Monday, February 15, 2010

EF Lewis fun run

Matt King and I met up with John, Steve, and our rafting buddies for a light hearted trip down the EF Lewis. We got lost and were a bit late so only got one lap of Sunset, so we made the best of it running it in tandem, Matt going left, myself center. Here are some pictures David Riess took before we got there.
Adrian tries a little freestyle off Sunset :)

Seventeen year old Connor has an awesome line.
We got down to Screaming left and caught up with a group from Seattle who had made the drive for the run. We met up with them again at Horseshoe and Matt and I made quick work of the meltdown line. Everyone else thought this looked cool, so after Matt and I hiked up on river left for round two,  the Seattle crew took their first attempts at this line.
They all did really well, most of them going for round two as well! No real carnage to speak of, just a fun day. Sometimes its nice to keep the heart rate down, especially when you meet new, enthusiastic people on the river. It was cool boating with those guys and I hope to see them on the river again.

Rafters can boof too.
After this, we headed over to Big Tree Falls on Yacolt creek. We looked at it for awhile and while it looks easy at first glance, on closer inspection, you begin to notice problems with it. We decided the two biggest problems were glancing off the boof flake on the left and getting launched head first into the wall on the right. Matt fixed this by running from right to left and melting the drop. The second issue was the undercut immediately after the drop. I thought there was a pretty good chance a boater would get shoved into this so I decided to not run the main drop and set safety at the undercut. I ran the left side which is an easy 8 foot boof, but pretty fun. Then positioned myself right above the undercut. The boaters from Seattle decided to watch and also helped out with safety.
Matt went, and as predicted, got tractor beamed into the undercut. He caught some downstream current as he flipped over and pulled himself out as he was beginning to sink.
Then he hopped into the raft with Dan and they got the first known raft decent of this falls.

(All photos by David Riess)
Here is a quick video from the day.

EF of the Lewis river from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.
On another note. We met Steve Cameron on this run, who is just getting into boating again. What was unique about this is Steve was on the first decent of the Truss section of the white salmon! They put in below double drop and went down through Husum either 25 or 35(i forget which) years ago! He was also the third person ever to run Husum falls.
Connor from the trip also made this video.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Willamina Creek

Rick Cooley and I were unfortunate enough to put onto Willamina Creek earlier this winter.  It has changed a lot since the Oregonkayaking crew first discovered it.  It is now full of wood and will not be clean for a long time.
    We portaged the first drop, followed by the rest of the creek... If you don't want to read the story, that is all you need to know about this creek.
  It wasn't quit to that extent, but after the first couple hundred yards, we did portage the next four hundred yards of creek due to a couple thousand alders in the creek.  I don't think Rick took many pictures, and I have no video so I'll just compare to the pictures on
-first picture-  It's big and the landing is shallow, we did not consider running it.
-second picture- There was already a riverwide log by the bottom of the picture.  I was able to wade out and pull it out though so we actually made it to the first horizon without having to get out of the creek(less than 50 yards).  Nate also took one look at this section and decided to hike right back out.
-third picture- This first drop looks like a boat beater, and I still don't know how they got under the log.  We walked.
-fourth picture-  This is where the logs started to seem like a normal exploratory run.  We were dodging some sketchy logs at this point, and I bet if you took the same picture now, there would be at least twelve logs in the creek.  I don't recall if we had to portage in this section(two hundred yards), but we were starting to worry. This part would have been fun with no wood though.
-between fourth and fifth picture- We basically portaged the entire section between the two pictures.  This probably took an hour and a half to two hours.  It was all on nasty muddy slopes.  We were portaging during the portages as we had to climb over sketchy logs on muddy/vegetative slopes, for a long time, eventually we came to a place where we decided we had another hundred yards then we would hike out.  At this point we made it to the next picture.
-fifth picture- This is when we determined the creek truly destroyed.  You could theoretically run the drop, but you would have had to drop over and landed just between two criss-crossed logs.  We decided to portage, which involved going over about fifteen thick logs on the shelf, starting just to the left of Pete in the picture.  Once again if you were to take the same picture now, you wouldn't be able to see Pete because of how much wood was in the way. This was also the only drop over 3 or so feet.
-my mistake-  We walked part of it then decided to seal launch, then immediately ferry to the opposite side of the creek.  To do this you had to hit the deck as you dropped between two logs or get your head taken off...  I was concentrating so hard on keeping my head low enough and not to slide to the right which would also have involved a dive into some wood, that I forgot about what to do with my paddle.  It got wedged between ground and wood and it stayed there. I let go and luckily stayed upright, since I can't handroll this boat, that would have been a big problem as there was a riverwide log just downstream and a small slot on the right.  I was about to try to handpaddle through the slot (not likely), when I heard Rick yell my name, I turned just as his paddle hit me square in the hands with a perfect toss.  With the paddle I was able to make it where I needed to be and avoid the slot.  I can't express how appreciative I am that Rick was so heads up in this situation and clutch enough to dispense a perfect throw.  Rick then retrieved my paddle and made the move with no mishaps.
-next- The wood actually started to get better, then we were actually starting to go long enough without portages it started to seem like kayaking.  By the time we got to the boulder garden section we were starting to believe we might get out before dark.  This part seemed kind of fun, but did involve a couple sketchy log ducks in the middle of the drops. It only lasted a couple hundred yards.
-sixth picture- This was the funnest, cleanest drop on the run.  The final drop in the picture was for us the only real boof of the day.  Below here the creek resumed its class 1-2 nature and before we knew it we saw the take out bridge.  
-We didn't do the lower section.


Saturday, February 6, 2010


Ran the Farmlands with Josh Grabel, Eric Foster-Moore, Jeff Hartley, and a ton of rafters last weekend.  
Log above Lava is still there. I was floating by the log trying to estimate if there was enough room for a raft right here, and flipped!  I rolled up very quickly and paddled to the eddy on the right, but that was a reminder to always be paying attention.  There are two log portages between put-in and Lava.  
-One is very obvious and in slow moving water, looks like portage is on the right, but the left is faster, less muddy, and you have an easier place to get back into the water.
- Second is after a couple log ducks in the gorge shortly above Lava.  The river pools
 up and you can see some debris on the left after the river takes a bend to the left.  Not many boaters would be foolish enough to drop over this horizon without at least boat scouting so you should be fine.  There is a line far right, but it is solid class five and you miss, you go under the wood.  Portage is on the left.  Not too hard.  There is a big eddy on the left above this one, be careful here though.
The run is definitely worth doing right now, just take it slow.
Eric, Josh and I decided to continue down past the take out to the Brothers with the intention of getting boof practice on the Little one.  We figured we had time to do this since it would take the rafts awhile to take out at the Truss bridge, but not enough time to try to do the whole run.  The section between the Truss bridge and the  pool above Big Brother is one of my favorite sections of water because of how high quality it is and its one on top of the other with relatively low consequences.  We don't get out of boats, just fly down.  Big Brother was on the high side, we portaged and got our boofs on at Little Brother.  We wanted to try again so climbed up on river right, which at this level was way tougher and sketchier than running the falls, but we got up there and did round two.  After this we took the river left portage trail back up to the top of Big Brother, ferried across and took the trail out to the road.  After only a couple minutes Jeff showed up with the car, then the rafters another five or so minutes later.
Here is a video, this will answer questions as to what the wood looks like.  And provide a little entertainment.