Gauge Information (Professor Paddle updated levels from SKYKOMISH RIVER NEAR GOLD BAR at 3/23/2017 3:07:03 AM)
|Rapid — Road end to Beckler River ©|
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|Put In Latitude :
|Take Out Longitude :
|Take Out Latitude :
SKYKOMISH RIVER NEAR GOLD BAR
||USGS - NWIS
||3/23/2017 2:30:00 AM
Minimum Recomended Level: 6000 cfs Maximum Recomended Level: 11000 cfs
Great access, as the road follows the run. It is quite easy to road scout most of it on the way to the put-in for wood hazards.
Head East on US-2 from Monroe for ~34 miles, continue through the town of Skykomish, and keep an eye out for Beckler Road on your left, just about a mile past town.
Once you've turned left (North) on Beckler Road, continue for roughly 7 miles. Keep driving until you reach the end of the pavement, and look for the road branching off to the right one or two hundred yards after the pavement ends (If you cross a bridge after leaving the pavement, you've gone just a bit too far) Take the right turn onto this road (6530), park at the juncture, and take a look at the Rapid River as it passes under the bridge and sneak a peak at the gauge rock.
Shortly after the Rapid passes under this bridge, it merges with the Beckler River, and most folks paddle to the junction and take out on the left bank of the Beckler, immediately after the confluence and shoulder their boats back to the junction of Beckler Road and Road 6530.
To reach the upper put-in, drive up the road (2.9 miles per Bennett), crossing the Rapid several times until you reach a primitive camping area. There's some stout class V+ drops up here in a walled-in gorge, if class IV isn't enough action for ya. Scout carefully though. Most people put in below these respectably gnarly drops!
To start off your run at the lower put-in (right where things pick up again for the last mile until the confluence with the Beckler) park at the pull outs just beyond the third bridge you cross after turning off of Beckler Road and onto the road that parallels the Rapid (Road 6530). The third bridge is just over a mile from the intersection.
Park on the river left side of the bridge that crosses the Rapid. When you paddle on down, you'll want to run it out onto the Beckler river and immediately eddy out on river left. Carry your boats up through the Hobo-esque camps dotting the riverbank.
There's no gage on the Rapid*, so the Skykomish gage is the usual reference, but it's certainly not a perfect indicator. The range shown for this run (6000-11,000) is for snowmelt. For rain events you'll need more... more like 8000-15,0000. About 7,000 during snowmelt is nice level to check this run out for the first time, and equals probably an actual flow in the Rapid of about 400-500 cfs. It can run higher than the levels listed but it really starts crankin' and is no place to be swimming.
South Fork Skykomish Gauge
*Check the photos below for a visual/paddler's gauge. Take a look under the bridge where the Rapid passes under Beckler Road at the takeout, on the river left side. There's an obvious rock adjacent to the buttress that should work as a decent visual gauge. With flows of ~9500 on the Sky (snowmelt) the water level was halfway up the rock, and the flows were on the low side of medium. If the rock is dry - I'd venture a guess that the levels are going to be too low to be pleasant for most, and if the rock is totally submerged, I'd expect the run to be more on the "fluid" side. This is a very continuous run, so take that into account when sizing up the levels and your group.
-Update: After logging a few more runs on the Rapid, I can confirm that when the gauge rock shown in the picture below is buried, you can expect a more serious run. This is particularly important to keep in mind for the last half mile of the run (below the first bridge you cross on the way to the put-in), where a considerable portion of the river will be flowing into two semi-permanent broached log-jams on the river right side, both of which present an serious hazard to swimmers and/or anyone who happens to get knocked of their line at higher flows - despite the fact that there are relatively straightforward lines past both on the left.
Short summary: if the gauge rock is completely under-water, this final stretch of class IV water might best left to boaters with class V skills.
Take a careful look from the road and make your own call.
-Jed Hawkes 5/16/12-
Paddled the Rapid at 11,900 cfs (sky @goldbar USGS guage) and 2500 cfs (SF Sky @ Jordan Rd DOE Gauge). The two of us on the trip called it High, still some eddies, but we had to boat scout almost the entire run. Not pushy but moving fast, have your class V skills up to speed for this level.
This run can be considered a sister to the Foss. It is a little easier, lacking some of the larger boulders found on the Foss. They run at the same time, and often people run the Rapid if the Foss seems too high.
As of 5-21-11 there's no wood spanning the channel from the lower put-in on down (the last mile of the run), but there are three wood hazards all of which can be seen on the drive in. Two (both on river right) are found below the first bridge, in the last 1/4 mile of the run, and are easy to avoid on the river left. The other wood hazard is just below the second bridge on an outside bend on river left, and can most easily be avoided by making use of a sneak-line on river right.
Since you can scout just about every foot of the last mile of river from your car on the way in, take advantage of the easy scouting to scope the channel or wood on the way up to the put-in.
Run Description [Season: peak snowmelt]
June 2011 Trip report
This is a very continuous class IV section of river whose difficulty is greatly influenced by the seasonal placements of wood throughout the run. In case you missed it before: Dilligently roadscout on your way up.
There are two segments of continuous, nearly nonstop whitewater below the class V+ canyon at the put-in. These two sections are separated by a very short, incredibly beautiful flatwater chunk. Some people put in above the lower section of whitewater and run it out, then run a few laps. But the upper section is slightly more challenging than the lower, and just as fun.
Putting in below the class V+ canyon, you'll soon find yourself dodging all over the creek to avoid various boulders and holes, and it seems like most of the relevant wood hazards are encountered up here. There are not many eddies along any stretch of this run, so space your group appropriately, and maybe keep your group sizes small.
Most of the holes you'll encounter you can blow right through, because the steep gradient is on your side.
When you get to the flatwater intermission, enjoy the scenery. Here the river goes away from the road, and you'll see lots of birds, ect. You can count on at least one spanning log though. In 2008 you could boof over it and have a run with no portages.
This class II/flatwater section really doesn't last long. Class III wavetrains will start to pick up again and you'll soon be passing under the first of three bridges. Once the third bridge comes into view prepare for a couple of the more significant rapids that you'll encounter until you pass below the third bridge.
Make use of whatever eddies you can find on the outsides of turns to look for wood you may have missed on the drive up. While eddies are scarce, you can use floating eddies behind pour-overs and holes to slow down and boat scout as you go.
The first is a river-wide ledge that can get a bit retentive at higher flows. If you happen to be paddling when the flows fall into this range, there's usually a tongue on the far river left that allows the easiest passage. At lower levels - just boof and be on your way.
Immediately below this bridge, the river breaks hard to the left and carries you through a boulder garden where the water funnels you directly into a fan/piton rock that you'll want to avoid. The easiest way to do so is to paddle hard left at the top of the drop and fight your way left of the rock. Other lines to the center and hard right may be feasible as well, but left seems like the easiest way to go.
Once you pass below the second bridge, the river makes a sharp turn to the right about 100 yards below, and sweeps against a semi-permanent log-jam on river left. It's possible to avoid the logs by simply staying on the inside of this turn, but there's an easy, if bony sneak that can easily be accessed by sticking to the extreme right side of the river before you arrive at the bend.
After you've passed under the third bridge, some larger boulders appear, the gradient steepens, and things kick up a little. When in doubt your best bet is to stick to the left or center-left until you've cleared the final log-jam on river right. After this point, you can normally run right down the center. Hopefully you scouted the sweet boof below the bridge near the Beckler confluence. It's in the middle of the river and big enough to get a little air time!
The rapids in the upper section are definitely worthy, but some folks opt only to run the lower (action-packed) mile (from the third-bridge that you cross on the way to the put-in down to the confluence with the Beckler). This is especially a good option if you come with one car, as you can run laps easily and walk/bike back up to the put-in which is just upstream of the 3rd bridge.
The video below is from the third bridge (normal put-in) to just below the 1st bridge when the Sky was at ~10,500 (and rising to ~12K a 3-4 hours later) and the gauge rock was underwater - probably 2-4 inches.
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