Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hagen gorge alternate access/first raft decent

(photo-Matt King)
I headed up to Hagen Gorge with Matt King, Josh Grabel, Eric Foster-moore, Ryan Scott, Jarred Jackman, Dan Mccain and his dental school buddy Trevor.
           We decided to try out the alternate access I had been looking at the last time I was up there, that had been confirmed by Micheal Long.  I decided to try getting down a little farther even to make sure we put the raft in below the log deck.  I found a way, so we started carrying the raft down an old abandoned road until they reached the end in the form of a bowl with old car stuff and a campfire.  From this point, drop off the right side just before entering this bowl and you will find a slightly steep, but very easy decent to the creek.  I never even had to take the boat off my shoulder.  In my experience this was a much easier affair than the normal put-in, and made it worth while not dealing with the new portage up top, the manky stuff, or the log deck.  You put in right below where it gorges up and only miss one class three drop in the gorge.  
             We headed downstream, and while the raft was having the anticipated problems of hitting rocks all the time, we made reasonable time.  Soon we reached Hagen Daaz and the kayakers boat scouted/verbal beta'ed it.  Then the raft followed as well.
  Dan Mccain and Trevor get the first known
              raft decent of Hagen Daaz falls.
(photo-Matt King)
           Below Here we continued down to Euphoria falls.  We didn't dilly-dally too much, in fact, Ryan and Matt just dropped over without scouting.  I explained the line to the new comers, then took my turn.  Everyone had stellar lines, then it was time for the raft.  They had a very interesting line, with Dan getting sucked under the raft before they even entered the main drop... luckily he was able to get back in and hold on as they careened their way into the fang rock, then bounced down the rest.  They hit the bottom drop much better, then everyone regrouped and we headed downstream.  Just downstream there is a weir hole, one of our members swam out of it, so don't take this benign looking hole too lax.  running center left worked for the rest of us.  Then we were at Teakettle.  I decided not to scout so after hearing it hadn't decided to change from the last time I was there dropped in.  I had a good line, then at the end my nose dropped into the seem and I did an aerial half pirouette coming out of the bottom!  landed upright though and paddled into a little cove on the left to set safety since I had nothing else to do while the rest came down.  Everyone greased this drop with Ryan having the sweetest line with a slow boof off the mini curler.  The raft didn't hit the line they wanted, but the hydraulics weren't enough to do anything to the raft, so they were fine.  
        Next up was the Crack Den.  We all did the usual looking and the "I'm sure it would go, but I'm just not in the mood" talk for awhile before I caught wind that Dan was going to run it and Matt wanted to hop in the raft with him.  It was painfully obvious to everyone that the crack was too small for a raft, but Dan and Matt were pitching something about weighting the left tube and bringing it through there sideways.  It didn't look like a bad swim if you went into the bottom drop upright, so everyone got ready to watch the car crash that was about to occur.   Matt let me use his camera so we were able to document the result.
    They got ready and dropped in. 
 They stalled out off the 15 ft'er at the top, then plopped in and Matt (who hadn't had any time to practice holding on with Dan's rope system) came out of the 
Matt getting into position for the re-entry.
Notice how much interest Dan has in getting Matt back in the raft :)
He was having trouble getting back in with the aerated water, so he devised a cunning plan at 
the last minute, waiting until the raft dropped out from under him in the second 
drop,and pulling himself in as the boat went over. 
Making the leap. you can see here 
that the crack is too small to fit a raft through.
     This worked out, but he got dumped again immediately, though he did save himself from 
swimming through the slot and the pain of going incredibly deep.  While this was taking place, 
Dan managed to keep the raft straight enough and pulled off the most incredible balance show 
in the bottom drop.  The raft was all but going over, and he just waited it out on the lowside 
tube and eventually it came back down and he was still in the raft!  This will be shown on the 
next NWVS video, so be sure to check it out (  Unfortunately my camera 
was out of battery and I didn't get any footage the entire run.  From here we blasted to the car 
with high hopes of cranking out Lacamas creek right after.
             We kept our gear on and just threw the raft on the top of Dan's truck.  We got to Lacamas with 30 min of daylight left.  I decided to hop in the raft since I had seen the creek at low water and could help everyone out by being able to recognize spots with my elevated view.  We cruised the lake, portaged the first ledge, ran the first falls on verbal beta (or in the kayakers case, no beta) , then we eddied out above the Norway slide.  We scouted for about five minutes before it was go time.  As the light started to fade, we dropped this massive slide with a ton of water pumping through.  One of my top five favorite lines of all time in the raft.  The kayakers killed it running it blue angel style which was one of the coolest things I have seen from our perch 15 yards below the drop.   From here we made quick work of the flat/woody water at the end, paddled through a culvert, and before we knew it had our boats up at the road after a successful blitz mission.  This was a great day of boating, and one I won't soon forget.
   For Hagen, I would definitely suggest the put in we used if...
      -you have a raft
      -it is low water
      -you are running all the way to the Washougal, so you don't mind missing the 300 yards above the log deck.
-also, given the recent change to the logdeck, putting in below seems like a better option now anyway
How to get there.  There is a clearcut where people normally put-in.  Less than 50 yards before the clearcut is a road with a ditch across it shooting off to the left through the woods.  Walk down this road a hundred yards or less.  A road goes off the the right, do not take it.  Go left for another hundred yards.  You will cross another ditch, and the road will open up.  Go right here and you will cross another ditch.  Follow this road past one more ditch until you hit the end.  You will see the circle at the end of the road, veir right into the woods at the very beginning of this circle.  You will be able to find your way to the creek reasonably easy from here as you are less than a hundred feet above it.

View Hagen gorge in a larger map

These directions will drop you in one class III drop below the log-deck.  Anything blue on the map is clickable and will give you more information.
For Lacamas, put in at the lake, then take out where the road through town crosses the creek. you will have to do more research obviously...

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