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.
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  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 www.oregonkayaking.net
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-first picture-  It's big and the landing is shallow, we did not consider running it.
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-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.
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-third picture- This first drop looks like a boat beater, and I still don't know how they got under the log.  We walked.
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-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.
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-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.
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-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.
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-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.
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-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.
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-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.  
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-We didn't do the lower section.

    -Jacob

1 comment:

Meredith Kendall said...

I have heard from a few people it is clear again and has some good whitewater and a couple great practice holes . Its close to Salem and not crowded