I could imagine you might see a raft or tuber. In all my years swimming there as a kid I never saw any boats bigger than that. I went on a Saturday on one of the hottest days of the year. Where I got in the water (Cascadia State Park) and where I ended up (Cascadia Covered Bridge) had a fair amount of swimmers. However, once I got in the water I basically had the place to myself. It is around a 2 mile stretch of river and no real access except dirt trails down from the "less used" backroad side of the river.
Well from a numeric perspective this website (http://levels.wkcc.org/?P=Oregon.html) says the South Santiam at Cascadia is flowing at 86 Cubic Feet a Second. The water level was low, but there were only two very short sections (around 30 feet long) that were too shallow for me to swim through.
In a subjective sense, the "feeling" of speed was very variable. In the deeper and wider sections I was drifting along and barely felt any current at all (deepest area I swam through was probably 40 feet). On the narrower and shallower sections the speed picked up considerably. I didn't speed up any of the video footage, so if it feels fast, it probably was moving pretty quick. The rocks flying by certainly enhanced the sense of speed in several of the sections :P.
I grew up swimming in rivers so I felt fairly comfortable moving between the rocks. When the water was too aerated to see the rocks or I felt it was moving a bit too fast, I went down feet first instead of head first. Then I could use my legs and fins to slide my way around the rocks. I wore my 3mm wetsuit so I didn't end up with any scrapes and no real impacts or bruises. Some sections I was having to react pretty quickly to dodge to the side or over incoming boulders, but I felt comfortable enough that I was still kicking for speed in many of those sections.
Hey everyone. Been a while since I have been on the site. I got a bit overwhelmed wading through the 1200 video clips from my last trip to Mexico, so my video output has been kind of stalled out the past few months. However, last weekend it was going to get over 100 here in Oregon and I wanted to get in the water, so I decided to try snorkeling down a stretch of river about an hour from my house. I was familiar with the area having grown up near there, but I haven't been swimming around there in years.
Logistically, it was interesting. I ended up hiding my gear in the bushes near where I started and then driving down river three miles and leaving my car. Then I walked back up to where I dropped everything off. There were some people out swimming where I put in and where I ended the trip, but for the few hours in between I basically had the river to myself.
It ended up being a lot of fun. There were some high speed hectic moments and some mellow drifting along in the shallows parts. I stopped off at a few swimming holes along the way and jumped off the various cliffs and rocks. Overall a great day and a fun adventure. I edited together a short video with some of the highlights if anyone feels like checking it out: