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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sunshine (Siletz)

This creek has a place on the "what else can I do" list for Corvallis area boaters.  It used to have an estimate on the WKCC levels page and runs when other streams in the area are high. I think we had about 7,000 cfs on the Siletz gauge.  We initially planned to do Rogers (a scout of Rogers took it off my list, it has dangerous wood and non-captivating rapids), but headed to Sunshine instead.  We accessed it from Valsetz rd.  If you are comfortable with wood its class III-IV, if not its more IV-IV+.  We didn't have many portages and had a good time.  There is one bedrock gorge and the shuttle is easy.  No swims in the group, but one log pin.  Ran with Anna Herring and Michael Freeman.


This creek is a tributary to the Zigzag River (my favorite river growing up). They converge in view of HWY 26 on Mt Hood.  My dad and I ran a short stretch down to the confluence at one point. I recall it being class III and enjoyable.  There is an upper section that is steep with wood, but appears runnable.  That upper section might be an interesting roadside adventure for the right type of boater.  The Sandy gauge is probably useful, but I never took note of the correlation.  Zigzag runs often from rain on snow and snowmelt, Still Creek needs more rain.


Ran this while in the area doing other things. Put in on the south fork 100 yards above the confluence with main stem.  We had fun but I wouldn't do it again.  Ben Mckenzie named the rapid halfway down "The Rapid" as it was the only one. It fed under the left wall, but was only a class IV move.  Under a handful of log portages.  Boaters were Ben Mckenzie, Kory Kellum, Andrew Bradley and myself.  Do not recall water levels but Steamboat was medium low and this creek was low, low.