Thursday, February 15, 2018

Siyeh Creek; Glacier National Park

Photo: Priscilla Macy

 This run passes through 4 bodies of water, all would be worthwhile on their own.  You start on Siyeh Creek which has loads of slides, paddle that to the confluence with Reynold's Creek as a transition to gorges and ledges happens, then paddle that to the St Mary's River that has more open whitewater ending in a powerful waterfall, shortly after floating onto St Mary's Lake where the beauty is epic.  This makes for a diverse paddling experience, one of my favorite days of adventure boating to date, bring your bear spray.

Photos: Priscilla Macy


Here is some flow research that might help anyone interested in making the trip


 We had about 150 cfs on June 29, 2017

 These guys had 70 cfs on July 8, 2016

These guys had 300-400 cfs in early June, 2017


We put in at Siyeh Bend: 48.7017, -113.6676
And took out near Baring Falls at the boat dock on St Mary Lake: 48.6757, -113.5942
And walked the trail up to our car at Sunrift Gorge: 48.6785, -113.595
Click map to enlarge


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Whistler Classics: Notes from an Oregonian

These runs are described better here than I would be able to do.  What I have are some notes, as Oregonians may perceive things differently than a BC local.  I have gone up there a number of times over Labor Day weekend when the water is low, but the trip was still completely worth it.  Written for the weekend warrior, class IV-V boater type without a guide.

I have found that if the Cheakamus Gauge is reading over 2' it is worth making the trip to the area, with 2.5' being perfect (excluding Tatlow).


Similar to the Green Truss from the put in through the Springs (below Double Drop), but if Big Brother was super clean and straight forward.  We have run it at 2' and wouldn't recommend driving up there for it at that flow, but if you are already in the area it might be worth it.  The boulder gardens are pretty manky, but it's still boatable.  The first falls goes on the right when levels are low enough that the left line closes out.  2.5' is a fun, friendly flow.


If you are looking for something new in the Whistler area, and don't mind hiking a bit, the Upper Callaghan is a good option.  This section is better at lower flows than the classic section. 



This is the most stress free run on this list, and perhaps the most fun.  Boaters from Oregon will still feel that there is plenty of water to enjoy the run at 2' on the gauge.  While the put in drop is generally run on the left, at low water the right side is a better option.  From below the falls (easy to put in below it) to the take out is fantastic read and run whitewater.  There is one rapid early on that I got a moment of "whoops, should have scouted" as I entered, but it actually flushes beautifully and there is no need to scout.  A sign on the right bank warns to "not get bit" just above this drop.  Triple Drop, the next rapid downstream of the one under a high foot bridge, is worth scouting on the right your first time down.

Right line at the put in falls.


This one takes more time than the upper, it requires decision making and has the feel of a relaxed adventure.  This one goes lower than the Upper Cheakamus, and I doubt it ever gets too low by Oregon standards in the summer.  One of the beauties of being here at low water is the waterfall (Balls to the Wall) is stress free and the pockets in the run out are not much in play.  Everything can be scouted on the run.


Non-nondescript rapids that are fun.  Everything is scoutable and portageable at the low levels we had.



If this run was anywhere else it would be held in very high regard, since it is the section upstream of the Box Canyon of the Ashlu, some of its glory is stolen.  That's fine for the people who make it up there, as it has a more adventurous feel than the Box  Most people put in at the Mine the run garners its name from. The rapid is as hard as it gets for the day (aside from the portage), so its a good barometer for how the rest of the day will be.   It is also the only non-portageable drop, so come ready for a class V rapid off the bat.  From there down there is loads of good rapids, all can be scouted and portaged.  The crux of the run is recognizing the portage, the location of which is described adequately in the Liquid Lore Report.  On that report they also describe the semi-tricky way to ascertain flows.  I have done this run at 13 cms (they were releasing all they had into the Box), and at 55-60 cms.  Both were fun, but I would not have enjoyed the high water run if I wasn't following someone who knew the lines at that level.   That time we were coming off of Tatlow Creek, so ran some rapids above the normal put in as well.  I recall two big ledges with big holes, then portaging a mega rapid (The Mine Drop) that Willy Dinsale ran, this rapid is visible upstream at the Mine put in.  He was online through the rapid, yet spent 10-20 seconds in the crux hole that eventually spat him out (still in his boat).  13 cms felt low, but was still plenty enjoyable.

Priscilla Macy run the bottom of the Mine Rapid at 13 cms



Classic class V canyon, Dan Patrinellis led us down and that made the day enjoyable.  I recommend scouting as much as possible before putting on by using the trail on river left, the whitewater was not a style I was accustomed to at the time and rolled 4 times that day.  The first section of whitewater you can see from the trail is par for the course for difficulty on the run and it does not get harder, nor easier.  Because I wasn't looking, I am not sure if there are un-scoutable rapids, but the high walls make me think its highly plausible.  If you want a warm up before 50/50, the Mini-Mine section is just upstream and good class IV fun. 

TheBox from Ryan C on Vimeo.



The rapids are more fun than I would have expected from boulder bars.  Fast moving water and some large waves.  We did it for the camping, which was fantastic. 


Very committing, but you don't need to be a world class boater to enjoy it.  However, good decision making and competence are required.  Having a guide or researching the location of rapids and the lines before getting there will greatly reduce the stress level, there is sufficient video and literature out there.  I believe as of 2017 there is wood that is causing people to skip the first few drops by putting in below them.  The drops on Dipper were good, but my favorite part was floating out on the Squamish, fantastic canyon there, and the whitewater is low stress at that point.

Our trip down Vetigo Gorge

Dipper Creek from Difficult E on Vimeo.



Scouting isn't usually an option, so have the lines memorized before going (plenty of GoPro out there).  As of 2016 the road into Tatlow washed out many miles short of the take out, it sounds like people are no longer doing this run.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Heard it's been done

A "just for fun" page for those curious boaters out there.  These are runs in the area that I have heard have been done, and are included here for communal knowledge because I cannot find information about them in any guides, online or in print.  This page will be stored in the "Tutorials/Miscellaneous" tab.

Jeff Compton paddling into the Washougal from Canyon Creek, just above the Mercentile take out.

Upper Hagen - One fun double drop about 10' tall, nothing else of note.  Started about half a mile above where the Oregonkayaking crew started. ~ Ryan Cole

Walupt - Lots of wood, a couple bedrock ledges that were portages (choked with wood).  Take out above or big portage around Walupt Creek Falls.

Mill Creek (Hwy 26) - Class III, illegal.

Upper Skamania Mines - some bedrock, lots of wood. - Hans Hoomans, George White, et all.

Outlet Creek (below Outlet Falls) - Ben Mckenzie ran below Outlet Falls to the Klickitat in 2017, lots of portaging through brush due to lack of eddies and wood at the end of long bouldery rapids.

Drowned Out Creek - Nate Merrill and I ran the slide just upstream of NF-3348 on the way back from our first trip down the Illinois in 2010, Hunter Connolly also ran it in 2016ish .   Priscilla and I hiked a ways upstream to scout in 2017 and it turned to steep boulder jumbles pretty quick.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Plympton Creek


Stream: A steep, woody stream with unique rapids about 30 miles East of Astoria on Hwy 30.  Like many Oregon streams, if this one was clear of wood it would be worth doing.  That wasn't the case in 2014 and we had many portages amongst some fun bedrock drops between bouldery rapids.  Scouting/portaging was reasonable except at a large falls that required ropework on the left to get around. 
Flows:  The day we ran the creek the Nehalem @ Vernonia was at 2000cfs and the Naselle was at 2500cfs.  This was a medium flow.

Access:  The take out was where Plympton Creek crosses under Hwy 30 in the town of Westport, 30 minutes East of Astoria.

The obvious put in we found on river-right was vetoed by some locals, who drove us over to river-left.  I don't know exactly where they dropped us off, but it was a short walk down to the river on a road.  Looking at the maps, Plympton Ridge Rd would drop you in at the right place if its driveable.

Trip Report

This is a silly little creek in the NW corner of Oregon.  Jeff Compton, Ben Mckenzie and I ran it when things got too high for plan A in February 2014, we had pulled out the Gazetteer and found this.  Gearing up we got told we best not be putting in where we were planning.  The locals were friendly enough to drive us to an access on the other side of the stream and give us loads of beta about the run.  It sounded like plenty of slides and waterfalls were down there so we committed.  We did the short walk to the creek and ran some shallow, woody stuff before we got to a log deck.  The log deck was a slightly difficult portage, but we could tell the creek picked up below there so continued on.  The next obstacle was a large waterfall we had been warned about.  It turned out to be a chunky, but likely runnable 60' cascade. We had a tricky portage on the left that involved roping ourselves into a chaotic pool at the base of the falls.  This landed us in a gorge and the next corner put us in a position every exploratory boater dreads: gorged in above a drop you don't want to run.  We tried to convince ourselves the log move would go, but knew if we ran it something bad would likely occur.  Finally I found a way to make the portage possible by taking a risky flying leap tethered to a rope.  Downstream was more wood and some steep rapids.  Ben ran one slide with a hole that almost got him above a sketchy rapid.  Jeff and I took the laborious portage on the left.  Portages continued down to the best rapid on the run, and one of my favorites of the year.  The line was to drive left then fall ten feet to a transition, clearing a hole at the base.  It was very welcome in the middle of the nastiness we had been facing throughout the trip.  Below here were a few more challenging portages and we were pretty sure we would run out of light.  We kept battling our way down river and eventually the stream flattened out and after a couple more logs we saw the highway.  We took out happy not to be stuck in the pitch black and gave our friendly local a call who came to run shuttle for us.  We all had a feeling of accomplishment afterwards, but this was a one time trip for me.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

North Fork John Day


Stream:  This Eastern Oregon overnight run starts out at 5600', and has more water than most streams you would encounter at that elevation in Oregon.  It runs from snowmelt and has a nice long season in the Spring/early Summer.

The stream is clearly immature up near the put in, with minimal incision and migrating channels.  You get the high desert experience, with more action than the Grande Ronde, or lower sections of the John Day.  The run is II-IV(V).

Matt Pearson and I did this run over Memorial Day weekend in 2017, this is the only time I have done the run. We had a good time, the stress level was a bit higher than I like on class III runs due to the lack of eddies and the wood concerns though. I would choose less water next time, probably shooting for 2,000-2,500.  Keep the water level in mind as you read the report, less water would change the experience.

The first mile offers a nice warm up, at one island we went left when we should have gone right and had to hop over a log jam.

Matt Pearson warming up.

The start of the significant whitewater is clear, the first rapid can be boat scouted, but as the river bends to the left, hop out on the right and climb up to the trail.  It is worth scouting out the next mile of stream if levels are healthy from the river-right trail, while the whitewater is class III/IV the eddies can be scarce, and the wood ever present.  On our trip this section was both fun, and stressful with levels peaking over 3,000 cfs. 

Matt holding in one of the few eddies in this section.

After scouting the first mile, we chose to walk our boats along a hundred yards of it, due to the obstacle and others like it visible in the photo.

We put back on, and ran some fun stuff before scrambling into an eddy above a log we hadn't seen.  Fortunately it was an easy portage and we were back at it running some more fast and fun stuff.  The relentless nature of this section keeps up until the confluence with Trout Creek, which comes in on the right at a point where a large log is in the river.  It looks bad from above, but further inspection proved to offer easy passage on the left.

Matt in the final portion of the first onslaught of class III+ whitewater.

Downstream the gradient drops slightly, and the wood decreases.  Diligence is still required as wood in the wrong place could be tricky, eddies were still rare at our flow, and the corners can be blind.  The logs are spread far enough, and the portages easy enough that they don't detract much from the trip at this point.

A couple of the logs on the NF John Day

The further one goes, the less blind the corners, the less steep the rapids, and the less hidden the log hazards.

There is a section of good rapid in the mix a number of miles below the first onslaught.  This view is the indicator that you are about to enter this section of whitewater.

Making moves.

10-15 miles downstream of the put in, you cross under a bridge and Granite Creek comes in on the left.  I recommend hopping out at the bridge if levels are high, as just around the corner is Granite Falls, a rapid that should be scouted and is often portaged.  If you miss the opportunity to exit the river at the bridge, there is a decent last minute eddy at the lip on the right.

Foot bridge, Granite Creek comes in just below on river left.

Granite Creek Falls.

The couple miles below the Granite Creek confluence is the highest quality whitewater of the trip, the longest and steepest can easily be scouted from the right bank along a trail.

The whitewater is still pretty continuous below here at high water, and long miles of class II are often broken by fun sections of class III.  The wood situation and visibility improves drastically down here, from this point on the river was read and run.  Don't hold out for the picture perfect campsite, by the time you find one you will be within access of a road that comes upstream along river-right and one does not do a wilderness trip to fall asleep to motors.  We found an island that worked ok for us not far below Big Creek, and only one intrepid motorcycler had made his way that far upstream.

Big Creek confluence.

Our chosen island to camp on.

The floating eases further below Big Creek, and there is miles of lazy floating down to about a mile below the bridge at Trough Creek.

Lunch break.

When we were there a sign warned of downstream danger, and a scout was mandated by this sign.  We were unsure if the sign was related to the fish-counter not too far downstream, or a section of fun class III+ rapids further down.

The most interesting formations were in this lower roadside section.

Eventually the stream eased off completely, with some class II's downstream of Dale.  Knowing we were near the end it was pleasant just floating along slowly and taking it in.  We were further lulled into relaxation knowing the shuttle was already run.  After reaching the take out we leisurely loaded our gear before making the drive back to the Willamette Valley.  We took the route back through Redmond for the views, I passed up one gas station while at half a tank and very much regretted that.

Beautiful and new to me roadways helped me ignore the gas-light that had come on.

I pulled in to a Redmond gas station a few hours later, an hour after the gas light had gone on.  I found out that by really finessing the gas consumption our Toyota Yaris can have a tank range of 399 miles.

Back in Redmond was a reminder of why we had the three day weekend.

Flows:  3,000 cfs is the max I would recommend putting on at the NF-52 bridge.  It was stressful due to lack of eddies and wood in the upper reaches.  If I came back at similar or higher flows, I would put on to Granite Creek.  The section of the NFJD below Granite Creek was fun and not very stressful, with better and more challenging whitewater than what we encountered upstream.  If the levels were lower I would put in at the NF-52 bridge again.

Flows the days we were paddling the NFJD, Memorial Weekend 2017

Access:  We hired the owner of the Dale store to run our shuttle, we were happy with the fair price and the job he did.

541) 421-3484

The entire route is paved.

We took out at a bridge a couple miles downstream of Dale.  To get to the put in we headed North 15.3  miles on Hwy 395 from Dale.  Turned right, and another right 1.3 miles later in Ukiah onto Camas Street towards Granite.  This road becomes NF-52 and 40 miles from Ukiah crosses the NF John Day at the put in. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Willamette Valley Whitewater Festival

The PDXkayaker film fest was cancelled this year, so some locals grabbed the ball and shifted the film fest to Ninkasi Headquarters in Eugene with the blessing of Next Adventure.  The event will take place in late February or early March, entries are due by February 20th.

Details at the event Facebook Page

2017 Film Fest Trailer


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Taylor Creek

Photo: Priscilla Macy


Stream: This is a small stream near Merlin, OR in the Rogue Valley.  The nature of the run is tight and adventurous.  The stream-bed is quality class IV, but there is wood in inconvenient, potentially dangerous locations.  Low flows make the run manky, high flows make it hazardous.  If I lived in the area and it was wood free I would run it all the time, with the current wood configuration I felt it was worth doing once.  It's possible to either see the next eddy or scout in most spots, just don't be too aggressive.

A log above, a fun chute below, vertical wall; a typical scene on Taylor Creek.
Photo: Priscilla Macy
Flows:  There is no online gauge, a unit gage at the take out exists on river left though.
Anything below "0" units is not recommended, but the stream is passable down to -3".   

I don't know what high water is indicated by on this gage, but you don't want high water.

Note: The "0" unit starts where the concrete goes from angled to vertical near the bottom of the pillar.

The WF Cow Creek gage can be used to get a ballpark sense of the situation.  

500 cfs at noon and dropping was low (-3") VIDEO
700 cfs at noon and dropping was also low (-1") *trip report found on this page*
900 cfs at noon and fairly stable looked perfect (bridge gage not noted)

Access:  From Merlin, OR drive about 8.5 miles WNW on Galice Rd until you reach the bridge over Taylor Creek at the take out (this is also where the gage is).

Drive up Taylor Creek using the NF-25 road on river left (visible and obvious from the take out) about 3 miles to the sign for the Taylor Creek trailhead.

Walk about 50 yards on the trail, but when the trail bends back to the left, leave it and follow the lesser used path going straight towards the creek.  It takes about 5 minutes to reach the creek.

Trip Report

Taylor Creek is a would-be go-to run near Merlin, in southern Oregon.  We ran it the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2017.

A couple of years earlier, Priscilla had been paddling Jump-Off Joe Creek with her brothers.  While signing the waiver required to run that creek, the RV Park host told her about one of the local gems of the area.  He said it was fun and ledgey class IV in a gorge, and got her really excited about it.  We tried to run it the following year, but the water was too low.

This year we had our eyes on Hurdgygurdy, but Priscilla's hip was bothering her and she wasn't up for hiking so we thought we would check out Taylor Creek, the run the RV Host had told her about.

We met up with Willie Illingsworth in Merlin, and drove to the take out hoping for healthy flows from all the rain.  The storms had been dropping most of their precipitation in the Coast Range, but we hoped enough had landed in the Rogue Valley for good flows.  Instead, flows looked low (-1" on the gauge).

We knew it had been run lower (at -3"), so without any other good options for the day in the near vicinity we drove to the put in to check out the run that Priscilla had been wanting to do for a couple years.

Photo: Priscilla Macy

From the Taylor Creek trailhead, we left the main trail within 50 yards and followed the more direct, less developed path straight towards the creek.  We put on to a low floatable flow, and made it to the first rapid in a matter of a couple minutes.  It's a quick scout on the left, and we all made it through without issue but it was apparent we were not going to have padding on this trip.

The first part of the run has a gorge character, we had read about "class 6 eddies above wood" which had us a bit on edge.  There was in fact a good bit of wood on the run so it was important to be diligent of blind corners, but nothing felt harder than class IV. 

The gorge was unique, and we were happy to be there.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

The second half of the run has lots of boulder gardens that could be eddy hopped at this flow, but would be a bit blind as the levels rose.  Willie was doing 90% of the probing, his role at the sharp end resulted in a couple rolls in manky water, but helped us move along at a nice pace.

These boulder gardens lasted longer than I was expecting, and were engaging.  We found ourselves wishing for more water and less wood, but it was a neat place and there were more smiles than frowns.   One of the rapids had a cable running the length of the rapid, we did a partial portage on the left and ran the second half.

Photo: Priscilla Macy

More rapids continued until eventually the stream eased to class I-II and we floated past some houses, pleased to not have to portage at all in this final stretch before reaching the bridge.

Photo: Priscilla Macy