Monday, March 29, 2010

Sweet Creek debacle

Photo: Richie Slocum


Stream: A short, highly entertaining section of trail-side whitewater near Mapleton, OR.  A coast town about an hour West of Eugene.  If the water is low, hike up from the lower parking lot.  The trail becomes suspended along a cliff at the steepest part of the run.  Put in as soon as its easy to return to the creek after the suspended part, you will be able to scout all the rapids on the hike up.

If levels are not low, I like to put in up at Sick and Wrong and slide down from there.  Then carry back up for the crux a few times.

Photo: Richie Slocum

The lines are pretty obvious, with the crux move being documented here.  To avoid that situation I try to make sure I am left of that crack with a touch of left angle.  

The first lap can be over-stimulating if you are stepping up to this run as everything connects together, but mentally things slow down once you have a lap under your belt.

Below the crux section are three more fun drops, all scoutable on the hike up.  The middle one looks like it has a dubious landing, but if you are in the right spot with a 45 degree angle you will hit nothing but water.  If there is enough water you can slide down the left side. 

Sweet Creek is often combined with the Lake Creek Slides, as shown in the video below.
Both are short/lappable and on the way if you are coming from the Willamette Valley.

Sweet Creek footage starts at 1:30

Birthday Boating with Kory Kellum from Priscilla Macy on Vimeo.


Flows:  Look for the Siuslaw Gauge to be between 8-9.5' a day or two after a big rain for medium flows.  You can scrape down to 7.5', and it has been run much higher.  Locals like to look for a 2' spike on that same gauge a day or two before your trip.

Access:  From Mapleton, cross over to the East side (river left of the Siuslaw) on the bridge in town and head South (downstream) on Sweet Creek Rd.  In 4.6 miles you will cross over Sweet Creek, stay left on Sweet Creek road and in 6.5 miles past the bridge turn right into the Sweet Creek parking lot.

If you want to put in at Sick and Wrong for a shorter hike and more small slides continue driving upstream about 1 more mile to the upper parking lot and follow the trail down to the creek.

Notes:  People who are not in the know tend to get excited for this one when it's raining heavy and the gauge is rising only to drive there and find out it is a whole different beast than when levels are dropping.  I understand the excitement, but it is a flawed approach.  Be patient and stick to the conditions outlined in the "Flows" section to get in right.

Original Write-up

Nate Pfiefer and Jason Rackely have good beta pages for this run.

For such a short, easily accessible, none committing run, I have sure heard a lot of stories about carnage and beatdowns. Now I have my own story to add to the list.
Dan and I picked up Rick Cooley around 11:30, kinda late, but who worries about daylight on a five minute run?
We took 126 through Veneta instead of going by lake creek, which saved us some time.
We arrived and saw a couple guys in playboats getting ready to go. We heard later one had a skirt implosion that lead to a swim, otherwise they had a good run.
We helped Dan strap the raft to the dolly, then hiked up to the put-in. We stopped in an eddy below the first drop, then pealed out for 45 seconds of some of the most exhilarating boating in Oregon.  Not all that frightening, just good clean, fast paced fun.   Only thing I have run in the same category is Henline, but this was a close second. The main section is followed by three unique, fun drops.
We had such a good run we decided to do it again! (as I'm sure most people do).

We got to the top of the gorge again just as Dan was getting up there with his raft. We encouraged him to put in here, but he had high hopes of running Sick and Wrong. We did our second lap, it went exactly the same, except I missed my boof on the third drop of the triple drop and had some trouble rolling in the aerated, turbulent water. I got into some greener water just as the thought of pulling entered my mind. I got up, slid through a hole backwards, then watched as Rick cleaned up on the drop. We slid down the final three ledges with some hikers getting footage.
We then headed up to find Dan, he was pretty pissed at this point as many of the hikers had warned us on the way up :) I guess hauling a raft on a dolly is just as awful as the last time he did it. Good thing we have short memories. He did impress us by hauling it all the way to the top of Sick and Wrong by himself. We helped haul gear up there, blew up the raft, discovered a hole in the floor, roped raft off the edge, sent Dan down, hiked down for video and safety, waited, waited...waited...waited. After about forty minutes, Rick came down to let me know Dan could not run the drop because the current coming from Sweet creek falls was too powerful and kept rejecting him. He had to throw the raft off and I unpinned it from the mess below the falls. Then Rick headed down to his boat and Dan and I were left with running about a half mile of mank, followed by Sweet creek gorge as it was getting dark.  After all that, it turns out there is a short hike in to Sick and Wrong from a different parking area.

With the floor popped, our knees took a beating. Amazingly, we did the whole run in about 20 minutes with no swims or pins. We got dressed in the dark and then were on our way back home.

Level was 9.2 ft on the Lake Creek Gauge and dropping. A medium flow.

One more Lake Creek/Sweet Creek combo video from Emile Elliott


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