Monday, March 17, 2008

King Creek

Theron Jourdan and I ran King Creek last weekend. The small tributary of the East Fork Lewis that comes in at the take out for the waterfall run/Copper creek. I used google Earth and mapquest to figure out the put in and that worked great. The logging roads we where using were suprisingly not gated and things went pretty smoothly. Our first put in choice turned out to be down a private road so the next option required a 3/4 mile hike in.

  When we arrived at the put-in, the creek had about 80 cfs, just enough to float in. Our first portage was just downstream, but then we where able to run close to half a mile of whitewater without another portage. Somewhere in here a tributary bumped the flow to about 150 cfs and made the eddies more defined. The next mile was class two with about three easy portages (all the portages in the first half of the trip where very easy). There where often signs of bedrock and a few class two slides presented themselves, enough to get us excited, but no real drops occured in this section. We passed a couple more bridges and where pleased by the low amount of wood for such a small creek.

Theron after our fourth portage.
Before too long we could see the clear cut high up on the right that signalled the last mile, the 200+ foot per mile section. Right about here the wood started to pile on. The creek got steeper with some bouldery class four, most of which we had to portage because of wood issues, and the eddies got tough to find. Theron in the runout to one of the class four rapids we ran, just downstream was a log jam. There were a couple sketchy places like this.

We had a couple tricky portages in here, one included throwing the boats from a log across the creek into an eddy. A couple times in this section Theron had his paddle almost ripped from his hands, this was scary because of how challenging the eddies were to catch. A couple times I thought I had seen an eddy from about, but it turned out not to be and I had to scramble to shore and grab on to rocks to keep from getting swept into a log. When there where no eddies we would just drive our boats onto some shallow areas and hop out. The final couple hundred yards held the most challenging section. Theron was in the lead and was reading and running down a class four section when he broached himself on a rock to see downstream. I couldnt tell what he was looking at but when he unpinnned himself he charged left and drove into a tough eddy and signalled me down. I saw him take his throwbag out for the first time so I was a little worried about what might be downstream of this eddy should I miss it. Luckily I stayed in control and boofed into the eddy. I looked downstream and saw the only real horizon line of the day. We got out and looked and were both glad we had caught the eddy. Some people have hiked up the creek a ways from the takeout, including a group of boaters we bumped into at the take out and from what we could tell, this drop is what people call "the waterfall" on this creek.  It drops about 10-12 feet over two steps. The second step has a log that would require a rail slide and boof to avoid a airated room boxed in by wood.

The room
The drop looked doable, but we didn't know if our boats would stick to the log or not so we took a sneak route on the left.  Below here where a couple logs to dodge, then we dropped over the ledge visible from the takeout on the left. From here we flowed into the EF Lewis then ferried across and we where at the take out. The logistical challenges and puzzling were more interesting than the whitewater, and I had a good day on the water. I won't be back, but I'm glad to have had this little adventure.

King Creek as it enters the EF Lewis

The EF Lewis was reading 1800 cfs as I recall.


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