Wednesday, November 19, 2014

13th annual PDXkayaker Film Festival

The 13th annual PDXkayaker Film Festival is tonight (November 19th).  There have been a lot of submissions this year, details on getting there are below along with a few teasers from our friends.

Emile Elliot
Great editing, Emile's many abilities are reflected in this video.  Including playboating, creeking, surfing, and squirt boating.

Priscilla Macy/Anna Herring
Two Girls, one boat.  Watch these gals learning a new way to get down the river.

Taylor Hazen
Good editing, you may have seen all the rapids in videos before, but you probably were not aware of just how many swims occurred in the northwest last year!  He has two videos, while both are good, the carnage reel is pure gold.

Dan Mccain, Jeff Compton, Johnny Watson, Josh Sheldon, and the rest of the rafting crew
The combination of Jeff Compton and Dan Mccain is likely the most accomplished R2 team in the world.  However, the video they are putting out this year shows what is really important to these guys.

Their video from 2 years ago.

See the full length features this evening on the big screen.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Beatery: It can strike anywhere

Things had just started cooling off on an exploratory run near Mt St Helens last weekend.  I let my guard down and got tripped up by an innocuous obstacle.

Beater1 from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Opal Proper

I realized a funny thing a couple years ago.  This being that I had many times planned, joined and executed kayak trips to "Opal Creek" in the North Santiam drainage without having ever run Opal Creek itself.  This was not due to debacles, in fact, those trips were all very fun and usually smooth.  This is because I had never intended to put on to the actual Opal Creek in the first place.  From the confluence of Battle Axe Creek and Opal Creek near Jawbone, the stream I (and many others) usually refer to as Opal Creek is actually called the Little North Santiam.  I had read the Oregonkayaking trip report and decided I would one day try to head up and boat the actual Opal Creek.


I went up to check out Opal Creek proper (above Jawbone Flat) fall 2014 armed with beta collected from the report on Oregonkayaking.  I was hoping that making my trip early in the year before the snow hit would give me a more positive outlook on the stream.

Video from the trip.

If you want to know the details and what to expect form the run, read the report on (OK).  The beta is solid, though I did note a few things have changed since that report was written. 

  • There is a new trail up creek right (OK travelled on creek left) that was not difficult.  I would not be excited about trying it in the snow though. To find this trail, locate the signs in Jawbone Flats to Opal Pool.  Once you scout the Narrows, return to the old road/Kopetski trail and follow until a sign for the Kopetski trail takes off to the right.  Follow this to wherever you decide to put in. 

  • The log bridge mentioned in the OK TR is gone now

  • The logs at the lip of Log Leap Falls are gone.  It is still a dubious drop that I did not run, but with safety and the right group it may go.

  • Because I had read the OK TR I knew what to expect on the run, this allowed me to not have to hike out from Cascadios Los Ninos at the end of the day.  Even with a late start I had plenty of time to paddle down to the Mine.  If I were to repeat this run and had a shuttle, I would try to get an early start with the idea to take out at Salmon Falls for a nice long day of boating.


Other notes

  • I had 1500 cfs, same as oregonkayaking, but without the snow I ended up having a little more water.   This was a good level and I would say 1500 would be an ideal level to do Opal through Salmon Falls.

  • The Narrows into Opal Pool addressed in the OK TR is just as menacing as they claim, it appears that it would be very easy to boat scout past the last eddy here.  If you portage Log Leap on the river left trail, keep walking until past this section.  If you run Log Leap, take out as soon as you can egress up the left bank through the brush.  Or better yet, make a plan as you hike upstream at the beginning of the day.

  • The rapid described as just below the log bridge is just as fun as noted!  Great rapid.  Because of this quote by Jason “This is one of the most entertaining drops I have run in a long time; if we hadn't been so concerned with time I would have hiked up to run it again and again!“ I dubbed this rapid “Twice is Nice”

  • There were a handful of portages, I did all of these on the left.  If you are creative, none of them are strenuous (without snow).

  • I used a wheel system modified from an Anna Herring design to pull my kayak up the road to Jawabone, this helped a lot.  I may do a tutorial report on how to build them at some point.

  • It took me 5 hours car to car.

  • The scenery is classic upper LNF drainage and there are enough unique, fun rapids to make this trip worth doing.  I won't be hiking all the way up there every time I am in the area, but I wouldn't say no to a return trip in the future, near or far.

  • I agree with OK that Battle Axe has more runnable whitewater, but the best/most unique rapids are on Opal.  If I were to have a rule of thumb about the area above Jawbone, I would say one Opal trip to two Battle Axe trips sounds about right.

If you are the kind of person who enjoys this type of run, that should be more than enough info.  Go when there is no snow and enjoy!  


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wiki #12: South Fork Grays

The scouting trip for this run was a lot more eventful than kayaking the stream, and just as fun!  My dad has been to a few Opera's over the last few years and convinced me to join him for one. We drove up to Seattle for the weekend and while I appreciated the talent of the performers in the Cinderella performance, decided Opera is probably not for me.  On the way back we decided to take a detour and check out access to a creek I had been looking at on the maps just before we crossed back into Oregon.

Finding the put in bridge was easy enough, but we tried for the shorter shuttle route on the way out which weaves through a maze of logging roads.  There were still drifts of snow on the roads and while the Honda Element is a great car, its AWD system is terrible!!  It was designed such that when a wheel starts slipping, all the power goes to that wheel and stops sending power to the other wheels.  This was ridiculous in the snow as whenever a wheel lost traction we stopped moving while the wheel without traction spun endlessly and the ones with traction sat idle.  We spent more than an hour digging ourselves out of a couple different location, but it was a sunny day so quit enjoyable.  The crux maneuver was a washed out section of road near the end where a high speed wall ride was required to avoid falling into the washout.

We were happy to get the vehicle out that day and I at least look back fondly on that trip (you would have to ask my dad his opinion).

This year I had a number of opportunities to get on this creek, but it wasn't until the last significant rains of the year where it all came together.

The paddlers on this trip were Aaron Leiberman, Ben Mckenzie, Emile Elliot, Willy Dinsdale and myself.  However, the rafters who were willing to change plans to help out with shuttle were an integral part of this smooth trip.  Thanks Dan, Scott, Alec and Robert!


The trip went smooth and is certainly one I will return to.  It offers a couple of incentives that make it appealing.

   1- The run it flows into is a good run (Grays), but people often pass up that run because it is short and a little out of the way/on the outskirts of people's radar.  Because the guidebook run is short, the two runs can be merged easily.

   2- It tends to flow when other creeks are dropping out.  So if I was a day late to Hagen or Copper, I could then head to this stream.

   3- The put in is at a bridge and the take out is roadside, a plus for most boaters.


Below the bridge were a few minutes of class two to warm up on before a rock outcropping creates the first rapid.   Most of the water from this drop falls 9' into the wall on the left side creating a hazard.  We all boofed right, landing close to the wall.

It looks ugly, and a missed line may result in a wicked beating
(or a cracked boat as we found out on the second descent).
 "The First Step Sister"
About to scrub the wall.

The next rapid comes up shortly and goes better than it may look.
"The Second Step Sister"
Willy sweeps up top.

Things start rolling along after the Step Sisters.  The presence of wood and other hazards along with the blindness of some of the rapids necessitated prudent scouting the first time down, though everything was run.

I nearly face planted a rock in this rapid, apparently my fairy godmother was watching out for me.
 "Fairy Godmother"
Ben reminisces on his good line through Fairy Godmother while Aaron sets safety.

This triple drop was unexpected and one of the stand out rapids of the run.
Emile dancing his way through the Ballroom.

This ten foot drop is a blast and the second to last rapid.
"Stroke to Midnight."
Willy strokes to midnight

The last rapid is just around the corner.  There is a thin line to the right, if you slip through you can paddle happily ever after to the take out on the class II runout. However, if you miss the line you will be testing out the proportions of the slot on the left.  It is yet to be determined if a kayak is sized to fit.

Glass Slipper

Emile's edit of our first time down.

After Glass slipper, there is a 2 mile, class II runout.  As you near the end, Blaney creek comes in from the right at the same time as the South Fork consolidates one last time into an easy gorge a couple hundred yards above the confluence with the Grays. Either paddle across the Grays to take out or continue downstream on the Grays for some quality river running.


My ballpark guess for flows at this point is 800-2000 cfs on the Naselle gauge.

The first time we had 950 cfs, most of us felt this was a good flow.  We returned the next year at about 1500 cfs on the Naselle gauge and flows were similar, but a touch lower.

The shuttle is not too bad, but map work needs to be done beforehand.  Here is some info to get you started.  The shortest shuttle route is only 11 miles, but plan on taking between 30-60 minutes depending on your path and driving style.  The following road names have been garnered from Google maps.  

Option 1: If snow is not an issue and you are comfortable navigating arterial logging roads, you can reach the put-in via the Pack Trail road.  The roads on this route have north facing slopes, holding snow into the early summer in some years.

Option 2:  If snow is an issue, or you want a more straight forward (but longer) approach, take Middle Valley road out of Skamokawa to the Algers truck Trail and ignore the dead end signs.

The put-in is the bridge just upstream of these coordinates:  46.362093,-123.427792

The take out is either the take out for the Grays on Fossil Creek road, or at the confluence of the SF Grays and the Grays.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 Next Adventure Western Whitewater Championship Series (WWCS) results are in.

Into the outside's own Nate Merrill took 3rd overall (tied for 2nd with points) in the West Coast Championship Series this year. The only weekend warrior on the podium for Men K1!

Come watch the award ceremony at Next Adventure's PDXKayaker Film Festival on Nov 19th.

Nate starts the EF Lewis leg of the WWCS last year.

And his race on the Wind River in 2013.

From a post on pdxkayaker...

A big thanks to our participants, volunteers and sponsors for making this another successful WWCS and a huge thanks to Tim Brink for organizing it all! 274 kayak competitors and raft teams put on for this year's series, which included 8 events on 9 rivers.

Total points for the top 5 +\- of each event are listed below. These individuals will also be recognized at the upcoming PDX Kayaker Film Festival on Nov 19th.

Full Results at:
www.wwchampionship. org

Check out the Next Adventure Calendar for the film festival details.
www.nextadventure. net

Men R2
Oregon Rafting Team - Jaime Crone and Tim Brink - 17
Daniel Sutherland and Matt Linland - 9
Ben Sigler and Brian Carrington - 8
Jeffery Steehler and Greg Babikoff - 8
Jacob Cruser and Scott Michael - 6

Men R4
Oregon Rafting Team - Tim Brink, Jaime Crone, Daniel Sutherland, Jeffery Steehler - 21
Greg Babikoff, Bryan Carrington, Ben Sigler, Matt Linland - 12
Ark Sharks 1 - 5
Equipo Cascada - 5

Women R4
Red Lady Rafting - 5
Mountain Mamas - 4
Madame Cascade - 3

Men K1
Gerd Serrasoles - 23 
Issac Levanson - 12 
Nate Merrill - 12 
Aniol Serrasoles - 8 
Evan Garcia - 6 

Men Long
Dan Menten - 10 
Ben Marr - 5 
Joe Stumpfel - 5 
Paul Kuthe - 5 

Women K1
Sandra Hyslap - 12 
Nicole Mansfield - 11 
Roberta Grant - 11 
Sara James - 10
Katrina VanWijk - 9


Janice Bell (formerly Keeley)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sunshine Creek (Backyard)

This one flowed through my backyard growing up.  Its a tributary to Johnson Creek that flows through Gresham.  Highlights of this stream included Beavers damming the culverts that resulted in drops, boating the stream at flood in old bathtubs, K-Mart rafts, pool toys and whatever else we could find to float on (we lost a lot of "gear" on several occasions), a 2 foot mudstone ledge with a fast lead-in, foamy boating during low water periods, seal launching off bridges, zip-lining into the creek, running the dam we built, and kayaks were even used on some occasions.  Best at flood level, but always something to do if it happened to be your backyard run.  Usual suspects: Nick Hymel, Alex Hymel, Luke and Elijah Anderson, Kyle the neighbor, Gresham Union High School football team, extended Vogt and Cruser family, etc.

This bathtub saw plenty of whitewater action before we lost it in a logjam on a flooded Johnson Creek.
 There is a reasonable chance I taught Skylar how to wet exit before pushing him off this bridge.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


This small stream flows into the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash a short ways below Pegleg Falls. There is a beautiful looking 30 footer on it that has some unfortunate wood in it despite the best efforts of into the outside.  The run above the falls looks ok and the section below that I did was alright, making one really wish those logs would disappear as a new, unique run would be available.

Photo: FallsBGuy