Thursday, December 30, 2010

Micro Creeking

When the high water came, I went in search of some micro creeks. I found two. The first is Catherine creek. This one had a nice 12 foot drop and an interesting gorge below. There may be a drop below HWY 14 as well but I didn't look. This next drop was formed where a cow pasture collected a large puddle of water. It then spilled down towards the columbia in a triple drop fashion. The first one is close to unrunnable. The second one has a reconnect that didn't look good to me. So I only ran the third one. The pool was shallow and I pitoned, but it was a fun drop with a fast sliding lead in. I'm not advocating repeating it, but its there. Thanks Pete and dad for watching me plop off these drops, delaying our eventual trip involving actual paddling.
(all photos by Rob Cruser with his cell phone)
-Jacob

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Some Motivation

(click on picture to see larger version)
Most people are looking in the wrong direction, or not at all. If you look closely, you may just find something worthy of exploration. (all photos taken by my mother, Rebecca Andersen)
-Jacob

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Futuristic kayaking through Jupiter canyon

~600 fpm
~Futuristic kayaking
~the unknown
These thoughts kept Matt and myself driving East as the Creeks we passed kept having less and less water. "Ok, if sundance ditch has less than thirty cfs when we cross over we head back". "What?, its dry? Lets keep going anyway". This was the continual conversation we were having as Matt and I headed towards Pine Creek on the Washington side of the Columbia across from Arlington. We continued on to the put in, passing the most surreal, fantastic view I have ever seen.
We were surprised to see plenty of water for the creek (150-200 cfs). We were stoked and with water as well as a name like Jupiter canyon who wouldn't be? We tried seeing into the canyon for clues as to what we would find, but were turned back. We decided to just put on and if it was full of waterfalls and too steep we would just hike back to the car. To save light we decided to not set bike shuttle and just hitch at the end of the trip. We decided to check the mileage on the trip and guessed five miles by the GPS. I believe it was at this point Matt said "I'll be happy if we make it back to this car by midnight".
We put on at 1:00 and immediately ducked a fence. We then started weaving through brush that never gets cleared out by high water because there is no high water. After a short bit we came to the first section of rapids. These were class three affairs that were super manky and involved sketchy moves around Junipers and brush. We started scouting and running them, until we realized we would make better progress hiking through the cow fields. We decided to hike until we saw worthwhile whitewater in order to make downstream progress. About a half mile later it looked like the creek was runnable. We started running some manky boulder piles with more brush before coming to our first horizon line. We got out to scout and were stoked to find a really sweet Class five boulder Garden with a double rainbow across the sky :)
(only one rainbow in this photo, sorry Paul Vasquez)
Matt dug the line and went first. The trick was to not get knocked off line by the boulders in the lead in, boof a 4 foot drop angling right and paddle to avoid a sieve all the water was pushing hard into. Then you could turn the corner and hit a sweet but challenging double boof that I was sure would be manky but with the correct boof strokes turned out very clean. We both had identical, textbook lines before eddying out before the next big drop.
(myself boofing the second part of the only rapid we ran)
This one did turn out to be to manky and we walked it, myself on river right, Matt on river left. We kept walking hoping to find runnable water, but it was all really manky and filled with brush. This portage turned into a mile long hike. Luckily the terrain was the easiest portaging I have ever done.
After hiking for about half an hour, we began to see small gorge walls creep up. We hoped this would mean the bedrock we were hoping for was starting. Matt scouted and said it was a no go, so I kept walking. Matt crossed over to my side and eventually caught up to me during a water break/scout I was having. The ground we were walking on was very odd. It obviously did not see water very often, so was very saturated, lapping it all up. This produced a clay that was sticky and squishy. So our feet would sink into it, then stick to our shoes, making our feet pounds heavier. This was a minor annoyance for me, but when Matt caught up to me, he told me how he barely made it out of the canyon because he was sinking knee deep into this stuff and sliding backwards. He would have to lift his feet out with his hands every step because it was gripping his feet like quicksand!
Myself in the midst of our longest portage.
With that behind us we began hiking another large distance to where the creek became flat, this was a good sign as it was the end of the first gradient section and marked the halfway point. The bad news was it was 3:30 and we had an hour of daylight left...
We put on, ducked another fence, made our way through some sketchy juniper gardens. dealt with some more clas II-III boulder stuff, and came to the second section of gradient. It was unrunnable from the get-go, with steep boulder gardens going through a Juniper Forest. We got excited at one point when we saw some bedrock and a sweet looking III-IV slide, but that had wood blocking the exit. We began a more difficult portage and found ourselves high above the creek looking downstream at large gorge walls. We discussed our plan with only 20 minutes of daylight left, by the time we had our backpack/dragging systems rigged, we had 10 minutes of light left. So we cracked a beer each and watched the sun set, enjoying the moment.
(Enjoying the last of the light, at least the moon is out)
The hike out was pleasant, I was really enjoying myself. The moon gave just enough light to see, the ground was soft so we dragged our boats. The air was also warm and still, this combined with only one short bit of rain, we were really having a great time. We took breaks when we felt like it, sucking it all in. We could hear the John Day dam even though it was miles away. We could see I84, so close, yet so unachievable at the moment. We hiked many miles this way as our perception was toyed with. We almost hike around a "deep, forboding canyon" That turned out to be a small ditch. This same play on our sight happened many times, but each time we took the risk and we would be able to pass through the canyon, always turning out much easier than we had anticipated. Eventually we reached a bluff looking out over the Columbia and took it in once again. We plotted our route down to HWY 14 and began down a chute, hoping we wouldn't get cliffed out during our 1,000 foot descent to the road. We got lucky and before we knew it we were stashing the boats and sticking out our thumbs. We started walking towards the town of Moona (as shown on the GPS), which turned out to be a futuristic, invisible city, so we kept walking. Trying to catch a ride to Roosevelt, 7 miles down the road. After 3 miles we came to a car on the side of the road that had hit a deer. The man let us use our phones to call the people who needed to be called. We left him to wait for a tow truck and kept trudging down the road towards Roosevelt. It was somewhere in here I stopped having fun, we were both getting very sore, our legs were hurting and we had a long way to go. We kept going though and eventually we were there. The only problem is we still had 7 very steep uphill miles to the car...
We knocked on the first door we saw that had lights on, including Christmas lights, they must be in the Christmas spirit right? Wrong. We walked down the street to the final house on the block, also with Christmas lights. This was our last chance on getting a ride so Matt really turned on the charm, scoring us a ride! I honestly don't know if I had it in me to walk the rest of the way. I may have curled up in my drysuit under a bush if this man hadn't been willing to give us a ride. Back to the car, dry clothes, collect the boats and we are on our way home! After a food stop we cross to Oregon and I am out faster than you can say "Pine Creek was not a futuristic creek worthy of exploration". However, I loved the adventure while learning lots, and treasure the memory already.
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I just went over the stats after finishing writing this blog post.
Pine Creek...
6.7 miles
max gradient 390 fpm
miles kayaked: less than 1
miles portaged: > 2
miles walked total: 10 1/2
miles walked with kayaks: 3 1/2
hours spent outside after dark: 4 1/2
drops ran: 1
Trips like this only fuel my fire to seek out new canyons and streams.
sights like this are why.
and moments like this.
unknown drops like this
places like this
and doing something no other group of people may ever do.
-Jacob

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kalama Falls

Our exploratory trip today didn't pan out due to low water, but Matt made the best of the day by firing up the 40 footer on the main river. Low water made the lip very tricky, but he pulled off a great line.
(photo: Ty)
-Jacob

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November

November is the best month for boating in Oregon in my opinion. That is because all the hunting gates are open and the snow hasn't blocked access to high elevations runs. This means I get to see some new runs without having to hike for them. This year we got on a few really fun sections and I felt we took advantage of the opportunities presented.
Unfortunately, the tape was ruined by water that contained a few of my favorite shots. Fortunately, I was able to recover the lost footage when the tapes were dried out a little bit. (electronic equipment in the oven at 100 degrees for about 15 minutes often works for me, then again, I have ruined stuff by putting it in there too hot or too long). In the video there are some scratchy moments due to the tapes not being in perfect condition. But really I'm just excited that they turned out at all.
Here is a collection of our missions from the last month.
-Jacob

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stebbins Creek

BETA

Stream: 2016-ish the area the trail into Stebbins Creek passed through was logged and the trail disappeared.  We went searching for another way in the next fall or Spring and found a way in that was shorter, and added some extra rapids.  Details for this approach are in the info section of this report.  

After reaching the South Fork of Stebbins Creek near a small tributary, I recommend dropping the boats and walking either along the right or left bank to scout out the first drop.  This is a 20-30 foot falls with what appears to be a shallow landing.  On our first go at the falls 2 of us boofed and 2 of us plugged, no one in the group contacted anything but water.

There is some twisty, bouldery class III with some wood for a hundred yards or so below the put in falls (3 of us made one wood portage, Brandon made no portages in this stretch).  If you are catching eddies you will see a pinch and horizon line when the bedrock re-appears downstream.

It is an easy scout on the left, but you can only see the first drop and a horizon line from here.  The horizon line is a double drop described on Oregonkayaking as two ten footers run by Dan Coyle.  The pinch through the double drop (all slides) can all be run far right with right angle (the middle one you can be more middle-right on).  On our trip the first person was able to catch an eddy on the right after the pinch to scout the double drop (his boat also slipped off the bank while he was scouting due to slick, angled walls).

This set finishes off in a pool and there is another log to duck.  Then there is some steep class III that finishes off with a drop that should be scouted shortly after a small creek cascades in on the left (not a big drop, but it has it's issues).


More read and run continues to the only mandatory log portage we encountered in 2016, though if a couple branches disappeared it would probably not be a portage.  We made the easy portage on the left.  After putting back in, there is a short bit of bouldery stuff before reaching the confluence with the North Fork, which was historically the put in location for Stebbins Creek.

Below the North Fork confluence is some splashy class II-III before reaching Jetboat Falls.  Jetboat starts off with a nice 10ish foot ledge, followed by a hundred yards of sliding and splashy class IV before finishing off with another fun ten foot ledge run far right.  I recommend leaning forward as you go over and forcing right angle as you ramp out into the pool, ideally catching the eddy on the right.  We had a couple people get caught by surprise at how fast the water pushed them across the pool into a couple pieces of wood that looked like non-factors from the scout.

At healthy flows it doesn't take long before you reach Get in My Belly, a fun ledge best run far left, and the beginning of the meat of the run.  It's worth at least one person making a quick scout on the right here for wood.

Immediately below here we portaged a log on the right and scouted an unnamed, but signature boulder garden of the run.  We were able to enter middle, and finish right with a boof fading away from the right wall.  

The next rapid is Lethal Injection, which is currently in a runnable form though none of us paddled it on this day.   Unfortunately, portaging Lethal Injection high on the left is probably the best move as of 2017 with the current wood configuration at the next rapid (Tsunami) causing problems for people who run Lethal Injection or portage at river level.

If you run Lethal Injection, you can scout Tsunami from the right, but you cannot portage it over there.  It is also not reasonable to get out on the left to scout or portage Tsunami if you run Lethal Injection with the 2017 wood configuration.  With the current log situation you will likely be forced to run the right line on Tsunami, as Brandon demonstrates here.


If you portage Lethal Injection on the left (Priscilla said it wasn't bad, and that had she chosen the correct route a rope would not be necessary) you have more options at Tsunami.  She helped Adam and I get out on the left, which even with her help was a bit dicey.

I attempted to seal launch onto the first drop of Tsunami, a move that had worked at lower water the last time I was there.  This time I got a weird bounce at the bottom and got stuck in the hole, from which I swam.  I clambered up onto the shelf in the center that was backing up the hole, and Adam roped me back to shore after Brandon had come through.



Priscilla and Adam took the smart route, which was to put in below the first two holes and ferry out to run the last two tiers.

Just around the corner there is a slide along the right wall that routed Adam right into a log.  As he was headed for it he called back to Priscilla to alert her to the hazard, the log hit him square in the chest and just like in the movies a personally significant object he kept in his PFD was caved in instead of a rib.

There wasn't anything more of note until we reached Zoom Tube.  Adam portaged along the boulders at river level while the rest of us went up and around (river-right).  Neither route was strenuous but Adam got to the end a little faster.

There is a small exit rapid below there we ran left and some more boogie led to Bongo Furry, which had a nice boof on the left where a brace was handy.  The nasty rock on the right pictured on the Oregon Kayaking report had either moved or was under water.

The very next boulder garden looked trivial from above, but ended up being pretty sketchy.  It had a log at the bottom so Brandon and Adam tried to work their way right, both were rejected hard and got flushed under the log (rolling up safely below).  Priscilla and I corrected and started left, driving back right just above the log which turned out to be the move here.

From there to Mad Dog it was read and run.  At Mad Dog the river bends slightly right and there are a number of options for running the drop.  Brandon went right-right (deep but upright), I went middle-middle (boof to upright), Adam left-left (no wet hair) and Priscilla middle-right (swim).

Hop out on the right at the confluence with the Washougal.  If you are still motivated for more paddling, the Washougal Waterfall run is generally at a good flow if Stebbins is in and the put in drop for that run is visible upstream from the take out of Stebbins.


  
Flows:  We had the Washougal gauge peak at 6,000 cfs while we were on Stebbins, this was a low but enjoyable flow and I would definitely go back with similar or higher flows.  Word is 10,000 is a better flow, and there are rumors of 15,000 cfs+ being done and enjoyed but don't take my word for that.

Here is what Stebbins looked like from the take out bridge the day we ran the SF for our first time.

    [IMAGE]

Access:  Take Hwy 14 East from I5 into the town of Washougal, turning left at the light (signed for Washougal River Rd).  Take Washougal River rd 19.5 miles past where it crosses the Washougal River in town to a bridge over Stebbins Creek (passing the Mercantile at 9.5, and crossing the Dougan Falls bridge at 17).  This is the take out.

To get to the put in continue the way you were travelling upstream along the Washougal.  You will head uphill for awhile and eventually come to a hilltop at an "intersection"  Head right and downhill.
1.6 miles later you will cross Deer Creek and reach a "T", turn right.  2 miles later make another hard right. 2.7 miles later STOP and unload the boats.  There is an unmarked, decommissioned road going off to the right which you follow to start the hike.

Hike:  Use the following map (I recommend printing it off and bringing with you if you use this put in).  From the vehicles (red circle), follow the decommissioned road for a short bit until it meets up with a fully functioning logging road (it appeared to me that to drive to this point from the take out would take more time than it's worth).  Turn right on the logging road and follow the main road to the line of trees.  There is a game style trail down to the creek, pretty easy going but some competence is necessary (no rope work needed).

 It should go without saying, but these logging roads are not made for public use and are subject to change at the whim of those who created them.


*Remember, once you reach the put in scout downstream as eddies are scarce above the falls*



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Original Write-up
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I have been trying to get on this creek since my freshman year of high school. This was a creek that Nick and I were always talking about and was at the top of our list. For various reasons, from snow to being dragged to Canyon Cr WA instead, many factors kept us off Stebbins. When Nick left for college, I still tried to get on this run. Then I left for college and still was trying. Finally, my junior year, after a few more attempts including actually hiking the trail, then bailing, I got on the creek.
Ryan and I stoked to finally get on Stebbins, after numerous failed attempts for each of us.
This was with the rafting crew which added some different logistical challenges. Snow on the road is always a concern in accessing the put in. Luckily we were able to locate a couple of sturdy trucks to get the job done. With over a foot of snow on the ground, this was crucial. We made it to the put in, but not without challenges.
Maybe we should just put on the NF. It doesn't look that far away...
Jeff Compton did a good writeup on his blog www.yougonnaraftthat.blogspot.com
so you can read the whole report and watch the video there.
The main things I would like to point out are...
-Lethal Injection is runnable with the current wood configuration
-Tsunami falls has new wood at the lip. I got around this by seal launching from where my boat is perched in the picture below, landing halfway down the first drop. . 

 This was fun and smooth.
- I didn't think we had enough water with the EF Lewis around 1500 cfs. 5,000 in the Washougal would be my guess at a good minimum. You can get down it much lower, it's just not all that good (but it is very good at proper flows)..
 

 -Jacob

Monday, November 29, 2010

SF Rickreall Creek: dont always listen to the locals

Last week my dad and I were up in the woods near my school when a hunter stopped to inform us that the drop I had just run was surely frowned upon by the authorities. I deflected that statement and went into my usual questioning of locals as to whether they knew of any waterfalls nearby. He informed me that yes, there was a drop that he believed salmon would not be able to make it up (10-15 ft?) on the SF Rickreall creek that was easy to access.
I still recall the directions.
-travel up the road until you cross the South fork of Rickreall Creek. There will be some logs in the road.
-the road to your right is the road to take, do not drive as there are signs posted against it. Its only half a mile that you can drive anyway, so it shouldn't be a big deal.
-The road comes to a washout, cross this and a couple more for a short time until the road ends for good. Follow the hill down to the right and you will hear and see the waterfall.
Seemed simple enough to me. I decided that the gates were only open for two more days, so I went in today. I left my house at 1:20 thinking I'd be home before dark. I got to the road he described and started hiking.
After what was clearly over a mile of hiking I was having serious doubts as to the accuracy of this mans report. I finally came to the washout and started dealing with those, each one took about ten minutes to negotiate and there were a handful. I was becoming concerned with light at this point but the prospect of a new waterfall was enough to keep me going. After finally coming to the end of the road, I started off through the woods. I could tell it wasn't going to stay light for that much longer, so after seeing only braided channels and wood upstream, I decided to put on. I made it fifteen yards before I was out of my boat again for wood. Then about 30 yards before the next. The story stayed much the same for some time. I saw a slide coming in on the left that looked like a good ten footer, so I hiked up to run it for "fun insurance", as I slid down the "fun" slide, I realized it was more like 5 feet and angled low enough to be totally not fun. My perception was dwindling to the point where even that had looked fun, talk about a low quality creek. There was one slide on the main creek that was remotely fun (it probably wasn't, I'm sure the creek was just getting to me) that I ran after a quick scout.
-I'll name it so I feel like I accomplished something. I'll go with the BB slide (for bad beta).
After this I was realizing I should probably hike out. I passed one good opportunity to get up to the road only to go another hundred yards, turn the corner, and see about six wood portages downstream. I bailed up the steep slope on river right, hit the road and never looked back. It was dark by the time I got changed and started my drive home.
It was fun for me to go on a mission like this, I'm just glad I didn't try to talk anyone into coming with me.
Lesson learned, I had already written this creek off on the maps as worthless, but the call of an unknown waterfall was too much to pass up, wish I would have found it... so maybe no lessons were learned, I'd do the same thing again.
-Jacob

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dragon's Throat Revisited

(photo: Matt King)
The footage taken from the first descent of this drop was ruined by moisture, so I had hoped for awhile to get back up there and get some more. The time presented itself when my dad came down to school to see where I was living now and drop off some essentials. While eating lunch I decided we should head up there and look at that drop as it is a pretty cool spot and Macey (his dog) needed to get out and move around.
I figured as long as we were up there I would bring my boat and try to get some footage. To make a medium length story into a short story, the footage didn't turn out again... I guess I will need to go back yet again, but maybe it is destined that I will never get footage. Oh well, Matt and Nate took some great stills, so I will put the rest of those up today.
~Skipping back to the first descent~
Matt and Nate rallied down to meet me as I got out of classes for the day. I had been looking at this drop for quit some time and was ready to get it done. We drove the logging road up to the drop, went for a quick scout, then suited up.
Here I am scouting the drop.
(photo: Matt King)
The drop is pretty interesting, as it comes over a manmade structure in the form of four blocks narrowing the farther downstream they went. This resembled a set of teeth, and was the beginning of the Dragon reference. These we left unrun, as they landed in shallow water. Matt theorized that with a high enough flow, you could get speed and boof flat enough to avoid contact with the riverbed. Just below this is a lowhead structure (no hole) that begins a descent of about forty vertical feet over the course of 75 yards or so resembling the throat of the Dragon before it empties into a bit of an open pool (the belly you could say). The key is to get as left as possible in order to avoid crashing into the right wall halfway down. We all came close to the second pillow on the right on at least one of our runs, but this second pillow proved benign. The key is starting the slide in control, as it would be easy to get spun backwards. Once the slide is started, it is all about working left and controlling any bounces. It looks like at one point there is a six foot drop onto a slab of bedrock, but none of us took any sort of hit whilst running the drop.
Here I am below the "teeth" loading up for the first go at the drop.
(photo: Matt King)
The effort pays off as I careen down the Dragon's Throat.
(photo: Matt King)
Nate takes his turn dropping into the belly of the beast.
(photo: Matt King)
We all had really clean lines and a good time. We continued downstream for a quarter mile, but I would advise against this in the future. On my return trip we set up a rope and pulled the boat out on river eft just below the drop and this was very simple.
Speaking of the return trip, I ended up having an interesting line my first go of the day, trying to get too far left, my nose caught a shallow section and spun me sideways. Just about to drop off the steepest part of the drop, I spun backwards and rode it out as such. I was already far enough left however to avoid the right wall. I then hiked back up and had a much cleaner second line.
A couple shots head on of the drop.
Nate from the bottom.
Myself from the bottom, most of the way down.
(photo: Nate Merrill)
If anyone would like to take a look at/run this drop feel free to contact me and I'll point you in the right direction, but for various reasons I am going to keep the exact location off the internet. It is less than an hour from Salem.
A parting shot.
(photo: Matt King)
-Jacob

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pdxfilmfest 2010/new blog

Here is my video from the 2010 film fest. It features a lot of rafting footage. Jeff Compton is in most of these shots and has started his own blog at www.yougonnaraftthat.blogspot.com Be sure to check it out. First post is on the first documented raft descent of Opal Gorge. They also smashed the myth once and for all that you cannot portage Undertaker on the left in the rain as they did it with two rafts... Not that it should be taken lightly, but it is very doable.
enjoy the video.

3rd edition from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.

And remember to check out the blog

www.yougonnaraftthat.blogspot.com

-Jacob

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Elk Creek


(all photos by Matt King unless labelled otherwise)
Elk Creek turned out to be a neat run with a multitude of fun bedrock rapids, kind of Hagen Creek esque. 

Pete sent out the call to do some exploring in the Kalama drainage. I had a feeling as to what we might be up to as my dad had sent me these two enticing pics the year before on a trip to the Kalama.

taken from 200 ft above

My dad had said it looked like some good drops, tiny creek, probably bad access, the usual recipe for an exploratory run. So anyway, I tell Pete I am in, Matt says he is in. We leave Portland around 830 and drive north. Everything goes smoothly. We locate a takeout and head to the bridge where my dad took those pictures. The bridge is about 200 feet up from the creek and there are no guardrails. We decide there is enough water and the creek looks enticing. After driving around on some logging roads we find a good access point right at the confluence of a few streams that create a runnable channel right off the bat. Its not often on these kind of runs you can drive right to put in and take out. 

The walk to a better put in shown below, we took out at the first bridge across the Kalama downstream of the confluence. We put in at upstream at the confluence with the NF Elk Creek.
We put on and bash down some bouldery stuff for a couple hundred yards, with some promising signs of bedrock. The creek builds into class three and then we rounded a corner to find a boxed in horizon line just below. Everyone makes their way down to where they can get a peek at the drop (scouting is much less stressful when you can walk right down the middle of the creek). The drop is a little under ten feet tall, with a log in the main line on the right. The log looks slideable, with the left side dropping into a friendly (at this level) pocket with a picket fence of wood blocking the exit, and the right leading to an unobstructed path downstream, with the majority of the water sliding off the log to the left. We moved some wood around and made the drop runnable. Matt and Pete go first and get pushed left, but are able to pull themselves over the guard logs at end. I used what I had gleaned from their runs and am able to get right after a fun slide down the log.
Pete drops into the penalty box at "Rail Jam"
The put in shown on the map is below this rapid.
 
The run came into its own below here, where many clean bedrock drops started to stack up. There were plenty of class III-IV bedrock rapids with maybe a IV+ or two. The next notable horizon had the entrance blocked with wood. Despite our best efforts the rapid remained un-runnable (was clean enough to run on a return trip the next year). Just below our only wood portage was another good drop. We seal launched in and utilized the nice auto boof on the right.
Pete drops a good one
 
Shortly after this fun drop another horizon presented itself. This one was a bit odd, but also fun. The line was to stay right and attempt to land in the green water, though much of the current folded left into the wall.


Much of the stream was lined with bedrock like this.
Eventually we came to a drop that is easy to tell from above is more significant than the rest. At this level, this drop was the only one to present a class five challenge. Caution should be taken around this drop as the canyon becomes formidable and while it is easy to scout and move about on the right, the seal launch (only reasonable portage option) is on the left and would be difficult to access with more water. We scouted for a bit and Pete decided to seal launch while Matt wanted to give it a go. I was still on the fence so decided to watch Matt's line as he had plenty of conviction. He ended up drifting to the right off the lip, but did a good job of keeping his body off the wall and only dragging his paddle.
Matt's Line through "King's Corner"

(Pete G. photo)
I decided that I didn't want to deal with the wall, so from where I am standing in the picture above (just above Matt on river right), I got into my boat and pushed off hard to the left. The momentum put me right where I wanted to be and I came away upright as well.
The exit to this pool lead into a boulder pile, we bumbled through moving left but with more water right would be more desirable. On trips like this, there is often a feature (or many) that keeps the run from being something that I want to return to often. We were waiting for a logjam, or nasty rapid that would create an unfavorable work/reward ratio, but were pleasantly surprised by the continued enjoyable whitewater. The run moved along at a solid class IV pace. One drop that stood out was a six-foot ledge with a cross-current boof on far left, or delayed boof into the hole in the middle. This drop was the beginning of the home stretch and lead into more entertaining bedrock drops.
Shortly into the home stretch we encountered a tricky ledge with a backed up hole on the left which flushed right and required missing a bit of a log hazard. This one was not straight forward to scout, though Matt and Pete had trouble getting out of their boats they ended up being successful scampering down on the right. Getting as far right as the current would take you worked for us.
Next up was a deceptive double drop with an undercut in the first part on the left that is not visible while scouting. Below here was a final series of fun bedrock ledges and chutes continuing to the bridge, then a final boulder pile as the creek enters the Kalama River.

Pete and I in the Kalama looking back at the Elk creek bridge
and the final boulder jumble. If you look really close you can see two hunters standing on the bridge. Its really tall!
All in all, we had a good trip. It's one I had planned to repeat often, however years later it has only been repeated once due to increased Weyerhaeuser restrictions to access. I feel fortunate to have explored this little creek while I could.
EF Lewis was at 800-ish the day these photos were taken, and the SF Toutle was around 3,000 cfs.
Thanks for making it happen Pete!
 Map



Click here to view interactive map.
-Jacob

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thomas creek falls

Matt King probes Thomas Creek Falls.


First known descent; Thomas Creek Falls from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.


-Jacob



Thursday, November 4, 2010

First documented descent: Dragon's Throat

I found this fantastic drop last summer as the water dropped out. I had been waiting for the gates to open and water to arrive. The day finally came on Nov. 3rd. Nate and Matt were fresh off their Battle Axe mission and were in an adventurous spirit. They rallied down to meet me as school got out for the day and we headed out into the hills... I'll finish this report later when I get the video put together and don't have to use my roommates computer. Dragon's throat from the top.

Nate making his way into the belly of the beast.

(photos by Matt King)
-Jacob