Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

A photo drop from my recent visit to Wiki Creek 1.

This one is really destined to be a classic given it's quality, low elevation, and proximity to portland. If you like long complex boulder gardens, you're in for a treat.

Steve and Dan along The Great Wall

This rapid was left un-run on the first decent.
Steve cruising the crux of Smokin Aces
About half-way through the goods. Everything you see in the background is completely clean and very full on.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Little Luckiamute: The Gorge




BETA

Stream: After a messy and steep bushwhack down to the creek (maybe 15 minutes?) you arrive at the creek.  The first 1/4 miles is on the manky side and while you want to keep an eye out for wood there usually are no portages.  It is important not to be too aggressive on this run, the first rapid (Catalyst) comes up quick and has been blind on accident.  It is at the end of a bit of a straight away with a busy class III approach.  If you sense bedrock eddy out on the right ASAP and walk down the bank to scout this 15' ramp followed by a 6' ramp.  

Lucas Reitmann approaches Catalyst.  Notice where the boats are on shore, well upstream of the drop.
Photo: Joe Kemper


The pool below Catalyst empties into the lead in to Osmosis.  So get out in the pool below Catalyst to scout Osmosis which goes around the corner.  The lead in starts as a series of small slides, then turns right and enters a narrow alleyway.  This alleyway culminates in a beautiful 30' falls.  Scout thoroughly on the right, if you portage swhack along the rim of the gorge until you are looking down at a grove of ferns descending to the stream.  If you drop down too early the descent is more difficult and you will run into Devil's Club.  It is easy after the portage to walk up the bank to the pool below Osmosis for safety and media.


                                                                                Photo: Nate Pfiefer 

A short gorge section leads to the lip of Tough Luck, a nasty 30 footer with numerous problems.  If it was wood free it would be runnable but still V+.  My first time doing this creek Jeff Hartley and I did a throw and go off the right side, but the landing zone is very small and at healthy flows it would be easy to lose boats here.

Since that first trip I have always portaged left by doing a sloppy climb up the wall and then roping boats up after.  Everyone after the first climber can then use the rope for assistance (recommended).

Below here there is only one good place to descend back into the gorge and it's not too obvious.  It's a steep draw overlooking Tough Luck and requires roping boats down and I usually double up a rope to assist my descent as well.  One below the first pitch it's an easy descent to a gravel bar above the next falls, Little Lucky.  Little Lucky can be scouted easily from the lip on the right, and if need be portaged high on the right (only necessary if wood is present).  This 15' drop has two obvious lines, both are clean but I like far right best.

Below here is a short bit of semi-blind class IV, when it doubt run right.  The tough stuff is over at this point and the difficulty of the whitewater quickly fades with the gorge.

The left wall is worth paying attention to for the next mile as the marine deposit retains its grandeur but goes from a hard stone wall to a softer, sandier material the further downstream you go.  The whitewater is unremarkable and is manky if flows are low but it keeps moving along.  Near the end the walls disappear and there may be an easy log portage or two.

This isn't a classic whitewater run, but it's definitely a classic adventure run.  Osmosis Falls may be one of the finest rapids in Oregon.
  
Flows:  There is a painted gauge in town on river right of the foot bridge behind Frink's General Market in the center of town that leads to Fran Wilson Riverside Park.  Flows of exactly "5" are perfect, "3" is fine for the gorge though the runout is manky.  The photo below was taken after a run down the gorge, the flows that day were fine.


Click on image to magnify


To get an idea of whether the stream might be running before heading out there use Pat Welches estimate.  I look for 300-700 cfs if flows are falling, but it has been done outside that range.  1,500 cfs would be terrifying I'd think, be extra cautious if flows are rising quickly.


Access:  Driving into Falls City on Falls City Rd, you will pass the school and just as you reach the end of town stay right (left would take you over a bridge).  In 1/4 mile veer left onto Black Rock Rd, the road turns to gravel.  Follow Black Rock Rd 3.5 miles to a bridge and a white gate, passing by Camp Tapawingo and the world famous Black Rock Mt Biking area.  The bridge with the white gate is the take out.

**Whether the gate is open (on weekends during the hunting season) or closed (the rest of the time) the directions are the same but will dictate whether you are driving or hiking.**

                                 Photo taken during hunting season Oct 2016 at the take out bridge.


To reach the put in cross the bridge and follow the path in the map below for 3.7 miles (making a left turn 1/2 mile past the take out bridge).  Beyond that first turn a short way past the take out bridge, always choose the main/flattest/most straight option (don't go into the helicopter camp).

Astute observers will note there is a shorter/more direct route, but it's more challenging to give directions for.  If you can figure it out that's great.  It's also steeper and more heavily travelled by logging equipment.


The Little Luckiamute travels from West to East
Click image to magnify





                                
        You are getting close to a critical turn (3.7 miles past the take out bridge) when you see this view
                                         Taken Oct 2016:  Obviously the view will change as the trees grow back.



Shortly after where the photo was taken the road veers away from the Little Luckiamute along a small tributary, 3/4 mile past where the above photo was taken (3.7 miles from the take out bridge) make a left turn over the micro creek and onto the small road leading to the bushwhack point down to the creek.  

                          The trees are about 10 years old now so the descent is brushy.

I like this route when hiking in through the clear cut.  Start down the dominant ridge, then cross left to the secondary ridge when reasonable and follow that to the stream.



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Original Write-up
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I had run this creek twice before.  After the first time I always knew I would return with the intention of running a beautiful 30' waterfall that was almost run blindly by Jeff Hartley on our first attempt of the creek.  That first time we were racing against darkness and had no time for a mishap or even to thoroughly scout the falls, sending us off into the woods for the portage.  The second time I returned, the water was low.  That second trip was about setting up ropes and scoping the run out for a return trip to run the falls with more flow and a softer landing.

On another trip Nate Pfeifer, Willy Dinsdale, and Brandon Bloomquist took me up on the idea to go back and check out the falls with the intent of running it.

We scouted the falls for awhile before Nate and Brandon decided to set safety for us, instead of running the falls which has a discouraging rock ten yards above the lip.

I was concerned about the hit due to my tuck only making occasional appearances, but I really wanted to run the drop so decided to practice some mind over matter.  The lead in is a bit tricky so I was happy when my line went how I had envisioned.  I watched Willy have a great line as well only a few moments later making for a rewarding experience on the whole.

The team enjoys a special place!
(Photo Nate Pfeifer)


Nate Pfeifer did a write-up on the creek that can be viewed here.

2016 Update:  Catalyst and Osmosis are clean, the rock that was a nuisance just above the lip of Osmosis has rolled over and the alleyway leading into the falls is more straight forward as a result.

The following videos show the new configuration at Osmosis (0:50).
*Keep it muted at work or around the kids*
With Gusto from Difficult E on Vimeo.


This one also shows an alternate portage route at Tough Luck (3:00)


The wood situation was pretty good in 2017, a couple easy portages in the class II-III stretch below the gorge and a bummer of a log in Little Lucky.  The put in through the pool above Tough Luck was squeaky clean.

Each year is different on this one as the levels get high, so wood cleans up or can land in bad places year to year.  I suppose that is all part of the adventure that is the Little Luckiamute.

     -Jacob



Direct route to put in:  After crossing the take out bridge, continue straight along the mainline for about 2.3 miles and turn left onto a small spur road.  Less than half a mile after the left turn, make a right turn over a micro creek onto a road you might miss if you are not paying attention.  Continue another half a mile to the bushwhack point.