Flood of the Century

Video extras from our December issue feature on this summer's record high-water events

Photo: Mike Leeds

A video tour of our ‘Flood of the Century’ feature package in the December 2011 issue of Canoe & Kayak, available on newsstands now.

The photo above kicks off the December 2011 photo gallery. Here’s the inside scoop (and video replay) from C&K contributing photographer Mike Leeds: “It was my birthday, June 24, and the South Fork Payette was running at 11,000 cfs. Tyler Allyn and Micah Kneidl decided they wanted to punch the meat of the “Seemore” wave/hole in a two-person kayak. They came charging through the lead-in waves so fast they actually caught a little air off the wave before Seemore, then went deep into the trough, where they disappeared for a moment as the crowd screamed with pleasure. The two popped up in the top of the back-wash only to be back-looped back into the meat. During that back-loop, Tyler was ripped from the front of the boat with his spraydeck still attached to the cockpit rim! Definitely the start of a memorable birthday.”


» Mississippi I ‣ Catching the Crest

“We flew by the familiar islands and back channels and forests in such a continuous cataclysm of swiftly sliding water and boils and eddies and whirlpools that the trip began to feel like a stream-of-consciousness dream, and every night at camp I felt light-headed as all of the places I know so well, and am used to seeing at the Mississippi’s regular pace, replayed themselves in an endless frenetic reel.” John Ruskey, on riding the May 2011 Mississippi flood. Read more.

» Mississippi III ‣ When the Levee Breaks

“When the levee blew, the gap was 300 yards wide and the water came through with such force that it scoured out a hole 125 feet deep at the base. A buddy of mine, Wayne Parker, came up with the idea to paddle it.” – Northeast Louisiana cropduster and paddler Barry Boyette shot the video below a few days before paddling through the gap with Parker. Read More

» Colorado River ‣Gore Canyon at 8250 cfs

“By the time I came up on a high-brace, I was backwards going into the hole. I thought, ‘Oh shit. Here we go.’ It was a humble feeling. I fell right into a 12-foot-deep hole. I looked up and could only see a foot-wide blue streak 12 feet above my head. – Steamboat Springs, Colo. boater Dan Piano on running Gore Canyon at 8250 cfs. » Read more.

» Clark Fork River ‣The Cleansing

“When last winter’s record snowpack began to melt in western Montana, pushing the Clark Fork River above flood stage for nearly two months, hundreds of people gathered on the bridges in downtown Missoula to stare wide-eyed as the river flexed its muscle. This was the first runoff since the Milltown dam had been removed.” – Missoula, Mont., boater Doug Ammons on the cleansing power of an unleashed river. » Read more.

Here’s Andy Maser’s incredible time-lapse of the Condit Dam removal on Washington’s White Salmon River.

More Tales of the Flood

» Mississippi II: Keith Benoist’s Backwater Bliss

» Justin Beckwith’s 60-mile marathon on Vermont’s Mad and Winooski Rivers

» Jason Beakes on the Potomac River’s April Flood

The Mississippi River north of New Madrid, Missouri, May 3, 2011. Photo: Jeff Roberson

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  • Josh M

    That tandem seymour ride is nuts. I ran in my cataraft that day, but avoided the hell out of the hole!

    I think the flow was actually closer to 9500cfs. Main Payette was at 13,600 and NF Payette was at 3,990 according to USGS. So there was (at most) 9600cfs. The wave actually got a little cleaner when the flow hit 14,000+ in 2010.

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