Monday, February 27, 2012

Rock Creek: Ryan Allen Rd to Columbia River (Money Drop)

This is the section with the famous Money Drop, an ever-changing drop near Stevenson Washingon in the Columbia River Gorge.

It's worth scouting the two big drops before putting on, this can be done via Iman Cemetery Rd.  Some routes have no tresspassing signs, but there are ways to get a good look.

Downstream of the put in bridge is 1/4 mile of warm up before the first falls.  This is a 30 footer that is run middle.  Below this first falls the river bends right as it goes over some more bedrock.  Get out on the left after the bend, and well before entering the low angle slide into Money Drop to get one last look from the left side.

Money Drop is a high speed, low angle ramp of 50 yards or so into a vertical drop of variable height.  You can typically count on it being over 50' tall.  It can be tricky to set the correct angle, resulting in many chaotic descents of the drop.  Recently (2016) the lip seems to have cleaned up and people no longer seem to have so much issue.

Andrew Bradley dealt with the tricky pre-2016 lip by boofing as big as possible.  While Andrew says his hit was soft, this technique is not recommended, at least one person has broken their back here.
Photo: Jeremy Lynn

Money drop from Andrew Bradley on Vimeo.

The level was about 10.10 feet on the Rock Creek gauge under the Ryan Allen Rd Bridge when Andrew and John ran it.
You can use the EF Lewis gauge to guestimate when Rock Creek will run. 
That gauge had a little under 2000 cfs when Andrew and John ran Money Drop.

Danimal rafted this one too.  Amazingly, he landed upright in the raft, unhurt. The level was pretty low that day, around 9.5'.

The falls was measured at 51' high the day he did it.
March 14, 2010


Andrew here, checking in after an exciting trip to Stephenson!

The first time I had looked at Money Drop I had been kayaking for about a year, I knew some day I would want to run big stuff and put this on the list. A few weeks back John Edwards and I had been to Money Drop and put in an all day scouting mission. We hiked in across from the drop and all around the lip trying to see different angles of the waterfall. Getting down to water level in this area is abnormally challenging due to the waste deep mud and failing hillsides associated with the active landslide. During this first scouting mission we had decided we wanted a safety boater in the pool to help pick up the pieces if one of us was hurt or out of our boat. We also checked possible put in areas and running the 30ft drop up stream. The flow that we had was around 1,100-1,200cfs.  The boil at the bottom was huge but manageable if you were up for the task; but at this flow the only way to get a safety boater in the pool was to have someone run the drop first.

       Jump forward to February 2012 when John Edwards, Jeremy Lynn and myself found ourselves here again at a lower flow in the range of 800-900cfs (just under half the EF Lewis gauge). We found this flow to still provide an ample boil.  This would be John's 7th time here and we now had a sufficient amount of people to safely run the drop.  The key piece of the puzzle for us was getting a safety boater in the pool below, which was pretty easy on this day.  Thanks Jeremy!  When we were there it had been raining and snowing with very little sunshine. We wondered around the drop scouting and talking about our possible lines and where we planed to hike our boats down for around 5 hours that day before running the drop. If you take a look at the photos most of the waterfall is not vertical at all, so boofing or over rotating are both very real possibilities.

Side view  
After looking at the risks I knew I needed a stroke but if it was too big I would be boofed out and with no stroke I would be kicked all crazy.  John went first with a plug line.  He over rotated a bit and became  unfolded near the bottom, taking a really big hit.  Fearing a similarly painful experience, I made sure I focused on staying locked to my deck.  I accelerated quickly towards the falls, the speed was exhilarating.
Very fast lead in
  As I approached the lip I focused on the transition for floating to freefall.  I took a full stroke that kept my bow way up.  After taking the stroke I knew I was boofing out.  I stayed forward in my tuck all the way to the bottom.  The thought came into my mind to stomp the bow back down, but I knew that has been the cause of broken backs in the past (including one on this very drop).  I fought this urge and remained forward until I reconnected, I was surprised when the landing proved to be really soft!  With my back still intact and another drop successfully descended I was super stoked! After it was all said and done John and I both had run it and had very different lines.  John was ejected from his boat, while I boofed and could not have landed much flatter. We both walked away safe and injury free, which is the number one goal on drops of this magnitude.   We both gained some more big drop knowledge to apply to our next endeavor, as well an experience that can never be taken away!  I fully anticipate coming back in the future to try and stick a different line off this drop.  Best of luck to those that attempt this tricky waterfall!

John's Line 



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lake Creek Slides

1 mi

Stream:   This is a unique run in Oregon's Coast Range, with fun slides in the beginning (unusual for Oregon) and some boulder gardens in the second half (typical of Oregon).  The run can start at Triangle Lake, but most people put in at a bridge shortly downstream 44.1617, -123.5707 where a foot gauge is located (7'-8' and sometimes 8.5' on this gauge is the normal range people run the creek at).

The slides section can be scouted from a nice walkway and mini-park at the end of the walkway. This scouting area is accessed by parking here 44.1594, -123.573.

The slides start out low angle, gradually tilting steeper as they approach the only vertical drop of the run (10-15').  The main line on this drop is down the center, what to do after landing is the biggest cause for pause.
 Photo: Lucas Rietmann

When there was still a log in the main line people used to put in on river right at the lip of this drop (missing out on the low angle slides upstream) for a fun hop, skip and splash.

Joe Kemper running the right side of the first drop, back when there was still a log in the main line.
(log gone as of 2016)
Photo: Lucas Rietmann

The runout here is odd, but people bounce their way through.  Alternately, boof into the eddy on the left to do a quick portage around the boulder pile.  Next is another fun ramp run on the left that ends in a short drop, with a nice eddy to regroup in just below on the left.  Good clean fun.

The trickiest slide is next.  Here a tough to scout (if flows are up) boulder garden pushes left at the lip of the slide which is not where you want to be.  Either make a quick portage of this lead in on the left or stay in control and drive back to the right through a couple small holes to run the final slide center or right and avoid a nasty log and root-wad on river left at the bottom.

It is possible to lap one or more of these slides, but generally it is not considered convenient enough to do a whole bunch of laps on all of them.  The easiest to lap is the middle slide if the water is lowish.

The pool below the final slide enters the boulder garden stretch, which is about half a mile long and blind parts should be scouted for wood but was portage free in 2016.

The boulder gardens are pretty steep and considered fun by most Willamette Valley boaters, but not by all.  The final drop in this section is the most unique and can provide exciting lines.

It's a short runout from here down to the take out bridge.

Flows:  The definitive gauge is the visual "Triangle Lake gauge" that exists on the put in bridge. The gist with some wiggle room is 7.0-7.5 is low but fun, 7.5-8.0 is medium, 8.0-8.5 is pushy.

- Over 8.5 is high but even at 10' it did not look un-runnable (most paddlers would not run it at that flow though).

- Minimum is users choice, people have been known to slide down a couple of the slides in the Summer.  Though most boaters, myself included, would consider flows under 7' too low and 6.5 an un-floatable flow.

To ballpark flows before heading out, use the Siuslaw Gauge near Mapleton.  Look for between 6' and 9' for class IV/V levels, though it goes much higher (looked doable for the elite at 18'). Keep in mind the Siuslaw gauge is far downstream on a much larger river, so is only reasonable for estimation purposes.

If you get there and it is too high for your taste, check out either the Play Run or Sweet Creek.

Access:  Find Triangle Lake on a map (West of Eugene).  The run begins immediately as the run exits the lake.  There is a gravel parking area near the Blachly Lane Picnic area (44.161891, -123.570914), and trail leading upstream to a convenient put in. The take out is at a bridge about 1 mile downstream and has limited parking (44.147849, -123.582892).  Refer to the following map.

Original write-up


We joined Nate Pfiefer and crew last weekend to check out the section of Lake Creek exiting Triangle Lake.  There have been many descents of this section, but up to this point no online documentation aside from a short video from Oregonkayaking. 

This section has got a lot of descents this year, and the general consensus is that it cleans up as the water starts to rise, but once the rocks are covered, it becomes hard class V in a hurry.  Emile ran it years ago in a playboat on several occasions at 10-12' and said it was good to go, but they did not run the boulder gardens below the slides.  There are rumors of it being run even higher.

Here is a video of Kory and I running it in 2015 at about 7.75' on the put in/Triangle Lake Gauge.                    0:00 - 1:30

Birthday Boating with Kory Kellum from PMacy on Vimeo.

This run is really not to be missed if you are a local, its short, but a total blast.  3 good slides and a half mile of 4/4+ boulder gardens.  The river carves through sandstone instead of the usual Oregon Basalt, providing unique rapids.


Noted on the trip:  Alsea Falls has a large log in it that is not leaving without some help.
UPDATE 2016:  The log is gone, but there is some wood in the runout.  Probably runnable.
UPDATE 2019:  There is a large pile of logs immediately below the falls, rendering it unrunnable.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Winter Sunshine

With a warm and sunny weekend in the forecast, I spent Friday afternoon trying to decide whether I wanted to spend Saturday kayaking or hiking with some friends around Portland. After checking some water levels, I decided that I could have my cake and eat it to. Eagle creek was to be the destination and the crew was to include both paddlers as well as folks just interested in a long hike in a beautiful place.

By the time Saturday morning rolled around, our group had ballooned out to 8 people in all. Kayakers: Dan Rubido, Cruise Control, Andrew and myself. Hikers: Miranda Merrill (sister), Skip Rasmussen, Jordan Fry, and Devin Geddings.

Special thanks go out to the hikers, who were more than willing to help out when it came to carrying paddles, food, water, and various other items that decreased the weight on our backs.

Since we already have a write-up on eagle creek, I'll keep this post fairly short and laden with photos.

The long hike to the put-in. (the hike really wasn't as hard as I predicted)

Photo: Devin Geddings

Lunch time at Punch Bowl Falls

Jacob takes stokes #3 and#4 of the day. Skoonichuck Falls.

Photo: Scott Rasmussen

The hikers (Devin, Skip, Jordan, Miranda)

One of the numerous class IV rapids nestled deep in eagle creek gorge.

Follow the leader!

Jacob with his fans.

Andrew and Dan deep down.

Cruise Control scouting ol' Punchy.

Dan with a picture perfect line off Punch Bowl.

Photo: Andrew Bradley

Worth the hike! Punchbowl video

The first 5 videos(as of Feb 2012) on Richard Lewis Wolf's Youtube account continue the documentation of our trip.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Habitat: The Rafting Film

This is a film Ryan and Hans have been working hard on for years. I have seen a lot of the edited parts and they are really good. This is the type of film whitewater has been lacking for a long time.  Instead of   "browning" and ego boosting, the film dives into explaining the sport; where it started, and how it got where it is now.  It looks at all aspects of the sport, from unforgettable guided overnight trips, to the bonds forged in the tightest canyons of the PNW. Every whitewater boater has been asked why they do what they do, I know for me its difficult to give an answer I am satisfied conveys how I feel. This film captures that answer and so much more.  This film has the best rafting footage ever captured, no question.  It is made in a way that anyone can get into and enjoy whether they boat or not. They need some help, so if you can, give and you shall receive!
 Photo by Javier
   photo Nate Merrill