Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cultus/Upper Trout Lake Creek

Last Saturday I joined Drew Eastman, Chuck Taylor and Shawn Lonin on a great adventure into Upper Trout Lake Creek, WA. This creek is the largest tributary of the White Salmon River and this particular section is above Trout Lake. After reading a description of the run on Oregon Kayaking, it sounded like the canyon is remote and a lot of work to access, but worth the trouble.

We opted to access Upper Trout Lake Creek via Cultus Creek and run down 6 miles to the bridge at the Trout Lake Creek Campground. The road was still snowed in about a mile before the put-in (where FR 88 crosses Cultus Creek) so we hiked our boats in.

Made it to the put-in

Chuck and Shawn running the culvert at the put-in

Cultus is a low volume creek that drops about 320 fpm. The first half mile is pretty manky. The gauge on the White Salmon River at Husum was around 4.5 ft. that day and the water seemed low at the put-in, but the river gorges up after 40 ft. Cultus Falls and it turned out to be a great flow.

Cultus Falls might be worth considering with more water,
but there was a log jam right downstream.

Below the falls there it is a mile of continuous slides and ledge drops to the confluence of Trout Lake Creek.

Entrance rapid to the gorge

Scouting the gorge

There were some great rapids, but it was slow going with a considerable amount of mandatory portages due to wood. We were relieved to reach the confluence with Trout Lake Creek.

Upper Trout Lake Creek is continuous class IV-V boulder gardens. The description on Oregon Kayaking compares it to the Upper Wind River and they were right on. There is just one big boulder garden after another. Unfortunately, a few of the rapids had river wide logs so we had to do some more portaging.

Overall, there was some great whitewater in there, but it was definitely a lot of work getting around the logs in between. I don't think I'll be going back there any time soon, but it was a great way to spend a Saturday.

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