Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving: Clear Creek

Looking back on the year of 2013, I really do have a lot to be thankful for! I'm in good health (fairly decent anyway) and have an amazing family. I've got great friends and continue to meet new and interesting people. I was fortunate enough to travel to 4 different foreign countries. I started a new job and am performing well in the position. And.... I got in some exceptional kayaking!

In the holiday spirit, I thought I'd throw up a quick video edit from a spring trip to California. I caught up with the Corvallis Crew on the way back home from a Middle Feather trip while they were making the best of Oregon State University spring break. We tooled around Northern California for a few days and knocked out a couple laps on Clear Creek, a small trib of the Klamath River. The river is short, but classy and features a couple harder drops mixed in with some class IV. The last rapid, aptly named Cotton Mouth, is unscoutable/unportagable and is a step above in terms of difficulty compared to the rest of the run. Beautiful gorges and gin clear water make this a creek that's not to be missed if you're in the area. About 20 minutes from Happy Camp and an hour from the Cal-Salmon if memory serves.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pure Joy Amongst Pure Hate

The Pure Hate Gorge on Quartzville Creek has a write up on Oregonkayaking that has kept anyone I knew of away.

I had never been particularly interested in the run until Lucas Glick and I were riding on a speedboat with kayaks in tow across Green Peter Reservoir.  We had just paddled off the Middle Santiam Wilderness run and found we were going to get to our cars with plenty of light left.  Conversation with the kind locals quickly died out as nothing but the most basic of pleasantries was possible with the noise of the wind.  I began brainstorming and I thought that Pure Hate was nearby, short, and would be low.  Maybe we should check it out?

Lucas is not hard to convince when it comes to trying new things in a kayak so once we reached the take out and had our gear packed we headed up the Quartzville rd.

 The put in was easy enough to find, a quick walk to the river and we were on our way.  There were a couple small bedrock rapids and some wood before a 6' ledge.  Below here things kicked off.  First was a slide with wood.  Then the creek turned the corner and dropped through some serious whitewater.  The first two rapids had us pretty worried and a downstream view showed another corner in a locked in gorge.  With less than an hour of daylight left we hiked out, deciding to potentially return the next day.

We stayed at the Glick's house in Sweet Home, where we were treated to some cooked food by Lucas's mother.  I was tired after the long day on the Middle Santiam and by the time I fell asleep I had written off boating the next day and Lucas bailed on the Clear Fork.  Lucas came into the guest room in the morning and asked if I wanted to head back into Pure Hate.  I thought about it for a few seconds, but knew I couldn't turn down a chance to see what was in the gorge and before long Lucas Reitman had showed up at the house ready for adventure. While making breakfast we looked at some canyoneering reports and the satellite imagery, by mid-morning we felt we knew mostly what we were in for.

We put on to slightly less water than the day before but still acceptable exploratory flows.  Again we paddled our way down to the gnarly rapids at the head of the gorge, this time though the Lucas's were fired up to run the near mandatory one and I decided to force a portage route, while also trying to set some sort of safety.

Glick went first and came through with nary a wobble.
Lucas Glick drops into "Fear and Loathing", a two drop rapid with a tricky ledge into a pothole that is just out of sight in this photo.

 Lucas Reitman also cleaned it.  I scrambled around to a point where I could do a throw and go, and took advantage of the low water to take a peak around the next corner, which turned out to be a fun rapid the Lucas's ran on verbal beta.

A great place to be.

Below Fear and Loathing the rapids were pretty locked in but not harder than class IV.

There was one logjam that required a seal launch.

We ate lunch at a neat side hike with a waterfall.

Once the gorge opens up there are a few more rapids worth scouting.  All the rapids below Fear and Loathing either had a clear line or we were able to portage at low water.

One of the last rapids.

After a slide comes in on the right (it doesn't go as clean as it may look) we were in the runout and the bridge came not much later.

We were stoked on the run and were already planning our next trip to this cool gorge on the drive home. It is very similar to Opal Gorge and Elk Lake Gorge in that it feels like a class five trip, but aside from the entry rapid (Fear and Loathing and its predecessor) it is manageable for adventurous boaters at low water.

Our best guess was that good levels for this run are between 500-1000 cfs on the Quartzville gauge from snowmelt.  In the winter when the stream is fed from rain, the gauge reference here may become obsolete.

The take out for this run is the put in for Upper Quartzville:  44.5806, -122.2454

You can put in as high as this bridge:  44.5845, -122.193

The gorge starts here, so if you don't want any warm up you can find a place to scramble down from the road between the bridge above and this point:  44.584, -122.2282


Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Special Drainage

The North Fork Siletz is kinda out there so it gets less traffic than some of the more popular runs around Oregon.  It is unfortunate more people don't make the trip because it really is a cool drainage.

The drainage has 4 runs that have a reliable rain fed season.  2 of which make my top ten overall list.  The North Fork Siletz itself is about as classic as coast range runs come and is what this report will focus on.  The more adventurous runs are described elsewhere on this blog and the internet at large.  The main section is all roadside, has great water quality, 3 bedrock rapids of the class IV-V variety (easily portage-able) and miles of III+ splashy goodness. The area also boasts some of the largest trees in the coast range and you drive through the site of Valsetz if you come through Falls City.  When this town was a thriving logging community, it experienced more days of rain than any other city in the contiguous United States.  The town has now been reduced to a couple foundations.   Every time I visit the Siletz headwaters area it reminds me why I like kayaking so much. 

Photos from Lucas Reitmann and his Gopro.

The run has a write up on Oregonkayaking, but they run it at flood and it doesn't paint a picture that makes people want to rush out to the NF.

I have run it a few times and its made a good impression on me, so I'd like to share some beta.

At flows above 5' on the Siletz gauge, the best put in option is to walk the short Valley of the Giants trail to a footbridge and put in on that fork.  Within a hundred yards you will be the confluence with Warnicke Creek and if the gauge is over 7' you will have a very enjoyable III+ ride down to the Boulder Creek Confluence.

On our most recent trip, the gauge was at 4.5' and we decided to put in on Boulder Creek.

Below here are some small rapids before reaching the first ledge.  This is the ledge described on the Oregonkayaking report that only Jesse Coombs ran.

At the lower flows we had, it is a benign slide in the middle, or a slightly less benign ledge on the left.  The rapids below here remain small, but the bedrock is intriguing and there are some surf spots (maybe even a squirt spot Emile?).

Eventually there will be a left turn towards the road, the river then turns right and enters Bombshell Gorge.  Its worth scouting and setting safety on the left.  At 7' on the gauge the first hole is sticky looking.

Lucas enters Bombshell

At our flow there was a sneak route on the left or a tricky twisting ledge drop on the right that produced a couple rolls at our flow of 4.5'.

Gabe drops a Bombshell

Victor becomes a piece of plastic shrapnel.

 Below here is a twisting drop and then a hole that might be worth setting safety on.  The easiest way to do this is to have a confident boater run it first and get out on the left.

The small, but sneaky pocket hole in Bombshell Gorge.

Easy pool drop rapids continue below here until what has been referred to as the recommended portage.  It would be possible to unknowingly enter this unassuming drop from above so its worth familiarizing yourself with the area on the shuttle.  We scouted for awhile and Lucas said he wanted to run it but like the rest of us was worried about there being a rock in the chute.  Priscilla and I paddled over to river right and got a big stick.  We probed the depths a few times and determined there were no obstructions hiding beneath the surface.

Lucas then decided to give it a go. He came in and submerged briefly before riding out a tailstand in his Dagger Axiom.

 It was an inspiring line.

  Inspiring enough in fact to start to make the rest of us interested in the drop.  Victor was heading up to his boat almost immediately after Lucas came through.  Lucas called across the stream that it was good to go and we should give it a shot.  Victor then floated into the chute, also submerging and coming out upright.

Recommended portages are often of the grandiose variety.  This one is a compact model.

I followed Victors approach and floated into the chute, letting the water funnel me into the deepest part of the channel and using a rudder stroke I skipped through like everyone else.  Lucas was quick on my tail for a second lap and came through this time without even getting his head wet.  It looked to me from downstream like he drove harder right and took a big stroke.

We took out here and Lucas did the scooter shuttle.  While standing around it was decided this drop should have a name.  It has only been referred to as "the recommended portage", but given Lucas's volition to go first, along with a second successful attempt we devised a name that we felt was ever so clever.

We dubbed the drop "Go Reit, mann"  as the line is to go right, and Lucas's last name is Reitmann.  

 Lucas fire's up "Go Reit, mann" again.
As Nate later pointed out, it's best said in a Jamaican accent. 

There is even a bonus side slide.

Video of the day from Lucas.

NF Siletz from Lucas Rietmann on Vimeo.

 ~1000 cfs is the minimum for this run, 5'-7' on the Siletz gauge provide ideal flows.  If you are looking for a more full day with plenty of class IV(V) and the level is over 4,000 cfs (7ish ft) check out Warnicke Creek.  You can start above Golden Goose and run through Go Reit, mann for an extended day of very fun boating.  Lastly, if water is super high, a combo run of this and the south fork is worth looking into.