This run is one of the one of the true classics of the Columbia Gorge flowing out of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest then dropping through an impressive series of action-packed boulder gardens downstream of the community of Stabler. At lower flows this is a technical continuous creeking run with fun boofs and slalom moves through the boulder fields while staying alert for a couple of holes. At higher flows get ready for some continuous action-packed excitement with big waves, plenty of holes, and fast current. Just be sure you know the run if you are attempting it at higher flows. Regulars can do the run in an hour or less and often shuttle back up for a second lap.
The run starts out with some class II and III warm up rapids. When the river bends right, Trout Creek comes in and then the water drops out of site through a boulder field and into a left bend, you are at Initiation. This is one of the longer rapids on the run but there are plenty of options to pick your way through. Most start center but you can find a more forgiving line down the right. From this point on down to Climax you can expect fairly continous whitewater action with pools that are generous at lower flows and diminsh as flows increase.
Below Initation you will encounter more fun whitewater as you approach a distinct horizon line marking Ram's Horn, the biggest drop on the run. You need to stay in control through the long introductory sequence and then work your way to the left to avoid the big holes to the right at the bottom. At medium flows there is a good eddy on river left to stage in above this last pitch.
After a couple more rapids you will approach Balls to the Wall Right marked by a short basalt wall along river right. Keep your momentum and stay alert for a good-sized hole that develops in the river right chute. Next up is Balls to the Wall Left and some more fun rapids.
The last significant horizon line is known as Climax. As flows increase a good-sized hole forms at the base of this ledge. There are multiple lines good at different flows: scout or get some local beta. Far left is the "airplane turn" then center left is a blind ledge with a sweet boof flake good at low to medium flows. Center right is a bulge of rock that can help you get past the hole at higher flows. Far right is a sneak when it has enough water.
After Climax the action tapers off but there are a couple more fun drops before things really start to flatten out to class II. Enjoy the paddle out that includes an impressive waterfall on river right and the scenic gorge walls.
For more information and check out the Upper Wind River page on Jason Rackley's site.
Trout Creek can be used as an alternative put-in for this run, or those looking to make a longer run can continue on the Lower Wind to the Columbia River.
Logistics: From Highway 14 along head north into Carson on Wind River Road. To reach the take-out continue to mile 3.0 on Wind River Road and turn left onto High Bridge Road. Head 0.1 mile and turn right on Detour Road. Detour road winds 0.7 mile down the river. To reach the put-in, head back out to High Bride Road and continue north to Stabler. At mile 8.6 on Wind River Road turn left onto Hemlock Road, cross the river, and turn right onto Edgewater Road in 0.2 mile. In another 0.2 mile turn right on Linde Road which dead ends in about 200 yards. This takes you to an access under the Hemlock Road bridge. There is also a cabin here that groups of 6 can rent for the weekend (427-8780).
The first class IV rapid just downstream of the confluence of Trout Creek which comes in on river right. Head between the two boulders in the center and work your way down.
This the longest and most challenging drop on the run. It starts with an intro rapid and at medium flows you can grab and eddy on the left to set up for the last and biggest pitch.
Fun line down the right along the wall through a couple of holes. An alternate line is closer to center.
The last big drop on the run. There are several options for this one with lines to the right or left but also some holes you want to avoid. It's best to get the beta above and choose the slot based on flow and your confidence to avoid the holes. Some lines are more forgiving than others.
As of the snow and ice storms of January 2017 there is a lot of dangerous new wood in this section. May require class V skills.
Better flow than E. Fork Lewis is:
Sometimes this gauge is slow to update though.
Based on EF Lewis gauge.
Kayak Levels: 500 cfs - 2500 cfs
Raft Levels: 1000 cfs - 2500 cfs.
Wind River Visual: At flows of 400-1000 cfs it's class IV+, but above 1000 it's class V. based on Bennett)
The Department of Ecology has a realtime gauge on the Wind River at Stabler.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Towards the end
Catarafts at Initiation
Nearing the Take-out
Balls to the Wall
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