Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Opal Creek: Mine to Salmon Falls

Matt here, throwing up a post my darn self. Eric, Rick, Emile, and I went down to Opal last Sunday for some sunny day fun. Flows were around 1250. We put in at the mine and boated all the way down to salmon falls. From the mine down to big ugly was smooth sailing and everyone had good lines through that one. Next got to big fluffy and went for a scout. It didn't look good to me that day, so I promptly went back to grab my boat and set up photo/safety. Emile, who had only been in his boat twice in the last five years, decided to give it a go first, power to the man. He came off a little sideways trying to get middle and got surfed for a moment in the hole, but the fluffy didn't put him through much of a fight and he rolled up easily. Rick went next, trying also to get middle, but was able to correct right as he took off. He went pretty deep, but came out upright a paddled away with a smile.
Rick coming in hot
We continued on down to thor's, where I decided to go for the gut and did some kind of ender/pirouette move before flushing just fine. Everyone else went for the boof off the right ride of the ledge and got some pretty good air. Then came gorge time. The flow was higher than any time any of us had done the gorge, which had us a little worried about mystery. We ended up having a little pow-wow about it at the bottom of thor's before decided to commit and it turned out to be a great decision. We paddled in circles for a minute at the lip of mystery, but not too long cause it really racks your nerves. The left wall at mystery had a bit more of a pillow on it than usual (which was nice) but no hole to speak of. It looked like you could've gotten a huge boof off the middle rock too, but we all did the melt on the right.
The Big-UN (and you can't even see the 10 ft entrance drop)
The portage at the big-UN could get a little sketchy if the flows were much higher, but was totally fine at that flow. I've always done the left side portage, as the climb well above the rapid always sketched me out more than the nice shelf on the left. You are closer to the pile of frothing death, but the footing is really good and the portage is much shorter (shorter= less time out of your boat when bad things can happen). It should be noted that the gorge should not be run if it is raining or icy because the portage on either side would become very, very scary. I only go in there on nice sunny days.
Eric chooses life (the entrance to the big-UN is behind him)
After some general bantering about just how disgusting the drop is, we moved on downstream. None of us could exactly remember the line at henline, so we hopped out to scout, checking out the really nice falls that comes in on henline creek at the same time. The rapid was good to go, no wood, the undercut not much in play, sweet boofs on either side. Moving downstream, we portaged fish ladder falls, partly over a cool log bridge and started getting amped for salmon falls, the grande finale. Salmon falls is about 25 feet tall, with a tricky entrance that drops you basically right onto the lip. At lower flows, the only entrance is crack on the far left that isn't that nice (you can seal launch right in if you want too), but at the flows we had, a boof off the center rock opened up and was a lot cleaner than the crack. I probed, as is the often the case for the sake of photos, and had a fine line, but came up in the boils between the right and left sides and got surfed briefly. Emile went next, and had the same thing happen. €Then came Rick, who came off a little further left and had a nice tuck, which brought him up on the much friendlier left side of the boil.
Sequence of Rick with Eric watching
Eric was the last to fire it up, and he also had a great line, surfacing on the left side of the boil.
Eric dropping like its hot
All in all, a fantastic day on the river.

a video from past trip

Opal Creek 2009 from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.