A PROPER WHITE RIVER EXPERIENCE IN WASHINGTON STATE

Photos and words by Aaron Black-Schmidt

As I came around the bend in the river I saw it. A twisted jumble of tree roots and logs, silver and water-weathered that stretched across the milky-blue water from bank to bank. I continued to paddle forward, trying to get a glimpse of an open passage. No dice, another massive log jam was blocking our way. I waved my paddle, pointing the canoes behind me to exit river-left. It looked like we were in for another fun portage. 

Several things came into play when putting together a fun river float for my bachelor weekend. First, we wanted the trip to be somewhat close by to the Wenatchee area, as my team didn't have a ton of time off and driving out to Montana or Oregon just wasn't in the cards. We also wanted the river to be easy enough for beginner paddlers, but still offer up some technical challenges and have a feeling of adventure. When my dad (also my best man) suggested that we basecamp at the west end of Lake Wenatchee and paddle the White River, I knew we had a solid plan. 

The White River flows east out of the Glacier Peak range of the Cascades and the class 1 and 2 section we meant to paddle meanders through meadows and heavy timber. After putting in at the Napeequa Crossing off White River Road, our group of five started to drift. Mountains towered on either side of the valley, creating a very wilderness feel. I was casually instructing Matt, a total beginner, on the finer points of draw-strokes when we saw our first log jam. No biggie, I thought. We knew there were bound to be some jams on the upper stretch. But it seemed like there was a new log jam on every bend of the river. After the sixth or so portage, I could feel the eyes of the guys on me, as to say, what did you get us into? 

Thankfully, the jams eventually dissipated and the day developed into a very pleasant paddle. The milky color of the water did a good job of hiding submerged rocks and logs, providing more than enough action to keep us on our toes. Overall, the White River offered a great introduction to paddling for my bachelor crew. With great scenery, mellow currents and just enough obstacles to keep things interesting, I can highly recommend it. Our take out was at the Little Wenatchee Road. For those looking for a shorter float, or perhaps not as eager to tackle multiple log jams, there is a half-way point to get in or out at the Sear Creek Bridge. 

The Session SUP paddle in action https://wernerpaddles.com/paddles/stand-up/session

Read more on our Churchill Touring Canoe Paddle at https://wernerpaddles.com/paddles/canoe/churchill

Read more on our Nantahala Canoe Paddle at https://wernerpaddles.com/paddles/canoe/nantahala

See more of Aaron Schmidt's work at https://www.blackschmidtphotography.com/index/G0000wXv29a4eWrY