Sauk River Update
The word from the Darrington District is good in terms of the bridge over the Whitechuck River leading to the Sauk River's old put-in. No longer will have to risk life and limb parking along the Mountain Loop highway to stage river trips on the Sauk.
I have no idea if the put-in has been restored as well, but, at the least, we will be able to hump the boats over the streamside boulders just downstream of the Whitechuck to access the Sauk. Hopefully, the Darrington Ranger District has plans to replace the porta-pottis as well.
Now we need for the Sauk River to regain its old disposition and nature of technical, boulder-strewn rapids with fun sets of challenging waves and hydraulics --- AND --- be navigable below 3,000 cfs at the Sauk, near Sauk, river gauge. Then, and only then, will the Sauk be back to 'normal'.
I am not going to link to these latest and greatest water craft because I don't think they need any additional promotion. I am concerned however that, eventually, they are going to lead to some difficult situations, especially in reference to their commercial use.
If you are unfamiliar with these new "rafts", they are self-righting rafts with rollbars where you strap yourself into the passenger seats. I have only seen videos with two people paddling, but I understand there are models capable of handling 6 paddlers. Apparently, in order to be sure they 'right' themselves, the paddlers need to do some kind hip snap, not unlike what you do in a kayak, though I am certain it is not nearly as problematical, or complicated or as difficult to learn. In the videos I have seen, these craft are running incredible stretches of whitewater safely, though, again, not without some drama. For instance, several times I have seen the craft on their sides for harrowing moments. Which would mean, of course, someone is below surface strapped to the boat.
The other concern is that it would presumably be possible to have your 'seatbelt' fail in the midst of Class V+ whitewater not meant to be navigated by paddlers sans boats. Tumwater Canyon, for example. I understand outfitters are salivating over the notion that --- finally --- the whitewater of Tumwater could now be viable with guests in Creature Craft. I would suggest these outfitters consider long and hard the consequences of opening this non-profit, Pandora's Box of a whitewater safety nightmare. It is not worth it. The money is not there in abundance and there is really no need for the liability exposure.
The lure of fame, if not fortune, will be irresistible. The lunacy of running Tumwater with neophytes at higher water levels will, sooner or later, be tried. You can count on me to stay on the sidelines.
Orion Guide Training and River Rescue Course Pushed Back
Due to a fantastic opportunity to raft the Grand Canyon for the 12th time with an amazing party of long-time friends, Orion's guide training and river rescue course has been rescheduled from late March to late April. The course will run one weekend shorter but, otherwise, will be the usual high quality and excellent times as always.
It is also likely that a second guide training will run in the latter half of May.
So, for those of you who have put off doing Guide Training with the excuse that the weather was too daunting, 2009 is your year. Better weather is almost guaranteed with a start that is a month later.