The “Sky”

Skykomish III (IV)

May 23, 2015

As a California boater living in the San Fran area, a “local run” is typically a 3+ hour drive away. After coming to Washingtion, I can imagine boating here can make you soft in terms of driving. My host and kayaking mentor, Ben Waxman, treated me to one of Seattle’s local runs: The Skykomish. Waking up at 10:00am, we leisurely prepped gear and didn’t get on the road until close to noon. When it was all said and done, we returned to Ben’s apartment by 6pm. This was a welcome change of pace from the normal 5am wake-up and 9pm+ return.



The cliffs that backdrop our put-in at Index, WA


Setting shuttle with the help of a fellow kayaker

I’m always impressed by the kayaking culture. Complete strangers can become trusted friends within only a few minutes. Arriving in Index, WA, Ben and I had not come up with a plan for setting our car shuttle. We relied on finding a fellow kayaker for help or, if all else failed, just walking the 4-5 miles back up the road. Sure enough, while driving by the take-out we came across a local boater who, unfortunately for him, had been waiting for a ride for more than an hour and a half. Happy to have gotten a ride back to his car, our local kayaker (sorry can’t remember his name) agreed to help us set our shuttle.


Excited for some WA boating!


A bunch of posers

The Skykomish is a real gem; even at the low flows at which we ran it. The rapids offer countless different lines that give it a sense of choose-your-own-adventure.  Every rapid, save for Boulder Drop, have at least one straight-forward class III line so you can always take it easy. On the other hand, if you are looking for more of a class IV challenge, many rapids offer the possibility of linking a series of boofs, eddies, and ferries to take it up a notch. It’s ideally suited for making the step from III to IV.

Boulder Drop – a fantastic, respectable, multi-move class IV – is the centerpiece of the run. The drop starts with a pushy center-to-right move off a large boulder. Catching an eddy on the right, you can break up the rapid into two parts. The second part starts with a set of 4 or 5 doors. I don’t know the rapid well enough to say which doors are clean, but we took a boof line near the center. Immediately below the doors is a powerful run out of waves and holes that finish to the left. The rapid was reminiscent of Staircase on the Chamberlain Falls section of the North Fork of the American.


The Skykomish tumbles through Boulder Drop, the hardest rapid in the section


Ben surveying the entrance to Boulder Drop