Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wiki #12: South Fork Grays

The scouting trip for this run was a lot more eventful than kayaking the stream, and just as fun!  My dad has been to a few Opera's over the last few years and convinced me to join him for one. We drove up to Seattle for the weekend and while I appreciated the talent of the performers in the Cinderella performance, decided Opera is probably not for me.  On the way back we decided to take a detour and check out access to a creek I had been looking at on the maps just before we crossed back into Oregon.

Finding the put in bridge was easy enough, but we tried for the shorter shuttle route on the way out which weaves through a maze of logging roads.  There were still drifts of snow on the roads and while the Honda Element is a great car, its AWD system is terrible!!  It was designed such that when a wheel starts slipping, all the power goes to that wheel and stops sending power to the other wheels.  This was ridiculous in the snow as whenever a wheel lost traction we stopped moving while the wheel without traction spun endlessly and the ones with traction sat idle.  We spent more than an hour digging ourselves out of a couple different location, but it was a sunny day so quit enjoyable.  The crux maneuver was a washed out section of road near the end where a high speed wall ride was required to avoid falling into the washout.

We were happy to get the vehicle out that day and I at least look back fondly on that trip (you would have to ask my dad his opinion).

This year I had a number of opportunities to get on this creek, but it wasn't until the last significant rains of the year where it all came together.

The paddlers on this trip were Aaron Leiberman, Ben Mckenzie, Emile Elliot, Willy Dinsdale and myself.  However, the rafters who were willing to change plans to help out with shuttle were an integral part of this smooth trip.  Thanks Dan, Scott, Alec and Robert!


The trip went smooth and is certainly one I will return to.  It offers a couple of incentives that make it appealing.

   1- The run it flows into is a good run (Grays), but people often pass up that run because it is short and a little out of the way/on the outskirts of people's radar.  Because the guidebook run is short, the two runs can be merged easily.

   2- It tends to flow when other creeks are dropping out.  So if I was a day late to Hagen or Copper, I could then head to this stream.

   3- The put in is at a bridge and the take out is roadside, a plus for most boaters.


Below the bridge were a few minutes of class two to warm up on before a rock outcropping creates the first rapid.   Most of the water from this drop falls 9' into the wall on the left side creating a hazard.  We all boofed right, landing close to the wall.

The boof is beautiful, but a mistake could result in a wicked beating.
(or a cracked boat as we found out on the second descent).
 "Step Mother"
About to scrub the wall.

The next rapid comes up shortly and goes better than it may look.  Only a couple rapids downstream is a boulder garden that has had a tricky log in it thus far.  These are the "Step Sisters".

The "First Step Sister"
Willy sweeps up top.

The "Second Step Sister"

Things start rolling along after the Step Sisters.  The presence of wood and other hazards along with the blindness of some of the rapids necessitated prudent scouting the first time down, though everything was run.

I nearly face planted a rock in this rapid, apparently my fairy godmother was watching out for me.
 "Fairy Godmother"
Ben reminisces on his good line through Fairy Godmother while Aaron sets safety.

This triple drop was unexpected and one of the stand out rapids of the run.
Emile dancing his way through the Ballroom.

This ten foot drop is a blast and the second to last rapid.
"Stroke to Midnight."
Willy strokes to midnight

The last rapid is just around the corner.  There is a thin line to the right, if you slip through you can paddle happily ever after to the take out on the class II runout. However, if you miss the line you will be testing out the proportions of the slot on the left.  It is yet to be determined if a kayak is sized to fit.

Glass Slipper

Emile's edit of our first time down.

After Glass slipper, there is a 2 mile, class II runout. Keep your guard up until you pass a small, but Malevolent rapid where wood has been present on our trips.  As you near the end, Blaney creek comes in from the right at the same time as the South Fork consolidates one last time into an easy gorge a couple hundred yards above the confluence with the Grays. Either paddle across the Grays to take out or continue downstream on the Grays for some quality river running.


There is no perfect gauges for this run.  There will be a little stabbing in the dark for attempts at this run.

From the few times Iv'e been up there, here are some nearby gauges and my guess at what flows to look for.  Listed in order of gauge aptitude.

250 was a healthy flow on Nov 27, 2018
A little over 300 looked runnable but full.
A group went in  1/19/2020 at 350 cfs on this gage and it was runnable, but low enough they had to portage some rapids. 

Naselle gauge.
The first two times I ran the SF Grays, this was the only gauge I was aware of in the area.  The first time we had 950 cfs, most of us felt this was a good flow.  We returned the next year at about 1500 cfs on the Naselle gauge and flows were similar, but a touch lower.
The 1/19/2020 team had 1200 cfs on this gage.

Grays gauge
A bit over 3,000 cfs on the  Nov 4, 2018 looked like a full, juicy flow.
5,000 cfs and dropping was also healthy runnable, but a little lower.
The 1/19/2020 team had around 2,000 cfs on this gage.

There are now gates on the Grays shuttle road, so in order to do the Grays you gotta add on the SF unless the gate is open and you are comfortable tresspassing.  So leave a car either at the 101 bridge, or a little ways up Fossil Creek road where it gets close to the river.  Or even at the covered bridge a few more flat miles downstream 46.3548, -123.5812.

To get to the put in travel along Hwy 4 back East to the town of Skamokawa. Just on the East side of the bridge in town over the flat river, take East Valley Rd.  Follow East Valley Rd 1.3 miles before hanging a left onto Middle Valley Rd.  Stay on this road, in 2.6 miles it will make a sharp right turn and become Oatfield road.  There might be some signs about the road ending (it doesn't).

When the road turns to gravel, restart your odometer.  Stay on the main gravel logging road, at all junctions the main road goes more uphill than the spurs so stay going uphill on the main road and you will be good until you hit the ridge.  3.4 miles after leaving the pavement stay left as you top out at the ridgeline.  1/4 mile later turn right onto a smaller road and wind your way downhill for 2 miles to the put in bridge.  46.3604, -123.4261


Thursday, October 23, 2014

2014 Next Adventure Western Whitewater Championship Series (WWCS) results are in.

Into the outside's own Nate Merrill took 3rd overall (tied for 2nd with points) in the West Coast Championship Series this year. The only weekend warrior on the podium for Men K1!

Come watch the award ceremony at Next Adventure's PDXKayaker Film Festival on Nov 19th.

Nate starts the EF Lewis leg of the WWCS last year.

And his race on the Wind River in 2013.

From a post on pdxkayaker...

A big thanks to our participants, volunteers and sponsors for making this another successful WWCS and a huge thanks to Tim Brink for organizing it all! 274 kayak competitors and raft teams put on for this year's series, which included 8 events on 9 rivers.

Total points for the top 5 +\- of each event are listed below. These individuals will also be recognized at the upcoming PDX Kayaker Film Festival on Nov 19th.

Full Results at:
www.wwchampionship. org

Check out the Next Adventure Calendar for the film festival details.
www.nextadventure. net

Men R2
Oregon Rafting Team - Jaime Crone and Tim Brink - 17
Daniel Sutherland and Matt Linland - 9
Ben Sigler and Brian Carrington - 8
Jeffery Steehler and Greg Babikoff - 8
Jacob Cruser and Scott Michael - 6

Men R4
Oregon Rafting Team - Tim Brink, Jaime Crone, Daniel Sutherland, Jeffery Steehler - 21
Greg Babikoff, Bryan Carrington, Ben Sigler, Matt Linland - 12
Ark Sharks 1 - 5
Equipo Cascada - 5

Women R4
Red Lady Rafting - 5
Mountain Mamas - 4
Madame Cascade - 3

Men K1
Gerd Serrasoles - 23 
Issac Levanson - 12 
Nate Merrill - 12 
Aniol Serrasoles - 8 
Evan Garcia - 6 

Men Long
Dan Menten - 10 
Ben Marr - 5 
Joe Stumpfel - 5 
Paul Kuthe - 5 

Women K1
Sandra Hyslap - 12 
Nicole Mansfield - 11 
Roberta Grant - 11 
Sara James - 10
Katrina VanWijk - 9


Janice Bell (formerly Keeley)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sunshine Creek (Backyard)

This one flowed through my backyard growing up.  Its a tributary to Johnson Creek that flows through Gresham.  Highlights of this stream included Beavers damming the culverts that resulted in drops, boating the stream at flood in old bathtubs, K-Mart rafts, pool toys and whatever else we could find to float on (we lost a lot of "gear" on several occasions), a 2 foot mudstone ledge with a fast lead-in, foamy boating during low water periods, seal launching off bridges, zip-lining into the creek, running the dam we built, and kayaks were even used on some occasions.  Best at flood level, but always something to do if it happened to be your backyard run.  Usual suspects: Nick Hymel, Alex Hymel, Luke and Elijah Anderson, Kyle the neighbor, Gresham Union High School football team, extended Vogt and Cruser family, etc.

This bathtub saw plenty of whitewater action before we lost it in a logjam on a flooded Johnson Creek.
 There is a reasonable chance I taught Skylar how to wet exit before pushing him off this bridge.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blister Creek Falls

Photo: Priscilla Macy

Stream: This small stream flows into the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash a short ways below Pegleg Falls. There is a beautiful looking 30 footer on it that has had some unfortunate wood in it.

2016 UPDATE:  The logs blocking a descent of the falls disappeared around the time of the Clackamas River Festival in Spring of 2016, so Bobby Brown, Priscilla and I all took runs down the falls in various craft that weekend.

Bobby more than earned the first crack at the falls.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy


Smooth enough for tubes.
                                                                   Photo: Priscilla Macy

It's that clean.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

Downstream of the falls and bridge is a ten foot slide and some wood before the confluence with the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash.  I lost the footage of when I scraped down that part back in high school.

Doing Nohorn Creek through Pegleg Falls, followed by a park and huck of Blister Creek Falls would be a full and enjoyable day of paddling.  Blister Creek Falls is a half mile drive back towards town from Pegleg Falls.

From another day; 3,000ish cfs at Three Lynx.
Kory Kellum
Photo: Priscilla Macy

Flows:  The falls can be run at a wide range of flows, most of the photos above were taken with the Clackamas Gauge reading around 1,300 cfs.   3,000 cfs is a nice flow up there, 5,000 is even better.

                                                                          15,000 cfs
                                                               Video: Catherine Loke

Access:  From Estacada take Hwy 224 up the Clackamas River about 29 miles (about 14.5 miles past Carter Bridge, and 4 miles past the Ripplebrook Ranger station).  At this point take a right towards Bagby Hot Springs (paralleling the Collawash River for much of this portion of the drive). 3.5 miles later take another right towards Bagby Hot Springs. 

5.3 miles after this turn you will cross Blister Creek and can see the falls upstream from the bridge.  There are a couple pull outs on river right along with a short trail leading to the falls.

44.9589, -122.1589

The trail leads right to the lip, making for easy access for entry and to scout/pick markers.

Beaver Creek


Stream:   Beaver Creek is a tiny little stream that drains the streets of Gresham, OR.   Near the end of it's course, before its confluence with the Sandy River, it enters a half mile long class III-IV gorge bounded by two neighborhoods.  Putting in at Troutdale Rd means you have some brush to contend with but directions are easier.  If you put in further up at Stark Street you will have two culverts to contend with, some may find those obstacles fun.

If you use the cul de sac put in (the furthest downstream), walk down the path to the river.  Put in and proceed cautiously.  When the left wall rises up, start looking for the right wall to do the same.  Just before it does is a spot you can walk up to the rim and walk through a field to scout the gorge.

Cul de Sac put in

Once past this point it's committing read and run, but the difficulty is only III-IV depending on the water level.  It's a unique section of stream that I always enjoy. In 2016 there was a log jam at the end of the gorge that could be portaged over the wood on the left.  Alex N reported in the comments below that the log jam was still there in January of 2017.

Typical scene in Beaver Creek gorge.

After the half mile long gorge the stream opens up and while there were no wood issues in 2015, there have been in past years.  There used to be a foot bridge marking the take out but that got blown out, so be on the look out for a place to hop out on the right, there is a trail that goes up to where you parked the take out vehicle.
Flows:  Beaver Creek flows only after significant rains.  Medium levels are 8'-9' on this gauge. 7' was the lowest we ran it and while that floats a boat, its definitely low.  This creek spikes and drops fast so if you don't like the flow, grab a burger at the Dairy Queen down the street and wait an hour for it to change.


Click on the map to enhance resolution.

From the intersection of Troutdale Rd and Stark St in Gresham (there is a Dairy Queen here), head East on Stark St (West would take you up-hill).  Turn left at the next light onto Evans St. and stay the course for about 1 mile until you see this location, which is the take out.

Take out:  45.530068, -122.378283

There is access to an agricultural field from this neighborhood, and I like to walk along the edge of it and scout the gorge before gearing up, others may prefer to do this from the river though.

 To get to the put in, return to Stark St and head back towards the Dairy Queen.  Beaver Creek crosses under both Stark St and Troutdale Rd near here, but the put in I generally use has you turning right at the Dairy Queen onto Troutdale road, then right again in just over 1/4 mile onto Beaver Creek Ln.  After turning right, the access is through the first cul de sac on the right. 45.523693,-122.384203

There is a narrow path where the arrow is in the following photo that leads to what is sort of a park.

Original Write-up

This creek is a novelty, flowing through the town of Troutdale.  That being said, it is much more enjoyable that it has any right to be. The stream is impounded on the Mt. Hood Community College Campus, flows along through some class II, culverts and wood for a couple miles.  It then crossed under Troutdale road and enters a short class III-IV gorge.  To run this we would hike it in the summer and address any wood issues, then the day we were to run it we would scout the whole gorge from river right on the edge of an agricultural field.  Once you are in the gorge it is strikingly committing for flowing through a suburb.

The best rapids were the first and last in the gorge.  The final one being the trashiest with a barrel and other assorted garbage collected on the left, creating an obstacle.

 Priscilla near the beginning of the gorge.

 Once through the gorge there were a couple small rapids and usually an easy log portage before reaching a foot bridge.  The first few times we hiked out on a trail on the left, the last few times we took the trail to the right.  I would recommend the right side, the left was a mess of mud coming up the hill to Cherry Park when it had been raining enough for the creek to come in.  My dad and Val Shaul did the run down to the Sandy once and decided that walking out at the foot bridge is better.


 Put in either at Troutdale road or Stark street.  To cut to the chase, use these coordinates to avoid flat water and trees hanging into the stream.  45.523693,-122.384203

The trail to the put in is between these two houses. 
 To get to this cul de sac, turn right onto Beaver Creek Lane off of Troutdale road within a hundred yards of the point where Troutdale road crosses over Beaver Creek. After turning right, its the first cul de sac on the right.  The gorge starts within a hundred yards of this put in and the last point to get out and scout is on the right just before the first bedrock rapid. It is possible to get to the gorge rim and the agricultural field from that point.

Take out:  45.530068, -122.378283

This is the trail we came out on.  It is accessed from the first foot bridge to cross Beaver Creek below the gorge.  We headed downstream, then up on the trail to get to this point on Evans Ave.

For good whitewater, we would aim for 8'-9' on this gauge. 7' was the lowest we ran it and while that floats a boat, its definitely low.

The gorge drops 120 feet in .58 miles.