Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Mayfield Lake, Cowlitz & Tilton Gorges

A wonderful trip through the Tilton and Cowlitz gorges with all kinds of weather - rain, sun, and wind. Current flows were high, so we didn't quite get to the point where we could see the Mossyrock Dam.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Weather: cold with periods of moderate rain and a little sunbreak. Winds calm in the morning increasing to up to 10kt from the WSW in the afternoon.
    Lake level seemed normal.
    Cowlitz River flow seemed on the high side relative to previous trips.
    Ike Kinswa Park day use restrooms were open, although showers are closed for the season.Capture.JPG

We had thee cancellations in the morning, so 9 of us arrived on time for a 9:15 launch. It was not raining and the wind was much lighter than forecast as we prepared and launched. We warmed up as planned with a paddle up the Tilton River gorge until we reached the point where the current was too strong and the river too shallow to navigate further. There was a lot of wood debris left over from the storm a couple of weeks before.
After turning around we paddled back past the launch and along the east shore of the lake to the point on the north side of the entrance to the Cowlitz Gorge. We stopped at the poiht for a break. NOTE: the bottom drops away very quickly on both the east and west sides of the point, making it a bit difficult to exit the boats. We found that the bottom at the tip of the point drops more gradually, making exits easier.
After our break we paddled into the gorge with the rain increasing. The current was stronger than I've experienced in this gorge creating some interesting swirlies to negotiate as we paddled upstream. After passing under the Highway 12 bridge, we stopped for lunch in the rain after the river curved north and the gorge opened up. There is a good beach here on the west shore for a break.
After lunch we continued up river, but the increased current stopped us before we could view the dam. Jerry Stole capsized and wet exited after catching his bow in the current while the stern was impeded by a branch an other boats. Bill did and efficient rescue while Steve did a toggle tow out away from the trees on the bank. The group worked together well while the rescue was conducted.
After we turned around, the sun came out for a brief period as we were reentering the narrow part of the gorge, making for a very pleasant drift through the wonderful scenery. Nobody needed a break on the way back to the launch, so we paddled back with the current in 2 hours, arriving at the launch at about 3:20pm. We got lucky with the weather as it wasn't raining while we packed up.S0039004.JPG