eagle river report

Saturday morning three of us headed out from the crow pass trailhead, with the intention on hiking the pass and floating eagle river in a day. hit the trail at 8am, and had an uneventful (but absolutely beautiful) hike over crow pass and down the eagle creek valley. We arrived the first spot the trail and river meet (mile 11.5) at 1:30pm, and decided to put in there, rather than hike the last mile to the crossing. this allowed us no warm up, and we were immediately into some class II+ rapids. I swam within the first two minutes. the water was running high, and constant attention was needed, especially to stay out of strainers/sweepers, only two of which were river-wide. there were a couple of stretches that felt like we were actually paddling through the woods (vegetated gravel bars flooded over). the valley is really beautiful, steep sided, and floating through it is a great way to experience it. after the six miles of class II/II+ we came to the infamous echo bend (about 4pm at this point). it is an abrupt entrance, but allows plenty of space to eddy out above for scouting, which we did. we scouted 3/4 of a mile of the rapid and unanimously decided to portage. this was a four year packraft veteran, a ww kayak veteran new to packraft, and myself, a ww rafting veteran also new to packraft. the rapids were pumping, 3-4 foot breaking waves and holes, large boulders scattered throughout, a few rough-looking reversals, and very few places to eddy out. our main factor in deciding to portage was simply the continuity of the rapid. the lines were so confused, one mistake would mean a long, an possibly violent swim. too many ‘if you can make that maneuver then…’ statements started stacking up, and it was evident we would all swim if we tried it. stick to the maxim, ‘if you arent willing to swim it, dont try to paddle it.’
so we carried to almost the bottom of the rapid, were it started to get a little more bubbly, and less frothy, the other two wanted back in, and i carried another 100 yards, until i could see some reasonable breaks. back on the water, it was only a moment or two until i dumped again. swam with paddle and boat into an eddy. back in, i encountered another large hole, and swam again. this time i lost my paddle, but was able to get back in my boat. once back in i could see one of my partners up ahead recovered my paddle, but i was stuck hands-paddling. i ended up stuck side-surfing a hole, which actually gave me a few seconds to get some composure. still hands-paddling, i got into another bad wave, and swam the rest of the rapid, over and through a couple big holes, then spit out. the other two faired much better, due to experience level, and stayed in thier boats. i was getting fatigued and pretty psyched-out by this point. boat emptied, paddle back in hand, we continued. the rapids over, the river flattens out, and then it’s just dodging sweepers. we had intended to take out at the visitors center, but missed the takeout, which is hard to see from the river. continued on another couple of miles, it was evident that paddling all the way to eagle river would have us on the water till midnight, it was already 7pm, so we chose a spot we gaged to be close to the road and bushwacked due east. we chose well, we were only a half mile or so from the road, and hitched back to town. all in all a fun trip, and some humbling experiences gained. a lot to do in one day, but if one is conditioned shouldnt be a problem. stay safe, cheers.

Thanks for the update. Much appreciated!