Video: Low Water Skykomish and Boulder Drop Kayak Run

A couple of weekends ago Greg Nicoll took this video of a run we did on the Skykomish from Cable Drop to Split Rock when the level was round 950 cfs.  On the second lap of Boulder Drop he had the camera turned backward so it shows a different angle.  And, as usual for any kayaking video, I am pretty much nowhere to be seen. :)


If you’re new to Boulder Drop and maybe trying to figure it out for the future, here’s kind of a play by play to go along with the video:

Section 1: The Entry

Right when the title says “Boulder Drop” he’s heading towards the entrance.  That rock he goes to the right of just there is what I call the pillow rock – you can go to the left but it’s way less squirrely on the right.  At higher levels it’s covered and a nasty backed up reversal forms on the back side of it – I plopped right into it at 4200 cfs and had plenty of time to contemplate not just that bad decision but also many others.  It will spit you out eventually though.

Section 2: The Picket Fence

Where he eddies out on the right is what we call the Bubble Pool, and from there you can either do Airplane Turn (a ferry move to the far side), Ned’s Needle or the Needle.  Greg does the Needle, the slot to the left of where he goes is Ned’s, which at under around 1100 cfs gets really narrow and can remove your elbows on the way down.

The nice thing is that the Needle is friendly up to around 1700 and then gets pretty sticky around 2000 cfs, Ned’s is high enough above around 1300 cfs to do without banging your elbows and doesn’t really get sticky until around 2500 cfs (not very sticky, but definitely sticky around 4,000 cfs and up), and above 2500 cfs the Needle is less sticky, it just starts getting bigger.  So there’s always some kind of option that doesn’t have to involve flailing around in a hole forever.  If you’re just starting out the Airplane Turn ferry might be the easiest of the three up to around 3,000 cfs, but if you can it helps to get out at Airplane Turn eddy (river left, at the end of the ferry) and scout if you can – that’s very easy to do in the 1500 cfs range, which I think is a great first-time level for this rapid.

Section 3: The Last Part

Greg doesn’t go through the two big House Rocks on the left in the last section (that’s the typical route), he goes to the right, FLIPS (sorry Greg, I couldn’t resist. ;)  I flipped in Cable Drop yesterday, so I have no room to talk), then cuts back left to do the last drop, which at that level is easiest to do if just as you go over the lip you angle yourself off towards the right instead of straight downriver – you can see me do that just behind him.

Clear as mud, right? :)