Monday, April 25, 2011


Matt and myself drop Sunset falls simultaneously. 
(photo Nick Gordon)
Once again a big gathering of boaters showed up for the race this year.  With higher than normal levels, the race was moved to a class III section ending with Sunset falls, which dished out more than one swim on this day.

 My friend Paul, after having photographed Dan and Sigler for the last year or so, finally got in a raft and ran his first waterfall, a success! 

Mccain and Thomson
photo: Gena (soon to be) Mccain.

Paul Thomson took a bunch of really good pictures at the creeking competition. I think he got most everybody. You can check them out here. He can be emailed directly at

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wiki Creek #1

    Coming soon...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Little Nestucca

We interacted with more non-kayakers while paddling this river than is typical for us, all friendly on this trip.


Stream: The Little Nestucca is a fun roadside run near Pacific City, about an hour west of Salem.  There are three stand out rapids, and the rest of the run is class II with some surf.  It's a great place to perfect and and then put your class IV skill set on trial before dipping a toe into low end class V.

There is about 100 yards of flat water to warm up in, before the busiest section of the run.  This first 1/2 mile long section is fast paced, quality class IV.  If class IV is your limit this section will be challenging and lacks recovery pools, Priscilla compared it to a cleaner Miracle Mile.  There are numerous ledges to boof and only small eddies to re-group in, fortunately the entire section can be scouted from the road.

When I was going to college at WOU, I would come up here between classes and do laps on just this half mile section that starts out the run.  There was plenty of action and a short shuttle made laps easy.  A bridge marks the end of this first section of whitewater as the stream eases into class II downstream, keep your eye out for places to practice eddy catching, ferrying and surfing below the bridge.  

This spot in particular was nice with three good eddy-serviced hydraulics in a row.

Another bridge marks the proximity of Stella Falls, the largest rapid of the run.  This one can be easily scouted on the left.  It's a chaotic rapid, but flushes into a long pool without significant hazard.

                                                                                Stella Falls

More easy floating leads to a class II section with bedrock, downstream it's important to pay attention.  The river gets next to the road again, then is diverted right at the next small outcrop of bedrock on the left.  The eddy to scout Upton Falls, the most serious drop of the run, is immediately downstream on the right, just above a fish ladder.

Upton Falls is a short anthropologically-altered ledge has a powerful hole, backed up by another man-made ledge under the surface.  It is a straight forward move to boof past the hydraulic on the right at most flows, but the hole is backed up by a ledge under the water, so it is not likely a swimmer would get flushed deep and out.  Good safety can be set from either bank, but that's not to say a rescue would be easy or even very possible.  It's an easy portage on the right.  

                                                                              Upton Falls.

Just downstream is a class II chute visible in the following photo.  The take out trail is across from the large river-right wall, at the top of a small gravelly island on the left. 


Flows:  The gauge is on the downstream, river-right pylon of the bridge at the bottom of the first half mile section of whitewater.  2' is a good medium flow.  You can get down the run all the way to the bottom of the gauge, but the stuff in between the rapids is tedious and slow.  You can even run the three main rapids a couple inches below the gauge as they channelize well if you are already there kind of thing.

This level was too low, 675 on the Nestucca online gauge March 4, 2019.

To guess what the foot gauge will be at, I use the Nestucca near Beaver gauge.  On that gauge a flow of 2,000 cfs correlates to about 2' on the gauge, and 1,000 cfs correlates to somewhere in the vicinity of 1' on the foot gauge. 5,000 cfs is too much for most boaters and I don't know what that is on the gauge.

Access:  There are a lot of ways to get there.  The river is roadside along Hwy 130 between Dolph and Pacific City.  

The take out (45.135902, -123.896382) is 3 miles upstream from Hwy 101, there is a mile marker on a corner here.  It's worth scrambling down the fisherman's trail to note what the take out looks like from river level while setting shuttle.

The take out.

The put in (45.110860, -123.852739) is at a bridge 3 miles upstream of that, or 4.2 miles downstream of the turn at Dolph.  The gauge, is the bridge 3/4 mile downstream of the put in, at the bottom of the first, long, rapid.

From Salem Highway 22 will get you to Dolph, but there is at least one non-intuitive turn so use your phone or a map.

Original Write-up

I wanted to get some info out there about this run.  Its an enjoyable run and seems to be underutilized, though there are a few people running it.

I think it is in Soggy Sneakers but not many people seem to get on it.  This is probably due to its location, near Dolph crossing in Oregon's northern coast range.

A friend of mine from the Earth Science program here at Western has been wanting me to take them out kayaking for awhile.  The first day I took her on an easy run and she seemed to do well and wanted to run something a bit harder.  I had wanted to get some pictures of the Little Nestucca, so decided I could take her there and have her walk the 3 main rapids.

The first section is my favorite part, its about 1/4 mile of quality route finding.
About to enter the good stuff.
(all photos taken by Aquilegia Leet)

 I have done about 5-6 laps on it so far at higher water each time and like it more each time.

The entrance to the first bit.

 It keeps going solid for awhile once you are amongst it.

This run we had about 1700 on the Nestucca gauge and there were a number of fun moves and boofs.

 In the middle of this section is one drop that is manky at low water, and can be quickly scouted from the road during the shuttle.  I walked it at 1000 cfs (nestucca gauge), pinned sideways at the bottom the first time I ran the drop, and have figured out the line since, which involves driving up onto a rock that wants to slope you left or right onto piton rocks at low water.  At higher flows it cleans up.

The tricky one. It is trivial with more water.

There is one last boof/hole just above the bridge at the end of this first

There is some easy floating below this first bridge (great rapids for my friend to learn on) until the next main drop, Stella Falls.  This is a cool rapid.  Its short but kinda rowdy for what it is.  The bottom ledge doesn't look to have a dry line so I anticipated a plug.  I was surprised that it was possible to run with a dry head.
Scouting Stella Falls during shuttle.

Same drop at 5500 cfs

More easy floating leads to the last drop, Upton Falls(~6').  This has been altered and is now a lowhead dam.  I suggest scouting/portaging from the right bank, and setting safety from either or both sides.  The hole is backed up and might not let a swimmer go.  The boof on the right was straight forward though, so paddlers confident in their boof stroke should have no issues.

It is worth noting that it would be possible to get swept into this drop unaware.  Once below Stella, there is a "fakey" gorge with some class two, once the stream leaves this section, the next bedrock you encounter is the formation creating the drop.  Immediately eddy out on the right to scout.  Cautious and knowledgeable (about the run) boaters should have no troubles here.

We finished up the run and I was impressed that Aqua made it down with no swims (a couple of T-rescues) and she seemed to enjoy it.
The take out.
(no longer a legal take out option and is fenced off)

The take out is across from this cool old barn, just upstream of Fall Creek Bridge.
**No longer a legal take out option, see access section for legal take out**

This run is out of the way for most people, but if you are thinking about breaking past the class IV mark, this is probably a good stepping stone.  That first continuous section offers a lot of opportunity to perfect boat control, catching small eddies, moving back and forth in fast water, hitting boofs, crossing currents, etc. Stella is as hard/harder than every drop until Big Brother on the Green Truss, but lacks the consequences of class V.  Then there is Uptown Falls at the end, it isn't a good drop to work on your boof stroke, but if you are 100% confident you can hit the line, it's a good place to work on your mental game.  Just don't miss.

 If you are a Corvallis/ salem boater, that first quarter mile is easy to lap and fun enough to be worth the drive.  Its a novelty run, but all roadside and worth seeing.

flows -----
minimum   1500
max  4,000
I have yet to see it over 2000, but it could hold a lot more water.  I actually think the first part and Stella would get easier, who knows...

The put in is at the bridge 3.3 miles downstream of the turn off from Dolph crossing and hwy 22. There is a hundred yards of flat water to warm up in before the whitewater begins.

This is about a three mile section, so about a rapid per mile, so its not a run for a constant bombardment of fun, more of a training ground with time to think between drops.

~1,000 cfs

Same spot at about 5,500 cfs (not recommended at that flow without previous knowledge of the run).


Sunday, April 3, 2011


I had my usual difficulties getting people to come on this exploratory trip, luckily Stephen Cameron caught a whim and joined.

This stream is part of two forks that join the headwaters of the NF Siletz.  When I came to school 3 years ago this was the first stream that caught my attention because of an obvious waterfall on the topo maps.  After learning the nature of access in the coast range I new this one would be a challenging stream to check out.

Last weekend, I passed on a trip to California and instead scouted out the headwaters of the NF Siletz.  I knew Boulder creek was up here and I wanted to check that out, plus I wanted to check out the access situation on Warnicke, while at the same time getting a look at the Valley of the Giants fork of the NF Siletz and take a hike through some of the few true old growth stands remaining in Oregon's coast range.

My scouting trip was a larger success than I had expected.  Gates were open, roads went farther than I expected, it looked like this stream could be done without excess effort.  Another thing I noticed was the geology was promising.  Trip reports of the NF Siletz left me with the impression it would not be worth the effort, but the guidebook run actually looked good too.

The highlights of this trip were hiking through the Valley of the Giants, which is where I saw Warnicke for the first time, as well as some very large trees.  Second was discovering the road up Warnicke had an open gate.  I started driving up this road and made it about a mile in the course of half an hour.  There were a ton of limbs and rocks to move off the sloppy road and my Civic has little clearance.  I eventually turned back, satisfied that the road went far enough to make a trip worthwhile.

Levels lined up perfectly the next weekend, so after Stephen arrived in Monmouth, we made the long drive into the coast range.  We decided to only bring one car and jog shuttle, which turned out to be the right call.  We made it two miles before the road bermed out, leaving us with a 2 mile hike to the put in.

The hike was pretty tame.  We hiked along an old, slightly grown over logging road with a couple easy-to-nagotiate washouts.  Dragging was possible, though we stuck to our backpacks. Eventually we decided to just shwack down to the creek instead of going all the way to the bridge which turned out to be an interesting call.  We ended up putting in just below a large class five rapid and upstream?  Slides as far as the eye could see.  Since neither of us were very interested in the drop it was a mixed blessing putting in where we did.  We missed out on what looked to be fun slides between us and the bridge, but we didn't have to portage this drop.

*to those that like this sort of drop, it is completely runnable, no wood or sieves and not too scary, just very class V.  Had our favorite probe unit not just moved to Eastern Oregon I'm sure it would have been run.  It can be scouted from the right very easily, but hardly at all from the left where we were.

  Andrew Bradley and I returned and ran this drop in 2012.  Its totally good to go and fun.

In 2012 the CCC went in and got a few more descents of the Golden Goose.  Unfortunately one of these resulted in a dislocated shoulder.

  Lucas Glick with a good line.
Nick Chambers photo

Stephen and I liked what we were seeing geology and water level wise as we floated into the class III stuff below Golden Goose.

Just around the next corner started a mile of quality boating.  Class IV boulder gardens with hardly any wood and really fun.  Steep and continuous. There were lots of 3-4 foot boofs and fun moves.  Every horizon we were waiting for another waterfall, but one never did materialize.  We probably only scouted twice in this section as Stephen brought his slalom skill set to the run and made it so we hardly had to get out at all.  If Stephen had not been on the trip, I would likely have been scouting more.

After the end of this mile was a log portage.  The next mile was III-IV with another log portage, and the last mile was III+ with another portage.  All portages were easy.  Stephen did have one interesting portage by seal launching five feet off a log midstream that went well.

Stephen did almost have to drop into a rapid blind when he ran out of eddies, but was able to catch some slack water along the left wall and saw that the drop went, it turned out not be a big issue, but was exciting for a moment.  This is the drop he runs the bottom part of in the video (He eddied out part way down to let me get a shot as I had already jumped out of my boat when I saw things weren't going to plan).

Speaking of video, this was the only shot I got because we were cruising pretty quickly down the run.

The creek was fun all the way to the confluence with Valley of the Giants fork.  The final drop was an island and as Stephen said about his run "I just ran an unrunnable drop, got stopped by that hole, then ducked a log".  If someone else does this, don't worry, its not as bad as it sounds ;)

From here we had a mile and a half of high quality class III down to the confluence with Boulder Creek, where we took out.  We then "jogged the shuttle", and headed home happy about our accomplishments.


-Stephen mentioned how un-epic this trip was.  If there was vehicle access to the top, there would be no reason not to run this thing often when the chance arose.

-I know there are not a lot of paddlers out there who like this type of run, but there are some, and if you want to see a new run that is pretty fun without much work involved, check this run out when the Siletz gauge is over 4,000 cfs.

-This area is the rainiest place in the lower 48 that has a gauge (google Laurel Mtn.).  I have been tricked by nice weather in the Willamette Valley more than once and dressed accordingly only to show up to rain in this area of the coast range only 30 miles to the west.

-You also drive through Valsetz if coming from Portland, which was once the rainiest city in the lower 48. (it is no longer a town)