Lower Sultan River

Class III (IV+), 50fpm, 1300cfs

March, 24 2002

Jason, Ben

Author: Jason Hummel

Ben takes advantage of the many surfs on the Lower Sultan.

Photographer: Jason


The Lower Sultan is a good run if you donít have much time. I had lots of time so donít ask me why I chose to run the Lower Sultan. Really, my only excuse is that I just didnít want to spend all of my time scouting each drop. I wanted to do something that was easy and short. Okay, I was being lazy.

Before the birds even started chirping, Ben called and told me to meet him in the town of Sultan. We agreed to wait at the first gas station on the left. I was there before 10 and ended up buying some food. Now that I am a working man, I can afford the luxuries of the employed like breakfast.

Ben led the way to the take-out, well almost to the take-out. We decided to leave Benís truck at the edge of town so we could have a longer run and shorter shuttle.

Soon the kayaks were in the car, Ben was shouting directions, and I was driving were he pointed. Right. Left. No, left here. I think this is it. We passed through the first gate but the second was locked. Unwilling to hike, we drove up a few logging roads looking for and easier place to get to the river. Our success was unattained. At the confluence of the roads, we put on our kayak gear, shouldered our boats, walked around the second gate, and marched down the hill. A nice road down to an empty parking lot made for a first class path and staging area.

My first glimpse of the river forced me to question Ben, "Dude, how much water is there?" What I saw was maybe 100-200cfs and there was no way I just drove 2 hours for that. He told me 1300cfs and after running the diversion dam, I saw that there was indeed water, which made me feel much better. I was itching for some whitewater.

The Class III boulder gardens were fun. We took everything slow cause we didnít have much river ahead of us.


Jason in the rapid above Last Nasty.


Soon we were above Last Nasty. We both got out to look on the left, but we couldnít see much. I got in my boat while Ben set up for a photo of me running a small slot between a few boulders on the left. I thought I could make it, but ended up forced against the left side and flipped. I rolled up quick and eddied out. Nice.


Jason getting hammered in the left chute above Last Nasty.


Ben went to the other side of the river and scouted Last Nasty, the IV+ section. With several hand signals I determined from my eddy that the best line was a boof down the center. Simple enough. Peeling out of the eddy, I hit the boof, went deep, paddled out and set up for a pic of Ben. No problem. He chose to run the drop far right where a hole guards the base but had no problem punching it. Iíve heard at some flows this can be a difficult hole to punch. We didnít find much at this flow.


Ben punching the hole on Last Nasty.

Photographer: Jason


Occasionally, from that point down, I tagged the shore to snap photos of Ben. I led most of the drops, which consisted of a few Class III boulder gardens and pointed where I thought a good photo could be taken. Mostly we just goofed of and tried to make the drops as hard as possible.


Ben having fun.

Photographer: Jason


Ben boofing.

Photographer: Jason


Ben trying to look good.

Photographer: Jason


After several boofs and endos we found ourselves resting our heads on the back decks of our kayaks enjoying the fast, but easy ripples to the take-out.

All in all, our lazy day had turned out to be a nice day on the river. The only thing I could ask for was some more whitewater and less drizzle, but if youíre in for a lazy day, the Lower Sultan is a fast run with a few technical drops. And remember, there is always the Upper Sultan if you want some more action. Check out americanwhitewater.org to learn about access issues before you go.