The Sauk River

Kyle and I had been eagerly awaiting our first real BEWET outing which was supposed to take place on the Snoqualmie River this last Saturday. The emails we were receiving from the trip lead cautioned us not to get our hopes up though. The Snoqualmie is apparently only run at very specific water levels. Levels during the week had been good but the forecast predicted a drop in levels over the weekend as it began to snow in the mountains again. Sure enough, Friday afternoon we received an email telling us the trip had been cancelled. The good news was that they had found an alternative river: the Sauk.

This presented somewhat of a problem. The Sauk is located up outside of Darrington, a two hour drive north of Seattle. On Saturday night we were going to drive two hours south of Seattle to Ashford in order to stay in a cabin with our team, preceding our Sunday climb in the Tatoosh Range. Committing to the Sauk meant committing to spending five hours in a car on Saturday. After a pros and cons conversation with our carpool buddy, Ian, we decided to say fuck it, and do it all. Sauk River here we come.

Saturday morning we met Ian and Ellen at the park and ride early and sped off to the freeway. We arrived some hours later at the heavily forested put in for the Sauk River. One of the things that was most exciting to me about the Sauk was the description of the river. It is located in a very remote heavily protected area, so you see very few signs of civilization while rafting. You only see the road twice and then you begin to run into houses right before the take out. The rest of the river runs through lush dense forest.

We got lucky with our weather, partly sunny skies wavered above us, blessing us with the occasional sun beam. A serious blessing since the heavy foliage and glacial run off can make the Sauk an extremely cold trip. We had lots of layers of fleece and down under our dry suits in preparation. When I couldn’t find my extra layer of thick socks I cursed myself, my toes were going to be so cold.

Because the Sauk is a fairly technical river, with lots of rocks and obstacles to watch out for Kyle and I weren’t going to get any time on the guide stick. Instead we ended up sitting princess in an oar boat with another Kyle as our guide. Despite not getting to steer I still felt like I learned a ton! We identified every hole and wave we passed, calling out rocks from hundreds of feet away and planning our line as soon as we could see the rapid. Kyle has all sorts of wisdom that he shared with us and he even let us oar for a hot second, which was extremely challenging. It felt like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time, motions so foreign my brain didn’t even know how to think the commands in order to communicate them to my arms and hands.

The Sauk was indeed gorgeous. The river was pretty bony (apparently that’s what you call a river with tons of rocks sticking up out of the water) and there wasn’t a ton of big water, or maybe what I thought was big water is starting to look smaller now that I’ve seen more of it. We got splashed, we saw an eagle, we squealed in delight, we sucked in deep cold breaths of fresh air. It was delightful.

We were at the take out way to quickly for my liking. Our first real trip with BEWET was a great success. We left the parking lot headed to Ashford with smiles on our faces and the heat blasting to warm up our frozen body parts.

(The only bummer from this trip was that I forgot the SD card for our Go-Pro, so no pictures. We promise to get some next week on the Green!)

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As Edward Abbey said, "An indoor life is the next best thing to a premature burial."