Sunday, April 19, 2009

Opal creek and South santiam

A video of us running the south santiam and Opal creek.  Nate had a scary moment on the log below Big Fluffy, I never thought it was a serious hazard, but I know differently now, luckily he was able to swim free of his boat.  Even after he swam his boat stayed lodged for about 30 seconds until he pulled it free.  It was creepy because the water is so clear I could see him grasping for the log just feet away from me, luckily he was able to rescue himself and we are all thankful for it.   So just reiterating that logs are always a hazard.   Bobby and I ran Opal gorge afterwords which was really cool. 
     A few point,
                  I don't know how long this has been the case but the log in Henline is gone. We went left and it was one of my favorite lines I have taken in a long time.   All the boulder gardens looked pretty intimidating, but they all went right where the main current goes, usually center.  If you go in below a thousand run Mystery almost on the left wall.  Or take the right channel.  The undertaker portage is an involved one on the right with its own things to worry about.  We were gazing longingly at the left side route as we groveled on the right.  The sneak at Fishladder falls goes but beware that you must angle left to avoid the wall below that has the majority of water flowing under it.  We snuck, then portaged the slot immediately below.   A really fun run.  We ran at about 800 cfs but it felt higher than when I was there last at 850, maybe we got a bit of snowmelt? 
         South Santiam was better than I thought.  Crawdad is interesting and Tomco is a really cool high speed drop.  I seal launched in between the first and second drop cause it looked fun, but the full rapid looks like the way to go next time.
          Here is the video.
        Here is the video.
Opal creek and South Santiam from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Green Truss POV

A trip from awhile ago of the Green Truss.  I kept forgetting to wipe the camera so a lot of bluryness.  Theses videos are a lot different to put together because there is so much more footage.  Anyway, enjoy, its a long one.  Any of you who are going to try the truss for the first time this summer.  This is a pretty good indicator of what you need to be ready for.  Obviously its a lot different when you are the one paddling, but this shows the majority of worthwhile rapids.
Truss POV from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gold Creek

Each time Opal creek is paddled, a creek is crossed during the hike in. I know for me the conversation usually goes like this. We stop at the bridge and look upstream at the short waterfall. Someone comments how it looks runnable, and there seems to be enough water in it to boat. Then people shift to the other side of the bridge and looks in that direction. We see the large logjam and someone says its probably really woody and not worth it, everyone agrees and we continue on to run whatever section of Opal we are running that day. The last time I was there with Jean, we did the same thing but when we looked downstream, the logjam looked a lot smaller, and possible runnable if the level was high enough. The conversation then shifted to "maybe it would be worth checking this out". Now from the few exploratory trips I have done, one thing I have learned is the one section of river you can see rarely gives a good indicator for the rest of the run, yet for some reason in my mind I use this shaded scouting technique.      
            After the run Jean and I hiked back in with his dog to scout more of the creek. We hiked up about a hundred yards and saw some very clean class III-IV drops and I decided it was worth hitting the maps and finding a way in there. The gradient didn't look unreasonable and the geology was good, so last Monday Jeff Hartley and I, a week after our Little Luckiamute adventure, were trying to decide where to go. The water was up and somehow we decided Gold creek would be a good way to spend his day off, and serve as an after class run for me (its only a mile long).
              I left Monmouth at 12:15, met Jeff in Salem, and we were at the gate by 2. We got geared up in the rain and started hiking in. At the bridge, we looked for a way out at the end, saw the level looked good, then continued on up the road looking for the road accessing Gold creek. We found it shortly and began our 1 mile hike up the abandoned road. It gained a lot of elevation and made me legitimately tired. Having no food or water between us probably contributed to this. Eventually the road did a switch back and we ended up bush-wacking downhill for the second week in a row. We dropped about a hundred feet until we hit another very very abandoned road, almost non-existant. Followed this for awhile and somewhere along this path I heard a large roar and was a bit nervous we would run into a Huge series of drops. Eventually the going got a bit tougher and I decided if much more of the creek was going to be making a noise like the one I heard, it would be wise to putin now and make sure we had plenty of time so we didn't have another paddle out in the dark. We bushwacked down and my boat got away from me at one point but by chance got stuck right before launching off a large drop that may have left me with a broken boat! We got down shortly after this and I was pleased with the water level and the steep boulder garden visible upstream.
                We put-on and ran a couple class III's, then eddied out right above a log jam. Below I could see...mountain tops, this was a big drop. Jeff came down and we climbed onto the jam to see what was downstream.
                  You can tell a logjam has been there for a long time when it has its own sediment deposit built up twenty feet high in a place that would otherwise be straight bedrock.                   This is what we saw.
Actually we were able to see a huge slide that may have gone had there not been a huge logjam at the top or a huge log at the bottom, but I guess we will never know...
            This left us with portage options.  The pinnacles of rock gating off the way downstream reminded me of Thors' Hammer if you were to make it just a little less vertical, then spread it out to meet both walls, then only have enough room for 200 cfs to sneak through and drop fifty feet.  Maybe not a great example but thats what I saw.  The very unfriendly option to portage this was the sketchiest portage Jeff or I has ever attempted.  We had to climb this 60 ft wall, then lower a rope down, then hand over hand the boats up, while standing on a 4 foot wide piece of relatively stable ground atop a sixty foot drop one way, and a hundred foot drop behind you.  I had made up my mind if I lost grip of my boat as I was pulling it up I wasn't even going to try to stop it in fear of it pulling me over.  Any funny business and I was ready to let my boat crash to the bottom. 
               The climb up was scary for me.  I scrambled up to about the point where the chances of serious injury and death outweighed the chances of survival if I slipped before I was stupid enough to look down.  I have to admit I was scared a this point.  I looked up at the next section of climbing I had to do and I started thinking of what was going to happen if I didn't make that climb and who else I was going to effect if I died or got hurt and somewhere during this thought process I decided it wasn't worth it and decided to head down and find another way (though we hadn't seen any earlier).  This doesn't happen to me very often so the fact that it was happening was an alarm that I should probably make a smart choice.  It was at this point I recalled that I had just made a commiting swing.  The kind where if you don't do it all in one motion it won't work.  So going down just became as bad of an idea as going up. I might add someone who is good at rock climbing probably wouldn't have much trouble with this, but I am not.  
                                                                              On my way up the wall.  The place we roped our boats up from is as high as you can see.
  This is when I saw another way up the rock, so I climbed about 15 feet to my left and was able to scramble up the last twenty feet to the platform.  I threw the rope to Jeff way below as a small amount of relief set in and he clipped my boat in.  It was very difficult hauling my boat up, as it was spinning and the cockpit kept catching on the rock wall.  Eventually Jeff and I were at the top after one more rope point and we lowered our boats down to creek level.
    Jeff at the top of the rock wall and a hundred feet above the river. Yes it is one drop from where he is to the creek.         The slide that we put in below would have been sick if yet another couple of logs had not been there.  The big drop is in the background.        We put in below here happy to be on the water.  From the portage route we had seen a trib comming in from the right and realized we had put-in on the East fork and that was why this huge loss of gradient had occured on a run that was supposed to be less than 200 fpm.  We were relieved to know the whole run would not be like this.  Just below here was a short horizon line around a corner.  Jeff hopped out to scout and he was looking for awhile so I hopped out too and looked a very cool 8 foot drop with a bad log on the left side.  The move was only hard class IV, but a miss meant impalement, so we portaged to a weird seal launch and kept moving.
        Jeff below the first big portage. (which took over half an hour, probably closer to an hour).  The West fork came in just around the corner.
Below here was another short log portage, then a fun slide.  Then a drop that went around the corner.  I got out to scout and was at first excited about the lip of this sweet 12 footer, until I noticed the 3 logs in the landing :(  Portage number 4.  
            This would have been the best drop on the run below the confluence had it been wood free. Below here the logs effectively ruined the run.  It seemed every drop worth running had wood.  We made at least one sketchy ferry above a log in the middle of a class IV series of ledges, and there were a few good class IV slides and rapids, but just a lot of log portages.  Probably 8-12 in the mile long section.  Only a couple were easy, low stress.
                           The bottom of the series of ledges with the hairy ferry.   The last couple hundred yards were the best.  Class IV ledges and slides that were just sweet as could be. Soon we were at the last double drop and I got out to look and take a picture.  We both entered right and Jeff snaked to the left while I boofed the right of the second drop.    
After this Jeff climbed up the left wall and I clipped the boats to a rope as he roped his up from the bridge then I came up and assisted with my boat.
    Jeff on the take out bridge.
all photos by Jeff and Jacob
What sucks is this runs would be exceptional in my opinion without the wood if you put-in just  below the confluence.  The drops are all of very high quality with plenty of bedrock and some very good class IV-IV+ drops.  The only problem is every one of them is plugged with wood.  Its the kind of run if there was road access and no wood it would be run all the time.  But its not, so this run will most likely never be repeated, its just not worth it.  But now next time I hike over it I will know the answer to "I wonder what is upstream?"
                            The level when we ran it on April 13th.

Monday, April 13, 2009

copper creek

Nate, Matt and I ran Copper the day of the EF Lewis race in the morning.  The run went very well, we put in at the upper put-in which is definitely the way to go if it isn't snowed in.  Matt and I both ran the weir slide.  Matt did a cool, slide, boof, rail slide, back to slide, to punch the hole combo, while I snuck to the right of the log.   The point is the drop is runnable and I have heard it wasn't because of the log, so don't be talked out of going up there.  The upper run has a lot better "in between" stuff than the lower section, nothing all that hard but it moves along and keeps you busy.  I remember only one problem log besides the one in the weir and it is an easy one to see, just bounce down as far left as you can get or portage on that side.  everyone cleaned Triple delight, always a fun one.  Final five was cool, Nate got his first run of this drop.  Matt had a rodeo session in the fifth drop while Nate and I waited unaware above, luckily Matt held on and rode his way out of that one.   
                 I normally wouldn't have done a report on this one but Nate pointed out later that we only had 900 cfs at Heisson, yet we had more water than the Oregon Kayaking crew, which had 1100 and felt that was too low.  I have heard elswhere that this one is hard to gauge, I am guessing there must be a lake or marsh at the top that buffers the flow and brings it up slow, but also drops slow, given that we ran it at 900 dropping to 800 and had a flow that was bearable.  To gauge how much water we had, the Oregon kayaking site has a picture of the punchbowl drop in final five, the day we were there Nate slid  down the creek left side of the drop that is completely dry in the photo.  We had considered it more of a sneak route given the amount of water in it than a seal launch if that makes sense.
          Anyway, a bit of info on flows couldn't hurt.  I don't know if this will help, but it is something to consider.  And even though people don't like to run copper for some reason, it is a good one and worth while.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Little Luckiamute: Upper Access


Stream:  This part of the Little Luckiamute has too much wood for me to recommend paddling and the whitewater isn't very good in the upper parts so the beta will be sparse.  If you are looking for worthwhile trips on the Little Luckiamute check out The Gorge section or the Into Town section.

It's possible this upper section will clean up some day and who knows, maybe with more water it would be enjoyable to connect with The Gorge.  I'll let you read the original write-up below and decide that for yourself.

Access: The take out is the same as The Gorge.

To get to the put in return to Falls City and from the bridge in town head up Valsetz rd 9.3 miles to the pass at the intersection with Fanno Peak rd (yellow gate on the right).  Hike in on Fanno Peak rd for awhile, choosing your own route for where to descend to the creek.  Obviously you will need to do some map work of your own, the roads and bushwhacking scenario are constantly changing.

The map below shows two put in options, the one further downstream has been used as an alternate access to the gorge and only has 1/4 mile or so of janky rapids before the good stuff.  If it's hunting season you can come in on Black Rock rd, but if you are doing that I would suggest you just run The Gorge.  I'd recommend you do some of your own map recon before heading out there.

Flows:  I am not sure, we had 200 on the estimate which was too low.  

Original Write-up

     The Little Luckiamute flows through the small town of falls city about twenty minutes from Western Oregon University. I was interested in checking it out mainly for this reason.  I ran the lower sections of the creek and began doing research on google Earth and waterfall sites to get an idea for what might be in the upper section and how to access it. After this I decided it was time to head over there and check out the access scenario. I soon found out this run, along with every other run I have looked at of this nature in the coast range is gated far away from any put-in locations for sections of substantial gradient. It was back to the map searching, which I spent plenty of time doing. I eventually decided that the best option would be to drive up Valsetz road and hike in 4 miles along Fanno Peak rd along logging roads to a bridge over the creek. On April 3rd Nate Merrill and I decided to give this approach a shot.     
           I had left my GPS back in Gresham for the weekend and unfortunately for myself and Nate I decided I could use a map to get in to the put-in since I had driven around there before and figured I could find the put-in road again. Due to a semi-stressful/late start we were dropped off and started hiking around 1:30 (way too late) on the wrong road. We spent the next four hours hiking with boats on our backs trying to find our way to the river.  At this point we decided even if we got to the river there was no way we were making through 3 miles of 200+ fpm river with a 2 mile class 2 paddle out, so we ditched the boats and decided to come back two days later. We hiked back out and luckily caught a ride once back to Valsetz, saving a trip in the dark 5 miles back to our car.         
           We came back Sunday April 5th with the addition of Jeff Hartley to get our boats, and if we were up to it, run the river.  Due to some unusual circumstances we were able to drive to within 2 miles of the put-in before we hit a patch of snow, had we gotten an earlier start we may have been  able to backtrack to another road and drive very close to, if not all the way to the put-in. Thank you to Gary Merrill for being so willing to help out with this mission even though he would not be boating. It was here that Nate made the wise choice not to risk being late to work at 8 and decided not to join us on this mission.  Jeff and I geared up and started our 2 mile trek to the river.                                                       -all pictures taken by Jeff Hartley  (except this one which was taken by Gary Merrill)

   We hiked to a point where we decided to bush wack down to the river.  It was here where once again Gary showed his great value to the trip by scouting out routes through the woods for us.  With the help of the two Merrills we eventually reached another logging road where they decided to head back home and Jeff and I committed to running the river.  We spent another 45 minutes reaching the "river" by way of crashing through a regrowth forest with lots of underbrush down a steep slope.  The "river" turned out to more resemble a low volume creek.  The last hundred yards to the creek were through a forest of Devils club (pride of the Northwest), before we waded across the creek, drank some water, and got ready to give this thing a shot.

                                                      Almost through the Devils Club                                                            View from the put-in
The first mile was more of a battle than a kayaking trip.  Jeff showed a fearless boat scouting technique that kept us moving along.  I was happy that he was there because I would have been out scouting a lot of the first mile, but he was confident crashing down some very steep boulder mank.  Most of the larger drops fell 10 feet through a pile of beach ball sized boulders.  There was one scary moment within the first five minutes where Jeff thought there was a route that wasn't there and got pinned sideways on a rock with all the water funneling behind him under a root wad.  It was not a good moment, and I was pretty concerned as I exited my boat and ran down to him.  It was not looking like he was going to be able to hold his position for long.  I ended up being able to get to him before the current decided his fate and all we ended up loosing from the ordeal was small piece of outfitting (from my boat oddly enough).
           He shaked it off like a champ and we returned our attention to downstream progress.  The most difficult part of these upper rapids was the water was low enough that each line had rocks throwing our bow off-line, which made them challenging when otherwise they may have been more straight forward.  I feel like I learned a lot about boat control on this trip.

                                                     One of the earlier rapids               There were a number of note-worthy rapids and had there been water and no wood, probably fun ones.  A telling scene occurred as I came down the far right side of a steep boulder jumble to avoid wood on the left, but got my paddle pinned between a tree branch and the bottom as I ducked said branch.  I let go because I felt the tension in my paddle and I still don't have confidence that my seven2 paddle is able to deal with much stress.  To keep from getting flushed downstream I reached up and grabbed a branch hanging down to stop myself mid-current, then spun around and pulled myself branch to branch to get back to my paddle.  Right around the corner was an ugly rapid that almost pinned Jeff that I portaged, then this mess.                        This was one of a number of times we looked downstream and saw this view.  There is heavy logging in the area and a lot of those downed logs had found there way into the creek.
It was shortly below here that we came to a series of large boulder jumbles in a row, along with some tributaries that signaled the upcoming waterfall of the run.  We started seeing bedrock poke up around the walls over the next 1/4 mile and every time I was sure the falls must be coming.  Eventually it did.  We scouted a sliding 15 footer that had a log across the top, which meant a portage for us.  Next was a 6 foot ledge, wondering if this would be the only real clean drop of the run, we lowered down a wall and ran it.
                                                                      The six foot ledge.  I got out on the right just below this ledge to take a look around the corner.  Jeff wanted to keep boat scouting as it was clear we were running out of light.  I insisted on taking a look, the long sliding rapid just below was blocked by a log halfway down.  After that it turned right into a narrow alleyway and exited via a 30' falls (a falls later ran and dubbed Osmosis Falls).  We just didn't have the time to contemplate the drop today so began a portage on the right where before too long we found a place to rope ourselves down after some bushwacking and ended up at the base of a towering cliff wall. 
                                                    It was here that we encountered our next clean rapid.  It was a small class two, but it was so nice to have a drop that held its water instead of bashing down a boxing match of water and rock.    Below here were some fun rapids and it started feeling like a real river.  There actually were a couple good quality class four drops in here.  A few hundred yards later we came around a corner in a close to vertical gorge and were confronted with a large horizon line.  I voiced my opinion that this better be runnable or we are screwed... It wasn't.  This drop fell 40 feet onto a rock shelf, then launched itself the next fifteen feet into an undercut wall and inescapable eddy on the left... uh oh.   Luckily the low water we had been bashing down for the last few hours allowed us to work our way down the river right face of the falls then jump 15 feet into a shallow, narrow eddy right next to the falls.  I went first since I had a drysuit so I could wait and collect the boats.  As I was climbing down I realized there was yet another horizon line downstream followed by a drop with a logjam in it.  The jump was a technical one and I brought my feet up as soon as I landed so I didn't go deep like I have done jumping into my pool off my roof before, then swam to a shallow shelf and waited.  Jeff threw his off which luckily landed upright and didn't get pulled into the undercut, I collected it and he was kind enough to lower mine on a rope.  He jumped in next and he mentioned afterwards that is one of the eeriest jumps he had ever done, I couldn't have agreed more.  We have both jumped off 50+ foot cliffs but the location of that fifteen foot jump and what it meant was just a little unnatural.                                     Jeff mugging for the camera at the top of the 40 footer As he was getting ready I cruised down to the next horizon line, which I dubbed little Lucky, because we were very lucky this was a small and runnable 20 footer(and the name I had nicknamed the river on all my google earth maps, short for Luckiamute), because at this point I knew we were going to run out of light, it was just a matter of how far downstream we could make it before that happened...                                                            Myself dropping Little Lucky.  Both of us had successful lines, we then had a quick river level portage below here, and then it was game time.  Jeff probed a small slide, and we began our race against time.  The first 1/4 mile was fun class 4 stuff, then it dropped to class 2 and I knew we had about two miles to go and the sun was going away fast.  Very quickly the sun disappeared and it was luckily a full moon or we probably would have been staying the night in there.  With the tiny bit of sun that remains at 8 oclock this time of year, and help from the moon, we raced downstream.  We were making really good time but we couldn't see anything but the white from the waves, so we had to guess where the rocks were based off what the water was doing.  This got scary when the logs started piling up, but we wanted to stay in our boats as much as possible to preserve what little light was left. There was one class 3 drop lit by the moon, then shortly below here we lost anything resembling real light.  
            Have you ever been told you can see stars better if you don't look right at them? And you can't see them sometimes if you look right at them?  I modified this technique to get downstream, treating the white-caps like the stars.  The log concern only grew as we went downstream, no longer obstructing every other rapid but still present.   We knew we must be getting close, but we determined hiking out was not going to be our choice given how many people get lost in the Oregon Coast Range.  I remember one moment I was bashing my way through some invisible rocks, when all of a sudden I started flying downstream, I had come to a class two slide and not realized it.  That was interesting to say the least, big time reverse vertigo.
           We eventually came to a large log pile, and kind of rolled the dice.  When we made it passed that one we pulled over to have a short discussion.  We drank some water and discussed staying the night.  We both felt the take out was going to be right around the corner, but if the wood continued to get worse we would not be able to justify paddling.  We decided to not camp right there and paddle just a few more corners.  This was the right choice as within the next two bends we paddled under the bridge marking the take out.  It was an exceptional feeling to be done with the run after all we had gone through.  From boulder bashing to big portages around gorges, to paddling just under an hour in the dark, we had survived what for me was the greatest kayaking adventure I have been on.  I don't know if the feeling is fleeting, but as of today I felt like it was an experience that will change who I am to some degree.

                                 The level when we ran the Little Luckiamute on April fifth  

OK level from a return trip was 280 online.  


After returning a number of times, 500 cfs is the level to look for.


EF lewis and triple day

Ran the EF Lewis with ORT and a couple kayakers (Josh and Casey).  Did two laps on the EF and a race against darkness run on Copper Creek with Matt and Nate.  It was a great day of boating that I really enjoyed.  Some highlights were seeing the puma get surfed twice in Hippie John's, three rafts running Sunset simultaneously, lots of people running the left side meltdown at horseshoe, Matt running Triple Delight on verbal beta for his first time, and lots more.  Here is a quick video of the kayakers and hole ride.  The rafting footage should be up on ORT's site before too long.