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...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wiki Creeks (PART 1)

This is a long one, skip to PART 2 if you want to cut to the chase.

I had a bit of a revelation this past week.

It has always been a goal of mine to seek adventure through kayaking.  I was never one to be content seeing the same stream over again.  The unknown and the unseen always called to me.  I got a reputation early on taking people on log strewn portage fests that were more hiking than boating.  It took me a long time to find out why people were not having fun on these trips, as I was having the time of my life.

My dad wondering where he went wrong with me.

I eventually discovered that people did not kayak for the same reasons as I kayak.  I cannot speak for everyone else, but for me kayaking is a way to fulfill a need to be on an adventure and keep my brain working towards something at all times.  Solving the unknown is what keeps me kayaking.  The act of kayaking down the river is more fun than I have doing most anything else, but if that was the extent of kayaking, It would not be the same sport for me.  I can get the same rush and sense of accomplishment of running a big drop as I could in football, snowboarding, giving a speech in class, college and the many aspects that come with that, and really everything worth doing in life, without the looming prospect of death.  So why, to borrow a phrase from Stookesberry, is kayaking "all consuming"?
Photo: Jeff Hartley

  I grew up gifted at every sport I tried, able to get good grades in school.  I could have followed numerous paths, but I chose kayaking. And that is because of the adventure and everything that comes with it.  When kayaking, I could almost care less if I have to portage every rapid on a stream, if my group makes it through the area of challenge, that is the accomplishment I am looking for.  And while the team is there, I am totally responsible for my decisions at the same time. Once I have proven to myself I can make it through a section of river, I loose much of the drive to come back if the run holds major risk.  Mostly because there is so much else to see.  My favorite reason to return to a river has always been to help someone else enjoy their own adventure on that river and being a part of their moment of seeing something new.
If its an adventure for them, its an adventure for me.
photo: John Watkins

I have tried to narrow down the aspects that call to me the most.

Knowledge-I have a strong desire to accumulate knowledge.  When I was younger, it was books.  Once school ruined that for me, I only had to wait a year before kayaking found its way into my everyday thoughts.  Kayaking provided a way to attain an unending source of knowledge.  Everyday I find out something new about kayaking.  There was never anything with this many aspects I had encountered before this sport came into my life.  It was perfect, and my brain picked up on that right away.  I never run out of things to think about with kayaking.  Its been a chore to refocus some of that attention on school, because even school has not provided me with enough to keep my brain constantly occupied.  Kayaking has become the knowledge I seek, unfortunately it has gotten in the way of my desire to learn about other parts of life to a degree, but it feeds that hunger within better than anything else for me.
There is some interesting stuff to see out there.

shutting down "you cant do that"-   I'm sure everyone hates being told they can't do something.  I have put that monkey on my back in its place by kayaking.  People say, there is nothing worth paddling that hasn't already been paddled,  its not cool to spend your weekends in high school outside, that run has no access, you will never get in there, you won't ever find any quality whitewater out there.  In my head, all those have been proven wrong, which makes it worth it to me.

Planning/Prediction-  This is the part I love the most.  Research, devoting time no one else is willing to give, solving the puzzle.  I have always likened kayaking to reading a book.  I'm always trying to find out what is coming next, put the pieces together, know what is there before I see it.  And like a book, if its really good I can read it two or three times, after that it looses its appeal very quickly (when it gets to this point in kayaking, it becomes training to me).

No one but me (for the moment)- When I find a place no kayaker has been able to, or had the motivation to get to before me, that is where I belong, I don't feel any emotion, just a total lack of doubt.  That is what I strive for.

The unknown- Seeing something I have never seen before is the goal, but its a lot less meaningful to me without a kayak.  Just hiking doesn't do it for me.  I have to be hiking for a reason, with a goal, with a purpose, or it does not become all consuming.  I have always had a theory that children are the happiest people because they are always seeing something new.  I strive to always see new things, and its kept me very content, I find that I am rarely upset when there is discovery in my life.

Plus I know there are a few of these out there :)
photo: Jeff Hartley

Talent- The development of my skill set is something that I could have done with any sport (not that it is immaculate by any means), so this reason alone has very little pull in my argument, but I had to do it somewhere, so why not develop a skill that would allow me to develop many skills using only one sport?

The final puzzle-Being with the right people.  You can't just go do these sort of runs with anyone, and not always do the right people want to come.  Its a delicate balance choosing which runs to take people on, you can't just pull the trigger and go on any adventure, because people are not all me, they don't all like groveling across debris filled slopes above a drainage ditch.  The right people make all the difference, even if the right people for the day means just you.

The right people.
photo: Matt King

So to me, there are two sports addressed here, there is kayaking, and there is adventuring with a kayak.  Both are great sports and I enjoy them both, however, it is the latter sport that I practice, with the first being a fun way to train for the second.

continue to PART 2 below...

Wiki Creeks: PART 2

The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our 
encounters with new experiences...

       — Jon Krakauer

          Which leads me to the whole point of this post.  Someone who has read my blog for awhile may have noticed the change in the way I have described the exploratory runs that I do.  It started out with "first descent", then changed to "first known descent", then "first documented descent", and my most recent was just titled "Warnicke".  I used to buy into the fact that there was some sort of race to get these first descents and that was why I was doing them.  This being first business turned out just to be another goal to reach, a reason to do what I did.   But the longer I boat, the more I realize I don't really care about whether I get to label my run of a stream a first descent.  What I do care about, is that it was an adventure to me, and I was able to rise to the occasion.  This turned into my revelation.

Exactly where I wanted to be at that moment.
photo: Jeff Hartley

What this got me thinking about, and what lead to my revelation is why then, am I giving out all this information about these creeks?  I am, in effect, ruining the adventure for those in the future who may desire to do the same sort of thing.  I am taking away many aspects of the puzzle.  I used to feel it was important to document these sort of runs for the cumulative knowledge of the kayaking community, but we all know there is a minuscule amount of kayakers who have the drive to make it to these runs and see these new places when there is so much quality kayaking to be had with minimal effort required.  These people have their sport, they don't need the unknown and the new, they don't need to know where some mediocre run buried in Oregon's coast range is located.  The people this is for are the people who do want to know there is more out there.  They want the fuel to feed the what ifs in the back of their mind.  They want their adventure.

Since I still love writing and sharing about what it is I do.  And I am sure that others are out there, or will be out there, who will want adventure some day.  As a moral compromise with myself, I am going to continue writing about the adventures I go on.  The change will be that I will not be giving out the names or information on how to access the streams.  I have yet to decide the format about how I will detail the character as well, though I don't think much will change about that.  I still feel a need to label these runs with something.  Not first descent, not first documented descent, not something thats a mouthful, but something that I can enjoy and will convey that this was an adventure and not just another day of being in my kayak (which is awesome too).
photo: Matt King

What I will be doing, is leaking out pieces of information in the trip reports, so that people know that these streams exist.  If people do the work, they may connect the dots and find the stream.  They could solve that part of the puzzle, and still have more to figure out.  These will be my Wiki Creeks.

If I do happen to stumble upon a section of whitewater I think the community will benefit from, I will not hesitate to share all information.  If someone is truly interested in a run and wants info on it, I will point them in the right direction.  I am not trying to hoard the runs for myself.  I only plan on keeping the last few adventures in the area just that, adventures.


Some more good people, in the spirit of adventure.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Little Nestucca (wondering about class five?)

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 really 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 1/4 mile 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 on an iphone?)

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

The initial move.

 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.
Hitting one of the boofs (this one was not available at lower water)

 In the middle of this section is one manky drop that is worth looking at first.  It seems small but there isn't a good line.  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.

The tricky one. Would be trivial with more water.

Once past here there are a couple more boofs as things start to cool off.  
The cool off section is still busy enough to be interesting.

  The last class 3- above the bridge has a hump of water that provides one more launch pad.

The run tapers off and there is some easy floating (great rapids for my friend to learn on) until the next main drop, Stella Falls.  This is a really cool rapid.  Its short but pretty 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, Uptown Falls(~6').  This has been altered and is now a lowhead dam.  I suggest scouting/portaging from the right bank, but safety is better set from the left.  The hole is backed up and might not let a swimmer.  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 "faky" 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 really enjoy it.
The take out.

The take out is across from this cool old barn, just upstream of Fall Creek Bridge.

So why did I title this "wondering about class five?"?  If you want to find out if you are ready to step it up to class five, you might want to put this run on your list.  Here are my thoughts.

The first section is fast, however, if you think you are ready for class five, you should be able to lead this rapid, pick your lines, hit every eddy, hit every boof, and feel totally in control.  I felt it was a great test piece.  It is not a rapid that will mess you up, but its moving, requires quick thinking, and is steep-ish.

-Stella falls does not have the consequences associated with class five, but is tricky and will give you quick feedback on your boat control.  It also requires the scouting process of class five because you have to have the right speed, entrance, and angle to hit the bottom ledge how you want.

Uptown falls has the consequences associated with class five, but not the difficulty.  It forces you to know you can make the move, and do it.  It also gets you in the mindset of setting meaningful safety. Best hit that boof...

This run is out of the way for most people, but if you are wondering about whether you want to run the Truss, this is probably a good stepping stone. I think Stella is as hard/harder than every drop until Big Brother.  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.

Disclaimer.  Obviously only you can know if your ready for class five. Also, be careful with my gauge recommendation, I like lower flows than most people.

Lastly, I am talking about Oregon class five (is there any?).  maybe Ill post something later titled "so you think you are ready to for Washington?".  In short, don't run this and think you are ready for the Little White.  

*Maybe the Truss... 

~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)