By Kanako Iwata-Eng
This fall/winter season, the Olympic Peninsula hasn’t been very cooperative. Jon Almquist’s Humptulips and SF Calawah trips had to relocate, as well as Team Petty’s Thanksgiving Humptulips trip. This trip wasn’t an exception. Captain Bill Petty, Doug, and I took the Kingston ferry and camped next to the Sol Duc River near Forks on Thursday, December 29.
On Friday, December 30, we headed South at 7:30 a.m. to meet with the rest of the group at the Humptulips. The road was icy and dangerous. It took us three hours to get there. John T. from Canada was waiting for us on the way to the meeting place, saying his vehicle, an old school bus, couldn’t go further. Bill, Doug, and I got to the Humptulips bridge a few minutes before the 10:30 a.m. meeting time. We left shortly thereafter, as nobody else showed up. The foot-deep snow was crusty and hard to drive on. The narrow road up to the put-in looked worse. We decided we were not running the Humptulips. By the time we got back to where John was waiting, Larry had arrived. Five of us headed North. The return drive was easier and faster, as the temperature came up a little.
We ran the Sol Duc once again. When Southern OP rivers don’t cooperate, the Sol Duc always welcomes paddlers. We ran from the Bear Creek to the Hatchery. It was about 900 CFS, “a decent low level,” as Bill said.
On the mainland, the New Year’s Day Cispus trip had been canceled. On our invitation, the Cispus leader Renee, Joyce, and Steve from Sequim joined us in the Lower Calawah on Saturday, December 31. The Lower Calawah from Highway 101 to the Fishing Access is a fine Class 2+ run from the put-in to the Bogachiel confluence with about 14 rapids. Some of them are long and great fun. After the confluence, it is long flat water with a couple of riffles. Eight of us enjoyed the paddle despite the cold weather.
With lots of firewood, we had a nice campfire throughout the weekend, but it snowed New Year’s Eve night and New Year’s Day morning—and it was very cold. With not much else to paddle, we decided to pay another visit to the same section of the Sol Duc.
On Thursday, Bill and I had checked the road to the Sol Duc Hot Springs and saw the gate was closed. If it was open, we could have run different sections, but no luck this time. Larry decided it was too cold and left. John’s bus needed a jump to start, and he didn’t want to stop the engine, so he left, too. So, Bill, Doug, and I paddled the Sol Duc and headed home one day earlier than planned.