Thursday, May 26, 2011

Clear Creek and the art of speed portaging

After a weekend of guiding I set off on my way back to Monmouth.  It had been raining and I had my boat so i decided to check out a creek that I always crossed over on my way to and from Estacada.  I stopped at the take out bridge and took a look at levels, low, but definitely enough to float.  The one log I saw upstream didn't discourage me much, I was sure there would be a couple more just like it to negotiate before the day was out.  I dropped my gear off at the start of the hike and drove back down near the take out to start the shuttle.

The gate where I was to start my hike.

I changed and started the 3 mile hike/jog to the logging road where my gear was.  I figured I would arrive by six.  It was a nice day for the most part and the rain had shut off for my shuttle aside from one brief hail flurry.

Arriving at the logging road I set up my carry system to test it out and started the 1+ mile hike into a place I believed was going to deliver me just below the confluence of two forks.  After the logging road section, I took my pack off and started the schwack through the woods.  It started out steep and I used the rope once.  At one point my boat took off without my consent and yanked me straight down the side of the hill!  A stick jammed into my thigh, bringing me to an abrupt halt and my boat stalled on a tree.  Below it wasn't too long until the angle of the slope cooled off, allowing for a pleasant hike through the woods.  I used rope again for the last 50 feet to the creek.  I saw some logs but was pleased with my good fortune to have put in just below a log jam I would have needed to portage.  Little did I know at the time, I could have put in anywhere along this 1.5 mile section and I would have been just below a logjam I needed to portage.

The last pitch I used a rope for.

I took 3 strokes, dodged a log, turned the corner and came to another logjam without eddies.  I grabbed some grass on the side of the creek and walked the creekbed till it was easy to get out, then off into the woods.

My first 3 strokes.

Three more consecutive jams and I began to worry about light.  From here out I put my "dealing" skills to use and was making reasonable time for what I was doing.  The creek required perpetual decision making about which channel to take, or whether or not a log could be boofed or needed to be walked around.

Typical scene on upper Clear Creek.

There was one rapid that could be considered almost fun, a bedrock conveyer-belt class two that was 20 yards long with a class two slide lead in.  Aside from that it was just dealing with logs. For those driving by who take a peak or are running the lower section, the small class two above the bridge was the most challenging rapid of the day not produced by a logjam :(

I made it to the end before dark, then jogged the mile to retrieve my car.  Rest assured, I will never be back, but at least I know what is there!

Not too dark when I got out of there...

But this was the scene when I returned after getting my car. 

An aside:  I suspect the logjams were 75% anthropogenic, the logs were often cut and most of them had pink tape next to them, leading me to believe they were placed there.


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