In 2 weeks, Condit Dam on the White Salmon River in Washington will be packed with enough explosives to blow a huge hole in the base of the concrete wall. Moments after the climactic explosion, 10,000 CFS will gush from the tunnel and drain Northwestern Lake completely in 6 hours. That’s the moment paddlers have been waiting for since dam removal talk begin 10 years ago—that’s when we get to see, for the first time, whitewater that’s been hidden under the lake for the last 100 years.
The White Salmon system—made up of the White Salmon itself and its sister river, the Little White Salmon—is, hands down, the best class V backyard playground in the country. And the White Salmon also supports a thriving rafting industry and paddling for all other skill levels—all in the spectacular scenery of the Columbia River Gorge.
For as long as people have kayaked the White Salmon, the 125 foot tall Condit Dam has created a 3-mile long lake that separated two popular whitewater sections of the river. In 2 weeks, the lake will be drained and these two sections relinked. To say that the local paddling community is on the edge of its seat with anticipation is a huge understatement.
Rumors are flying about what’s waiting below the lake. There's steep gradient and a deep canyon, so there's sure to be new whitewater.
The only other creatures that may be more excited about the removal of Condit Dam are the threatened salmon and steelhead that will once again be able to access the upper parts of the White Salmon to spawn. A test program is showing how quickly the salmon will bounce back—they just need to be able to get home.
Stay tuned: details of the live webcast of the blast will be announced shortly.
Viva la White Salmon!