By Kanako Iwata-Eng
The Olympic Peninsula is known for its rain, but whenever I go to the Humptulips Narrows (Class 3), it is sunny, and my fourth visit to this river on November 18, 2017 was no exception. Captain Bill Petty, Bob Metzger from Olympia, and I launched around 12:30 p.m. under the bright sun. Bill insisted he had run the fish ladder, but since I started running this river in 2014, it has been always choked with logs. In the past, we could get in right below the fish ladder into the beautiful canyon. This time, there were three logs blocking both sides of the center boulder. At 3300 CFS that day, all possible lines looked sketchy at best. We went back up above the fish ladder and crossed the river. Bill went to scout the rest of the narrowest section because there had been a river-wide log a little downstream when we ran this section last year. Bill returned and told us the log was gone, but we didn’t know if there were more new logs further down. By then, it was almost 2 p.m., and we had to decide to walk out or portage and continue. We had no idea how far away the road was. Bob said, “Let’s portage and run the rest,” and we quickly moved. By 2:30 p.m., we launched right below the three logs we had seen earlier.
The Hump Narrows is not called so for no reason. The narrowest section is about 10 feet wide. It is amazingly beautiful with numerous small waterfalls coming in. The rapids are all fun Class 2 to 3+ except the Landslide rapid. According to Bill, this rapid keeps changing. That day, it was not a high drop – less than three feet -- but there was a rock in the middle making two channels. Directly under the left route, a big rock created a terrible boil in both sides of the channel. In the right route, water rushes toward the vertical wall. The portage is short and not hard, but sharp-edged rocks without deep quiet water below makes launching tricky. This time, Bob held our boats in the 45 degree slope and let us go first, and he ran the right channel. He stayed up but told us, “This is not a Class 3,” referring to the AW rating.
The rest was delightful and relaxing. We even took out way before the sunset. For the rest of the weekend, we enjoyed the middle section (Class 3) of the Matheny Creek with Tobey Seslar and David Geeraerts.