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Little White

As our summer in the Northwest wound down to an end, we decided there would be no better way to finish it off than to spend a week running the Little White Salmon near Hood River. Little White is usually done by this time of year, but we found really nice flows between 3.1' and 2.9' for our week there.

Getting in the Groove
What can you say about the Little White that hasn't already been said? How can you describe it to someone who's never been? I don't know, but here's a shot. Little White is one of the top 5 class V creek runs in the country, with a great mix of action-packed boogie water and super fun big drops. The spring fed water is always chilly, and the basalt gorge deep and shady most of the time. When a stray beam of light makes its way into the canyon and hits the water, the water glows an iridescent aqua blue - not from the surface like a glacial fed stream, but from deep within, glittering off the tiny white bubbles that fizzle back to the surface from far below after their latest plunge through a sluice or over a drop. The trees overhang the river in most places, their trunks thick with the same green moss that seems to crawl up the sides of every exposed rock. Although it's like paddling through a faerie land in there, you have to be on your toes - Little White packs a punch, especially to Southeastern paddlers who are not used to things coming at them quite that fast.

We were lucky to hook up with a variety of great people to paddle with during our week there. Some days there are plenty of folks, and some days you can get shut down because even though there is perfect weather and perfect flows, nobody shows.

The run starts with about 1/4 mile of warmup, then plunges through a 1/4 mile long rapid called "Gettin' Busy." GB is a lot like the classic West Prong back home at a solid medium to high flow, and will definitely get you awake and ready for action. At the end of Gettin' Busy is Boulder Sluice - a fast ramp to a boof toward a rock with a pretty solid rapid in the runout.

Andria at Boulder Sluice
Jeff Robinson photo.

After Boulder Sluice the boogie chills out a little bit, as you make your way down through (or around) Island Drop, Sacriledge, and Double Drop. All of the bigger named rapids have miniature versions of Gettin' Busy between them, so there is never a dull moment on Little White. After Double Drop, the river becomes even more pool/drop, and you get in to some of the classic rapids that Little White is best known for.

Pyranha's Kevin Burkhead at S-Turn.

Paddling legend John Regan on his first run, following Jeff Robinson.

The main blast of excitement for those who are starting out on Little White is Wishbone - a mandatory 20 footer that is really blind but as clean as can be. It's almost impossible to scout this thing, so you have to take the leap of faith your first time!

Jeff Robinson shows off the standard left-side line.

Andria taking more of a meaty approach.
Jeff Robinson Photo.

Jeff also got this cool perspective of me on Wishbone.

After Wishbone, there is a tricky gorge with a three stage rapid leading into Horseshoe - a sticky hole that you have to boof over. Just below Horseshoe is another burly drop - Stovepipe.

Kevin airing out Stovepipe.

Below Stovepipe things chill out considerably for a few minutes while you paddle down to the main attraction.

Click to see the next part - Spirit Falls!