Friday, January 28, 2011

Canyon creek; From afterwork run to mission training and back again

I started writing this post a couple months ago but never finished.  It seems relevant now so I will finish it up.
Canyon Creek Washington used to be the go to run. When the water came, people went there. After work run? Canyon Creek. I remember I never really like this run because I would always want to go do something new, but I would get duped and sucked into going to Canyon. I always had fun, but would feel I was always missing out on other runs. Why take a risk when you have such a great go to run right there I would hear(a reasonable question). A couple years ago however, the logjam arrived. Most kayakers were devistated. Candles were lit in Downtown Portland and at the take-out to the run. People didn't go outside for days. Calling in sick for work in order to morn. However, secretly I was extatic. Now I could get on all the runs I wanted to get on without Canyon Creek foiling my every move. I have gone the last couple of years without thinking too much about Canyon Creek. I knew some people went in there and portaged the jam, but that didn't seem like a bunch of fun to me, so I steered clear. Late October, 2010, the rains we had been hoping for finally hit. Extravegant plans were made to head up into the mountains in search of unseen waters. We waited for the 3 inches of rain that was forecasted to come. Friday...Saturday...still not more than a tease. Finally, Saturday evening it began to happen. The solid rain came. We hoped, we prayed. It was decided to wait to morning to make the call given the total uncertaintly about water levels. Morning came and it was apparent the rain had began about 8 hours too late to make Sunday a great boating day. People started heading back to the summer runs, or not going at all. Nate and I however, were determined to get on a creek.
We ended up on Canyon creek and I had fun.  I thought the new version was great because it was perfect training for harder exploratory missions, while at the same time had some guaranteed good drops and was a known entity.  We finished the day stoked on a good year to come
Now the Jam is gone and the chants of joy have started.  Everyone is ready to pounce back on the local gem.  I must be the only person disappointed by this turn of events.  Guess I will just have to start going places solo :)

That gives a bit of insight into my thoughts on Canyon Creek.  Now my antagonist is back and I am already trying to calculate how many days of boating I am going to lose to this gem...  

Goodbye my friend, you tried your best.
(Nate Merrill photo)


Disclaimer: Obviously Canyon Creek is an awesome run and I will enjoy getting on it a couple times a year.  Don't think I am trying to trash your favorite run.  Its the consequences of it being such a good run that led to my bitterness towards it.  This was just a satirical version of the recent events on the creek.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Henline Creek update

Nate Pfiefer and James Bagley/EJ Etherington have much more detailed write-ups than I for Henline Creek.  Use those links for levels and such.  I'll update this page when I can.

One thing I will add is the impression I got from the JB/EJ write-up was that this creek was totally full on.  After a few laps on this creek, I feel it's much more pleasant and manageable.  The first lap tends to feel intense because it comes at you fast, but once you know the lines you realize it's pretty straight forward with minimal hazards.  Totally fun and exciting stuff, just point and stroke.  The exception is one drop below the bridge that requires analysis and being in the right spot but don't let that keep you from doing the run, you can always just do laps down to the bridge.

Also, portaging from the take out around Henline Falls and into the Little North Santiam is a fun option that wasn't done in the past.  Reports are there are no class V rapids if you take that route (and put in below Henline Rapid in Opal Gorge which is almost mandatory to do at this flow).

Notes from my first trip.

2016 Update:  There is some wood just above the bridge, rendering the creek pretty much not worth it until that clears out.

2010:  We headed up to run Henline last weekend.  Turned out that 3,000 cfs in the LNF@Mehema is still a good thing to shoot for.  I cut some wood out of the first drop, but unfortunately the next major drop has wood in the landing which caused it to be unkayakable.  The raft went over it just fine though.  At higher water it may be doable in a plastic boat, but I just don't know.  The portage would be a pain and on a run this short it just wasn't worth it for me so I sat this lap out and filmed.  The wood was obvious and visible from the bridge (gone in 2012).

Dan and Jeff decided to head through the gorge after running Henline, which I always felt was possible at this level given you would put in below the committing part of Opal gorge.  We were able to scout Sierra slot and Dan and Jeff were confident they would be able to portage Fishladder and stop in time.

Sierra was a big pourer ledge but plenty runnable.  If you scout it you will find an abundant amount of lines.  Safety is possible to set up but is a bit tricky getting to the spot.

I wasn't paddling this day so the rest is just from what they told me.

The big surprise is they said Fishladder becomes a big pillowy flume ride down the right side (IV+) at 3,000 cfs.  I have heard from others that at 5,000 cfs a line even opens up to the left where the portage route usually is but I have not confirmed that.  The rest of the run is big waves except for a drop shortly above Fishladder which Dan mentioned was big (He didn't describe it but if Dan mentions a rapid is big it definitely grabs my attention).

A quick video of the first drop on Henline which was obviously not going to work in the raft, but Dan and Jeff like to figure out how to make the raft do things it wasn't made for.

          If the first video doesn't work try the one below.

They took out at Salmon falls and after lots of talk and repeatedly voicing that "I don't approve of this Dan" he went ahead and amazed us again by cleaning up on a VERY burly center line that required a difficult move and he did it R1.  It was truly impressive to watch.


Monday, January 17, 2011

New "Road Rage" rapid on Upper Sandy

Here is a picture my dad took of the upper Sandy during a trip to bring gasoline into some of the stranded people in the Lolo Pass area who needed the fuel for their generators.
Road Rage Rapid.
(photo: Rob Cruser)
And a link to a story and many more pictures.

There was serious flooding and the Sandy hit ~22 ft @Bull Run

Tennis courts that were once about a hundred feet from the river.  I remember taking out here once and hiking up and passing them.  I think my shoulder was starting to feel the weight of the boat by the time I reached these courts.  I doubt that would be the case anymore...
(photo: Rob Cruser)

 Below is a video from the flooding down here near my school.  I have never seen the Little Luckiamute Gauge pass 1,000.  It was over twice that on Sunday.  I headed over there with a couple people from my school with the hope Falls City Falls would be runnable.  I decided it didn't have a line I wanted to take, so seal launched off the 31' (at low water, we have measured it due to a bet) cliff on the right.  The boil from the falls made for a really soft landing and a nice ending to the day.  I then eddied out in the trees and we headed back home.


Bennett Pass skiing

Nick and I headed up to the Bennett pass area on Mt. Hood for a little snowboarding adventure. We hiked in a mile and a half with snowshoes to a sapling lined clear-cut, picking off mini-lines along the way. We had a great time trying something new out.



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Butte Creek: Wilson Rd Stretch

With the water dropping out and not wanting a big mission after the Pine Creek debacle, Matt King, my dad, and I went to check out Upper Upper Butte Creek.  Scouting reports mentioned class III bedrock, which sounded just fine to me.

Low water kept Matt from putting on (he is trying to be kinder to his new boat), but my dad and I decided to find out what was in there anyway.

Turns out Upper Upper Butte creek is a nice little run.  I would say it is very similar in challenge to Upper Thomas creek with its own distinct feel.  The rapids are class III+ with a drop in the class IV range every now and then.  The first half of the run was all boulder gardens that went from III- near the beginning to IV- near the end.

 There was one ledge in there that could develop a plucky hole at higher water.  

The second half of the run begins with a turn to the right over bedrock.  The next section (1 mile?)  Is mostly various class III-IV slides that are continuous.

 This section comes to an end where there are two drops that end with large, obviously different from the rest of the run, boulders along the bank that the water moves into.  The first one may be dangerous at some levels as the water goes under it.  Run as far right as the current will allow, or try a drain hole esque move in front of it.  Below here it is class two for a hundred yards until you arrive at the take-out bridge!


I would say the current wood situation renders the run inappropriate for a class III boater, fortunately the wood is generally of the size that moves around with large floods.  I plan to go back.

Access is not challenging.  Weyerhaeuser and local government put a gate on Crooked Finger road blocking access to the falls via the normal route.  This was done in the name of closing the area to riff-raff.  To get there now from Scotts Mills, take Maple Grove Rd East (just north of the bridge over Butte Creek in town) 7.4 miles (turn right to stay right on Maple Grove Rd at 4.4 mi) to Sawtell Rd and turn right.  7.7 miles later veer left (but not the far left road) onto Family Camp Rd.  Stay on the main gravel road, 3.2 miles later stay right and continue on the main gravel road for 1.2 miles at which point you will reach one of many Y's.  Going right will take you down to a bridge over Butte Creek a short distance above the waterfalls, or cross that bridge and in a short while there is a parking area on the right has a trail leading down to the falls. 

Going left at the Y leads to the put in, at a spur going to the right and quickly over a bridge 2.2 miles from the Y.

I recommend plotting your route on a map, and caching a map on your phone to help with navigation your first time up there, and using the following GPS coordinates (your phone will try to take you the wrong way up Crooked Finger Road out of Scotts Mills though).

Take Out:  44.9223, -122.5113

Put In:  44.911, -122.4529

Here is a map of this section of Butte Creek, the falls are marked at the take out.
Click to enlarge

This one needs a lot of water. I would shoot for about 1,000 cfs or higher on the Butte Creek gauge. We probably had 600 on that estimate which was floatable but scrapy.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

TRR's New Year's day float

Shane Conrad's hard work paid off with a great New Years day trip on the Sandy River with Team River Runner. The trip was featured in the metro section of today's Oregonian.
The story can be found here.
Good work Team River Runner!
Their website can be found here.