Go with the flow
the Sandy Gorge at 2300 cfs on the Marmot Gauge



Last thursday I tried to put together a Breitenbush trip with no takers,  as a consolation prize I decided to throw on the Sandy Gorge at a pretty healthy flow.  With the Marmot gauge at 2300,  and the gauge below Bull Run reading 3700,  this was about twice the flow I'd run it at before.   The following is a little beta on Revenue, skip it if you don't care.

 Rolling up to Revenue Bridge,  I wandered down for a closer scout.   The first thing to notice here is that the log that extends a 1/4 of the way into the rapid on river left (right side of the photo) is invisible just under the foam.  If I hadn't looked closely I would have been tempted by this line.   The other thing is a nasty looking little suckhole that develops 1/3 of the way down the rapid, on the river right hand side, hard against the wall,  again something that I wouldn't have seen if I hadn't scouted closely.   I normally run that line so I'm glad I saw it.    The center of the rapid, as usual is filled with pin spot boulders,  you can probably just bomb right through at this flow, but I don't know for sure.  I run the center at low water, which is pretty technical, but the water is less pushy.  




Bryon showed up to do the run with me.   "I really wanted to go run the Little White, but I couldn't get anyone to go with me."  he said,  to which I issued my standard response "You people are mental." 




The run starts out with continuous splashy class 2-3 for about a mile.




...and then we hit the logjam, which I usually sneak on the right and drive hard left to avoid the log extending into the current.  At this flow there was a lot of water pushing over there, the move looked makable, but it seemed sort of stupid to both of us chance getting stuffed under the log.  For a killer rapid, maybe, but not this rapid.




Um, no.




Then it was back for more fast class 3,  the drops in this first part are pretty evenly spaced and keep the action interesting.








One of the main reasons to do this run is the scenery.




In the middle of the first part, we hit an especially rowdy pushy class 3+ rapid,  good hole bashing practice.   I love this rapid at all flows.




A typical drop on the upper part of this run.










Bryon drops in for some creekboat surfing.




After this massive overhang keep your eyes open, the first class 4,  Boulder, is just around the corner.



The canyon suddenly narrows and there are big boulders and a dramatic waterfall.  We eddied out on the left.   Normally you can run a little chute on the extreme left to get out to scout on the boulders, and either scout the rapid using a sneak slot to get back into the flow,  or walk it.  At this flow this line was more of a sieve,  so instead we scouted from a midstream eddy and ran it semi-blind.   The move here is the same as normal, run down the middle left and drive left away from the severely undercut big boulder in the middle,  then either eddy out on the left,  or just keep blasting to the left of the next boulder and brace hard on the pillow to swoop around with the flow.    You want to avoid this rock at lower flows,  I know a girl who spent an uncomfortable amount of time plastered to it underwater.  




We eddied out and climbed onto the rocks to take some pictures.




Looking upstream.   Boulder is a very cool place.




The last remains of a shredded aluminum driftboat, crushed into the boulders.




I say goodbye to Bryon and peel out.




I get ready to boof the hole next to the plastering rock,  then drive hard right.   The flow here really wants to push you into the wall/cave on the right,  so if you end up over there,  remember,  lean into it hard to keep from flipping.  (I hate being worked up against walls.)




Bryon gets ready beneath the amazing waterfall at Boulder.




Bryon getting pushed toward the cave.   We had discussed a possible hard ferry from right to left to finish on the right side line.   From below I could see what looked like a single rock in the middle of the river was actually a sieve of two rocks and there was some handsignal confusion trying to communicate this.   The right side line at Boulder goes these days,  but the danger is the proximity it places you to that sieve.   Of course the drive away from the severly undercut middle boulder is just as hard (or easy)  so it's really a choose your own adventure.








We take a breath and then head downstream.




 The next rapid is Rasp Rock, where the current splits around a midstream rock.  The rock was barely visible at this flow,  run hard right with momentum to avoid a dangerous backed up hole.




Next up is Drain.   Here Bryon enters left and drives hard right to avoid the first two deadly sieve slots.    You can expect to ride up on the pillow,  try not to look behind you,  just keep driving, stay loose, and don't flip.   If you have any apprehension that you might not make this move, WALK.    




Bryon nearly gets pushed into the last, less dangerous sieve slot.  When I showed my roommate this photo she exclaimed "Oh my god, what is that guy doing?!"




I started middle but and still nearly went though that same slot,  I hit the rock and thought for sure I was going through.   You could start farther right on this rapid but the danger is getting tripped on rock or in holes, which is why most people choose to go for the drive.








After Drain, the canyon opens up with some chill class 2.




We chose to run right on Revenue.




If you run right you need to make this very tight eddy turn behind the rock.  About 4 feet to Bryons right, is a small ledge, and downstream from that, visible, is a pourover,  and adjacent to that is the suckhole against the wall I didn't like.   After the eddy turn Bryon drove hard into the current to get into the middle of the rapid...




This sets you up for a nice middle left line to punch a wave hole and miss the stopper (but not keeper)  hole at the bottom.




Behind me you can see the uncovered pourover ledge on river right.   I made the eddy turn but didn't drive hard enough and ended up running right of that rock and plugged a hole and narrowly missed getting trashed,  I had one of those moments where you are just grinding leaning forward and not making progress,  that hole wanted me back bad! 




The second to last wave hole,  big,  fun,  and harmless.




The takeout under the bridge and the end of another day of wasting appaling amounts gasoline in the pursuit of thrill and beauty.  


The Sandy Gorge at this flow isn't the Little White,  but for the humble class 4 boater it provides plenty of action and a few harder moves with scary consequences.    I was a little gripped on the run but now that I know what to expect I think I'd be a little more relaxed.   I think this a good class 4 training run lower flows,  but at this flow you want to have your skills solid.  Relax, stay loose, and paddle hard.  You don't want to flip above boulder or drain.    It's a pretty place, enjoy.

Back to Class IV whitewater kayaking blog