Kayak Season on the Methow River

A friend of the Zuchs, Kamini Fonseca (pictured), says, "I love hanging out with Susy and Fritz. We pack up and go almost anywhere there is water to float on!"

Fritz and Susy Zuch enjoy what many kayakers would call the perfect lifestyle.

The Zuchs live next to the Methow (MET-how) river in Washington State; one of America’s premier kayaking rivers. They own four Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayaks. They also own their own business so, as Fritz says, “When the river’s perfect and the weather’s fine, we go kayaking.”

Their four-kayak flotilla

You’ll often find Fritz and Susy running the Class II – III sections of the Methow, each in their own Sea Eagle 330 inflatable kayak. Their favorite 18-mile run takes them four or five hours.

The Zuch's daughter carries on the family tradition.

Or you may see their mini-flotilla shoot by — Fritz, Susy, their kids, or friends — each in their own Sea Eagle. “We look like a whitewater kayaking company with our four matching 330’s,” says Fritz.

Class I – III rapids

The Methow, named after the Methow Indian Tribe, flows southeast from its headwaters in the northern Cascade Range. It twists and turns through the mountains and valleys of Washington State and empties into the mighty Columbia River. Fritz gives a local kayaker’s perspective. “The Methow starts as a Class I – II river then changes to a Class II – III. At Black Canyon, it becomes a Class III – IV river. That’s where the whitewater companies run their businesses. As you go east, the river gets wilder and wilder as it’s squeezed into a series of steep canyons. When it hits the Columbia, it widens and slows.”

Kayak Season

The river’s flow varies through the season, says Fritz, because, “The Methow is fed largely by glacial and snowpack melt.” The Methow’s popular “Kayak Season” — five to seven weeks when the river runs fast — from about mid-to-late June to early-to-late July. But you’ll see dedicated kayakers on the Methow from May through August.

The river’s flow is measured in CFS, or cubic feet per second. 10,000 CFS is ideal in the Methow. “Above that, the water’s so stirred up you can’t see obstacles easily,” Fritz reports. “And below 1,000 CFS, you’re scraping bottom.” “There are several websites that continually report the CFS,” says Fritz. “We use the U.S. Geological Survey’s site, http://www.usgs.gov/.”

What’s the Zuch’s attraction to boating? “For us,” says Fritz, “it’s the beauty of the river and surroundings. There’s something soothing about being on the river. Throw in some rapids, and you’ve got an adrenaline rush, too.”

“Dude, that’s awesome!”

A sandy beach on the Methow...but the D.O.T. chute lay ahead.

Fritz and Susy pumped a bit more adrenaline than they bargained for recently. They put in at a beautiful, sandy beach in a lazy section of the river they hadn’t run before. Launching after a relaxing picnic, they soon heard rapids ahead.

The Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) had placed abutments on both sides of the river, narrowing it significantly and creating a chute. “There was no turning back,” says Fritz. “Susy lined up perfectly and I followed” through the chute. “We popped through the chute,” says Fritz. “We found a place to pull out and decided we wanted to go back and do it again!”

The Zuchs later learned from local 20-something adventure kayakers that the areas’s called the D.O.T. Chute. “You went down the D.O.T. Chute in an IK (inflatable kayak)? Dude, that’s awesome!”

Kayak Season has passed for now but the Zuchs aren’t done boating by a long shot. Besides their four 330’s, they also own a larger Sea Eagle SE9 they use for fishing, and have their eye on a Sea Eagle Sport Runabout.

Nearby alpine and sub-alpine lakes await them. “And there’s absolutely great Salmon and Steelhead fishing in the Columbia,” Fritz tells us. And after all — when you live on the Methow River, Kayak Season’s never that far away.

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9 Responses to Kayak Season on the Methow River

  1. Jackie says:

    Hi this looks like fun. As I lived in Washington State for some 10 years back in the 70′s. I love the area. I live in New York now.
    My boyfriend and I now do some kayaking and love it. But we only do flat water. But still enjoy the outings. We have been planing a trip to Washington State in the future because my son lives in Anacortes. And we would love to do some Kayaking there. Would love to have some input. Thank you Jackie Powers

    • Susy Zuch says:

      Hi Jackie, When in Anacortes hop onto Hwy 20 east over the N Cascade Pass (closed in winter) for one of the most beautiful drives in the lower 48 and you will drop right into the Methow Valley. Check it out @ http://www.cascadeloop.com/index.php
      Anacortes has some great kayaking opportunities and there are plenty of rentals available, or better yet buy your son a SeaEagle for Christmas and you can borrow it when you visit!

  2. Fritz says:

    Just for the record, that is not a picture of Susy. That is our good friend Kamini Fonseca who took her first trip down the Methow this July with Susy and I. She had a great time and cant wait for next season!
    I should note that Kamini is quite an athlete and runs a sports training and fitness center in Seattle…she saw the Sea-Eagles as a great vehicle for training and fitness!

  3. Just FYI… that is Kamini Fonseca of The ReFit Komplex in Seattle WA. ( red visor) in the first photo…. oh how Suzy would like to be me for a day!! ha ha very funny she said…:0)
    I love hanging out with Fritz and Susy… cause they have these cool kayaks that we can pack up and go almost anywhere there is water to float on down with.

  4. Jack Engelbrecht says:

    I have a Sea Eagle 330 and have been on the Methow. Next spring I’m upgrading to the 380X. Have fun!

    • Fritz says:

      Jack,
      Interestingly we are making the same upgrade to the 380x. Have you run Black Canyon? We want to do that stretch next year.

  5. jan wespiser says:

    Does anyone know anything about the Caloosahatchee River? We reside in Indiana in the Spring Summer and In Ft. Myers, Fl in the Fall/Winter. Our Indiana neighborhood has a Lake/Reservoir and our Fl condo is on the Caloosahatchee. I love being on the water and the idea of an inflatable that I could manage myself spontaneously sounds perfect. I would like to go out by myself, however it would be nice to have room for a passenger at times. Any recommendations re: the best model to purchase? I might also add that I have a dog
    (a 75 lb. golden doodle) who would love accompanying me.

    Thank you for any input. j

    • Larry Hoskinson says:

      Jan, it sure sounds like you should be crusing along in a Sea Eagle model 370, I looked and looked for the best buy for the money for a inflatable that was large enough for extra lugage and passinger. Have discovered for the money that the Sea Eagle is hard to beat and is a great kayak for someone who travels. I spend the winters in Tampa and have found there are several areas that are perfect for the kayaking, in the past few years I have rented hardshells while down there. I ran into a lady who has a Sea Eagle and also a hardshell, she couldn’t say enough good things about the Sea Eagle. Two things, check out the Sea Eagle company on line and if they are the one you decide on I would advise buying it in Dec. for the best price and they usually throw in a few extras. No matter which brand you buy you and the pup will have a great time in the Fl. sun……..Larry

  6. mama b says:

    I hate to burst your bubble, BUT the DOT rapid has been run in an IK many times by myself, my husband and many of our rafting clients when we were owners of Osprey River Adventures-some as young as 9 years old.

    Just thought you should know.

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