Trip Report: Hood River - Jan 19th, 2019 - 2600 cfs
January 19th Hood River Trip
Submitted by Jared Linkhart
We met at the Hood River Marina under clearing skies for what turned out to be a great trip on the Hood river. The day before, a significant rainfall had taken the Hood from below runnable to almost too much water. Once we all gathered we had a discussion about water levels and predictions. When I left Dundee the level was right at the minimum we had discussed of 5 feet and was almost to 6 feet when we had met in town. We all felt confident enough that if the water level did get significantly higher, we could handle the conditions.
We used the launch sight at the end of Iowa Drive near Dee. We found just enough room to park three vehicles with trailers along the road. Our trip leader Zach got us organized quickly so we could get our boats staged and lowered down a steep 2 tiered trail. Using ropes and communication, we lowered 6 catarafts and 2 rafts to the small beach and got launched.
So we started on the East fork, but very quickly came to a tight left handed drop (III+) that ended in the confluence of the West fork Hood, starting us on the Main Hood river.
The Water was not quite brown, but not quite green, the recent rainfall had stirred the sediment up and made judging water depth a little tricky at 2600 cfs. The scenery is beautiful and the upper end of the river has few buildings near its banks.
If you have ever questioned why there are not many photos of the Hood, I understand now. Unless you have a passenger to operate a camera, you are constantly navigating the river and wouldn't have time. We knocked out a good few miles of river and stopped on a little sandy beach for a quick lunch. Air temp was around 40 degrees so we didn't want to stop for too long. We knew the best action was to come, and the Hood did not disappoint!
About 6 miles into the trip Pipeline rapid (IV) appears, and the river gets more challenging and fun. The gradient gets steeper, and the holes get bigger. Shortly after Pipeline comes Wallshot (IV), which is a tight righthand turn with an undercut wall to the left. Right after Wallshot are more rapids where read and run skills are important and knowing where the biggest holes are, comes in handy.
For the next 5 miles, the rapids were a blur to me, and they were a lot of fun. I wanted to list them as best as I could, but I don't think I can accurately describe them. There are several islands and large holes that we navigated around. Some of the holes will flip rafts, and not all island channels are open. Once you come to a low railroad trestle things really ease up and the town of Hood river comes into view. We took out on the East side spit of the Columbia river, with a bit of a hike to the parking lot.
This was my first trip on the Hood and it was a blast! Thank you to Zach Collier for leading us on this adventure, and it truly was. Everyone was up to the challenge, and we worked well together and maintained good organization throughout the trip. It was a pleasure boating with every one of you.
Three days after our trip, I learned an experienced kayaker lost his life on the Hood River near the old Powerdale dam site on Saturday while we were on the water. It is always heartbreaking to lose a fellow paddler to the river. Rest in peace, Kevin Neidorf.