Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why we go

After a rough start to the summer, watching Nick have a stellar trip down his hardest run to date reminded me about one of the reasons I kayak.

Nick was leaning towards walking out at Island, a broken paddle during a scout made that an easy choice to take had he been looking for an excuse.  However, he decided finishing the run was something he wanted to do and committed to paddling to the lip of Behemoth, a point from which there is not a reasonable option of turning back.

The risk in kayaking can be hard to justify, most often to those who don't do it, though sometimes even to yourself.  As anyone who has ever stepped up their game in a setting like that at Behemoth knows, you can be one person at the top of a rapid, and a slightly different one at the bottom.  

Here is a video of Nick expanding his horizons by means of descending one.

*So understated he got left out of the credits, Ben Mckenzie deserves a shout out for his role on this trip and many others.

Also on this trip was a friend of ours who was helicopter lifted out of the area last year when he broke his leg at Island Rapid.  He succeeded in descending the canyon safely this time around with only a single roll.  I have never hurt myself this badly so can only surmise about how tough that was mentally to come back and run the same river that wrecked him.  Good on you, two significant accomplishments with one river trip.  Powerful moments in a special place.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Ohanapecosh Update

June 18 & 19, 2016

The Ohanapecosh experienced some high water this last Winter, and produced some notable changes on the stretch from Secret Camp to La Wis Wis campground.

Slide above put in:  There is a slide a hundred yards above the put in that had a log jam, that log jam is gone along with a couple river wide logs above that.

Rail Slide:  I had never seen anyone miss the move on this rapid before last weekend, when 5 people blew it.  I guess I attribute this to a couple small, but deceptive hydraulics in the lead in to the ledge.  Think the squirly water above Horseshoe for those familiar with the Little White Salmon.

Photo: Clinton Koontz

First sweeping right turn:  There are a few rapids that you start on the left and then bend right through some medium sized hydraulics.  The first and most pronounced of these has changed significantly.  It's no harder, but notably different.  Driving right after entering left worked best for us.

Shot: Clinton Begley

Non-descript rapid:  A paddler ended up in an innocuous sieve in the bottom right hand side of a nondescript rapid with a left to right move.  It was frightening for all involved and changed the mood of the trip.
 Shot: Clinton Begley
 Shot: Clinton Begley

Fun Boof:  There used to be a small rapid in a straight away with a fun boof at the end, the boof is gone :(

Butcher's Block:  This rapid changed significantly, the portage route on the left now has water flowing through it and a lot of the logs got blown out.  Last weekend all scouting and portaging was done from the right hand side.  Fortunately, the rapid itself is much friendlier and almost everyone ran it multiple times.  It did cause one swim and some flips, but it is no longer the rapid it used to be.

Jesse Shapiro in Butcher's Block
Photo: Clinton Koontz

Triple Drop:  Earlier in the season there was a log on the right side of Triple Drop, it is out of the way now.

Narrow slot on the left:  The boulder garden with the narrow slot on the left has changed in a number of ways.  First is, there is no longer a narrow slot on the bottom left, it is more open and straight forward now.  The sieve on the bottom right appears to have changed, it may even be runnable now.  Also there was a sneaky piece of wood half way down on the left.  It wasn't much of a hazard last weekend but it likely will be at lower flows.  It might be worth scouting your first lap down if flows are below 1200 cfs.

What used to be the narrow slot on the left, is picture here on the right.  No need to tuck the elbows anymore!

Elbow Room:  Lines are the same, but there are some nuanced changed where boulders moved around.  One person ran the bottom right by accident and had a dry head run, but there were about 11 people all holding their breath there for a moment.  The line appeared even thinner over there this year than last.  Left line went ok for everyone who ran it.

Petrified:  Same lines, but with minute changes such as the middle hole is a little less sticky (two people worked their way out of it) and its easier to make the middle to right move (a nubbin at the boof point disappeared).  

Clinton Begley got on the Ohanapecosh for his first time this weekend and like so many others have found out, its a pretty special place.  Here is a video he made, which is where most of the screen shots in this report came from.

/áw-xanapaykaš/ | Ohanapecosh River, Washington | Whitewater Kayaking | My First Descent from clintergalactic on Vimeo.

With all the changes it seems the upper stretch may be worth a look again, but we didn't check it out.

Hawt Fire:  The class VI rapid just above has even more wood in it now, including a giant old growth that wasn't there last year.  If running Hawt Fire definitely don't put in at the bridge!  This was the highest I have run Hawt Fire and the hydraulics were larger, but the ride was still smooth. 

New Old Growth above Hawt Fire

Photos: Dan Price & Adam Edwards

Hawt Fire!

Boater Photo Order:  Ben Mckenzie, Adam Edwards, Priscilla Macy, Jacob Cruser
Photo Sequence taken by: Clinton Begley
 Final two photos by Priscilla Macy and Jacob Cruser

Ben looked at Silver Falls for a long time but in the end saved it for another day, that is one big chunk of whitewater.

Over and out


Friday, June 17, 2016

PPNWWW Guidebook

There is a new guidebook coming to the Northwest, here is a teaser put together by Substantial Media House to help get the word out about the book.

If you would like to support your local shops, please do.  Next Adventure, Alder Creek and the Kayak Shed will have them here in the Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge area.

If you would like to support Amazon, it can be purchased there too.

Paddling Pacific Northwest Whitewater: A Fresh Guide to Northwest Rivers and Creeks from Substantial Media House on Vimeo.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Beyond 3+

Last night was the Eugene showing of "Our Local Epic", before the main event a few local videos were shown.  I particularly liked this new approach to a kayak video and thought others might enjoy it as well.

video by Matt Pearson

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Lion Creek

I first visited Priest Lake in high school (northern Idaho panhandle) and had taken the trip up to the natural waterslide on Kent Creek.  I had a blast and was irrevocably captivated by the large granite slides visible on Lion Creek during the hike up.

Last year my friend Alex, who lives near that area in Coeur D'Alene, heard about something called the Pack River.  He told us about it and we were excited to visit him and check it out.  Our main interest was the Pack, but we also put Lion Creek on the list.  That trip didn't work out last year due to dismal snowpack, but this year we gave it a go the weekend before Memorial Day.

Lion Creek starts at 3:16
Video by Nick Hymel

Northern Exposure: Idaho Road Trip 2016 to the Pack River and Lions Creek from IKNick on Vimeo.

Friday we did the Pack, then Saturday we headed for Priest Lake and Lion Creek.  We drove to the end of the road up Lion Creek and walked down to the creek to mark our take out.  We had scouted from a couple places on the drive up and decided to save the section below the parking area for another day.

We got some good beta from local boaters Chris Calentano and Kurt Dobbins who were up there to check out Lion Creek, Chris photographing with his girlfriend Heidi and Kurt boating.

The 1.5 mile hike was about as easy as they come along an old road grade.  

 As challenging as the hike got.

Before long the old road crossed Lion Creek, at which point we walked upstream on river right a short ways to get a bonus slide.

Photo: Chris Celentano

For curiosities sake I hiked above this slide and saw some pretty marginal whitewater.

We pulled over when we returned to the road crossing not far below the bonus slide and hiked up Kent Creek to do the waterslide.  There was a trash bag with a pillow some locals had left that we used as padding for the slide.  I wouldn't want to do this much more water as the trick is to stop in a pothole halfway down the slide, and if you miss the pothole the slide continues another 100 feet into a nasty undercut.  Super fun at this flow, but caution is required and lower flows are advisable.

The next bedrock feature below the confluence with Kent Creek wraps around a couple of corners, starting easy but quickly building into the only rapid we portaged on this trip (it has been run).  It is easiest to get out on the left before the first of the small slides to scout the whole series.  

More interesting drops continue below, scout thoroughly and watch for wood which wasn't an issue on our trip but reportedly has been in the past.

Eventually we reached a short meadow with nice views and a welcome break from the action.

At the end of this meadow is a short class III boulder garden and then a large horizon line.  

The first drop is better scouted on the left, and portaged on the right.  The most obvious line is down the left, though there were other options that had potential.

We were sure to set up a person with a throw rope at the base of this drop as it leads directly into another large slide with high mangle potential in the event of a missed line.  Fortunately this second drop has a clear line on the far right and the two drops together make for an exciting rapid.

Alex at the bottom of the two part sequence.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

There is a small pool here and then another tall granite cascade with a number of fun moves in the right channel, and some decapitation potential in the left.  This one can be easily scouted and portaged on the right.  Because it was so convenient to move around on the bank so we were able to set up our ideal safety conditions including a valet to help direct boats over a shallow bit mid-rapid.  

Kurt takes off.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

 It looks like hitting the wall is inevitable, but we all we able to avoid contact.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy

Assistance at the crux maneuver.

 The two channels came together and dropped into a significant hole.  With all the speed generated from the slide all of us who ran it slid over easily.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

Downstream was a final challenging rapid before things eased to class III-IV down to the take out.

 Be sure to mark your take out before putting on!  Just downstream the creek enters a rapid with a nasty overhang at head level, then drops 200 feet in the next quarter mile.
Photo:  Chris Celentano
We were very happy with this run and I certainly hope to return.  We had 450 cfs on the Boundary Creek gauge and 600 cfs on the Pack River gauge. 

The part we ran


Friday, May 27, 2016

Canyon Creek (Southern Oregon)

While the road name would lead one to believe the access to this run is Free and Easy, only the free part is true.

We parked just shy of the ford of Josephine Creek, where the hiking began.

Contemplating distance travelled and distance yet to be travelled.

The hike is all along a road, which makes for easy going.

Being Priscilla's birthday, Ben put together this centerpiece once we reached the put in.

The put in rapid provided a promising start.

After the put in rapid the river cruised along with fun and straight forward rapids.  The most consistent obstacle were the willows growing out of the riverbed.  None required portaging and most added positively to the enjoyment of the rapids.

We took a break at the first steep-ish boulder garden while Aaron tended to a full body cramp.

The stream rolled along with short, but nice rapids in a mini canyon.  At some point we ducked a log and the whitewater quality picked up, getting a little steeper with more engaging class III-IV rapids.

The river continued to gorge up until reaching its apex where the gorge walls, though low, were steep.  We got out on the left after the entrance to scout "Birthday Bootie", so named after the birthday girl swam due to a suspect seal launch decision.

Aaron in the middle of "Birthday Bootie", just around the corner we stayed left through some neat hydraulics and a ledge or two.  Below here was some more fun cruising with short, fun rapids that continued down to the confluence with Josephine Creek.

At this point the group split ways, Ben, Kate and Priscilla paddled down to the confluence of the Illinois, while I jogged the short distance back to the vehicle and returned to where Aaron waited with the boats.  Aaron and I made the drive back out and met the team where they were waiting with a fire at the bridge just downstream of Josephine Campground on the Illinois.  We loaded up and headed back to Priscilla's parents house for a birthday barbecue.

The Illinois peaked at 2,000 cfs while we were on Canyon, when I return I will look for double or triple that flow for a III-IV(IV+) day on the water.

We ran Canyon Creek on Feb 27, 2016

I like this gauge better since its on a similarly sized stream.

You may wonder, where is Canyon Creek?