Thursday, June 16, 2011

South Santiam: Monster Section

Photo: Clinton Begley

I feel this is an underutilized resource.  Its probably because of the distance from Portland, it might also be the reason that kept me off it, and thats that the Oregon Kayaking report makes it look really gloomy.

I have run this section a few times now and really like it.  I just got off the run today with my dad and was as stoked as always on the run.  What I really like is that it runs at about 700 cfs from snowmelt for awhile, which is a descent level and the sun really makes the trip.

Today we put in at the HWY 20 bridge instead of Longbow falls because my sister was running shuttle so we wanted to minimize her waiting around.

  Below the put in is a series of fun class III-IV drops in a setting that feels quite isolated, even with the proximity of the road.
Part of the series of class III-IV rapids.

A ledge just below.

The biggest obstacle on the run is The Monster.  This drop is certainly runnable, but the name is fitting.  We both walked it on the right today.  The eddy over there is almost non-existant, mostly just slow water where you can grab some vegetation and hop onto the bank, be wary at higher flows. If you are not interested in running crawdad, it is probably best to portage on the left.

The ledge just before The Monster.

 The entrance to The Monster.

Running the Monster on another trip.
Photo: Clinton Begley

Emile and Ben
video:matt pearson

Just below the Monster is Crawdad, which is trickiest at low flows.  It can be hard to avoid the left wall, so right momentum is useful.

 Rob Cruser scouts the entrance to Crawdad.

Running Crawdad on another trip.
Photos: Priscilla Macy

Matt Pearson entering.

Thomas Imes in the thick of it.

 Looking downstream from crawdad and the seal launch.  The water was low and pin potential high, so we both seal launched into the runout of crawdad and continued our trip.  Below here the river pinches to less than a boat length wide.

The pinch from below, with Crawdad in the background.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

 Below here a distance was Tomco Falls, A very unique drop that is uglier the lower the levels.  We did the seal launch I have always used halfway down the drop that avoids the really ugly part.  This is always fun.  On this trip my dad lost grip of his paddle dropping in and subbed out in the large hole below, keeping his balance and riding it out.  Much to the amusement of the two onlookers with their cameras out on the side.

Below Tomco there is a calm stretch before this scene and then the entrance to the Hobbit Gorge.

  The first drop in the Hobbit Gorge is the only tricky one.  It is a small ledge with some turbulence that got the better of me today when I dropped in with no speed, resulting in a roll.  My dad cleaned up on it and we were rewarded with admittance to this fantastic place.

 The Hobbit Gorge is a special place every Oregon boater who is capable should make sure they find themselves in at some point.

There were no portages in here this year, which hasn't always been the case.  A couple more rapids presented themselves before we reached Cascadia park and our take out.  

I usually do this stretch below 1000 cfs on the South Santiam @ Cascade gauge when everything else seems too low.  Below 700 the run is less than class four except for the first drop in Hobbit gorge and the two class V drops.  1,000 cfs give or take a couple hundred is ideal.  It can be run higher, but if it is much over 1,000 cfs there is more enjoyable stuff nearby, notably Canyon Creek.

A video from a past trip. South Santiam segment starts at 1:50

Opal creek and South Santiam from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.



Thorn said...

Hobbit Gorge looks amazing. Great write-ups as always Cruser.

Jacob said...

Thanks Adam! I appreciate the feedback.