water wacko's Submission - Entered on 1/5/2010 11:38:00 PM
Gauge Information (Last updated with USGS at 4/29/2017 4:01:18 PM)
SKYKOMISH RIVER NEAR GOLD BAR
||NWRFC | FC Page
3rd Party Gauge
||4/29/2017 3:30:00 PM
Minimum Recomended Level: 500 cfs Maximum Recomended Level: 15000 cfs
There is an old put in at the base of Sunset Falls. Currently this access point is closed. Please do not put in there. Residents and land owners have made complaints and will have vehicles towed and fined.
Several other put-in's can be used without incident like: the Index put in on the North Fork. Park at the park in town and walk your boat to the river. Or at lower water (under 3000 or so) put in at Cable Drop. Drive up the South Fork road, which is just west of the confluence bridge. And when the water is lower yet, or you want a shorter trip, put in at the confluence along Hwy 2.
There are two Access places for this run. The best is known as the Powerline Putin. At Hwy 2 mile 35.1 (just west of bridge across the Skykomish) take FR 6020 0.4 miles to a parking area near a big powerline tower. A trail a short distance beyond the parking area leads down to the river at a point just upstream of Powerline Rapid. Additional access points include Forest Service land at the Hwy 2 bridge at mile 35.1 (river left- this is where the North and South forks confluence), and on the North Fork at either the railroad bridge in the town of Index (river left) or Forest Service land (Llama Ledges) less than a mile south of Index (river right).
The railroad bridge over the Skykomish at Highway 2 mile 32.5 (elevation 295í). There is a parking area on the north side of Highway 2 with enough space for a half dozen cars (more if you get creative). There have been occasional problems with breakins to shuttle vehicles. Some pull off the road a few hundred yards upstream where the road is closer to the river at Split Rock(Highway 2 mile 32.9). Others, including rafters, takeout at the fishing access downstream (Highway 2 mile 30.4). If you plan on taking out at the Split Rock Wave/Pool be respectful to the property owner, and park on the southside of HWY 2.
The place to meet other Seattle-area boaters (paddle and be home for dinner). SkyFest has been held in yearís past, but there are no current plans to hold the festival. Although the Low Flow is 1000 cfs, boaters may be found regularly making runs through boulder drop and other parts of the river all the way down to 400!
Run Description [Season: Year Round]
This run is one of the most paddled runs in the State. Read Shane Turnbull's highly detailed description in the Bennett Book. With boatabl flows year-round, this run can have people on it every weekend. It has been run as high as 85,000, It gets run above 25,000 more routinely, but if you are just getting your feet wet flows over 5,000 will feel very intimidating and over 15,000 is experts only.
At flows below 3,000 people generally put-in on the South Fork above Cable Drop, a short Class III rapid. There are fun playspots that develop throughout this drop, so keep an eye out. Below here the river splits around a large rock/ gravel bar. Most people go left and dodge under the old-growth spanning the channel. Stay hard left and you will slip right under it. Be careful at higher flows.
When the Sky is running above 3,000 cfs most people put on the North Fork of the Sky in Index. It has some nice mixed boulder fields, rock gardens, and a few gravel bars. Boofs and playwaves can be found at most levels also.
Below the confluence of the N. and S. forks at the HWY 2 bridge (you can also put in here if you are so inclined) there are more fun rapids with generous pools and long rock gardens with beautiful views of the Gunn Range and Mt. Baring. The first rapid below the bridge is straight forward and forgiving. Run right for the best waves. After the next pool the river bends left and then right through some boulders. This rapid is called Garbage. Stay with the main flow and Butter The Biscuit at lower flows (perfect slide rock). Around the next corner is Anderson Hole. It's a short, straightforward class III at low flows, but it forms a good sized hole that can be nasty at higher flows. Run right or left, the route on the left is easier and at flows under 2,000 a surgey fun pourover hole forms.
In the distance you will see some large boulders looming and the river drops out of sight. This is "Boulder Drop", the long, complex Class IV you will want to scout if you donít know the lines. Scout on the right, portage left or right (left is easier along the road). The lines through Boulder Drop change with different river flows, so if you are unfamiliar, SCOUT.
You can break this long rapid into three defined segments. Most paddlers enter it in the main channel on River Right, which affords two basic choices. Most go far right. This makes it easy to eddy out on the right in "The Bubble Pool", above the Picket Fence.
The second part of the rapid is called the "Picket Fence". At flows under 4,000 you can do the Airplane Turn, The Needle or Nedís Needle. Between 4-8,000 Nedís is the most aggressive line. Paddle hard. The Needle is a hair easier, but a bigger move. Above 8,000 the Mercy Chute is the best bet. I have seen many different lines run at many different levels, but these are pretty standard lines. Above 15,000, be very careful in this rapid. The Picket Fence itself becomes a monstrous hole with a horrible backwash. Be warned. Expect massive holes at high water.
Chutes and drops are run on the left as well. Choose your route carefully. You just may wind up stuffed behind a rock, or find some unsuspecting hole that'll grab your stern and suck you back in. The diversity of Boulder Drop is impressive. Formidable at high water, technical at lower flows with linked moves and big ferries possible. A great rapid aspiring creekers should get familiar with!
Once you go past House Rock, the last feature to contend with has been referred to as "The Ledge" and more commonly Ledge Wave. See Ledge Wave in all it's glory at 8,000 when rafts have about a 50/50 shot. Take care not to flip above the ledge. Getting washed over the last pitch of Boulder Drop, especially at flows under 3,000 can cause serious injury. It's a jumbled mess of rocks and several paddlers have been injured here by washing over the ledge upside down.
Below Boulder Drop there's a few really great rapids. Directly below is The Weir, which becomes a really big surf wave at 15,000+, but can be a sticky ledge at lower levels. Use caution here at high water. Run left of center down the tongue, but be aware of the sieve on the far left.
Below here is Bonsai!! which has some good waves and holes. As the river flattens for a moment and then bends left and right, you are approaching Lunch Hole. If you get stuck in there, youíll have more than enough time to eat your lunch, so its best to run hard right. Two other holes exist below Lunch Hole, waiting for the lilly dipper. Crunch and Munch might even recycle you a few times depending on flows. There is a tight line far left that runs right next to the hole, as well. It goes up to 5,000 as Lunch Hole begins to change shape. And at flows below 2,000 playboaters can find The Hot Pocket! about half way down on the left. A great little pourover playspot on the left below Lunch Hole proper, The Hot Pocket will give you a great workout. Snap a quick role and stay in the pocket! Just pay attention not to get sucked into the small siphon just next to and directly upstream of The Hot Pocket feature. Easy to miss, just keep an eye out.
The next rapid is a real gem and perfectly named: Aquagasm. This roller coaster ride is big, fun and has some awesome hits. The lowest wave/ hole can flip rafts around 4-7,000 so beware. The general line is to start right, drifting into the center, but watch out for a big hole that forms at higher flows called Pat's Plunge. It can be wicked. Aquagasm is always a blast.
Finally, there is one more boulder garden before you get to the Split Rock wave. Decent eddy service behind the split rock on river left, but as levels drop so does the quality of the wave and the eddy. Takeout at the bridge below, after running Railroad rapid (left of center or right of center), or at the actual Split Rock takeout. The Split Rock surf wave and actual Split Rock takeout are separated by a few hundred yards of flat water.