Sunday, March 6, 2011

Big rock Creek

I have been hoping to get on this one for a couple years now. On the maps is an intriguing pinch with high gradient.  The levels lined up and while I needed a late start due to wanting to watch my buddy Alex throw javelin in Salem, I figured 3 1/2 hours was enough time to deal with a mile of gradient.

Jay Kirkwood and Anna Herring both agreed to go along on this trip.  We met in Summit at 1:30 and were at the takeout by 2.  The access was great for an exploratory trip with a bridge at take out and put in.  We got within a half mile of the put in before finding a gate that had not been there when I scouted last year.  After making sure it was a real gate and not a toy, we parked and hiked in.  We were at the river quickly and put in, noting the woody character of the creek.  There was a nice class III under the put-in bridge, followed by a fair amount of wood and mani.  The creek then became class I-II with a couple log portages before we reached the place I originally planned to put in when I thought we could drive all the way.  We paddled some more class I as I assured them that the gradient was coming.  Soon we could see the hill creating the pinch and not long after the creek hit it, turned, and some easy sliding bedrock was encountered in the class II range.

The creek started making its bend to the left where it would drop through the hill and we got out to scout our first rapid.  A fun III-IV double slide with an ominous horizon downstream.  The view scouting this drop was the most promising view I believe I have had on an exploratory trip.  We saw gorge wall and bedrock.  We were pumped!  That is until we scouted the that horizon.  It was an ugly V+ mess with wood and boulders at the bottom.  Luckily there was a river level portage that wasn't too bad.  A lot of wood had collected in this drop and the boulder garden below it, so we set off on a relatively easy, but still taxing portage down to the next runnable rapid.  This was a sweet, but manky boulder garden that went a lot smoother than it looked and reminded me of what I have heard the boulder gardens on the little Sandy are like, just with more water.  Jay pointed out a promising line that we all took.  At the crux move at the end, Anna went for the 180 and showed us up by greasing the crux stern first!  Below here was a III-IV runout before the next short log portage.  Below here was a drop that was challenging to scout and involved some leaping to get onto an island where the first part of the rapid was visible.  It looked really fun, but there was a lower five foot ledge that we could not see the landing from above (The ledge Jay runs in the video).  Not wanting to risk it having a pin spot with no safety, we decided to portage in the name of time as scouting it would have taken as long as the portage, then if it wasn't runnable we would have to portage anyway...

After completing the portage, we were able to scout the drop and were bummed we were not able to run the whole thing as it was a sweet drop!  Jay and I were still able to run the lower ledge and runout though, then fought right to get away from some wood (seen in video clip).  Below here the gradient cooled off and had a couple more fun class III-IV sections.  I think we scouted one more time before the boogie to the end.

 I was still in boat scouting/watch out for wood mode, when Anna passed by me in an eddy giving me a "hey Jacob, its class II now" look and took the lead as we cruised down the runout and one more small slide before getting to the takeout bridge with about 15 minutes of light to spare.  In all the trip went well and I had a blast exploring this place I have been eyeing for awhile now.  It was a good team and I liked the approach we took.  We moved efficiently and safely the whole time.  Everyone stayed in a good mood and we even got to run a few fun rapids.  I won't ever be back, but it was a good adventure and usually that is enough.


   -Jacob

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