An excerpt from an e-mail I received from someone who boated on Sunday...
we estimate the river was flowing around 6000 cfs (the record is 6800 I think). The gauge wasn't working, but the USGS guy was there taking measurements and he stopped at the putin.
We were 2 rafts (Ken w/5 paddlers, and Ben & Beth in an oar frame and 4 paddlers) and 3 kayakers (Bill & Jill in RPMs and Dan in his creek boat).
The river was ROCKING and ROLLING! The rapids were BIG and really really really really fun! No new features, they were just all BIGGER. Great surf waves for the kayakers all over the place as we went downriver. Sorry about all the !s, but it was an ! kind of day.
Cow pie is the rapid above Narrow falls and the two had merged together. We moved around a lot in cowpie (Big waves, laterals, holes).. and then when we topped narrow falls, we were on a slick into a GIANT (!!!) wave. It was breaking a little, but was all downstream flow - we paddled hard through the wave and back paddled like crazy through the boiling waves at the bottom to keep off the wall and eddied out river right at the bottom. Dan made it through upright, Bill and Jill both rolled (rumor has it that Jill was hearing voices when she was upside down). Alas, Ben decided the GIANT wave was not for him and went left and then couldn't move off the wall. We got to see a picture-perfect dump truck as the raft went up the wall and pitched everyone out. We picked up Beth and Trent, got to the raft, flipped it over, Jeff jumped in to row, and we eddied out to wait for the rest of the rafters to walk down. Dan was a tad jazzed "Dude - that WAVE!!!!".
Tootsie roll is next, with big holes river left. We went right, underestimated a little how hard the current was moving left, and got a very close look at the edge of the lower hole. Stovepipe was rocking! Huge waves down the middle, laterals off each wall - it was (to use a much overused word) awesome!!
With all this said, it was not a trivial run. Flipping or swimming likely meant a long swim, possibly through big rapids. Of the 5 rafts we saw on the river, 3 of them flipped. Rafters on the other 2 rafts had long swims through big rapids. Everyone was ok, totally psyched to have done the run, and even the swimmers had a great time (now they have a good story to tell too - Dude, I swam narrow falls at 6000!).
We were all well-prepared (dry suits, dry tops and paddle pants), and Ken has many years experience as a paddle raft guide, some on class 5 rivers, and numerous (>50) runs through Northgate at many levels. He knows the river really well, and that was a big help. He totally rocked.