Thursday, April 10, 2014

Boulder Creek: A team building exercise


This was my second time down Boulder Creek in the Siletz drainage.  It is an enjoyable but logistically challenging class IV-IV+ run with a tough 50' waterfall.

Matt King running the falls on our trip in 2012


Paddling in the dark can be very enjoyable under the right circumstances, or it can be very dangerous under the wrong circumstances.  This trip had a little of both.

The first time I did this run with Matt and Eric Harvey we needed to hike in 2 miles through the snow and had to charge on the river to get out before dark.

Photo: Matt King

Snow has a way of creating elegant situations.
Photo: Matt King


This time around everyone was once again pretty excited about running this rarely paddled stream.   All nine of us in fact ( a large but doable number given everyone knew most of the others pretty well).  The meeting time of 8:30 in Monmouth turned into not leaving Monmouth until after 10.

We were in good spirits on the long drive into the NF Siletz drainage.

We ran into another group of boaters doing what looked sure to be a fun run on the NF Siletz.

Shortly down the road we encountered a log across the road that we had beta would be there.  Dan had the foresight to pack a manual chainsaw.

  Time: 11:30   AM
video

We continued on and made quick time of leaving a car at the take out where Boulder Creek enters the NF Siletz.  We embarked on the long shuttle drive (a little under 15 miles on arterial logging roads).  We didn't need to resort to a map or GPS but having one in the trunk was a major comfort.

During this period we encountered logs 2, 3, and 4 that required attention.

  Time:  2:00 PM

        

video
We reached the put in parking spot and did the 100 yard walk through the woods into Bridge Forty Creek.  Putting on we encountered a rapid that required scouting and safety.  The hundred yards from this rapid to Boulder itself took 10 minutes due to mank.  It would be easy enough to walk straight to Boulder by veering left from the vehicles.

First rapid, an interesting section of rock and water.

2:25 PM
video
Upon reaching Boulder it was apparent there was a lot more wood in this upper section than the last time I was here.  Everyone started talking about the wood and getting nervous.  The first 200 yards of Boulder really set a precedent as people become timid about hustling downstream due to the abundance of dangerous wood in the creek.

It was not long before we arrived at Boulder Creek Falls.  Many people quickly decided to portage this tough drop.  In the end only Ben Mckenzie was interested in paddling the falls.  He took the same line that I had seen Matt King take 2 years earlier which was a right to middle move.  Its a tricky lip with an even tricker and highly consequential lead in.  Ben greased the line.

3:15 PM
video



It was after 3:30 by the time we were paddling away from the falls and tensions were already mounting.  Below here the stream cleaned up significantly but the woody section from above the falls was still vivid in everyones minds.  We moved slowly through this section and scouted often for wood.

video



At one point Ben was easing himself under a tree that came loose and landed on him, requiring assistance to hoist it off.

As tributaries came in we started running some quality whitewater and spirits rose a little even as fatigue started to set in.

We had a scary pin that took some heroic action by Joe to rectify.  This pin put everyone back on their heals.

5:30 Finally Little Boulder came in on the left and I knew that we were in bad shape time wise with dark arriving at around 6pm, but the large group was finally getting into something resembling a rhythm.  We started moving a little quicker and the added volume was welcome but made for pushy rapids and some holes.

video

There was a quarter mile long section of pushy boulder gardens that proved to be the tipping point from holding on, to nearing loosing it as a group.  I was chasing down an IK as I entered another rapid and chose to pass the craft instead of try to coral it.  Sam along with Ben arrested it downstream in the first pool we had seen in some time as I headed upstream to check on the paddler.

video


As I headed that way I saw another boat floating downstream along with its captain.  Ben and Sam once again collected our friend in the pool and the gear as I continued upstream.  The IKer along with two other paddlers made the prudent choice to efficiently portage this rapid.  By the time we were all moving again the light had changed as it was close to dark.

We were in what I remembered as the final gorge.  We had two wood portages in here, at the top of the first portage it was already 6 o clock, the time we had hoped to be off the river by.  We now knew every minute of light was more than we were counting on.

First gorge portage 6:10
video

After the second portage it was twilight.

Oddly enough, even after the obstacles we had faced and the lack of light, people pulled it together and for the first time we were moving cohesively as a unit.  I looked back to see everyone in our team spaced evenly and charging ahead as stoically as they could muster.

As twilight faded we encountered the final boulder garden of the run.  I knew if we scouted it we would be running it in the pitch black and saw a line through it so I kept paddling.  The wood situation was worse at the bottom than I had been able to see from above and two people had close calls.  This was the hardest decision of the day, but I still feel it was better to boat scout the rapid with the last minute of twilight than to run it/portage in the complete dark.  Had I known at the time it was the second to last rapid I may have made a different choice.

It took a couple minutes to get the group back together and some team encouragement was needed to get everyone back in their boats.  People pulled themselves together for what I remembered as the last rapid (a slide into a hole).  Alex and Ben gave good beta and everyone came through well.

A minute or two after that rapid I took this video.


video



A ways below here I had a conversation with the unrelentingly positive Sam Causey where he pointed out how now that the rapids were class II, the setting was nearly romantic.  I knew what he meant and relaxed a bit on the 15 minute paddle from here to the take out letting the trip soak in.

Before long I started hearing cheers of joy as people saw the taillights of the take out car (Lucas had hiked back to the cars after breaking his paddle on the first rapid and was about to drive upstream looking for us.)

Everyone regrouped at the cars and the nerves and fear washed away instantly as relief began to set in.

The shuttle went smooth as could be hoped for in the torrential downpour, and everyone took turns recounting the days events.

While from the outside it is hard to see a trip like this as a successful one, those who have been in this situation know that you end up learning a lot about yourself and your friends and while you don't generally seek out that type of ending, there is still a lot to be enjoyed.  On this trip everyone on the team had their roles and executed them when they needed to, Go Team!

  I thought we had got away with one on this trip, little did I know Boulder Creek had left me a little surprise for later that week.


video

Daylight savings will be a welcome extra hour of light in the evening.

Flows the day we were there averaged in the mid 6k range on the Siletz.

Happy Adventuring,

      -jacob


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A forgotten Gem in the Holy Land

This run has descended into obscurity in the recent past.  It has a promising write up in the guidebook and flows when other Oregon streams are low.  It could be that this lack of interest stems from the legal issues surrounding the kayakers who were arrested in 1991 for scouting a rapid on private property back when this stream used to be run on the regular.  We checked out the stream this year and were surprised by the quality!  We found the stream to have a number of rapids and lots of paddling!  I can't say it much better than the guidebook, so I have retyped the report below.  You can buy a copy of that book here.

The Nestucca River, classified as a State Scenic Waterway, drops relentlessly through a lush scenic forest into a small valley into which a few small farms are squeezed.  Some stretches are quite uniform in gradient, others are pool drop.  Much of the river can be seen from the road.
    On this run, the river flows through about half national forest lands and about half private lands.  The rights of property owners along the river became a major issue in 1991 when kayakers were arrested for trespassing while scouting the class V rapids.  The issue is not yet resolved.  Do not us private lands to scout or portage around the rapids.
   At the put-in at Rocky Bend Campground, the gradient is nearly uniform.  Shortly downstream is a class IV rapid.  At 1.5 miles below Rocky Bend, after a curve to the right, is Silver Falls, where the river drops over and through a jumble of boulder (class V).  At high water a class IV sneak is on the left.  Immediately following is a class IV rapids in which the river flows around some boulders and over a shelf.  A fast rock garden then leads to a log bridge that is an alternate put in.  Enjoyable class II and III water continues for the remaining 6 miles to the take out on river right.
  
                                                                                                  ~Soggy Sneakers

 Our take:

We found the guidebook description spot on.  The stream is indeed a State Scenic Waterway, flowing though a forest.  As stated there are a few quaint farms in the valley.  We put in higher up than the guidebook run to get some extra miles.  We were worried that what we could see of the stream from the road was mostly dull looking, don't worry, the best rapids are not visible from the road and the sections viewable from the road passed by quickly.  As the guidebook suggests, we found the entire run to be very uniform in gradient, with only a few sections that diverged from the norm.  This uniform gradient dropped relentlessly over basalt, andesite and alluvium as it incised its way into the valley.  Where the gradient differed, the rapids became pool and drop.  At these location the stream dropped into mini gorges with tricky ledges and slots, but never harder than class IV.  If a paddler feels comfortable on Jordan Creek, they should be able to handle this run.  Though for any paddler looking to see something new and enjoyable this is a run to be missed!  A middle section offered a number of uniform ledges with unbroken holes that could be boofed.  One of these was a double drop with a 3 foot wide line at the top that we were able to boat scout, but might be worth a look at different water levels as you would not want to be offline. This section didn't make it into the film because we were concentrating on downstream progress at this point.

Not long after this section we were pretty sure we caught a glimpse of Jah as we paddled past Bible creek and one member of our group located a nice facility to take a brown in as Testament Creek found its way into our rear views.  We palavered and came to a concordance on the style of rapids in this section.  The consensus was they were all very Church.  There were also two slides we found in the 10 foot range on this upper section that not everyone ran, but those of us who did agreed they provided the most excitement of the day and were friendlier than they initially looked.

Silver Falls was the rapid on our minds all day, resulting from our unsureness of the runnablility/scouting/portaging situation we would be faced with.  As it turns out we were able to scout it from well below the high water line, avoiding confrontation with land owners.  We took a left line and thought the section surrounding Silver Falls above and below had whorthwhile rapids.  We had the recommended flow of 1000 cfs on the gauge, which allowed us to scout all the rapids from river level and still have enough water to float our boats.  I don't recall any portages, though there were probably one or two for wood.

The 3rd edition of Soggy Sneakers has a picture of the run and from other stories i believe this run used to get done a lot more often before the trespass issue and the arrest of the kayakers.  I hope now that the legal issues have been cleared up, people can once again return to this forgotten gem!

  Enjoy your trip to the holy land.

 Edit of the Nestucca River by Anna Herring and Priscilla Macy.


Bible Study from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Diatoms



One of the best aspects of kayaking is the ability to explore places that are remote and otherwise inaccessible. I always appreciate that I am able to experience a river, stream, or waterfall that only miniscule fraction the rest of humanity will ever see. The ability to explore these areas is part of what makes kayaking so fun, but beyond that, it can also provide kayakers with a unique opportunity to help scientists better understand our world.

That’s where Adventurers and Scientists forConservation (ASC) comes in. ASC is a really cool program that teams up outdoor sports enthusiasts with researchers, allowing scientists to solicit sample collection from very remote areas. I signed up the CCC to be a part of ASC, and they teamed us up with Dr. Loren Bahls, who studies diatoms. Diatoms are unicellular aquatic microbes with cellwalls make of glass- silicon dioxide. Diatoms are ubiquitous in pretty much all water environments, and make up the main bulk of the base of the food pyramid: they are estimated to account for 40% of all plant production worldwide, and as photosynthesizers they play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. Diatoms are good water quality indicators and identifying diatoms in various waters tells us a lot about that specific habitat. Currently, it’s estimated that only 12% of the global diatom species have been named and described; of the diatoms identified in the US, most have been found in lower elevation, polluted waters. So, armed with sampling bags and paddles, the CCC headed off to Washington to try to find some new diatom species in some pristine NW kayaking runs.
First up, we headed to the Upper Upper Cispus. After getting warmed up on the put-in waterfall, we took our first sample just below the Adam’s Creek confluence.

Sampling Crew (photo by Joe Kemper)
After that we pretty much concentrated on kayaking. Lucas Glick and Michael both had great lines on Island (I had a great line on the portage around island), and at one point I was laughing out loud after landing a massive boof on one of the bigger boulder garden rapids.
Lucas Reitman blasting through the hole at the bottom of the gorge of no return
But, before we knew it, we were at the lip of Behemoth. Behemoth is definitely one of the most intimidating waterfalls I’ve run, but there’s not really another option (technically the portage is possible, but even experienced and frequent portagers like myself find it intimidating). In the end we all had good lines off the monster, although some were more stylish than others. And, while I was waiting for the boys to make it down, I took some more Diatom samples!!

Diatom Sample, shown with Behemoth for scale

Joe, showing off his EG lean

The final boulder gardens were delightful. And near the end of the run, we hiked up a side canyon and found an extra bonus waterfall (and some more diatoms)!

Michael and I hunting diatoms

Myself, being very excited about diatom collection (photo by Lucas Rietmann)
The next day the adrenal glands were shot, so we went for a mellow BZ Corner to Columbia run. We got another 4 diatom samples along this stretch.
Jacob nailing a sweeet sampling line



Chillin' in the cave, catching diatoms

Collecting samples on these kayaking runs introduced me to a new perspective. Especially in the flat water stretches, I spent more time searching the gorge walls for seeps, side-streams, and small waterfalls coming into the river. I’ve always appreciated the scenery that I get to see when I’m down in these remote gorges and canyons, but focusing on these things made me realize how much I miss when I’m just concentrating on the whitewater. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing to do some sampling, especially on some of these exploratory creeks that Jacob has lined up…

I highly recommend that any adventure-type folks check out ASC, they have projects all over the world that are looking for people to do very simple sampling or keeping records of wildlife that they see.

And now back to your regularly scheduled kayaking with a video of the UUCispus by Lucas Rietmann:


Upper Upper Cispus from Lucas Rietmann on Vimeo.

     ~Anna Herring

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tamolitch


        ~as told by Priscilla Macy




Tamolitch Falls, also known as Blue Pool is a unique waterfall on the McKenzie River.  This area is where the McKenzie River comes back up after being underground just after Carmen Reservoir. It's known as a dry falls, only coming into existence after long periods of rain when the river will flood over the lava bed.

Tamolitch from Below. You can see some of the water coming from under the lava beds on the right.

We could not confirm or deny if anyone had run the falls yet, due to the rarity that it comes in at a runnable flow.

Making the first run down

There was not a huge boil with the minimum flow, so there were a couple hard hits.  All around, good lines and an excellent time at a beautiful and unique spot.

 Brian, with the best line of the day

Dalton's Turn

Lucas' line

We used the McKenzie River@Trail Bridge Gauge on Pat Welch’s site.  When we left in the afternoon it was about 2600 cfs, this correlated to about 200 cfs at the falls.  We all agreed that at twice this flow, the falls would be ideal; definitely worth the trip if you are lucky enough to get it when it’s running.

Brian playing in a great set of waves on the McKenzie

If you have time after the falls, the McKenzie has some great play waves with eddy service when flows are high.

Here's a video from the day:

-Priscilla


Tamolitch from PMacy on Vimeo.

editors note:  The day Priscilla and others from the CCC ran the falls, flows were just over 2500 cfs on the Mckenzie River @ Trail Bridge.

A group returned a few days later at 3100 cfs and felt the falls cleaned up nicely with the additional flow.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10202629858860546&set=vb.1619762869&type=2&theater&notif_t=video_reply

Based off these two data points my interpretation is 3000 cfs on the Mckenzie River @ Trail Bridge gauge is a good minimum to shoot for.