, so it helps to slide over the first at a 45 degree angle, and straighten your boat out as you boof the second.
You'll be excited and ecstatic about your trip, for sure. Just try not to frighten the wildlife too much as you paddle through the flats to the T.O.
The Hatchery is here, so just try to respect all the critters in general, and be cool while you are hanging out near the hatchery entrance.
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