Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Lewis river falls

This past weekend Nick and I had been chaperones on a middle school hiking trip near Mt. St. Helens. We first went to Lava Canyon, where the road is washed out so it involves a 12 mile round trip instead of the 1/2 hike it normally is. After this Nick and I headed to the Lewis river falls while the class went swimming in Swift resevoir. We were expecting low flows, but were suprised when we got there by abundant flows. It is nice that Washington has such good snow melt runs. It is still fascinating to see 1500 cfs in a river in the mountains while all of Oregon is drying up. We started with lower falls, which is pumping at this level, with many reasons not to run it. Then we drove/hiked to middle falls which has a super-sweet slide down the right. After this we ended up checking out three more waterfalls and were set on making the trip back up there with more people and boats the following weekend, and this is were the story really begins. On this trip Theron Jourdan joined Nick, my dad and I for the 2 mile run and another park and huck higher up. The drive from Gresham over on Wind river road took a little over two hours and we arrived feeling excited. We looked at lower falls for a while until Theron finally decided that living was funner than being stuck in a super airated cave with a sheet of water blocking the exit and a thousand cfs falling on him from 40 feet up. We drove around looking for a take out until we decided on taking out 200 yards above lower falls. Then we hiked in to upper falls and Taitnupum falls to scout our portage and let Theron scout the monster. Our next objective was to park and huck twin falls, which is a nice 25 footer. This was very enjoyable and was a good start to our day. Everyone landed this falls cleanly. Nick and Theron We then traveled to our put-in at Quartz creek and had a couple portages until we hit the Lewis river. Which had a splashy class two lead up around a corner, from this first right turn we could see the mist created by the first twenty footer. We eddied out on the left and proceded to scout the falls. The falls was about twenty feet and had as nice a lead in and take off as we could have asked for. The landing was a little deceptive as one roll and two braces proved. The falls consisted of a nick rolling drop that landed in a hole that was created by a slightly U-shaped twenty foot falls with 1500 cfs going over it. The hole was avoided by getting right by the left bank and landing on the left side of the boil. Below this was a sticky ledgehole gaurding the pool below. Theron decided to go first, having lots of right to left angle, landing a little sideways with a brace, having the best line of the day. Nick went left and aproached slowly, having no boof coming off the falls. he went deep and came up with the biggest brace an Ik should be capable of. If you watch the video you will be amazed. I then came next with no left angle, got a huge boof as I turned 90'. I still submerged in the very airated water, I flipped as I resurfaced, then rolled quickly. I was suprised by how quickly I flipped and how difficult the landing was for such a clean drop. After this we scouted the next drop and all went down the 50 yard slide on the left that was pretty fun. The right side can be run but it looks like a sticky hole. There was one more small slide then the gravel bar that marked the eddy for the big portage. We ran the second slide down the left, then had to have a solid ferry to make it to the eddy on the right. I would definately suggest running right or middle on the second drop below Taitnapum. My dad had decided it was not worth the work to run Taitnapum, so he had a rope ready for us to get out to the trail. This helped a lot, I am not even sure that this would be possible without a rope. The portage was probably 30 minutes, but could be cut down with a throw and go (70 feet). Theron and my dad walked the trail with their boats and were kind enough to retreive Nick and my boats as we did the throw part, then walked down the trail. We all put in at the pool below the falls and paddled around a bit. Then we started down towards Middle falls. It arrived soon enough and we pulled over towards the left bank to scout. We hopped out and turned back to see Theron having difficulty exiting his boat. As we grabbed his loop to pull him in, my dad's boat was kicked loose and drifted downstream towards the falls. Nick tried to get to it but it was too far out, We watched as it headed towards the falls. I had already seen the slide during the scout, so I took off downstream and ran the slide on the right. The slide was very neet, being steeper than had looked during the scout. I dropped over the first ten foot ramp worried that I might piton, but the slide shot me downstream over a very low angle, yet speedy slide, then abruptly ended in an eight foot ledge with a hole at the bottom. I corraled my dad's boat right after the next small slide. I then paddled my dad's boat to the right shore hoping to be able to get it high enough above the slide that my dad would be able to get to it because the portage on the left was very difficult at best, maybe not possible. After deciding the left side was too difficult my dad jumped in with Nick and they tandemed the slide with Theron leading. The tandem crew almost swam in the bottom ledge, but pulled it off with legs flailing in the air. In a stroke of brilliance I neglected to bring the camera with me and missed this fascinating line. Below here were some other small rapids before the take easy take out above lower falls. Right above the take out was a small surf hole that might turn into something interesting at higher water, it was right at the end of yet another long, low angle slide. Here is the video This run was one of my favorites because of the two high quality, clean drops and the scenic falls, along with the exploration factor. The best asset to this run in my opinion is that it runs at medium flows when everything else is dry, meaning that it is a good end of spring run with anywhere befween two to five falls depending on how huge people want to go(upper and lower have been run). There are also a multitude of steep side creeks that could be explored with falls of there own if one was feeling adventurous. (as a side note we ran this June 3rd with no shortage of water) -Jacob

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