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 did not look pleasant at all, but that was OK because we had already decided to use the upper put-in recently rediscovered by Dave Hoffman and group.  We 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 for the adventure.
          The first rapid was a steep boulder garden right off the bat with a small seive 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.  We 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.
               I don't remember there being any rapids between here and the next big drop.  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

Then scouted the next couple slides which were pretty fun.  Matt probed, then I went.

                             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.  Be careful at this spot if you go in there with more water in the creek.  Next was a series of ledges then McCoy creek came in.  Godzilla was benign at this flow.  There are a few more ledges, but it peters out for awhile before coming to the final rapid against the wall, which was class 3 at this flow.  Then it peters out for good and there is a long paddle out that will probably keep me from coming back to this creek at similarly low levels.  Somewhere in a short class two section I boofed right onto a piton rock which launched me onto my head causing my only roll in a shallow section which caused some hits to my elbow, a good reason for me to get elbow pads.                

Eventually we came to the flood plain after what seemed a long time and then dealt with two more logs, one of which would be a portage at higher flows.  Finally we came to the bridge, ready to be off the long uneventful section.  Then I waited while Matt and Layla ran the shuttle.
                If anyone is going to do this creek I would recommend the upper put-in a 100% if you have a drysuit for the throw and go. These are my reasons

1) The best rapid is on the upper section, and the slides below the falls are also good
2) The lower put-in looks like it sucks
3) The wood is manageable on the upper section
4) the throw and go is fun

            The run was totally worth doing but I probably won't be back because of the long drive and long paddle out (but I thought that about Canyon Creek WA too).  If you go look for healthy flows to speed up the runout.  
I think I ruined the tape so no footage from this one.

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