Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gladiator Creek: Middle

Gladiator is a good run in Oregon's Coast Range.  Access is difficult and sensitive.  If you can find it and run it, you have earned it.  Linked below is a story from the bona fide superstars of Oregon exploratory kayaking detailing the challenges they faced paddling the lower section.  

Oregon Kayaking: Commando Creekin                 

The Middle section adds 3 miles of class IV-V creeking and a waterfall estimated in the 40'+ range.

Below the put in bridge, a series of boulder gardens could be hard on boats.  Once the bedrock appears, thorough scouting (right bank) is recommended as it is not long to the waterfall, and rapids lead up to it.

Vesuvius Falls
(Screenshots: Emile Elliot)

Below Vesuvius the rapids continue.  Eventually they ease for a bit, when the rapids pick back up at a point where the stream passes a small island while at the same time returning to bedrock you have entered "The Games". 

Emile Elliot in the first rapid of "The Games".

 This section lasts for 1 mile, containing more Class Fun rapids with multiple lines.

Be careful of the final rapid in The Games, where the stream is diverted left by a bedrock outcrop after some low angle slides and drops 5 feet into a carnivorous hole.  Just downstream is the bridge marking the beginning of the lower stretch.

The lower stretch is well described below.  Arena is one of the most fun rapids of the run and The Punisher is indeed more friendly at lower flows. As of December 2014 this section has seen a handful of descents, including one raft run piloted by Tim Brink and Bruce Reed (ORT)

Ben Mckenzie runs The Punisher

Emile's Video from our 2014 trip.


Vesuvius:  Mt Vesuvius was were the first battle of the third servile war (led by 3 Gladiators) happened. To get down the mountain the slave army had to use ingenuity to create ropes and ladders out of vines. It would take similar tactics to portage this falls.  

The Games:   Fun section of whitewater, Gladiatorial Games, ect.


The most direct route is along the path shown below.  We used a single axle wheel system to tow our kayaks.  From the gate, it was 6 miles to our put in.  The waterfall should be considered mandatory.
Take out at one of the bridges along the lower reaches of the creek, easily found on a map.


At the time when we ran this we were going off the SF Yamhill @ Willamina gauge for a correlation.  For that gauge, I used this rule of thumb for medium flows like seen in the video:

 If the gauge is stable 1200-1600 cfs. (4.5'-5')
If the gauge is falling 1500-2500 cfs. (5'-6.5')
If the gauge is rising be extra careful.
The stream has only been run a few times, so these numbers are not set in stone.

Later I found this gauge which I think is better.  We had between 550-600 the day the photos and video used in this report were taken. 

There is a visual gauge as well
To get to it, find the road that is named after the town.  Along the main highway downstream of the road named after the town is a guard rail as shown in the picture below.  Walk along the guard rail about 75 feet, one of the posts has some yellow paint splashed on it.  Walk to the creek at this point through a couple of trees, the gauge is along the creek bank about 10 yards from the highway.

An ugly gage.

 The logistical hurdles are many on this run, and even the most die-hard explorers may find they are unable to overcome the challenges to pull this one off.  Though even if you get skunked and leave this Rock un-turned, you will still have another chance to try your luck at the nearby casino.

 There was one log on the lower stretch that required using a shallow channel on the right, no mandatory portages as of Dec 2014.  However, just upstream from The Games, 100 acres of the river left slope have recently been clearcut.  In fact there is a lot of logging in the drainage, be ready for wood and try to get it while its clean!

This stream required many scouting missions and saw multiple failed attempts.  Thank you to the people who helped me put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Rebecca Vogt, Sage Cruser, Tim Brink, Bruce (Ox) Reed, Pete Giordano, Jason Rackley, Rob Cruser, Dan Mccain, Ben Sigler (and his dogs), Bryan Carrington Rick Cooley, Nate Merrill, Melissa Fowler, Rylie Coiteux, Jake Banta, Victor Repeto, Michael Freeman, Lucas Reitman, Willy Dinsdale, Ross George, Ben Mckenzie and Emile Elliot.


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