Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Silverton Plateau Trifecta

I finally got to do the mini mission I had been thinking about since I ran Abiqua Creek for the first time last year with Ryan, Megi, and Steve.  My idea had been to run the park and huck sections of the three creeks all in one day (class IV version).  In my opinion, it is the best waterfall training in Oregon.  We took it easy and didn't run any of the big drops, but still fell over 150 feet in the air by doing laps on different waterfalls.  If you were feeling saucy, you could easily drop 300 feet in a day.  

After our trip to the Carbon failed for the second weekend in a row, I was up at 3:30 trying to think of what to do that day.  I checked the gauge's and the Butte Creek gauge was still over 200, meaning we could head to Silverton for some waterfall practice.  Anna was game and we met in Silverton, then headed for Abiqua creek, our first stop.  Loading up in her truck, it only took 20 minutes to get to the put in.  We geared up and hiked down the very abandoned road, putting in just above Momma Duke's, the first drop.  Anna went first so I could grab some video.  For a class two lead in, its a little deceptive.  It pulls boaters to the left and off a weird flake that doesn't set you up all that well for the drop.  You have to make a conscience effort to make the move to the right at the top.
Dropping Momma Duke's last year.

We each took three laps here, trying to get as dialed as possible.  We were debating doing a fourth lap until I mentioned there was another waterfall just around the corner, so we decided to get on with our day.  The next drop in my opinion is the cleanest 20 ft. waterfall in Oregon.  No video, but we both had great lines.  I 45'ed it the first time, then went back up to try for a tuck, only getting it partially.  Anna hit her line the first time and decided not to take the sloppy path back up on river right.

Ryan Cole Drops Peony Falls on another trip.
(photo: Megi Morishita)

We then headed off into the Mother's day mini gorge, sliding down a few fun and classy class III slides.  Eventually I saw what I had not seen last year, the entrance to Cattle Ramp.  This was the scene of a scary moment last year when Steve got a tiny eddy "just for fun" behind a log, only to look downstream and have his heart almost fail on him.  Below the last chance eddy he was in, the river funneled down an innocuous looking channel, before falling off a six foot ledge under a pile of wood.  This was a scary place.  This year I kept a watchful eye and we were able to get out earlier to scout this drop.  I brought some green logging tape with me (something I generally think is an obnoxious practice, though I felt this was worth the moral dilemma) and tied a piece of ribbon around the tree you don't want to go any further than.  It is hanging accross the stream and blocks downstream view.  Both Steve and I went past this log last year and immediately wished we had not.
Cattle Ramp

There isn't an eddy upstream, but I have only run this section at low water and we were easily able to hold onto the bedrock on the left and step out.  Be careful at high flows though, not sure this would be possible...

I had been hoping the recent high water would possibly have flushed the wood from Cattle Ramp, but there is actually even more in there now, forcing the short river left portage through a patch of Devil's Club.  We seal launched in just above Abiqua Falls, ate a snack at the lip (an outrageously cool place, please), then headed off up the trail to the road.  Its a bit challenging getting past the first bit onto the main trail, but with some teamwork can be done with relative ease.  From here its a short walk to the logging road, then half mile back to the car.

next on the agenda was Butte Creek Falls, only ten minutes away.  We made the short hike down on the well maintained trail and began our huckfest. We dropped this 20+ footer three times each with an entourage taking photos the whole time!
Anna Fired away.
(all Butte Creek Falls photos by Tenzicut  of Down to the roots magazine.)
Hiking up for another go.

 Anna takes a look at the lead in.
 Workin' on that tuck.

Its a great waterfall, perfect size for practice and fun.
Our final goal for the day was the Silverton Speedway.  It was 4 o' clock so we forgo stopping for snacks and head straight for the reservoir.  We ended up making it there with plenty of time.  We put on started paddling across the flat water before we saw the police car pull in.  He parked with a view of the spillway and waited for us to do something stupid.  We changed directions hoping he would believe we were just having a nice paddle on the lake.  He hung around for awhile and then he made the I'm pulling you over noise and said something on his bull horn.  We couldn't really hear what he was saying, but it didn't matter as he turned and left.  After he had been gone a couple minutes we proceeded to the lip of the spillway and over.  Huge props to Anna for firing this 60 foot slide site unseen!  "You can only run something blind once"! Thanks for that DeLeVergne.  Matt never lets us forget it :)

So that wraps up the Silverton Plateau trifecta.  The three major streams coming off the Silverton Plateau in park and huck fashion.  All within half hour of Salem.

For flows check out the Butte Creek estimate on Pat Welches site.  It should be over 200, 300-500 would be ideal as higher than that and I don't know what would happen on Abiqua with Cattle ramp and the Silverton Speedway developes a scary hole.

Kayaking is awesome.

video for analysis purposes.  Anna, I blew it both times and missed you running it.  If you pause the video you can see your position right before you hit.



Ryan said...


Keep me in the loop on that Carbon trip! I've been wanting that one for a while now. I'm in Colorado (not paddling the Front Range mank) until Sunday, but would definitely be down for a Carbon trip after that. Lemme know!


Jacob said...

Sounds good Ryan,
If anyone hears about changes from the high water let me know. It seems to be a pretty dynamic stream.