Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Upper Abiqua Creek


(All photos by megi Morishita unless otherwise marked)
I ran Upper Abiqua today with Ryan Cole, Steve Cameron, and Megi Morishita on Mother's day 2010. I had been looking at this section seriously since early winter. A couple weeks ago, when a trip to Opal fell apart, Steve and I tried to find a way into this run and faced a series of gated roads, which led us to settle on Little Abiqua (a not so good run featured elsewhere on this blog).
I had seen pictures online and heard rumors of another waterfall on Abiqua creek aside from the one Tim Gross ran some time ago. I had always seen it labeled as Lower Abiqua falls, which lead me on a series of runs down class 1-2+ sections of the creek in search of this falls. After eliminating the possibility of it being where I had originally thought, I decided it was possible it had been mislabeled in pictures. Which made me excited that it might be on the section above the falls (which I planned on running anyway at some point).

I spent another day driving around up on Crooked Finger road looking for different access points I had seen on google earth. I was suprised to find a road that traveled within a hundred yards of the creek that we would be able to use as a put-in. I also knew there was a trail to the lip of Abiqua falls, so spent another day with a friend from school looking for the take out. Which happened to be the pool above the hundred foot drop! There was an interesting looking mini gorge above, and the creek looked reasonable at the put in, so I decided it was time to give it a go. It rained hard the weekend before, and I saw the gauge raise above the point I wanted it to be. I hoped that this meant it would drop to a perfect flow by the next weekend, so I started the recruiting process. I was suprised that both Steve and Ryan (the first people I asked), were all about it. So plans were made and by the end of the week, Megi had decided to join in and we had a solid crew.

Video
I spent time between classes all week checking flows as they dropped lower and lower. Finally, on Thursday, it was at the perfect flow and I debated soloing it, fearing that it would drop by Sunday. But talking to Ryan, it sounded like at least he was in come Hell or Low water, so that helped me make the right call to wait. I got off the Little White on Saturday and checked the flow, it was below what I wanted, but I knew we cold float our boats. We met in Wilsonville the next day and I chuckled when we pulled up in four compact cars as I knew the take out road isn't super friendly. We loaded up and headed towards Scotts Mill.
Shuttle went smoothly (you know you are on the right put in road when you see a boulder balanced on a tree stump. I guess we know what loggers do with their free time now), and it was time to put in.
Ryan mustache you a question.
The water level really wasn't so bad, just fine for an exploratory trip. The first 1/2 mile was some pretty fun class III to what would be class four with more water boulder gardens. The bedrock kept trying to poke out and produced a couple of fun slides. The best of which occured at a bedrock island, with the right side being the preferred route. This was a three part drop with the first being a series of sliding slides (that works right?), followed by a dividing rock. Steve sent us over the right side, which was a sluice with a few holes to splash through. This dropped you right above the final seven foot slide featured in the video. You could also run left of the island at high water down a groove chute.
Halfway through part one of "Waggle Dance"
Steve below part one of Waggle Dance
The author entering Part 2 (of 3) in Waggle Dance

Part 3 of Waggle Dance is in the video.
Below this rapid the run reminded me of the West Fork Hood at 4 feet--mostly low water boulder gardens, with some interesting larger rocks and bedrock on the sides. It was of reasonable quality and I would thoroughly enjoy this section with healthy flows. There was a bit of wood, but Steve didn't have to get out of his boat once until the point in the video where I mention we are 2-3 miles in. The creek entered a gorge and we got excited, but it had no noteworthy whitewater in it. As you exit this gorge, there are a couple logs to deal with, but nothing too bad. This also signals the flattest part of the run which is about three miles in as the gradient peters out and we came to a braided section. This didn't last very long, but had three or four wood situations.
Steve had his first portage at the end of this section. Below this point were a couple small boulder gardens, then we came to a horizon line. This produced a nice 15 footer and scouting revealed another horizon line below! The first one we ran down the ramp on the right and was so so fun. It looked like there was a boof in the center and the left would open up with more water, but we were all satisfied going right.
The author running "Momma Dukes Laundry Chute".

We lapped this first 15 footer 9 times between the four of us.
Steve lapping it up.
Below was a uniform horizon line that I worried might be too big. We got out to scout and it looked perfect! It was just over twenty feet and had the perfect flake on the center left. Ryan was kind enough to let me go first and I got a great boof! Landed totally flat and soft, so perfect! I gave some fist pumps because of just how perfectly sweet this drop was. This may be the best twenty footer I have ever run. Ryan came next and stomped his boof.
Ryan about to stomp "Peony Falls"
Steve came off a tad sideways, but landed upright. Megi says she doesn't like waterfalls, but you would think she runs them all day long based off her line! We revelled shortly in the awesomeness of the back to back waterfalls, then headed off into a progressively tightening mini gorge we dubbed Mother's day gorge. It was a really cool area as Steve pointed out that the area around was all logging areas and more of a valley, but at the bottom was this nice mini gorge which provided a really intimate feeling while still affording the knowledge you could hike out if you wanted.
This mini gorge contained some fun slip and slide type ledges of the variety you would expect in a mini gorge. This all cultimated in the gorge narrowing even more with a few logs dangling from the walls. I saw Steve scramble into an eddy so grabbed one of my own. I figured this was the final gorge I had seen during scouting. It was a bit slippery getting out, and at higher water I would definitely want to eddy out a bit higher up. We took a look at the drop all the water funneled into, it was unrunnable due to some really ugly wood. We were all very happy that Steve was able to, first get into the eddy, then make it out of his boat from the squirly, tiny eddy. We all corrected off this and helped each other to get out from a higher, slightly better eddy (not ideal though, if you go back, eddy out as soon as your spidey senses go off).
The reason to portage Cattle Ramp
We looked at portage options, and it looked like there was a reasonable portage to the left up through some Devil's club. It wasn't a really bad portage, but I changed routes and went higher at one point because it looked safer and less clubby up there and that proved to be true. Though I did dig out the last few Devil's thorns from my hand during class today...
The end of the Cattle Ramp portage
We got back to the water and were now at the take-out pool with the lip of 100 ft Abiqua Falls as the exit to this pool. We decided the easiest thing to do would be to send someone over via swimming/tether and then send the boats on rope to him. Ryan decided he would go, so off he went and the boats and all of us followed shortly.
Roping the boats across
We took some time to check out the very cool place we were in and I made sure to crawl down to the very edge of the falls to get the up close and personal view.
After we finished checking out the place, we hiked out on the trail that hikers take to get to the lip of the falls. We had to pass the boats up a small rock band at one point, then it was smooth sailing for about a hundred yards back to the car.
In a very cool place. Left to right: Steve, Ryan, The Author
We were all pretty excited about how enjoyable the run turned out to be, and were glad things went so smoothly. Our final task was to load up four boats, a bike, four people, all our gear including two bins (Megi had a guitar, camping gear, bike tire, and bag of smores ingredients in the trunk so we couldn't put any gear in there), and a dog into a tiny little Toyota Echo. We then had to get this fully loaded and weighed down car a half mile up an old logging road that was at the very limit of what a Sedan is capable of normally. The car was turning wheels every now and then, but eventually brought us to the top.
The car with the Heart of Gold

(photo:Ryan Cole)
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All in all it was a good trip, probably my favorite of the season in terms of pure enjoyment. The task of completing the unknown and finding access was a worthwhile adventure. While I would love to come back some day at higher water and run the entire thing, some might enjoy putting in just above the waterfalls as this would be the most bang for your buck. There is an old road coming off the take out road that leads to a perfect put in that would require no portages before the falls.
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Since this report, I have returned many times to Abiqua Creek to run the waterfalls and I have enjoyed it every time. Most of the people I bring along like it too. Cattle Ramp cleaned up the next year and goes fine now.



An option for water falling on the Silverton Plateau;
- Run the falls on the lower part of this section of Abiqua Creek-- Momma Duke's Laundry Chute (~15-ft) and Peony Falls (~20-ft)
- Head over to Butte creek falls and run those. Butte Creek Falls (~22-ft)
-Silverton Speedway into the town of Silverton (65-ft slide/ 10 ft ledge)
The waterfalls on Abiqua and Butte are all different and have classic lines with big friendly pools, making them really fun and good for practice. All of them are possible to lap with varying degrees of difficulty. Just be aware of the very large drops on both of those runs. Both are very avoidable with the takeouts being before both of them.

(All photos by Megi Morishita unless otherwise marked)
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-naming the rapids-
Since we were there on Mother's day, we figured we would honor our mothers by naming the drops after them.
-Drop one/Waggle Dance-
the bedrock rapid with three parts we named Waggle Dance as Megi's mom is getting into bee keeping. Waggle Dance is when bees shake their butts to show the other bees where the food is. Megi's mom thought it was a fitting name as you have to waggle back and forth for the first part, then the second part is through some holes you get to dance through, and the final seven foot drop is sweet as honey.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nga4Z_HRUsU&feature=related
Steve was our foraging bee for this drop!
-the 15 ft falls/Momma Dukes Laundry Chute- Momma Duke is Ryan's moms nickname, and given I'm sure she has done a fair amount of Ryan's laundry in the past was fitting. You come into the rapid all stinky and dirty after a day of kayaking, then drop down the laundry chute into the washing machine and come out all clean at the bottom!
-20 footer/Peony Falls- Peonies are my mom's favorite flower because they are so beautiful, just like this falls!
-final gorge/Cattle Ramp- This was named before the mother's day theme arose. It fits as it funnels you down a narrow chute until you hit the meatgrinder (nasty log sieve) at the end. Steve also has two brothers, and I imagine raising three boys was as big a handful as trying to herd cattle!
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This is the gauge I used for the run. http://levels.wkcc.org/?f=dv3
We had 170. I would recommend over 200. I would be careful going in above 500 as I don't know what the eddies above final gorge would be like as well as the take out pool might start moving in a hurry.  These drops tend to go even a few days after other runs in the area have dropped out.
Stats:
-4.5 miles
-140fpm overall with a couple flat sections, with the good sections getting close to the 200 fpm mark.
If you are interested in this run, the info is there on the internet maps and satellite imagery. If you don't want to put in that kind of effort, feel free to email me and I'll give you detailed directions to any of the access points.
jacobcruser@yahoo.com
-Jacob

4 comments:

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Kevin Hill said...

Thanks for the excellent writeup Jacob! Very thorough and entertaining. I recently moved to the area and ran across Mama Duke's when hiking around. I thought it looked great, and now I know it is. And I also now know that Peony (and Cattle Ramp!) are nearby.

The gauge link is dead, but am I correct in assuming that you were referring to Pat Welch's Butte Creek estimate? It's now found here: http://levels.wkcc.org/?D=dv3#Adv3

Kevin Hill

Jacob said...

Thanks for the update! I have updated the gauge in the trip report to that link.

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