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


This creek is a novelty, flowing through the town of Troutdale.  That being said, its much more enjoyable that it has any right to be. This stream is impounded on the Mt. Hood Community College Campus, flows along through some class II, culverts and wood for a couple miles.  It then crossed under Troutdale road and enters a short class III-IV gorge.  To run this we would hike it in the summer and address any wood issues, then the day we were to run it we would scout the whole gorge from river right on the edge of an agricultural field.  Once you are in the gorge it is strikingly committing for flowing through a suburb.  The best rapids were the first and last in the gorge.  The final one being the trashiest with a barrel and other assorted garbage collected on the left, creating an obstacle.  Once through the gorge there were a couple small rapids and usually an easy log portage before reaching a foot bridge.  The first few times we hiked out on a trail on the left, the last few times we took the trail to the right.  I would recommend the right side, the left was a mess of mud coming up the hill to Cherry Park when it had been raining enough for the creek to come in.  My dad and Val Shaul did the run down to the Sandy once and decided that walking out at the foot bridge is better.


 Put in either at Troutdale road or Stark street.  To cut to the chase, use these coordinates to avoid flat water and trees hanging into the stream.  45.523693,-122.384203

The trail to the put in is between these two houses. 
 To get to this cul de sac, turn right onto Beaver Creek Lane off of Troutdale road within a hundred yards of the point where Troutdale road crosses over Beaver Creek. After turning right, its the first cul de sac on the right.  The gorge starts within a hundred yards of this put in and the last point to get out and scout is on the right just before the first bedrock rapid. It is possible to get to the gorge rim and the agricultural field from that point.

Take out:  45.530068, -122.378283

This is the trail we came out on.  It is accessed from the first foot bridge to cross Beaver Creek below the gorge.  We headed downstream, then up on the trail to get to this point on Evans Ave.

For good whitewater, we would aim for 8' on this gauge. 7' was the lowest we ran it and while that floats a boat, its definitely low.

The gorge drops 120 feet in .58 miles.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Marathon on the Middle

The Middle Santiam is known as Oregon's only Cascade wilderness run.  My attempts on the run have been thwarted for various reasons over the last few years so this time I was bound and determined to get in there.  No one seemed stoked on the trip so I loaded up my car with overnight gear, SPOT device and a scooter.  Lucky for me I got a call in the evening the night before from Lucas Glick who agreed to join me on the 20 some odd mile run if we could do it in a day as he wanted to get on the Clear Fork Cowlitz the day after.  I unloaded my overnight gear and scooter and agreed to meet early the next morning.

To avoid the hike in and add in some adventure we planned to run the section the Oregonkayaking crew had uncovered a few years ago.  This would add about 5 miles of exploratory kayaking to the run, but allowed us to put in at a bridge instead of doing a hike.  We made good time on the shuttle and found the put in without undue difficulty.

The first hundred yards of the creek are the most stacked and difficult to scout so we hiked up a ridge to get a view of this section.  Lines committed to memory, we got ready to get underway.  I was geared up first and slid into the water.  The first ledge was class two, I revoked my initial decision to go right when I noticed some obnoxious branches and went for the janky middle chute instead where I promptly pinned.  I tried budging the boat for a minute before Lucas got there, we both tried for another minute but the boat didn't give an inch.  I pulled my skirt and stepped onto a dry rock to my left.  My boat stayed stuck for another minute before coming free.

Glad to get the carnage out of the way early we continued on downstream into the gorge.  The first couple ledges went smooth, then I portaged a weird drop that Lucas ran before we both dropped off the fun exit falls.

The "O.K. Corral",  It may be short, but it sure was exiting, yeeehaa!
Also a nod to the Oregonkayaking (OK) crew for pioneering this upper section and many other runs in the area.  Boating in Oregon wouldn't be the same without them!

Lucas about to exit the O.K. Corral via a sweet fifteen footer.

Below here was a tricky boulder garden that we both fumbled our way through.

He stiff arms the linebacker

 Picks the ball up off the turf

 Jukes the safety.

 And he is in for the score.

  The next couple miles were nice but we didn't have enough water to fully enjoy the rapids.  The area was super cool though!  There was a tantalizing double drop coming in from a creek on the right that would have been good with more flow.  The next major rapid I recall was created by a landslide coming in from the right.

Geomorphology in action.

There were more rapids in this section before we came to Shelter Falls.  This double drop is tough and I chose to portage.  Lucas cleaned up though!

Shelter Falls.

 Lucas seeks the shelter of the pool below.

The next stand out moment came when we were in cruise mode and  I caught a micro eddy just above a malevolent logjam and had to climb back upstream.  Second mistake of the day for me, I was not on top of my game.  We scouted and the jam turned out to be runnable in the middle.  Below here was a section that increased slowly in entertainment value before settling back to boulder bars.

I wish I remembered more but we were moving expeditiously.  If I did the run again I would take two days to really appreciate the area.  I do recall an enjoyable class III-IV section with fun rapids that lasts a long time, ending near the reservoir.  We stopped twice to fish and eat some food.

We paddled about a mile on the lake before being picked up by a motorboat.  There is an alternate take out that would work better in the future.  That information can be found by scrolling to below the video.

After this we still had time so headed over to the Pure Hate gorge on Quartzville.  That however, is a story for another day.

Video from the Middle Santiam Wilderness run.

MSantiamWilderness from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.


I believe 3000 cfs on the South Santiam@Cascadia would be ideal.  We had 1000 cfs which was fine for seeing the area, but not best the best level for exciting whitewater.

Guidebook take out that we used:  44.477669, -122.508277

Possible alternate take out:  The bridge up this arm of the reservoir  44.473481,-122.445974.  To get there cross Green Peter dam, turn left, and follow that road to the washed out bridge (or if that gets repaired maybe all the way to where it crosses the Middle Santiam).

Put in:  Where Sheep Creek road crosses the Middle Santiam just upstream of these coordinates.  44.469041,-122.149944

The put in is commonly snowed in when the run has water, so get it on the outer edges of the season or be prepared to hike through snow.


Thursday, September 18, 2014


This is the stream that comes in just below Dougan Falls on the Washougal.  Less than a mile upstream of the confluence the stream branches into two forks, each quit small.  I ran the slides just upstream of the Washougal confluence with Theron Jourdan one wintery day.  If the stream from the forks down was free of wood it would be worth doing once or twice.  It was pretty clean looking last time I was up there at low water.  My dad may have done it once, or maybe he just scouted and told me about it.  Anyway, it could be an interesting section to do in conjunction with the Washougal Falls section.


This one is in a lot of PNW guide books and gets run all the time.  Here is a report of my dad and friends running all the guidebook sections in a day.

Sandy River in a Day

SF Yamhill

I took a couple friends down the run starting near the Spirit Mountain Casino, adjacent to HWY 18.  They both swam in the first 100 yards so hiked out through a field.  I ran the next five miles to get the vehicle since we had done a bike/hitchhike thing.  Mostly class 1, a couple of 2's maybe with some willows growing in the creek bed.  I have read about good play at high flows including some surfboarding.  I use this gauge, when its nearing 2000 I know the smaller creeks in the area are at a good level.