Eagles and waterfalls on a Sauk River wintertime float

The Sauk River is beautiful in the winter. I got the chance to get a good look at it earlier this week on a float trip.

Brian Pernick, the co-owner of the business Adventure Cascades in Darrington, took us on an 8-mile float trip on Monday.

Maybe you remember Monday? It was near the end of the frigid cold around here. That meant we looked like marshmallows in our gear. It also meant the river was breathtakingly gorgeous. The water was crystal clear and ice was everywhere. The ice formed fascinating, fantastical shapes. Anywhere tree branches dipped into the water, ice had formed around them like little feet. In a few areas, water cascaded over stones completely covered in ice.

In the distance, we could see a waterfall falling down a hill. Brian said the waterfall isn’t normally visible from the river. But they ice built up on it made it stand out clearly.

Adventure Cascades is the only float trip business based in Darrington. They offer scenic trips on the Sauk River. It’s a lovely area, it feels private and remote.

The Sauk River gets less traffic than the nearby Skagit River and it’s not near a highway. It also has the eagles that the Skagit is famous for, but in fewer numbers. The upside is you’re extremely likely to be the only rafters out on the water.

The day we went out we saw a couple dozen eagles or so — many very close by. We also saw a numerous dippers. Dippers are one of my favorite birds, and I’ve never seen so many in one place. We saw them along the entire stretch of river we floated and I was delighted.

Dippers are fascinating. They’re songbirds, like a robin. They are shaped similar to a robin, but smaller and gray all over. They catch aquatic insects by swimming and walking along stream bottoms. It’s funny to watch a bird that looks like it has no business in the water dive right in.

I’m going to write a story about the trip for the paper soon with more details. For now, though, you can watch this short little video. (I’m not doing it justice — I’m no videographer. But you’ll get the idea.)

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