Description: This section of the Sandy is continuous and unstable. The rapids are changing year to year. The largest hazard is wood, which can make or break this run depending on the configuration. The higher the level, the more fun the whitewater, but the more dangerous wood becomes. Because of the ever changing nature of the riverbed a guidebook breakdown of rapids is not possible. In general, the river is steeper with more interesting whitewater near the beggining before tapering off to class II-III at the take out.
Go slow on your first lap to get the wood situation dialed, if it turns out to be clean it is a fun one to cruise down for a second lap.
Put in at the bridge to McNeil Campground (or a little higher is possible) and take out at the Lolo Pass Bridge or roadside just upstream of that.
Full description in Soggy Sneakers.
5/24/2020 Ran it today with 2100 on Sandy at Marmot gauge and there was plenty of water, this is a well-padded Class IV flow. We put in a few hundred yards downstream from McNeil Bridge. If you don't know the run, it would be easy to blunder around an innocuous looking left-bend and into a longstanding batch of logs spanning the river about 1/4 mile in. This is an "island" so you can portage down the shallow right channel or bushwhack nearer the left channel. It may look tempting to duck the logs, but there are ill-placed rocks that are hard to see that have embarrassed a number of paddlers so not recommended. Besides that portage, we had 3 others, but overall it was remarkably clean and very fun. A few weeks ago, a group ran it at 1900 and thought it too scrapy. The level can be affected by where the water hitting the Marmot gauge is coming from. If it's mostly straight off the mountain it will feel higher for the same reading than if the Zigzag and Salmon are contributing more water.
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