Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ohane/Roaring River attempt

This last week I was able to head North to the Mt Rainier area with Ryan Cole, Chris Arnold, and their friend Shawn (didn't catch last name, sorry). We were able to spend two days running the Ohanepecosh river from secret campground down to the Clear Fork confluence. The first day I loved the river, and by the second day, it had become one of my favorite runs. It is super clean for the most part with a plethora of great boofs and boulder drops.
Nothing mandatory was super challenging, but if you wanted to get your gnar on, their is definitely a couple drops that fit the bill, with one definitely being a class above the rest. Even the seal launch at the put in was awesome and a great way to start the day. Also, with no boring sections, I couldn't have asked for much more.
There were a couple portages. There are three, and they all kind of sneak up on you if you aren't scouting. The first is the log slide, you cannot see the log until you are directly above the ledge, and its not an easy place to get out at that point. If you haven't done the run before, be watching out for a slower section at the downstream end of secret campground where you are running a few hundred yards of class two. When you see a headwall downstream and a small horizon, get out on the left. Another is in what I have heard referred to as "Triple Drop" You will see some wood piled up, portage on the left. Below this a ways is a shallow drop with a small slide on the right that piles into a boulder. The next boulder garden has wood clogging the bottom. Make sure to catch an eddy on the left to scout, and probably portage. It looked like far left would have gone though.
The hole above the falls produced one flip, but this flip pushed the boater left and he was able to have the best boof of the day off the left side slot on the falls(noone else was able to make it left). At this level gutting the hole was the only way to make it left, but there was enough water to take the sneak route as well (~1000 cispus@randle). The final drop has changed noticeably. Definitely worth a scout now. We all ran the main line the first day, but the second day Chris and I decided to try the right side because it looked pretty fun. It was, but unfortunately Chris pitoned on a hidden protrusion in the first drop. If anyone tries this side, make sure you stick your nose on the right wall and keep it there as you slide down while keeping you bow up. The left side goes really well too, just don't get stuck in the hole dominating the center of the river.
Last week we tried running lower Roaring River, we never found the put-in even after three attempts. The upper would have still been accessible in the right vehicle, but that is probably no longer the case. The lower is probably even snowed in for awhile at this point. Here is the video.
~1000 Cispus at Randle
just over 2000 cowlitz at Randle

Monday, December 7, 2009

Slick Rock Creek

Photo by Nate Merrill
Nate, Matt and I ran Slick Rock Creek off highway 18 on the way to Lincoln city back when we had water a few weeks ago.  I had found the creek by chance last year and had wanted to go back to check out what was in there.  Strangely enough, you can drive right to the put-in for this creek on an old forgotten looking gravel road.  The take out we used was right under highway 18.  At the put in there are boulders on bedrock, and immediately enters a section with gorge walls.  We put in and were swept downstream quickly through many class four boulder gardens.  We boat scouted all the boulder gardens, so we didn't get many pictures except where Matt hopped out once.
(photo by Matt King)

Somewhere in here was an island with some bedrock.  We took the left and it was a fast slide ending in some mank, but the right side looked better with a slide and ledge, just watch out for some wood in the bottom right of the ledge.  
       At one point I was in the lead and came across a steeper drop with bedrock on the sides of the walls.  I hopped out to look while Matt and Nate caught up and bashed through some devils club to see a nice double drop.   I signalled Matt through, and Nate went next off verbal beta, then I came down.    It was a nice break from the boulder gardens.

Myself in "Twist off"
(photo by Matt King)

Nate coming through the bottom hole in Twist Off.
(photo by Matt King)
Reason for the name from Matt- "cause it's sometimes nice to get a beer that you can crack easily, but them easy crackin' beers don't taste as good as others."  It also was sort of a twisty drop.
 Below here there were two spots we portaged for wood, and eventually the creek tapered off down to class II-III for the last quarter mile.  In this section Matt found a rope swing and tried it out, in the video it is obvious to tell it was created for low water use :)
            Before too long we passed a building with "park ranger" or something like that on the side.  I decided to hike out here because I was jogging the shuttle, the guy in this building is only there in the Spring.  Nate and Matt continued downstream and reported more class II-III and a surf wave on the way to the highway take-out.  
          The people in the area were very friendly and were interested to see kayakers.  I jogged back to the car, evaded our car alarm (Oakland the dog), and headed back to the highway within 5 min. of Nate and Matt arriving.  The video is not very indicative of the drops, as we have no footage of any rapids except the class III+ stuff at the put-in.   At high flows this run would be rockin'.  Really its a mini version of lower Roaring River.  It's about half the length, the shuttle is 5 min. instead of over an hour, no hike, and the wood situation is better.  Maybe a good way to warm up for Roaring River.
             level of the SF Yamhill should be around 2000, a boater could probably paddle all the way down to 1000, but I wouldn't recommend that. Not sure how high you could go safely.  We had about 1500 and there were a few F.U. rocks.  From Pat Welches site. we ran it 11/18  
A couple weeks ago Ben Sigler and Dan McCain fired up the put-in drop on Butte Creek Oregon.  There used to be wood in there but its good now.  The rafters cleaned up on "The Butte Crack", so I guess it goes.  Here is a video from these two trips.
And I forgot to credit it on the video, but the photos in the video are by Matt King

** Since we ran the creek, a gate has been installed along the access road.  This means a short hike is now required to reach the put in.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Rafting the Little White

I didn't get to be there today, but Dan McCain and Ben Sigler from ORT ran the Little White today.  They had a great trip, and cleaned almost everything.  They chose not to run Stovepipe or Island, but they went for everything else.  Including a clean run of Spirit! 
 Check out this photo taken by Paul Thompson of
More photos from this trip will be on that site in the next week or so.  As well as video on Ryan Scott's website

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tumalo Creek

Put in drop was fun.  Then we were glad there was usually a trail along the creek as we portaged our way down to Tumalo Falls.

The most runnable action was gained from a short side hike up the Middle Fork of Tumalo Creek.

More detailed report to come some day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Copper Creek

After getting foiled by high water on Eagle Creek, we ran Copper Creek again.  It has become our go to creek.  We had a decent flow with 1500 on the EF Lewis and rising.  This was a great level, felt pretty full for the creek.  Once again we used the upper put-in for the run.  This is definitely the best choice in my mind.  The Upper has a couple solid drops, and a lot of really fun boogey stuff.  Matt was the only one who ran the Weir this day,  it had a tree limb in the center that he avoided, but everyone else decided it wasn't worth the trouble.  He missed the log, punched the hole, and paddled away upright.
Matt on the Weir.
(photo by Nate Merrill)
From here to the lower bridge was just a fast bombing session through lots of class IV sections that were super fun.  No real wood issues in this section.  Once below the bridge, you will run a narrow ledge on the right, then eddy out immediately on the right to portage Certain Death.  If you want to run it I guess you could go a bit lower, but we all knew we weren't going to run it before we got there.  Then find somewhere to seal launce.  There was a log in the water , but Matt fixed it so it isn't much of an issue anymore.  Below here, the really clean class four continues for awhile.  Eventually it tapers off, before too long you come to Triple delight, one of the sweetest drops in the area.  It starts with a two foot ledge that you want to run leftish, because the right side funnels strongly into the slot on the right that is hard to stay upright through.  I took Matt over blind his first time, and I just said make you are left, left, left.  In the second(crux drop) Two of us hit the boof on the left, one hit the boof pretty far right, and one of us got sucked into the slot, resulting in a pretty interesting line down the rest of the drop...  So take the lead in seriously, and stay left at the top!
Here is Eric Foster-moore dropping the final drop in Triple delight.
(photo by Nate Merrill)
Below here were a few more bedrock drops, some fun slides, ledges, and flumes, all with good sized holes at this level.  One sent Eric airborn!  He was able to pull off a catlike move to keep it upright though.  This section was lots of fun and before too long we rolled into the eddy above Final Five.  After taking a look at the headwall drop, I decided I wasn't in the mood and joined Nate, and eventually Eric in the portage.  This left only Matt, who decided to fire off the entire canyon.  To complicate things, the landowner was firing off gun shots.  Not sure whether he knew we were there, we kept a low profile and seal launched in above the final double drop to keep out of his land, but the gunshots were still a little unnerving given the problems that have arisen here in the past.  Matt didn't let the nerves get to him and fired off the entire series, with a roll in the third drop against the undercut wall in the left eddy.  Then finished off the series with an awesome line in the final double drop.  
Matt attacking the headwall.
(photo by Nate Merrill)

Matt in the Canyon above the final double drop.
(Photo: Nate Merrill)

Myself seal launching below the headwall drop.
(photo by Matt King)
After the seal launch, Eric and I decided to take the easy line and ran the final double drop left, left.
Eric driving left at the first ledge of the Final Drop in Final Five Canyon.
(photo by Matt King) 
Myself ducking some branches while getting where I want to go in final drop
  (photo by Matt King)
 I might add that the bottom hole on the right side of the final drop was looking like it could do some serious damage, so consideration of that would be wise.  
    Below here we joined the EF Lewis, which was really fun at this level.  We cruised down to Horshoe falls and scouted to find the funnest line.  We decided to do the triple bounce on the left and it was actually pretty exciting!  We all went deep into the really airated landing.  We were moving fast and didn't have time to set up any intricate safety techniques, so we all just cleaned the drop instead :)
Below here was uneventful, and we finished the run happy with another great run on Copper Creek!

Monday, November 16, 2009

North Fork Lewis

After being snowed out of another run, we decided to do the Waterfall run on the N. fork Lewis (not to be confused with the waterfall run on the East Fork Lewis).  We decided not to deal with trying to portage the nasty drop in upper falls.  We decided to do a throw and go instead!  We all had a good run and jump.  There were no takers for Lower falls, but Matt's girlfriend Caitlin took some really cool photos (and did a great job running shuttle for us the last couple trips, thanks!).
Matt drops Taitnapum falls.
Matt about to hit off the 60-70 ft jump
Josh decided to climb down to take a closer look at the bottom.
That was actually him after he jumped.  He didn't get out very far and landed in the veil of the 35 footer and got stuck in the hole for a bit.  Then worked his way along the wall below the drop.  After seeing this, I decided I needed a bigger jump and cleared out farther, without any problems.
myself nearing impact.
We then boat scouted middle falls and took out just above Lower.  I have become increasingly uncomfortable about drops over 30.  I need to practice my tuck.

Hagen Gorge

all photos by Matt King
Got some cool shots of our Trips to the N fork Lewis and Hagen Gorge from Matt King.
        Ran Hagen with 1600 or so and rising in the EF Lewis.  Usually you want 2000 at least, we definitely felt our low level, but it was good to go.  If I went back at that level I would use the old broken down road right before the clearcut that spurs off to the left and put in right below the logjam.  I am pretty confident this will be the case because it makes sense that there would be a road for when they built the dam.  I was tempted to try it out last time, but we went all the way up and had a portage right at the put-in that Matt punched through(wood) then we bashed our boats down to the log dam.  Let me know if you try out that road.
 I believe this is it.  view in satellite form to see road.
   We didn't get out of our boats between the log dam and Euphoria falls as usual.  I love this creek for this reason.  Just flying down the creek is a great day of boating.  Matt's shots of Nate and I at Euphoria are pretty cool.  He got a good angle that really makes the drop look steep.
Nate at the top of Euphoria. 
Myself halfway down the first tier.
Nate exiting the first tier, heading into the lower drop with the log.
The log was not an issue as usual as long as you were in control.  You could go under it if you had to and if you were so far left you got stuck between ground and log rescue was as easy as it gets.  Luckily none of us had problems and we bombed down to Teakettle.  We did see another group there, that was interesting coming around the corner above Euphoria and seeing the bright colors in the scouting eddy!  We were not expecting anyone else with the low water.
Teakettle looked good so besides some mixed up beta from me to Nate, everything went well.  Even with the misguidance we all stayed upright and headed down to the crack drop.
Myself a half boat width farther right than I wanted.  
Nate keeping it upright.
Below here is a narrow little drop that looks like it has a boof on the right, but it is actually pretty ugly.  I have ended up in the pocket below on the left twice.  This day, one of us didn't make the sneak route on the right and injured his arm in a brace, he was ok by the next day, but watch out for this sneaker between Teakettle and Crack drop.  If there is enough water, far far right, almost drying out has been our line of choice the last couple of times and produced successful runs.
   We all decided to portage the crack drop, as it looked a lot more hectic today.  So I guess I will retract my statement from the last time I ran Hagen that anyone with a roll can run the drop.  At the levels we had, it looked like getting your head slammed into a rock was a very likely outcome. 
Going deep in the crack drop from last year.
 From here to the takeout was fun with some good quality class III-IV drops.  We took out and checked out money drop, but there was a bit too much water for those who were considering it.  All in all a great day after a long day on Upper Opal creek the day before when we decided to portage Harvey Wallbanger.  All I will say about that trip is if you are going to run Upper Opal, watch out for this committing drop.  Its hard to scout and the hole below looks like it has some wood in it.  You might be able to eddy out and portage just above, but we decided not to risk it.  We portaged on the right and it sucked.  Not the worst, but pretty bad.  (all photos by Matt King)

Friday, October 9, 2009


There was talk about Ik's on the Portland kayaker forum recently and instead of ranting there, I figured I would do it here (which is what blogs are for).  Not that I have anything bad to say.
          I started in an IK and I for one am very happy that is how I started.  My dad has always been an IK'er or rafter and didn't have hardshells, so that was my ticket into the whitewater world.  How this benefited me (besides being taught by a very safety conscious father), was I was able  to learn to read the water and figure out what the water was doing on an intimate level, without having to worry about edge control as much.  I think this is very important because it is critical in my opinion to have your water reading skills a couple notches above you staying upright ability.  There are plenty of places where if you stay upright, you could still be in a very bad situation, yet, had you gone where you needed to go, and flipped, you would be rolling at the end of the pool, instead of swirling around a nasty pocket, or pinned.  In some cases it is a necessity to stay upright, in this case if you read water well enough, you know not to run that one because you know what it will do to your boat.
        You still learn edge control though, you feel when current is sucking a tube under, but you have time to recover.  
        On many of the small woody creeks in Oregon, these are the perfect vessels. David Saquety on Gordon Creek Oregon.  Coming around a rocky, fast, blind corner, only to see a logjam across the current, no real eddies; this is the time to paddle to shore, leap to shore, and then if your lucky grab your boat.  In a hardshell this would not work.  I have a couple experiences like this where I was happy to be in the IK and my dad has quit a few more and this is his strongest argument for why he likes IK's.  If the boat floats downstream, it is ok cause its not full of water so it is much easier to recover.
                              My dad with his Ik where Ik's belong.      Also, I know some IK'ers who can boof, including myself, so I know that is possible and I have to say some of the boofs are smoother and it is more controllable I think.  Its harder to land flat, but you can ride a stroke and keep the nose up for a long time without it dropping out from under you.  I talked to one guy who landed flat off the second tier of Shipperds, anyone who has been there knows this is difficult.  I have never done it (not counting the delayed boof), he boofed from the top and cleared the sloping drop to land flat.  
     During the shooting of "Two Kids and a Duck" I think I was upside down more often than Nick, granted I didn't swim that year and he probably had 3 or 4, but he more often than not self recovered and there were times I wish we would have traded boats.
      If you have seen that film you have seen him clean some gnar.  My favorite clip is him stomping Upper Falls on the Lewis like it was noones business.  He planed away from the drop and had a perfect tuck without getting water in his boat... I broke my nose.
                                                                 Nick tucks up at Twin falls.   Which brings me to my next point, they are less painful, your not going to break your back as easily landing flat, you won't bonk your elbows on the sides, you won't crack your face on the rim of the cockpit, if you pin you are not as trapped.
     And I for one can vouch for the fact you can brace IK's, first you highside, then you brace, this combo can work, watch Nick dropping Taitnapum falls at ~1:30 on this video, now that is some secondary stability. (you will notice this is one of those times he was upright and I was upside down).
The number one biggest reason I don't paddle IK's very often is they fill up with water.  Running the Roaring River in the Clack Drainage felt like class five in an IK because you couldn't miss a single stroke because your boat was always full of water and wouldn't respond well.  That said, it was one of my favorite trips of the year and the Ik's made the portages much easier.  Throw and go's are way easier with Ik's too.
          In this video we run the Lower Wind.  As you can see Nick cleaned the Flume better than all the hardshellers.
In this next one you will see some real clean IK lines.  Also, you will see two flips resulting in swims back to back on the second tier of Shipperds around 30 seconds in.  Guess which boater reunited himself with his boat and was ready to drop over the third tier in 10 seconds, and guess which one took 15 minutes to get back in his boat and didn't run the third tier for another 10 minutes?
This next video has some recent clips of my dad doin some IK stuff that I talked about.  First clip is an example of him running a class V-ish drop.  Second is an example of a boof, not the biggest Iv'e seen but still got the nose up.  Third is something I didn't mention which is Ik's are great for shallow drops cause they don't go deep.  I hit bottom off that drop, in the summer it lands on rock, thats how shallow it is so its not very deep and he didn't hit bottom even though he pencilled because the volume brought his nose up so fast, before the tail was in the water even. Third is the Iguana move where there is not much of an eddy but he just hops out.
Now all that said, I still paddle a hardshell :)  No doubt you can run bigger stuff, and I am a fan of the boof stomp.  I will always run the biggest stuff I run in a hardshell.  My point is there is nothing wrong with Ik's, you can go big in them and they are a great way to start. Check out Bryan Vogt's IK blog if you want to see them run some of the biggest stuff in the PNW which is under my links on the right side of this page.  And check out all the stuff from '07 on my blog for Nick tearing some stuff up. Ok, thats all for now.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mesa Falls (raft)

Dan has done it again.  Not a first D (though I imagine no one has R1 the first drop), but still amazing.  The run went very smooth according to him, and the pictures confirm the story.  Check it out.
  Getting set up at the top. All photos by Ümit Yüksel
Dan doing what he does best. R1 descent of the upper tier. With his buddy back in the boat, together they drop the second falls. freefall. stuck it. all photos by Ümit Yüksel Dan's percentage of waterfalls cleaned to waterfalls not cleaned is baffling.  He has a one hundred percent success rate on drops 30 ft or more.  Given the type of stuff he is doing this obviously won't last, but it makes you wonder what is possible in these large rubber boats...
It is difficult to see what is going on in this video.  But if you tilt your head just right you can see them go over the second drop about 20 seconds in.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall Season

Just got moved into school and am stoked to be close to the coast range again.  Got a new shell and a good list goin' for the year. 
                                     Class five lead in to this beautiful 30 footer
Hopefully this year we will have a lot less of this.
And this... and some of this is ok, but not too much. and more of this!!
Can't wait for the rain, I'm ready for some kayaking adventure.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I was not close with Ryan, but I wanted to tribute him in some way on this blog. The only time I boated with him was to each of us our first time on the Little White. My dad(the only one who had done the river before) had meant to join us below Gettin' Busy, but fell and injured his ribs hiking in. He hiked back out, this left only Ryan and I to figure out the river together. What I remember most was how much more comfortable Ryan was boat scouting Gettin' busy than I was. He looked right at home on the river. He was very confident committing himself to running the next pitch. This meant I would often be watching him as he peared down the next drop.   Then he would signal me down to his eddy and we would discuss the line. I was very grateful to have some of the stress lifted in this way. We both had a very successful run with each of us flipping only at Wishbone I believe.    We portaged the bigger drops, but just getting in there, just the two of us, and figuring out the run together was a great experience. It was very strange hearing he was gone.
I always knew in the back of my head there was a good chance someone I knew, or myself, could very well die kayaking. It was not pleasant having that thought come to fruition. My thoughts have been recently turning to Ryan now and then, wondering about his family, wondering what his final moments were like, questioning if I should be in a sport where success means you are still alive at the end of the run. I know I am not going to give it up, it is too ingrained in who I am, but this will definitely keep me more attentive and safety cautious. So rest in peace Ryan, hopefully we have all learned from your tragedy.                                            Here is a short video I made some time ago from our first time down the river that eventually took his life.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Little Joe Creek

You can click on the photo, then once it expands right click and save as to download it to your computer if viewing it that way is better.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Salmon River Canyon; Rafting

I finally got to run Salmon River Canyon this last weekend. It was everything anyone has said it was. Just as committing and full on, and the drops live up to and exceed the expectations I had going into the canyon.

 My first trip down was under unusual circumstances. I was with an R2 team who had been wanting to run the drops of the SRC for some time now. Hiking the raft in the day before it was obvious why this doesn't get done. After the dolly broke Dan cam strapped the raft to his back and hiked it the next mile to the meadow turn off for split falls. At this point I gave him the backpack I was using for my kayak for him to use as the cam straps were destroying his shoulders. He went down the sliding bushwack/trail with it on his back until the last hundred yards were he sent it barrelling down the hill right at me! I hid behind a tree as the raft/missile came barrelling down, but stopped short of where I was. We made it to Split falls and pumped the raft a bit and started rigging it before heading back out.

 After two days of hiking (Dan and Shane had hiked the raft the first half mile the day before), a river crossing, lots of pain, little water and food, we had a sense of accomplishment before even taking a stroek, Dan finally had his raft into the SRC. There was only one reasonable way to get that boat out now, paddling it downstream.  We walked the trail back out and drove home anticipating the adventure waiting for us the next day. The next day we hiked in from the bottom to avoid a shuttle at the end of the day with Luke Spencer as Dan's R2 partner and our trail group; Dans girlfriend Lydia, Shane Conrad and Christina. The hike was a long one that took its toll, sapping precious energy and taking time. We made it to Split falls and within half an hour I was in my boat and dropping over the falls, a fantastic put in!

 I set safety and after a few minutes they came down. The raft didn't fit... We had figured this might be the case though so Luke jumped onto the bank right at the lip and pushed and yanked on the raft until it was only a little wedged. Then he jumped back in and they rocked the boat until they dropped over, a perfect line and they came out upright but the falls was landing right on them and ripped them out of the boat. They self rescued and we made quick work of the portage below.

After this I took off to catch the group ahead of us who had the climbing rope we were planning on using at Final Falls. I also wanted to catch them for safety reasons, as I had just found we only had one throw rope, and that was in my boat.  So if we didn't catch the other group I was going to have to be mistake free. I arrived before too long and there was no trace of the other group. By my watch I had made it by the meeting time (which was interpreted differently by the different people in the two groups), so I must have missed them by less than five minutes.

I waited at the spot for Dan and Luke. When they arrived we had a short pow-wow. Were we going to try to catch the group ahead of us before Final Falls or hike out? We came to a draw because Dan and my vote was to keep going, but Luke counted as two votes in this situation since he had been there before and favored hiking out. In the end optimism prevailed and we set off in an attempt to catch the group ahead of us (who also had a raft). Little Niagara went well and ended up being my favorite drop of the run.  The raft went next and also executed the line we had picked out well.

In the throw and go around Vanishing falls Luke hit bottom and sprained his ankle. This was to be a factor the rest of the day. We regrouped and got ready to drop the next ledge, a boxed in 8 footer with a sticky hole.  Luke remembered this drop as unscoutable/unportageable so gave me the beta, run it on the right and keep your nose up with a left stroke.  It turned out to be easy to clear the hole if you hit the line and I signaled all good to the rafters while I set up the camera and safety. They had a good line and we headed downstream.

 There was one more class 4 ledge drop, then Frustration falls presented itself after a narrow and calm alleyway. This drop was committing, which weighed especially heavy on me as having the only rope I would be going without safety. While we were scouting Luke caught a glimpse of something unnaturally colored downstream, hoping it was the other team we headed down and could see them. They signaled for us to head down, we had made it! We were elated that we had done so and were going to be able to repel around Final Falls, but we had our work cut out for us first. There was a lot of discussion about how we were going to get passed Frustration Falls. The end result is what is important, so what we did was lower Dan down to a ledge right above the final 40 footer, then he counter the raft down to where he was. Because of Luke's sprained ankle, Dan would be R1ing the drop. We felt it was safer for Dan to R1 the drop than to risk Luke injuring his ankle further.  Because Dan was R1, he would not be able to paddle away from the undercut all at the base of the drop.  To deal with this I would go first and from a small ledge throw him a rope after he landed to get him free of the wall.

 I put in below the first 20 which had some wood. The second drop is tricky. I had seen a number of blown lines there on video.  It appeared people would boof, only to have their tail caught by a shelf part way down, sending them over the bars.  My plan was to not attempt a boof, hoping that when my nosed dropped it would hit that shelf, bringing my nose back up.  This did not work according to plan and I hit the weird shelf and went into a bit of a freewheel.  I resurfaced upside down and trying to roll against the current, I did make it up and instead of being inside the bowl at the base of the ten footer, I was looking over the edge of the left side of the final drop!  I modified the final part of my roll into a partial backstroke as this side of the falls drops into a pothole of sorts that Luke had mentioned earlier had a rock in the landing and no one had ever run before.   The modified backstroke followed by another one kept me from dropping over. I stopped in the eddy created by the raft and set up for the bottom forty footer.

Instead of the reconnect line some people take, I used a little left angle off the kicker and free-fell into the pool below.  I was tucked forward and felt a good impact, my left leg popped out of the brace, but I was upright so I put it back in and started paddling against the current pushing into the undercut. I brushed it at the end but then I was into the clear and setting up for footage and safety for Dan.

He took his time preparing, then I saw some yellow, then I didn't, then here he comes! He dropped over straight and dove for the back of the raft and hung on. Then he was below upright and elated. We were all so stoked that he had just cleaned this drop! He was pushed against the wall which wasn't such a big deal in a raft, but being an R1 he was unable to paddle away from it as we predicted so I through him the rope and reeled him in. Then Luke jumped in and they tried paddling out past the veil of water that blocks the exit. After 3 unsuccessful tries Luke hopped out with my rope and pulled Dan through as Dan paddled. This worked and we were then above "In Between", the final drop above Final Falls.

We pulled onto the shore and saw... no one. This was not the site we had hoped for. After commenting on how unpleasant this situation was we started figuring out what to do. Luke was certain the other group would not have left without at least leaving the rope and thought he might have seen it so I ran the twenty footer and eddied out above the 70 foot Final falls. I walked down to the repel point and there was no rope... I signaled this back to the rafters and we discussed what to do. We regrouped again below the 20 and discussed our options. The last 4 people to jump the falls had all hit bottom, so that was iffy at best. Dan offered to lower us down on my throwbag and then jump, take the hit and just hope he didn't get injured to the point he couldn't hike out. In the end we decided to use Luke's plan and hike out on the left side, then cross the river when we could get back to it (it would take a couple hours of bushwhacking first), then climb up to the river right trail and hike out. Estimated arrival time at the take out bridge; 1am.

We geared down and started looking for a place to get up the cliffs. Luke thought he saw a draw that would go, but I wasn't really down with rock climbing and Dan was adamant that Luke was sure to hurt himself if he tried that. We looked around for another hour and finally came to the decision to head back to the river and have Dan lower us. We were a bit solemn as we headed back and got geared up. When we got to the platform above Final I looked around for a better jumping spot and found a small perch closer to the falls than where people had jumped and hit bottom before.  I thought that hopefully the scouring power of the falls would have made a deeper landing zone.

So Dan volunteered to jump first since he was going to jump anyway, and if he didn't hurt himself we would follow.  As Dan lept into the air I pushed away the thought that if he hit bottom we would probably have no other option than to jump anyway. Luckily he didn't, we shoved the boats off then followed suit, all of us minimizing our depth into the pool by filling our dry suits with air and planing our bodies once we hit the water. This worked, and we were together at the bottom, a happy set of boaters. We took some time to eat and drink, then took off downstream. We ran a couple more boulder gardens, then portaged a couple sieves, then we were in the class 2-3 runout. It was a great feeling to have met the challenges. I took off ahead to let the people at the takeout know we were ok, the raft joined us half hour later, with an hour of daylight to spare. In the end we were all ok, but we left with a sour feeling. We were definitely 3 unhappy people at the top of Final Falls, but I guess all that ends well is well.

 800 cfs Sandy at Marmot


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zigzag River

           After a low water run on the West fork Hood (3.7 ft) that included two laps each on Punchbowl, Nate Merrill, my dad, and I headed over Lolo pass in order to run the Zigzag river on the way back.  We put in where highway 26 crosses the creek the second time if you are coming from Sandy.  We had low water but it was floatable.  Nate had one scary pin mid creek, but was able to work his way free.  The creek was really fun and going from this bridge to the lower highway 26 bridge is a good section of very difficult class III.  It sounds like an oxymoron but if you ever run it you will understand.  I feel comfortable on low end class five and such, but this was still keeping my attention, and Nate (who is plenty capable of much more difficult than class three water) had two pins.  My dad also pinned his IK on a rock that was actually under the water within the first ten seconds of the put-in, but cleaned the rest of the run, so the IK's will do fine. We only had one super easy portage and some minor log-dodging, which isn't always the case for this creek, or any creek of this size for that matter, or really any obscure creek in Oregon :) That was a pleasant surprise.
            I think it is a very worthy stop if you are in the area.  It is very similar to the majority of streams coming off Mt Hood, such as the upper Sandy, East fork Hood, White river.  It is just smaller and steeper.  It would be a great run to do before the Sandy Gorge, definitely more focus required, but no individual rapids are harder than Revenue Bridge, but you might feel right at home pin-balling your way down the upper part of that rapid if you have just come of the Zigzag.
            My verdict-worth doing.
Sandy at Brightwood should be between 1000 and 2500 cfs.  It would be super fun at high water but logs would start to get very scary in a hurry.  I don't know if I would be willing to run this creek when it was at bank full but it would be very very fun. 
      - It runs from snowmelt mostly.
a picture of the zigzag river at flows too low to boat

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yellowjacket Creek

                                 all photos by Matt King               

            Matt King and I ran Yellowjacket creek last Wednesday.  The ride to Randle was longer than we had expected from Portland, but eventually we made it there and after one wrong turn we made our way to the learning center to hopefully find a guy named Drew we had heard of on the internet, and maybe secure a shuttle.  Drew wasn't there, but one of his co-workers, Layla, was kind enough to offer help on the shuttle afterwards.  When we drove over the take-out bridge we both took a deep breath, the water was looking a lot lower than we had hoped for as it flowed across a flood plain.  We decided it would hopefully consolidate upstream, and we could float down this last section, so we would at least make it down even if it was low.
          We drove upstream about five miles to the normal put-in and took a look.  It looked like it was deserving of the "class V scramble" reputation it had been given, we had already decided to use the upper put in, pioneered by Dave Hoffman and group in 2008 so continued up the road another 2-3 miles until we started catching glimpses of the creek and a short, dirt road went off to the left.  We took this turn and got dressed in a bit of rain while Matt's dog Oakland took care of some business.  Then we followed the short trail down to the river and got ready to enter the adventure.
          The first rapid was a steep boulder garden right off the bat with a small sieve on the right,  Matt eddy hopped his way down, then signaled me on through.  After this the creek was class two for awhile with some wood, but I don't think we portaged any wood between here and the first big drop.  

Eventually we came to the first real rapid since the put-in rapid.  We saw some wood so we scouted.  It was a 3 foot ledge with a weird hole, but all the water pushed into some wood on the left.  Below here were two small eddies on the left, then a nasty falls with wood.

From a return trip
photo: Priscilla Macy

Matt found a path on the right, so instead of running the marginal lead in drop and catching one of the little eddies on the left, we portaged on the right pretty easily.  Note: On a return trip, Whitney Butler ran the lead in down the left into an eddy then a number of us ran a lubricated seal launch on the left.

Matt and I ran a short drop right below, followed by a couple more fun boulder/ledge drops in the class four range, then before we knew it we were scouting another larger drop, which turned out to be the best rapid on the run.  It had an easy sliding lead in, followed by a moving pool, then it split and the right side was pretty manky, but the left side accelerated down a 15 yard long ramp into an 8 foot boof.

 The exit was a short slide, then I believe the creek went back to being pretty easy with some more wood and I know we portaged at least once here (no wood problems in 2017).

 We knew there was a 30 foot falls right above the normal put-in, so we where on the lookout for that.  Eventually we found it as the creek started to consolidate.  It is a weird place for a falls because it goes from gravel bars right into the falls.  We got out on the left and at first thought it was good to go, then we saw the boulder on the left that the majority of the falls pushes towards.  We felt it was probably runnable, just hard, with high consequences.

               We did a throw and go, which was fun.

Priscilla does the same on a return trip in 2017

The falls does go.  Adam Edwards takes the center boofing right line, following an inspiring probe by Whitney Butler on a return trip.  June 17, 2017

photo: Priscilla Macy

Brandon Lake

Then we scouted the next couple slides which were pretty fun. 

                             The second slide                      all photos by Matt King   
                     Then we where on the guidebook section.  The first drop was wood infested required a creative portage along a log to the center of the river (clean in 2017).  Be careful at this spot if you go in there with more water in the creek.  Next was a series of ledges before McCoy creek comes in.  Godzilla was benign at this flow, but is rumored to be rather hungry at higher levels.  There are a few more ledges and fun rapids when flows are good, then it peters out a bit before coming to the final rapid against the wall, which is run with the main flow.  Take a peak for logs if you are unsure about the wood situation.   Then it peters out for good and if flows are low it can be a bit tedious, its a nice place for a lunch break.  Somewhere in a short class two section I boofed right onto a piton rock which launched me onto my head causing the only roll of the day :/             

Eventually we came to the flood plain after what seemed a long time (it was low water) and then dealt with two more logs, one of which would be a portage at higher flows (in 2017 the only portage of the trip was a log just above the take out).  Finally we came to the bridge, satisfied with the adventure.  I hung around the take out while Matt and Layla from the Learning Center ran the shuttle.

Look for 2,000 cfs+ in the Cispus @ Randle.      

DIRECTIONS: From Randle, head South for 1 mile on 139 before veering left onto Cispus River Rd/NF-23.  8 Miles later turn right on Cispus River Rd towards the Learning Center.  You will quickly cross over the Cispus, and 1.3 miles after the turn you will cross Yellowjacket Creek at the take out.

Just passed the take out bridge (and on river left) turn upstream onto NF-28, continue upstream 7.4 miles.  The creek should be close by and a road blown out by a debris flow heads towards the creek and to a bridge at the put in.