Friday, May 20, 2011

Wiki Creek #1


Stream: After hiking up the trail, put in at Black Hole Falls, there are some fun class IV bedrock rapids early on. Watch out for Solar Flare, a ledge with a narrow hole on the right.  The run then transitions to class IV gorges separated by easier floating.  Wood is present, but not overbearing.  

  There is one big gorge part way down that has been portaged to date on the right. An eddy on river-right just below a sloping 5' ledge needs to be caught to portage the gorge.

The eddy below the aforementioned ledge is in the foreground in the following photo.  After catching it scout the gorge, then if you are going to portage walk up to the trail and follow until you find a place to drop back down.

                                                     The as of yet unpaddled gorge.

      More intermittent gorges between easier floating continue with a couple fun ledges mixed in.

Eventually a large wall shows itself on the left at the beginning Smokin' Aces, a 1/4 mile series of class IV & V boulder gardens that serve as a finale.  

                                                   Photo: Nate Merrill

Pay attention when you see the wall on the left and a messy right wall.  Catch an eddy on the right, which can be slightly tricky given the ever-changing landscape of the bank over there. 

                              The messy right wall, along which you catch the scouting eddies. 
                                                                 Photo: Nate Merrill

   Any of the boulder gardens in Smokin' Aces can be portaged on the right, though they have all been run too.  The first couple are the most challenging, scout the line through the last one from the take out bridge before putting on.

                                     Steve Cameron with the wall on the left early on in Smokin' Aces.
                                                               photo: Nate Merrill

 Wood is present throughout the run, but hasn't ever really been a problem other than maybe a quick portage or two.

                                             Matt King finishes up the NF of Siouxon Creek.

Flows:  Best I can tell from a few trips, you want between about 900 and 2,000 cfs on the Canyon Creek gauge.

Some of the roads are gated.  They have never been shut when we were up there though.

Take out access
(click to enlarge)

Put in access, includes a 2.5 mile hike after a short bushwhack.
(click to enlarge)

Original Write-up
Here is a trip when we used a different access point in order to drop in a mile above Black Hole Falls.

More photos

It was the weekend of the NWCC and the flows were high enough that the Canyon Creek portion of the race was cancelled.  It seemed like a good opportunity to check out a promising new stream in the area.

North Siouxon had plenty of potential given its geology and proximity to other high quality runs.  We camped at the take out anticipating a big day to come.  We found reasonable access and did a short 1/2 mile bush whack down to the creek.  It was a bit taxing without a trail, but neither us nor our ground support friends (Paul, Danah, Nick) to keep either of us from returning.

We reached the creek and liked what we saw.  Bedrock and plenty of water.  We said good bye to the ground support team and paddled off into the unknown.  Early on a nice gorge with quality class four rapids set the tone.  We scouted a couple times for wood before getting into the swing of things.  The creek would exit a gorge and go through a short gravel section, before returning to another gorge.  Wood was present, but not intrusive.

We were floating though an easier gravel section when we encountered the tallest drop yet as the creek appeared to enter another gorge section downstream via a hard right blind turn.  The drop below us was a nice 7 foot slide into a diagonal hole.  Matt went first, and caught a low eddy, but signaled me that it was important to catch the upper eddy on the right.  I did so and we scouted the next gorge.  Immediately after the right hand turn the creek roared over an impressive section of whitewater containing two V+ rapids that had wood in them.  The first one was the only one we spent time scouting and decided it would likely go once the wood flushes.   We set out on an extended portage of the entire gorge on the right where a trail helped our cause, the return to the river was the only tricky part.  We didn't need any ropes, but a "non-experienced portager" might have trouble picking the path of least resistance.  There is a good looking rapid below here, but be sure to scout it thoroughly.  There is a severe undercut on the left that once we saw up close both decided it would be prudent to put back in below this obstacle.  There is a waterfall coming in on the left that makes for a stellar scene.  Below here was a move that looked kind of tricky around a log, but was actually a
straight forward and pretty fun, driving hard left.

Runout on waterfall rapid.

More gorges and classy class four rapids followed.  The next drop I remember was a five foot pour-over into a hole.  We both came through upright and stoked on the fun drop.  The next major landmark is the most important to remember for a repeat run.  There is a large rock wall on the left that comes straight to the river.  The right side of the river is a small, active erosional zone with mud and debris taking up the 30 foot high river right bank.  There was a log parallel to the current that was in a tricky spot and eddies are small and soft here.  If you have made it this far you probably won't have any problems, but it's worth paying attention.   Not knowing the situation beforehand Matt had some trouble as the probe and needed to scramble into an eddy on river-left next to the wall after running out of eddies on the right.

From there he hiked back upstream and ferried across where I helped him into shore just above the start of the next rapid.  The next time we did the run we got out earlier next to the log and didn't have any troubles, though attention was still required. Aggressive boaters can still catch the eddy on river right just before the stream drops through some large boulders.  From shore you can see the beginning of Smoking' Aces, which is a series of class IV & V boulder gardens ending at the take out bridge.  The first two are the hardest, then they ease a bit with a finale just above the bridge.

Matt cleans up on "Smokin' Aces".

Matt on the right side of the final rapid, a center to left move also works. 


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