Monday, January 16, 2012

The portage on Mccoy

This was written up by Rick Cooley who has multiple descents of Mccoy creek and has dialed in the tricky portage around the big falls.  This bit of information may save you a lot of effort and be the difference between finishing in the light vs. the dark.


Portage on McCoy:

Shortly after the intimidating but fun 25ft falls on McCoy Cr and about 1/2 mile before the confluence with Yellowjacket creek, there is a mandatory portage around a 40-50ft waterfall that will make even the most seasoned of class V paddler's ass pucker just by looking at it.  There are two ways to portage this drop: the right way and the wrong way. The right way takes about 30 min with a relatively small and focused group, and you can shoulder you boat for most of it.  The wrong way can take 2+ hours and will require all of your ropes, multiple pulleys and z-drags, and sketchy cliff scrambling. 
The horizon-line for the portage is quite obvious.  Eddy out on river right about 100ft above the drop. The initial climb up is too steep to shoulder your boat, so send someone up with a rope to pull boats up as high as you can.  From there, the boats can be shouldered to the top of the ridge.  As the ground finally levels out, walk with your boat downstream through the brush about 50 yards or so and drop your boat.  
At this point you're about 200 ft above the river and it seems like there isn't any reasonable way back down.  Many people (including myself) have gone wrong with this portage by continuing to walk another few hundred yards downstream looking for an easier place to lower your boats.  Trust me when I say you won't find one.  If you can look upstream and see a shallow river wide 6ft ledge, you've walked too far.
Instead of walking further downstream, immediately begin searching along the steep edge to your left for small signs of a deer/fisherman's path. You'll eventually find a narrow and steep, but walkable ridge that leads right down to the water's edge approximately 50 yards below the unnrunnable waterfall. Once you find this, go back and grab your boat and walk your way down to the river.  There are a few spots along the carry down where lowering your boat with a short rope may make life easier, but you can shoulder the boat for most of way down.  Once down at water's level, you'll be just above a 6ft tall, river wide ledge and below a fun 20ft slide (which you can carry up and run). 
The 20' slide.
Photo: Matt King

At this point, you are about a 2hr paddle from the car that consists mostly class I-III with the occasional class IV drop mixed in on Yellowjacket. 
 ~Rick Cooley

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