Trip Report: Whitewater Fun on the Ohanapecosh River!
Location: Ohanapecosh River
Conditions: Warm weather, sunny, clear water, perfect water levels....about 1500 CFS
Duration: 1 -2 days
Difficulty: Class V
Usefull links: www.americanwhitewater.org | www.youtube.com | www.fs.usda.gov
The Ohanapecosh is such an amazing stretch of whitewater. Probably the most beautiful and the most challenging whitewater that I've ever paddled. This stretch is actually a section of the Cowlitz River I believe but known as the Ohanapecosh or the Ohane (oh-hane-ee) to most whitewater boaters.
This river runs in the springtime and starts as the snow that melts off the flanks of Mt. Rainier. You actually start the run just outside of the border of the park. It does run on rainfall as well but there is something just so amazing about being there in the sunshine and clear blue water. It's also nice to have a steadier water level from the snowmelt rather than rainfall which can be a bit unpredictable.
When you make the trip up there you can stay at the put-in for some free camping or you can stay at La Wis Wis campground which is at the takeout. There you will have to pay and reserve a spot, but you will also get some amenities that you wouldn't at the free camp spot.
At the put-in, you start with a wonderful seal launch down into the river canyon along the smooth rocky banks. From there the action starts right up. There is a quick S-turn rapid and then a wonderful 10ft boof into a calm pool. Next, after some boogie is the log rapid which is signaled by a right-hand bend behind a huge boulder on river right. Here you want to run the ledge middle right, aiming right. Of course, I would suggest a guide for this run since the room for error is small and the hazards are numerous.
After the class V fun, you will get to Ohane falls which you can run many different ways. This one can also be lapped and is a great spot for pictures. All in all, this is for sure a west coast classic that is without a doubt worth the drive. Go check it out...and be safe!