Monday, July 12, 2010

NOrTh Boulder


Stream:  The information is documented here in case AmericanWhitewater or another entity gets interested in making access more reasonable for boaters.

The run begins shallow and builds to pretty continuous slides and boulders on bedrock.  At low flows it is scrapy, at high flows its tough to stop.  The main concern in the first part of the run is a fifteen foot falls.  Sliding bedrock flows right into the drop which is shallow on the left and the cascade on the right has always had wood.  Standard practice is to portage down the center of the falls, but this is tricky even at low flow.  Once below here there are a multitude of rapids, with lots of wood present.  Many boulder rapids, but also a bunch of bedrock rapids.  Much of it can be boat scouted, but plenty of rapids require a look from shore.  Aside from one falls near the beginning, none of the drop are over 10 feet.   After a 2-3 miles a notable waterfall enters from the right, this signals the end of the tough whitewater.

As the run eases off it's about 5 miles of read and run to the take out at a decommissioned structure.  There will probably be a portage or two in this section for wood.

You can hike out about a mile and up 1,000 feet along a road or continue into the lower gorge and the take out at a park.  This lower gorge is class III-IV but has had wood problems from years of being dewatered.

Flows: The Stream has a similar flow window as this stream.  300 cfs is rock boat style.  800-1,000 would be ideal but class V and I'd be worried about being able to stop above wood hazards and a falls near the beginning.

Access:  I can't be sure what the best way in there is, but it might be obvious for those who do their research.

Here is a video from long ago.
~500 cfs

Original Write-up

I found this trip report from a long time ago, and thought it was worth preserving here.

The trip was a grueling one, with lots of hiking both before and after. We had both had our eyes on this run for awhile now, but various issues had kept us, along with most others, out of this unique area of whitewater goodness. However, the time had come, so when we got a heads up from the meatball master that this area had water, we changed plans in a hurry and prepared for our new voyage. With almost ten miles of kayaking, and the first part being continuous class V- with wood and small eddies, we really had our work cut out for us. In the end the trip was a great success, even though our boats and gear got a little sandy. Here is the tale of our adventure...

There was some confusion as to which road we should start hiking on. We wanted to be sure because hiking in on the wrong road would naturally lead to the wrong place and end our day. For the second or third trip in a row, neither of us had brought a map, so figuring this out for certain was not possible. However, I was 90% percent positive the original road we were on was the right one. This was correct, and we began the long, steep uphill hike to the put-in. We passed a few people who were concerned we were going to put in on the wrong creek, but we assured them we knew what we were doing and arrived at the put in after a few breaks, with the sour apple tasting clovers (wood sorrel) adding some flavor to our hike. We arrived at the put in and took our time getting ready and eating a bit.
The first mile was fun, with many fun class III-IV slides and ledge drops with some intermittent wood. I believe we portaged twice in this section. There was one boulder garden that looked like it should be ended on the left, I sent Sledge over, then followed and was surprised to be dropping right next to a log! Luckily we both gave ourselves the correct boat angle and went by.  After some more fun boating, we arrived at the biggest drop of the day. It was obviously very shallow, but Sledge decided to buck up and run it anyway. I portaged and set safety, as well as climbed into the landing zone and shoved my paddle into the middle of it where the left blade was touching bottom and the entire right blade was still out of the water. Sledge was not deterred, and paddled off, had his bow drop, pitoned fairly hard, then rolled up in time to evade some logs below.

  My last thought before dropping into this one was "well, modern boat technology should protect me when I piton." Never a good sign, but turns out I was right! -Sledge

We looked at the bow of his boat and it was completely caved in! For the rest of the trip, the concave would catch the many rocks instead of bouncing off, adding a factor of difficulty on what is a rocky run.
Below the big drop, we entered a less open area of stream. The rapids started out as complex boulder gardens with wood bumping the difficulty up. We made it through the first wave of boulder gardens without incident. The first major bedrock formation drop was unique. The stream funneled down and the left side rode up on the wall smoothly, while the right side dropped into a vortex. The drop was about 15 ft wide at the top. At the end, the two sides converged to a few feet wide and dropped another five feet in a slide, then flew out into the pool with an eddy on the left above an ugly boulder pile. We both drove up on the left wall and dropped into the vortex with good lines, it was a fun drop! I wish we had gotten pictures or video, but you will just have to see it for yourself.

Plenty of bedrock in the gorge.
I portaged the first part of the next boulder pile, while Sledge once again stepped up to slay the ugly. He had a good line, and I hit a sweet airplane boof in the part I ran. Below here were many more boulder gardens leading to the next major bedrock drop. This one would be fairly straight forward, however there is now a large log in the right side. We thought, no big deal, we will just run left off a ledge that landed on a shelf that looked like a good transition. However, we neglected to scout the deceptive lead in. Sledge went first and got pushed into the right channel. He rode up on the log and flipped over in the air, landing elbow first, getting a huge contusion through his elbow pad! He then had his paddle pin to the wall and started getting surfed in a hole. He hand rolled in the hole with the log looming above and below. He actually used the log to push off for some momentum to surf his way out of the hole!
I had no desire to make the same mistake, so re scouted the lead in, which upon further inspection, looked as if it would be next to impossible to get into the left channel, we were not very happy with ourselves for making a mistake of this nature. We were sure to take more care the rest of the trip. I seal launched below the lead in, look the left line and the six foot transition to bedrock was a lot smoother even than we had imagined. We dealt with some more wood below here, then a really juicy drop that flushed into a log, but we were both able to crash the holes and drive up on the last one to get left.

In the heart of the gorge.
Below here were a plethora of boulder gardens separated by some bedrock drops. We were having lots of fun, but were beginning to wonder when it would end. We had to be careful as we were starting to get tired and the drops continued to be challenging. There were a few blind corners and drops made blind by wood blocking downstream view. Eventually we came to a signature drop. It was the only truly clean gimme drop of the run. It was fun with a boof on the right, followed by another boof on the right with a pillow.

Signature drop
Below here we thought the gorge would end soon, but it kept coming for awhile. Eventually we saw the waterfall that marked the end of the gorge. It was a relief, we scouted this one, then cruised down below. In the next little drop was an evil log poking up that we had to brace to get under. I got the brace, but I felt my shoulder start to pop out of place! I held the brace for awhile without pressure, but I had to get up because of a sieve just below. I finessed myself upright, luckily my shoulder didn't come out all the way. It was slightly painful, but the rest of my body was feeling it a lot more than my shoulder at this point. Below here we had a few miles of class 3, with plenty of bedrock slides and a couple sweet ledges to spice things up. We only had one or two portages once we left the gorge. Eventually we reached our take out after a long long time running class two. We had a long hike out but chose the right road to hike out on, making it easier for us. We were both very satisfied to reach the car after 7 1/2 hours! We ate some tasty goat meat and headed home after a wonderful adventure.

~300 cfs

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