One residual bonus of a mega winter -- chock full of nostril plugging powder -- is a biblical runoff. With snowpack percentages pushing 170 percent of average in our local mountains, whitewater zealots quickly transition from skis to kayaks (or river craft of choice). As the sun heads higher into the sky each passing day and daylight stretches into the evening hours, it's time to heed David Byrne's (Talking Heads) seminal call to action -- "Take me to the river... drop me in the water."
Last Wednesday we did just that. Doing a cursory inventory of my boating gear that has sat idle since last summer: helmet, paddle, spray skirt, life jacket, dry top, wetsuit, and so forth, I go through my pre-launch mantra to make sure I've not spaced a critical piece of my kit. Loading boats atop the truck, cam-buckles cinched snug, we head for the Gallatin.
Mid-May is generally the time of year when our regional rivers go from gurgle to gush. But, with snow still stacking up in the high country, our maiden voyage was a bit of a slalom dodge, with only 800 cubic feet per/second (CFS) coursing down the gut of the Gally. Nevertheless, it was good to see her bones, to revisit the stones that would -- over the coming weeks -- transition from calm, catch-your-breath eddies, to sucking hydraulics, to plump, glassy surf waves.
Despite the mellow flow of our maiden voyage, it's always good hydrotherapy to get out for a post-work lap on one of our nearby rivers. Within days the Gallatin has surged (x3+) to a mildly thumping 2500 CFS. Ah, but with deep snow still caking the headwaters, the likelihood of a banner year is virtually a sure thing. Will it get over 10,000 CFS? Likely. Will that put House Rock completely underwater? Yep. Will our bellies be full of butterflies at the put in? You betcha.
"Washing me down, washing me down."