The Elwha River, Port Angeles Washington

hunter and steve the dog

Morgan and Maggie (& Steve the dog) from Olympic Raft and Kayak invited us to camp in their backyard on Sunday after the Hobuck Hoedown. Their shop is right outside Port Angeles on the banks of the Elwha River, which has an amazing story…

Sunday night the rain held off and we had a wonderful campfire (built by Hunter and Morgan) and breakfast for dinner, thanks to Maggie.

In the middle of the night the rains came again (what a surprise). Tim and Morgan headed out kayaking for the morning while Hunter and I used the time to catch up on some school work.

The rains broke in the early afternoon so we headed out down the road to walk to a former lake bed that used to be a flowing part of the Elwha River. The Elwha River is 72km long and runs from the upper watershed in Olympic National Park all the way to the Pacific Ocean and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. At one time it was the most prolific salmon river in all of the Olympic Peninsula. 2 dams were built on the river in 1912 and 1927 to generate power for the local pulp mills, which significantly impeded the Salmon runs.

After years of long standing debate and battles, the Federal Government purchased the dams in 2000 and proceeded to create a plan for their removal and the re-institution of the Salmon Run. The Elwha Ecosystem Restoration Plan was created and the dam removal was started in 2011.

With the dam removal came 80 years of built up sediment starting to flow down the river along with significant wood and debris from bank erosion due to higher water levels. This has caused changes in the flow and location of the river and is an amazing geography lesson in action.

lee, tim hunter on stump

The river /lake bed we walked through used to be full of water and may be again some day when the river settles back into it’s natural path. In the mean time, you can see things that have been under water for over 100 years which is really cool! All of the stumps we are standing on used to be well under water.


1 comment

  1. thanks for the update. I have paddled for the last 3 days. Great work outs. One day we trimmed trees as the water has been quite high. I managed not to loose any saws. That was good. Sister Lynne will be here tonight for turkey and pumpkin pie. Have fun see you soon. love grandpa.

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