Clearwater Creek

Class V (V+) ~400fpm, 350cfs (900cfs Middle Fork Nooksack)

February 1, 2003

Ben, Travis, waboater


My worst nightmare had come true. The rivers were flooded and the roads to the passes were washed out. Ok, perhaps Iím exaggerating a bit but when you wake up at 3am to find itís dumping at your favorite ski resort (White Pass), but the road is closed (HW12), you begin to fret. I couldnít go back to sleep so I turned on the tube. A few minutes later, the power went out. This really is a nightmare! I figured if Iím going to be Joe Blowing it, I might as well do some weekend shopping so I drove to Fred Meyer and picked up some groceries and CDs. The sun taunted me on the way back and the power was still out when I got home. Sun, floods, boredomÖ how about I check out Clearwater Creek.

I gave Travis a call but he was still recovering from his run down the Green River Gorge at 6500cfs. I considered going solo but Travis made the decision easy, calling back within minutes, unable to resist an afternoon of creekin.

My fear factor actually increased since I was less likely to puss out with the two of us. I knew of only one person who could remedy this. I met Randel a few months prior on the MF Nooksack. The Hummels and I had run the upper section but hiked out at the dam because we thought the flow might be too high for the canyon. I knew we were mistaken when Randel showed up for a solo run but the Hummels were still too scared to follow. We exchanged phone numbers and shuttled his van in awe. Anyway, Randel had run Clearwater and the MF countless times so I called and left a message saying that we planned to put in around noon and welcomed his company.

I got to the take-out a few minutes early. The sun was shinning but staring at Rocky Road gave me the shivers. Travis showed up on time and we got dressed with mixed feelings. We didnít bother scouting, having planned to portage what we were told was the last and most difficult drop. Just as we were about to leave, the infamous white van rolled up. It was Randel and two friends from waboater. They joined our shuttle and led us down with ease. I was so overwhelmed by running a 400fpm creek without scouting that I could barely nod Ďyesí when the call for seconds came. Travis wasnít quite as enthusiastic so he opted to shuttle. We blasted the second lap in under 30 minutes. Travis corralled an audience at the bridge and Randel demonstrated why Rocky Road deserves its V+ rating. The rest of us put in below the mess for more quality Class V. I didnít take any photos so hereís a link to the waboater trip report.

This may very well be the best mile of whitewater on the planet. Itís a nightmare for most but for me, itís a dream.