Trip Report: Thanksgiving Weekend Part 2: Skagit River: Oct 12, 2020: Leigh B

Monday morning, we – being Leigh B, Owen L and Dave W –  headed to Hope to meet up with Anya Mc, Luke M and Dave A who were coming to paddle Yale to Hope on the Fraser. We drove to the proposed take out.  The water was a bit higher than yesterday and there was a lot of wind.  Having solo boats on this trip could have been a disaster.  The tandems would likely have difficulty as well.    

Dave W suggested the Skagit River, from inside the Skagit Valley Provincial Park and taking out on the Canadian side of the Canada/US border at Ross Lake. 

How to get there – from Flood Hope Rd, turn South onto Silver Skagit Rd, and drive for about an hour over a gravel road.  We eventually found a bridge crossing the Skagit with a small pull out with an outhouse just before the bridge.  We chose this as our put in.  The shuttle was arranged for two possible take outs.  A car was left at the 9 km mark and another at the 16 km mark.  Both were visible from the river and we would decide how far to paddle as the day progressed.

What a beautiful river.  Volume was 8 cms at Skagit gauge above Klesilkwa.   For the most part, it was an easy paddle through beautiful fall woodlands.  There were, however, several logjams to negotiate.  Most could be paddled, but we still had to get out of our boats quite a few times. 

The weather was perfect.  Sun all day and no wind in this magical valley.  The scenery, in addition to fall colours on the deciduous trees, included mountain vistas with fresh snow on the peaks. Absolutely spectacular. 

One logjam completely blocked the river.  Upstream, at a different logjam, the river went through to the left, but the open part that we could see was to the right.  A few corners later, the river was impassable.  The logs were piled high on each other and covered the entire river bed for probably 100 meters.  Owen managed to find a trail on river left that led to a second branch of the river.  We hauled the boats and the people over logs and put in below the monster log jam.  Another half hour of paddling saw us at our final destination.

By now it was getting dark, and the bank from the gravel riverbed to the road was very steep – almost vertical in spots.  It was composed of sand and loam and loose rocks.  The boats were hauled up close to the top of the bank where they were grabbed and pulled onto the roadbed above.  Next it was the people’s turn.  We all managed to scramble up most of us using a rope as a handrail.  The top part was almost hands and knees holding onto the rope.  

The drive out was about an hour and a half on the gravel road, and then onto the freeway home.  It was quite an adventure.  I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Leigh B

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