Thursday, August 10, 2017

Squamish Overnighter

It can be hard to appreciate where you are when the whitewater is tough, it sometimes takes a different sort of trip to soak it all in.
                                                 

                                                  BETA

Stream:  We drove past the Ashlu bridge and continued up the Squamish Service Rd towards Fear Canyon.  We got to a creek that had been blown out and put in there.  We could hear the sediment moving along by a suspended load as it flowed through a culvert.  The creek only had 100 cfs or less so the amount of rock it was moving impressed us. 

The blown out creek and the origin of the mass wasting event.
All Photos: Priscilla Macy

Because of the newly deposited sediment the ground near where we put in was not as stable as it appeared.  A few of us sank knee deep through the rocks.  The deceptive ground reminded us of the scene from Halo Effect where the team gets their vehicles stuck in the Icelandic mud.

Though our scenario was far less severe.


With all the islands on this river, we were hoping there would be some good squirt boating for Emile.

We brought as much gear as we could squeeze in (and on, not necessarily a recommended technique) for what we thought would be flatwater and riffles.



Emile ended up not trying to squirt boat because the water was cold and shallow, he was pretty uncomfortable by the time we got to camp.  As it turned out there were numerous class II-III rapids that were enjoyable for us in the creek boats, but soaked and chilled Emile to the bone.

We found refuge on a big island in the center of the Squamish (50.0361, -123.3462), no doubt the best campsite I have ever used.  Fire wood was abundant, the committee for keeping it going was headed up by Ross George on this trip.

Since first driving up this part of the Squamish to run Dipper Creek, the prospect of camping along the river with a view of this glacier had called to me.  It ended up being everything I had hoped it would be.

Emile brought his training kite (to practice for kite-boarding) and we played around with that a bit in the morning.  The loads of firewood are visible in the background here.
All Photos: Priscilla Macy


The run ended up having more engaging whitewater than we had expected, big water class II-III waves that just kept moving along with no slack water.  Just enough whitewater to keep us engaged, but easy enough to sit back and enjoy the ride.  The most interesting part was there were so many channels between the islands we got to pick different routes, most with 1,000 cfs or so.  At one point the group split up and the channels didn't rejoin for about 20 minutes.

We were all pleasantly surprised with the run and I'd do it again.  I think it's part of the Elaho-Squamish run that has a write-up in the River Gypsies Guide to North America.  I'd put in higher and take out lower than we did on this trip next time as the combination of a fast moving river & no scouting means miles are covered quickly.

Flows:
Sept 4/5, 2016:
This was a fine flow,  could do plenty higher or lower but this was a friendly med/low with fun waves and quickly moving water the entire way (no stagnant pools).  Many options to take different channels.  Incredible camping on the islands.  We camped here 50.0361, -123.3462

Our put in:   50.0711, -123.3435
Our take out:   50.0015, -123.3249

 Elaho Gauge


Squamish Gauge

Access:   Take Hwy 99 to Squamish, just South of the Cheekye River turn West onto Squamish Valley Rd.  In about 15 miles is a bridge over the Squamish leading to the Ashlu (49.9144, -123.293).  This is a possible take out, or continue upstream to any number of roadside pull-offs.

Do not travel over the bridge up to the Ashlu, instead stay on the main road paralleling the Squamish on river left.  About 13 miles after passing the Ashlu bridge is the blown out creek we put in at.  Next time I would continue another 4 miles past this blown out creek (17 miles past the Ashlu bridge/50.0712, -123.3431) and turn left to travel up the Elaho.  2.5 miles after making this turn there is a bridge across the Elaho marking the take out for Fear Canyon and I would put in at this bridge (50.1145, -123.4294).

*Class V boaters could start with a Fear Canyon run and continue down this stretch*

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cispus: Super Slides



Photos:  Priscilla Macy

BETA


More beta for this run can be found here, and here.

Stream: If you put in on Goat Creek with a similar configuration of trees as we found in 2017, you will find a small stream with numerous portages around logs and some loose boating.  If you put in on the Cispus, you might have a quick portage or two before the slides start.  Of the two approaches, I preferred the second.  It requires about 30 minutes of downhill walking through open forest, the classic Northwest forest allowed for easy dragging.

Once you reach the Cispus, the stream is consolidated and there are a couple class III-IV rapids before the first horizon line which can be easily scouted on the right.  From this point to a point less than 1/4 mile above Walupt Creek Falls the stream is continuous slides.  All fun, all straight forward.

The trick is finding eddies, when there is enough water for the run to be fun, you need to scout eddy to eddy which can take a fair bit of time/effort.  The first lap took us 4-5 hours, the second lap (once we knew the run) took us less than 15 minutes.  

The scouting and eddy situation starts out friendly once on the Cispus and slowly works its way towards tricky as the slides bend around sharper corners.  Nannie Creek enters the Cispus over the below pictured waterfall.  This falls is a good indicator of having reached the finale, the rapid above it is the first corner that requires creativity to scout.

The river bends right below the Nannie Creek confluence (last easy eddy), back to the left and then drops away steeply into the finale.  Once past the horizon line, paddlers are committed to nearly 1/2 mile of continuous slides.  It took about an hour to scout the first time high on river right, which we were able to do thanks to Adam making a dicey eddy and pulling us in out of the slide one at a time.  Once at Nannie Creek Falls, don't leave any eddies until you know how to get into the next one, or are comfortable committing to the next half mile of slides.  The second trip we knew it was clear so didn't scout and it took just a couple minutes to run.  The line for us was to stay center, justified to the inside of any corners.  

                            The steepest part of the final 1/4 mile, from Adam Edward's perspective.


This final 1/2 mile rapid below Nannie Creek ranks up there with one of my favorite rapids of all time, I felt the effort of the run was totally justified by the largest scale class III-IV rapid Iv'e ever run.  Giggles all around.  The whitewater soon peters out and then ends where Walupt Creek falls enters on the left.  There is a surf wave and rocky beach here, it makes for a nice lunch stop.




After taking in Walupt Creek Falls, it's time to head downstream.  If you are taking the trail out (a little under 1/2 mile downstream of Walupt Creek), keep an eye on river left.  After passing the second notable rockslide, there will be a 30 foot high cliff on river left visible downstream.  Eddy out just below the cliff on river left.  Walk up to the bench 10 feet above river level, you should see another rockslide at this point.  Parallel the river along the bench until you come across a trail, follow this trail up to the vehicles.

If you are using the bridge take out, you will enter the swamp a short distance below the final rockslide.  Downstream progress will become difficult for 1/4 mile as you portage through the swamp.  The river re-consolidates a short distance above the bridge.


  
Flows:  We ran this twice in June 2017, The Cispus was flowing from snowmelt with bumps from significant rain.  June 16 was a fun, friendly flow.  June 18 was a little lower, but still worth it.  Word is 3,000 is medium, give or take 1,000 cfs to get the range of low to high, 500 cfs or more than that in either direction are pushing into the distant edges of runnable.  Eddies are the limiting factor on this run, they were scarce at low flows.




Access:  The standard route into the area (NF-23 out of Randle) was not passible due to the road being washed out by the Cispus River near Blue Lake.  We took NF-21 paralleling Johnson Creek (which looked like it was at a friendly flow).  For that route, leaving Hwy 12, take NF-21 16 miles and turn left toward Walupt Lake.  Cross the Cispus 1.5 miles later.  This would be the preferred take out, except there is a 1/4 mile long portage through a swamp if you choose that route.  We chose to continue another 1.7 miles to a trailhead, where you can hike about 3/4 of a mile uphill at the end of the day to avoid the portage.

Bridge Take Out:  46.4146, -121.5244
Trail Take Out:  46.4234, -121.5011

To get to the put in return to the bridge across the Cispus and head back towards NF-21.  If you have a high clearance vehicle you may choose to take a short cut shortly before reaching NF-21 on NF-2152.  If you have a Subaru, continue to NF-21 and turn right.  Continue 2.9 miles and turn right again on NF-2150 (the road becomes unmanaged).  Another 1 mile and turn right onto NF-2152, and in another 0.6 miles left onto NF-016 (the road can be rough).  In 0.9 miles there will be a spur road going off to the left, and in another hundred yards you will notice a small marshy-pond to the left, park here.  Follow the rivulet leaving the marshy-pond down to the Cispus, the distance is under 1 mile.  You will know you are close when you reach a second marshy-pond area.


                                                                    NF-016


If you want to put in on Goat Creek, just continue past the marshy-pond to the end of the road.  Goat Creek is visible from there.  

Hike in to the Cispus:  46.4494, -121.5144
Walk in to Goat Creek: 46.4585, -121.5102




Paddlers:  Adam Edwards, Whitney Butler, Brandon Lake, Priscilla Macy, Jacob Cruser

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Woodenrock Creek

Woodenrock Creek has a short section of good whitewater.  It is a tributary to the South Fork Coquille and has convenient road access via a gravel logging road.  The put in is at a bridge, with a beautiful 30-ish foot falls visible below.  The falls can be thoroughly scouted before putting on.  Safety for the first person can be set on river left by scrambling down from the road.  The first person to go over can set safety for everyone else from river right after landing.

Priscilla Macy dropping Woodenrock Falls.

Below the landing pool the creek enters a hundred yard section of ledgy whitewater, which can be scouted or portaged from river right after dropping the falls.  


The bedrock ends abruptly and we eddied out on river left to walk up the clearcut back to the road and our car.  You could continue down to another bridge, but satellite imagery shows inordinate amounts of wood before the bridge is reached.


We were there on March 30, 2017







Bridge over the falls:  42.8301, -123.9259

Friday, July 21, 2017

Yellowstone Creek

Yellowstone Creek is a small tributary to Quartzville Creek, if you have run Upper Quartzville Creek you have crossed over this one.  Ben Mckenzie's brother had told him about a small waterfall on the creek, so a couple times after Quartzville we/I had walked up there to take a look.  It looked like a fun drop, but nothing special so each time we made excuses not to bring our boats up there.  Finally, after finishing a trip on upper Quartzville we were driving by mid-day and just didn't have any more excuses not to walk our boats up and run the falls.



I walked a short distance upstream of the falls while we were there and thought the creek looked runnable, and the next week I received this information from Geoffrey Marcus via the Facebook:  I did some stream surveying up their a few summers back and it had decent gradient... Ive only been about 1/2 mile upstream of the drop, and it was mostly steep boulders. A little bit of bedrock here and there but nothing quite like that drop.

So this creek has joined a long list of other creeks that I may or may not run someday.  There is in fact a logging road that crosses the creek up there and some real gradient.  If you are up for a short adventure, consider checking this one out after a morning on Quartzville some time.

The first half mile drops 280 feet, the rest of the run is in the 250 fpm range.  





This was the flow the day we ran Yellowstone Falls, I think the flow we had would be a good first time flow for exploring the rest of the creek as well.




                           -jacob

Friday, July 7, 2017

Rock Creek (Baker City) / WF Eagle Creek (Wallowa's)

In the morning of May 29, 2017 Joseph Hatcher, Matt Pearson and I checked out the Rock Creek that flows off the East side of the Little Alps near Baker City, OR.

The NF John Day @ Monument was running about 3,000 cfs from snowmelt.

It was very steep (700 fpm+ for a portion: 44.8906, -118.0976) and we found a bouldery, eddy-free mountain stream cascading at a rapid pace down the mountain.  We discussed Joseph and Matt running the creek, with me standing along the bank to catch them above wood hazards since eddies were not available.  In the end we felt it was more sketchy than we wanted to deal with and no one put on.  Neither Killamacue Creek or the section of Rock Creek above the Killamacue confluence looked any friendlier (in fact they looked worse).

Typical Rock Creek
Photos: Matt Pearson



There is a fools hope that a run might exist below the S Rock Creek Lane bridge, maybe a local would enjoy checking out that section.  It looked much less steep than the parts we scouted, but scouting/portaging might put a boater on private property. The run we scouted would probably also be fun if someone knew it was completely free of wood, and could be run put in to take out without having to stop, though its unlikely that scenario will occur.

We then headed over to the south side of the Wallowa's and the Eagle Creek drainage, where Joseph Hatcher and I paddled the WF Eagle Creek.  We took out just upstream of the NF-67 bridge and put in a couple miles above that at a low water crossing, upstream looked flatter and woodier than the portion we ran.  The part we ran resembled a wider, less steep version of Rock Creek.  We found the run to be stressful class III+ with plenty of wood and few eddies.  We scouted every foot of stream eddy to eddy style and the eddies were more often difficult to catch than easy.  We had few portages, but it was Type II fun at best due to the stress.

I'd not do it again, but was happy to find out what was on the run.

We had about 2700 cfs on the Imnaha gauge, May 29, 2017, the Saturday before Memorial Day.

Put in:  45.0444, -117.4617
Take Out:  45.0235, -117.459

 -jacob

Thursday, July 6, 2017

East Fork Eagle Creek (Wallowa's)

Michael Freeman and I checked this out in the Spring of 2014.

We hiked 6 miles to this point 45.1404, -117.3032, camped, then hiked up and scouted some more.

We didn't find anything we wanted to run that high up so returned to a meadow and floated down from there.  If I went back I'd put in here: 45.0869, -117.3067 where a short 2.5 mile hike puts you in right at the top of the worthwhile whitewater.

To get there, drive to the East Eagle Trailhead.  Hike the trail on river left a little under 2.5 miles.  The spot to put in is obvious:  Its right where the trail crosses over Curtis Creek.  There will be another small tributary coming into East Eagle from the other side of the creek.  Finally, there will be a large class V-VI rapid on East Eagle.  Scramble down to the creek and put in just below this rapid.

Right around the corner the creek narrows, you won't have far to go before you will want to scout a pretty sweet looking triple cascade.  There was an unfortunate log in the final tier when we were there in 2014 so we portaged the set on the left via the trail.

Downstream was a fun section of whitewater with a handful of unique bedrock rapids in the class IV-V range.

Below the bedrock the creek looses character and runs through boulder channels that appear to change year to year.  The creek still has gradient so it kept us focused and we had a good time splashing down it.  We had one short log portage in this section in 2014.

At the very end was a bridge that had been destroyed by high water, we floated over it but its definitely worth a scout at the beginning of the day on your way up.

I lost all the footage, so I guess if someone wants to see what's in there, their going to have to check it out for themselves.  I wouldn't recommend driving a long distance for this stream alone, but if you live nearby or are making a boating trip to the area/passing through its worth the easy hike.  That triple cascade would be really something to run, but being there is worth the effort on its own.  Not a lot of big granite walls in Oregon, this drainage has a couple of impressive ones.   The main stem of Eagle has two whitewater sections as well, one gnarly and one intermediate.

If my memory serves, we had about 1,000 cfs give or take on the Imnaha gauge from snowmelt when we ran the EF of Eagle Creek.


Click to enlarge map





    -jacob




Monday, June 19, 2017

Lawson Creek









Stream: Lawson Creek is another tributary to the Illinois River I have had my eye on for awhile. We had planned and failed to run this creek a few times, but after getting some solid beta from Sean Bowen we really had the bug and made it happen the next weekend.  Sean not only hiked in to check out the access trail and take photos of the level (no gauge on this run), but got us in touch with his friend Jim who agreed to run our shuttle!  

We ran Woodenrock Gorge and the top section on the South Fork Coquille the day before Lawson, and were almost stymied by a log blocking the road we were planning to use.  Despite the best effort of some locals, it wouldn't be clear for a few more days.






We had put enough effort into planning for Lawson that we didn't want to give up.  I looked on the Gazetteer and saw three alternate routes.  One was a long shot due to snow and lots of recent windfall, another we had just been told by a local had too much snow to get his 4 wheeler through, and the third was a 4 hour detour.  

We went for the long shot, expecting at every corner to find a landslide or tree blocking the road, then as we climbed, a snow drift.  The only things of note we found was this neat little roadside grotto and a multitude of waterfalls also visible from the road.




45 minutes later we were back on track and headed to Lawson Creek!  We camped that night at Agness Bar where we were planning to use the pay phone to get in touch with Jim the next morning.




As it turns out the payphone has been out of commission for a few years now, but the camp host was friendly and offered to let us use his phone.  The only problem he told us is his phone only works for local calls.  This was just fine for us, since we were making a local call!

We met Jim at Oak Flat, the take out for Lawson Creek, and headed up towards our put in at the Fry Place.   During the shuttle Jim gave us some good intel about a time he hiked up the creek from the bottom.  He had gone a mile or two before being turned back by a small waterfall with vertical walls.  This added some trepidation to the trip, but we felt confident we would be able to deal with it since he said it was no more than 10' tall and that he actually hadn't really tried very hard to climb around it.  Part way up the shuttle route, a family waved us down and told us the road was blocked a couple miles up by logging.  Having come this far, we were not going to turn around without seeing for ourselves.  A couple miles later we came to the operation where heavy machinery was being used to clear debris from the road, the operators moved their vehicles and waved us through with a "hang loose" sign.  There were a couple turns past this point I had brought a map to figure out, but Jim knows the area well and he took us right to the spot.


We geared up and Jim checked out the ridge and Fry place, he gave us some more intel on what might be the best route to drop in on and where the trail used to be.  He watched us from a ridge line and we waved every now and then along our descent. 
Eventually I could no longer see him on the ridge and my mind shifted focus to the creek, where the rapids were looking more difficult than I had expected them to be at this point.  The final drop down to the creek had some poison oak, and neither of us came away clear from that on this trip.  Next time I would take a slightly different course I describe below in the access section.

Getting close.


Priscilla and I talked about the challenge of the rapids at the put in and what that might mean about the rapids downstream.   She was nervous, and I was nervous for her, but we both decided we were ok with the situation.  Optimism won out and we pushed off into the first set of rapids, and committed to whatever it was that was going to come down-river.

GoPro, making interesting rapids look like class III since 2002.


Around the corner we get out of our boats to scout a narrow pinch between boulders.  There are plenty of boaters who would have likely chose to run the drop, we chose not to.  The next drop looks more our taste, it has an undercut but also a controlled line will keep us clear of it.  We go one at a time and have clean lines, moving downstream the gradient eases to what I expected at this stage in the game along with our nerves.   


The last rapid in the first set, with the pinch rapid in the background.


Read and run class III+ continues until a ledge appears on a right turn.  It looks kinda ugly from above, but turned out to be straight forward and clean.



Below here comes the meat of the run, we turn to the left and the river again drops away between boulders, from above I assume we will be portaging.  A quick scout and the rapid turns out to be clean and fun.  I go first and weave through, catching an eddy above what appears to be an ugly rapid, but it turns out to be pretty clean.  This becomes a bit of a theme for the trip, rapids that look trashy from above have fun, clean IV-IV+ lines with the exception of the pinch we portaged early on. 


The beginning of Saturation Station, where a rock flow with the consistency of jello comprises the left wall, with a longer rapid at the base.


Boulder gardens of much variety make up the majority of the run.  One of the earliest, with an active rockslide on the left, marks the longest of them.  While we were there, the bank looked stable but was in fact so saturated that stepping on it we resulted in us sinking through what appeared to be rocks.  Bizarre!

The bottom of Saturation Station, a rapid at the base of a soggy rock flow.



The rapids up here mostly have a consistent style, yet with many different kinds of moves.  We scout a fair bit as its hard to tell if the rapids are going to be clean from above, but they all are.  There are a couple plucky holes hiding in there too, though we are always able to find a line through the soft parts of them.  






After many quality boulder gardens, one of them ended in a bedrock pinch at the entrance to a gorge that lasts for about a mile.  There was an unfortunate log just past the pinch that sent us portaging on the left.  In hindsight the rapid could have been run into an eddy on the right, and the log easily moved.  Oh well. 


                                                                          Shoulda, woulda, coulda.



The run changes character here as it enters the gorge.  The rapids are of similar challenge but a different style.   The stand out rapid inside the gorge is Jim's Waterfall, a 5 foot drop with a hole that needs to be boofed.  



Jim's Waterfall

Everything that needs to be scouted in the gorge can be, but as in most gorges, a log in the wrong spot could prove problematic.

Eventually the run tapers off and the gorge is left behind, we had about 20 minutes of easier floating in which to reflect on the trip before reaching the confluence with the Illinois.  Paddling across the Illinois delivered us to the take out at Oak Flat where our vehicle was waiting for us.  Heading towards Gold Beach, we find our favorite beach campsite unoccupied.  Goals met, all that remains is a leisurely drive back home the next day, mostly along the coast.





I look back on this as one of the more enjoyable class IV-V runs in Oregon.  A weekend combining Lawson Creek with either Lobster Creek and the Elk River or the South Fork Coquille is well worth the drive from the Willamette Valley.


Flows:  The pictures from this report were taken March 31, 2017.   If you run it with more water, you can expect a harder run.

The Elk River Gauge (541-332-0405) was at 4.4' that day.







Access:  Take out at Oak Flat (42.5488, -124.0547), less than a mile upstream from the confluence of the Rogue and Illinois Rivers and but a few hundred yards upstream of Oak Flat campground.

Put in by walking down steep, but mostly open terrain from the Fry Place (42.4926, -124.0981),  Reach the Fry place from the take out using these directions:  Return to Agness Rd, turn left and quickly cross over the Illinois River.  8.7 miles after crossing over the Illinois, turn left onto NF - 3318 (marked by a sign in 2017).  Follow 3318 for 5.8 miles to an intersection, continue straight and downhill.  1 mile later veer right onto a spur road (122), if you don't have AWD and clearance don't push it on this road.  So regardless of whether you are hiking or still driving at this point, continue just shy of a mile down the road (the "main" one) until it bends sharply to the right and levels out with a nice field downhill to the left.  

                                                           Gearing up at the Fry Place.


There was a fire line that went off along the ridge here, you can follow this ridge past a lake and down to the stream.  It might take a couple rope lowers, but in a little over half a mile you will be at the creek.

*There is a trail marked on some maps in this area (1173), but in 2017 that trail was not in existence*


Click to enlarge map                      


If you decide to run Lawson Creek, take poison oak precautions.  There is a lot of it on this run.


                      -jacob