Monday, January 30, 2012

Canyon Creek, Oregon

            Nate, Jacob and I had been talking about what we should do for this up coming weekend. Flows in the Portland area were not looking supper promising so Nate and I packed up shop and headed to Corvallis for the weekend. Saturday morning flows where looking great on Canyon Creek.  There is a general consensus that the creek gets pushy over 500 cfs so we were anxious about what it would feel like.  The gauge showed ~600, but Rick had run the creek at 650 on the gauge and said this felt higher.  We surmised the estimated gauge is different based on a rising vs. falling stream (we had a falling level).

       Our main concerns with the creek at this level was new wood from the ice storm that had come through the North West Region the previous week and the rumors of abundant undercuts due to the unstable geology. Rick and Dan lead us to a put in just above Chocolate Chips that avoids the mile of wood and flat water above, its exciting starting the day off with a class five!  The rapid starts off with a small boulder garden that progresses into a series of small ledges where the water is eventually funneled into 7ft wide crack.  The first 3 boaters flipped, and the last 3 stayed dry.  Moving into the next series of rapids is a pushy technical boulder garden that is leading into Chicken Little. This rapid looks ugly but go's pretty smooth; there is one massive old growth that looks like it has been stuck in the rapid for a while but is easily avoidable. Portage on the right, if you're not feeling it. After finishing the crux part of the drop the river is split into two channels for about 200yards.  Both channels are currently clear of wood.  As the channels regroup the creek rips into a technical boulder garden that is quite long and fun.  The last horizon needs to be run on the right (easier said than done).  At this level a couple of us were able to cut right from the left channel which worked, but is not the preferred line. The left half of the river pours into a nasty sieve with a root wad stuck in the middle.

       Next up was a ledge drop that was very reminicent of sacriledge on the the little white. Big hole and all. A few more boulder gardens and a flume found us scouting Stuff Sack, more commonly known as Demon Seed. Three people ran stuff sack on this day.  This drop has a very clear line and a very clear undercut pocket on the right. Terminator is the next significant rapid followed by Day of Judgement, both of which you can scout from the road as you drive up to do the upper section. Terminator, which is known for the nasty sieve on river left, is cleaner than I had imagined, but still possesses significant consequences for a blown line. Both the aformentioned seive and pocket on the right side complicate things. There is a sneak on the left for Day of Judgment at the flows we had that starts off very manky and ends in a clean 8ft ledge.  

          The section imediately below Day of Judgment should be approached with extreme caution. It is the only section on Canyon Creek that cannon be scouted and is un-portageable. It is very important that after committing to the lead-in, you catch the large eddy on river right just after to gorge walls close in. From this eddie, you can boat scout the crux section (Jacob was able to hop out and get a visual, but that option may not exist at lower flows). The entire right side of the river charges beneath an old growth log and then flows into an undercut. The left side of the river is very manky and contains several rocks that could pin a boat. The line is the cut just above and to the left of the old growth root wad in the center of the river. This line splits the two hazards and is reminiscent to Zoom Tube on Cherry Creek. If you run this thing correctly, the spray from the water hitting the root wad will actually envelope you as you drop through the narrow channel. Although this drop isn't too difficult, it is one of the more consequential rapids on Canyon Creek.    Below this gorge, the run then alternates between large ledges and flatwater. Before you reach the put-in for the lower section, there is one giant ledge hole to be aware of. On this day, two of our group went for a ride, but were able to escape.  

It is common for boaters to just run this lower section (class IV), however the first ledge of the lower section held a swimmer for about a minute on this day, so be sure you have a solid boof before attempting the run, especially at this level.  Watch out for Osprey after the first mile or so of flat water, it would be easy to mistakenly enter this rapid. Dry out in the brush on the right to scout. The run over all is generally clean and definitely worth doing.  

A special thanks to Dan Rubado and Rick Cooley for showing us the lines, we would have been in the dark without you guys (literally). 


Canyon Creek, OR from Andrew Bradley on Vimeo.

-Andrew

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