River Safety: Northwest Cataraft Progression
The rainy season is about to come to the Northwest which means boating season is right around the corner.
Whitewater runs like the Upper Clackamas and Wind Rivers become training grounds but there are many more places to practice. Below is a progression for catarafters from easiest to more difficult.
- Klickitat (Klickitat Hatchery to Leidl): This little known section of the Klickitat is beautiful and really fun in the winter and spring.
- Deschutes: The day stretches or multi-day sections are a great place to work on basic rowing skills.
- Rogue: The multi-day section of the Rogue is typically runnable all winter and a great place to hone your skills and spend a few nights in the wilderness.
- Lower Hood: It's not easy to get your boat to the river but once your rowing this is a great place to practice.
- Upper Clackamas: This classic section of whitewater is close to Portland and a great place to meet other catarafters.
- Hood River from Dee to Tucker: You can combine this section with the Lower Hood for a great day of surfing and fun rapids.
- Lower Lower White Salmon (Narrows): The whitewater here is pretty straightforward, but you need to watch out for river-wide wood and be ready for a difficult line around Steelhead Falls.
- North Fork of the Umpqua: This is a beautiful section of whitewater.
- Middle White Salmon: This is a classic place to raft and kayak that is often overlooked by catarafts. It's easy to take out before Husum Falls.
- Upper Klickitat: The put-in can be snowed in so this is more of a spring run. There aren't a lot of runs to practice skills between the Middle White Salmon and Wind so this one is listed.
- Molalla River: This section has three rapids that are on the border of Class III and Class IV, depending on river levels.
- West Fork of the Hood: This amazing run is the perfect place to practice for the Wind. Unfortunately access is tough and the portages can be brutal.
- Illinois: This magical overnight trip has great whitewater too!
- Upper Klamath: The whitewater here is amazingly fun but it's a long drive from Portland and a long shuttle.
- Wind: This is VERY solid Class IV+ run and a big step up from the runs listed before. Once you have the skills to confidently run this you'll be hooked!
It's always tricky finding more runs than the Upper Clackamas to practice on before doing the Wind. If you have other suggestions please leave them in the comments below!