Waptus River

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AlpacNick
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Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:43 pm

Waptus River

Post by AlpacNick » Wed Nov 09, 2016 5:45 pm

Belated post of a June 2016 trip I did on Washington's Waptus River. This is a 4-mile hike in to run the Lower Waptus, and then turn the corner for a couple miles on the Cle Elum to the take out. While I had run several Class 3-4 rivers before hand as day trips, this was my first legit hike-in overnight trip in my Alpaca. I've pirated part of my own trip report from our local WW club here:

The Waptus.
An obscure run at best…in the Bennett guidebook (and on the American Whitewater WA page), but if you have read the description it was likely not of interest because of the 4 mile hike in for “Class 3”. It seems like the perfect trip for an Alpacka and it ended on the China Gorge section of the Cle Elum which has good rapids and I was pretty familiar with. So we picked a date and there we went. I started with quite the gear pile in my driveway…a Bill’s Bag for carrying everything and all my overnight gear. Then I opened the T-Zip and filled the empty boat with all my gear in the two clip in dry bags that attach to the middle of the inside of the tubes. Closed it, inflated it. Wow. Is this really going to work?
We got to the trailhead at Salmon La Sac strapped on the packs and made the hike. Pretty easy, without too much altitude gain. Incredible camping near the put-in next to a crystal-clear creek. Right upstream lies a Class V+ gorge and falls that was wondrous to look at. My friend Brian saw a line. :)
We set up camp and then left gear and hiked upstream further towards Waptus Lake. Above the gnar gorge was more Class III/IV goodness…worth a return trip which is penciled in for May 2017.
We got up in the mounting giddy as school kids. Loaded up boats and began down the run….excited, but also fearful of wood. We found none. We did find great ledges and rapids in the Class III/IV range all clean and awesome! A swim may have occurred on this section. Before we knew it there was the Cle Elum confluence in front of us, right above Waptus Hole rapid. We were just so jacked up then talking about how we couldn’t wait to come back. We turned the corner and ran the Cle Elum out through much bigger water III/IV. The swim counter bumped up again…including my first. I was always wondering if I would have to fumble around to find the handle to pull the skirt (hey – I’m an Iker, no experience with these things ). The short answer was I was out of the boat swimming before I knew it so no problem there.
It was great to get on a run I never would have with just an IK in my fleet. Already planning the next adventures for my Alpacka and my hiking shoes.

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