Thursday, July 25, 2013

Never gets old

Most people who boat with me for any length of time figure out that regardless of a runs quality, I have an enigmatic resistance to repeating runs I have already done.  One of the few exceptions to this rule is the falls section of the Lewis River.  I have done this section at least once a year for five years and enjoy it immensely every time.

Many people learn how to fall off waterfalls on the East Fork, but the main stem or North Fork as some refer to it as has a section of its own that not only has more clean waterfalls, but is much larger and more scenic.  The run is even slightly adventurous and has water year round.

Here is a video of our latest trip by Taylor Hazen.

A Day on the Lewis from Rogue Specimens on Vimeo.


Flows: I have run this section from 250-500 cfs on the Lewis Gauge.  If it gets much higher the pot-hole at Upper Falls that we rope into becomes covered.

Put in:  Walk down the trail from Quartz Creek until you see an easily accessible gravel bar on the main stem of the Lewis.

Take Out:  Hike out on a trail just below Lower Falls on the right, or continue to the bridge.

For a blow by blow read below, you may be able to get something useful out of it.

Walking a short distance on the trail at Quartz Creek will lead to a convenient rock beach that is only a couple hundred yards above Taitnapum.  Taitnapum can be scouted beforehand from the trail, but we generally choose to scout from the lip on river right.  I have seen two lines run here, one is the center where the most water is, the other is a few feet off the left wall.  Both of these lines go, though each have their pros and cons.

Next is a small slide, then a narrow channel chiseled out of the wide bedrock before we get out on the left to scout the lead in to Upper Falls on the left.  This drop is straight forward, but its not always run according to plan.  Its worth having the probe set safety below this drop as a swim would result in a high probability of gear (and possibly a swimmer) going over the nastiest part of Upper Falls.  Once everyone groups below this drop we run the next ledge far right, catching one of two small eddies to portage the ugly (but has been run) part of Upper Falls.  

To run the very clean, very fun lower tier of Upper Falls we have always roped down to a small pothole ten yards above the lip.  The key here is to seal launch slowly backwards into a small eddy in order to set up for a controlled peal out into the main flow.  The middle line offers a big bone jarring boof, or you can tuck it up down the left side for a softer hit.

There is some really shallow stuff down to Middle Falls, I generally get out of my boat and walk through the middle of the river once I feel my boat has suffered enough.  This leads to a fun slide on the right, or some challenging 30' vertical routes on the left.

If you flip in the innocuous 2' ledge right below middle falls, don't be too embarrassed, you are not the first.

The next mile is shallow class 2.  Below the reminants of an old bridge, the river starts showing bedrock again.  Soon enough you will see wooden stairs on the right which signal Lower Falls.  Safety can and should be set here (a 75' bag reaches from river right), enough people have ended up behind the falls to warrant this.  If you find yourself back there, it is worth noting there is a ledge at the back of the cave people have stood on in the past.

The take out trail for people running Lower Falls is below the pool on the right, or continue to the bridge.

This description is only accurate at low summer flows, high water creates a whole new set of challenges.

Taitnapum during Spring runoff.

Happy hucking!

Nate drops lower falls.



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