Kettle, Washington, US
Orient to Barstow
||II-III (for normal flows)
There are three seasons/levels on the Kettle River: Spring/High water; Early to late Summer/Medium
water; Late-Summer to Spring/Low water. Unless you're an expert, there's one area to avoid at high
and medium levels: The Gorge.
Spring/High water is the result of snow melt and spring rains. The Orient to Barstow run will
produce mostly Class 2 and a few Class 3 sections that are easily avoided. High water generally
starts about late April and decreasing until late June. Most rapids are rolling with some holes
and choppy sections. Unless you're an expert, you must put out at the Beach or have a very
difficult uphill portage' over private property. There's a large eddy on river right before The
Gorge. Pull out here and scout first. The Gorge is a Class 5 at high water with wicked holes,
deep kettles, odd shaped underwater rocks and cross rapids. It's doable but you'd better be good
or very lucky. There's a 5 or 6 foot drop with very strong currents. Below The Gorge there's
about 100 yards of Class 2/3 rapids that are a blast…if you're still upright! Often there's a
Class 2/3 shoot on river left. Depending on the level there may be some large rocks exposed in
mid-stream that you can land on and scout.
Summer/Medium water is the most popular time and runs roughly from late June till October. Expect
barely Class 2 rapids. But again, The Gorge offers a challenge. It's a runable Class 2/3 but with
a section that usually must be made…or else. Conditions vary depending on log jams or a change in
the rock structure. It's easy to land on the large, middle rock section and portage'. This is a
fun section in the summer but it's highly advised you use a spotter with a rescue bag.
Late-Summer to Spring/Low water. This is inner tube time with few serious kayakers. You'll be
scraping bottom and The Gorge is mellow.
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Last Updated: 2003-08-07 12:47:59