Sandy River Gorge – September 14, 2008

Trip Report written by Chip Carroll. Flow was approximately 500 CFS.


On Friday Tomas Amodio and I hatched the idea to go see what the Sandy River Gorge would look like with a relatively barebones flow. I had rafted it at 900 cfs and felt like you could probably still get down with even less water. So with a couple of sandwiches, a small cooler, the Hyside Mini-Me, a throwbag and two paddles we set out to see what we would see. We fully expected to have to drag the boat down most of the run and mainly use it to float the long deep pools. But low and behold, the water stays pretty channelized and we ran everything but the first little rapid below Log Jam Rapid and Revenue Bridge Rapid. The weather was fantastic and while it is still technically summer, there was definitely an autumn-like quality to the day.

We lined the first riffle because we hadn’t gotten our low-low water boating groove on. But once we got to the bottom and saw that there was a line, we decided to be more adventurous at the next one. The next few unnamed rapids were just plain fun read and run, tight and narrow rock dodging/bouncing.

When we got to Boulder Rapid, we eddied out on the island in the middle of the rapid to scout. The left side has logs, which at this meager flow, were about 3-4 feet off the surface of the water. It would have been a very sporting run. We decided to run right. Pretty straight forward: Enter center left and down you go with a quick turn to the left through the slot. It mostly went as planned, but we smacked the rock that is the right side of the slot.

Rasp was a straight shot with a quasi-boof move at the bottom right. We had a sweet run through it, exactly as planned. The log that is in the middle had been cut but is still in rapid, albeit under the water. Fine for boating, bad if you were to be swimming.

Drain Hole was also pretty straightforward. We entered left, stayed left, then boogied right into the eddy in front of the large boulders that form the various sieves. There is a nice wave/pillow off the second large rock from the left that helps push you right into the eddy.

In the narrows we eddied at out at the spot where three large logs span with width of the inner gorge and had our sandwiches. It was a gloriously sunny warm day and we marveled at what a gem the Sandy Gorge is. How many US cities can boast having a sweet class III/IV free flowing (R.I.P. Marmot Dam) river within 45 minutes of the heart of downtown. We surely are the lucky ones.

After we’d left the gorge the river widens and splits around a large island. We opted to go right, but left might have been navigable. We ended up having to drag the boat 50 feet or so before we were in water deep enough to float. Not a problem, especially since that was the first real time we had to drag the boat.

The next pool lead into Revenue Bridge Rapid. It was completely blocked off at the top. We eddied out left, figured out where we were going to line the boat through and bing-bam-boom, the boat was at the bottom and we were too. We ran the bottom part of Revenue Bridge Rapid.

We rolled the boat, carried it up to the shuttle rig and away we went.

So now we know, approx. 450 cfs is enough to water for 2 large humans to R2 a Mini-Me (8′) through the Sandy Gorge.

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