Brock was so stoked about getting back into the Cowlitz that he had to sing to us about it.
I had heard that there was this awesome run, close to the Cispus river that, was a rowdier, bigger version of Ernie's Canyon. I asked around, talked to the fellas and I was informed that while The Clear Fork of the Cowlitz was indeed super sick, it was off the table for the time being.
There had been a large rain event in Washington a couple years back and the entire river was full of wood. Not unlike the demise that befell it's southern neighbor Canyon Creek.
Then, last year, I heard a rumor that some of the Portland crew had gotten back in there. Then I heard about these two crazy brothers that showed themselves down at high water. I was interested.
Then Rob invited me on a trip and that made the bells go off: "maybe you shouldn't be doing this run Dan"
So, water levels came down and I forgot the fear. The 4th of July weekend presented a glorious 3 day weekend and Joe Howard was willing to throw his gear in the truck and go on an adventure. We decided to meet up with Brock, a Clear Fork veteran and see what we could do. Brad Xanthopoulos decided to do a last minute rally and meet us at the take out.
The Bennett book will give you a decent idea of where to start your journey. There is a turnout a little bit past the La Wis Wis campground. This leads to a dirt trail that leads you into the woods. Somewhere in these woods is the put-in to the CF Cowlitz.
The nature of this run is a little different from the Snoqualmie, Skykomish and Tumwater drainages. There is no shortage of sharp rocks, but the run is essentially bedrock. Not so much lava like the White Salmon or Little White. Maybe more like the Cooper. You're gonna lose some plastic. And, when logs pile up, they create some really nasty strainers so be on your toes. Depending on water levels you could have close to half a dozen wood portages.
Brock finds the goods. You will be rewarded for all your effort.
Lessons learned: Wear a drysuit you hate, because it's gonna get punished. Wear good shoes as even the chargers are gonna have several involved portages. They are not super technical, but they were a bit sketchy for us and we had bright sun and no ice or dew. Be prepared for a long day! Take snacks and extra fluids. This thing only comes in when it is "hot" in Washington, so you're gonna need the extra energy humping that boat of yours over all those logs and sieve piles.
So, long story short: CF Cowlitz is another great creek to add to your hit list. Make sure your skills, equipment and nerves are on par and up for the challenge. The description of this run being tougher than Ernie's is debatable. Then again I did not see this creek with a lot of water in it. So the nature of the rapids might change drastically.
Here is a video I put together showing most of the major rapids. I had the big camera with me and for some reason didn't pull it out until it was time for booty beers. I think I was just too gripped all day!
Get in there and have fun!
There is no better place to be than Leavenworth Washington on a nice summer day.
Here is a video from the whole weekend. Joe and I did the tour-de-stouts in Washington. We started with CF Cowlitz, then a lap on the Ohanepecosh. Drove straight through to Icicle Creek for a couple Ricochet rounds and then into Tumwater Canyon and some decent flows. A solid weekend in the books for sure.
Another solid weekend in the books.