Saturday, January 3, 2009

Urban Creeking

Jordan Englert, Rob Cruser (my dad), and myself ran Rock Creek after a recent high water event.  Rock Creek flows through the town of Clackamas near the turn-off to Barton heading east on highway 212.  The take out is actually right under the highway where Hwy 212 and 224 branch off.  We set up a rope before hand to help with getting out of the gorge at the end.  Driving up to Sunnyside road, we put-in behind a neighborhood that was being constructed.  As of 2017 a park is being created further down that might be a better option for a put in.  We carried our gear down through the woods and put in on the brown creek.  From the get go we were dodging wood, but nothing sketchy.  We had a couple easy portages and one encounter with a barb wire fence!  We got to our first rapid(class 2-3), and it had wood in it so we portaged and I climbed up the wall to scout downstream .  I could see a horizon line and knew we had arrived at the falls (where the park is being built) I had seen while scouting in the summer.  We took turns running the class 3 lead in to the falls and scouted on the left.
    When I had scouted the creek in the summer there had been people working there no trespassing signs were up so I hadn't taken a thorough look at the falls.  We took a longer look this time and all had success on the left side, though its not especially deep over there.  The right side looks like the way to go but there is a rock just under the surface that can only be seen at summer flows.  I went first (far river left) and hit bottom slightly, but upright and it didn't hurt.  My dad went next and stayed off the bottom in his IK.  Jordan then went and hit his tail on something but otherwise it was a great line.  More water would allow for a cleaner boof off the left and the landing would be less of an issue.   We continued downstream from here into the unknown part of the run for us.

My dad running the waterfall

   There were a couple fun class III-IV bedrock rapids in here.  In the best drop below the falls ( a small ledge drop), was a log/stick/hole combo in the landing, Jordan and I drove right to miss the wood and were successful, it was a fairly strong move.  My dad went next and crashed into the stick and broke it off, cleaning up the drop significantly.  
      We continued on from here moving along quickly and portaging the occasional log jam.  The walls were vertical and remarkably committing in places considering we were between neighborhoods, but everything was portageble at river level.  There was at least one time where we portaged straight over a log jam, but most of the portages were pretty quick.  There were a couple times when it was nice to have my dad in an IK since he can just hop out of his boat onto obstacles, no eddies needed!  
There was one more ledge at the take out and a difficult eddy to grab, then we roped ourselves up the hill to our cars.  If I went back (only if I thought the wood situation had improved) I'd continue into the Clackamas and down to Riverside County Park where there is an easier take out.

Despite the challenges (or likely because of them) I enjoyed the trip, it was a novel adventure and a fun gorge to check out.  It is only 1.5 miles long, so can be done quickly if the portages are not abundant.  
     The closest gauge is the Beaver Creek @ Troutdale Gauge.  It needs to be above 7 ft. to have enough water to check out, 8-9' is better.  Not sure how high you could go, it is in a gorge with wood potential after all.

 The first mile can be scouted from the right bank, the last 1/2 mile from the left before hand or from the creek most of the time.  Down at river level it depends on where the wall is weakest.
After this adventure Jordan and I ran from Revenue to Dodge at 15 ft on the Bull Run gauge or so.  Big water, the usually flat first quarter mile was class IV, and the rock with wood on it visible downstream of the put-in was a serious concern with water pushing hard into it.  The entire run only took about 20 minutes with wood floating down the river the whole way and rocks heard crashing along the riverbed below us.



Robb said...

Thanks for the documentation. I used to boat with your dad long ago. I have been paddling for many years since and I see he is too! Nice to see he has a son into it too.

Tell your dad hi for me...and tell him he should be proud to have a fellow family paddler! Maybe we can do some trips.

Thanks a bunch!

Robb Keller

Jacob said...
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Jacob said...

I will let him know, and he does let me know how proud of me he is. Thanks for the kind words. My email is It would be really cool boating with one of my dad's old friends and a guidebook author. Send me an email and we will get out sometime, I'm sure my dad would love to see you again!