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

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