All Photos: Priscilla Macy
We ran the Pistol River early in our South Coast tour to start the new year. We had scouted out a couple rivers the day before and were ready to get in our boats. We ran into some access issues when trying to reach an upper put in, but found convenient access to this middle section. After a short walk on an old road, we arrived at a beautiful pool complete with bear tracks.
We floated a couple easy miles, this part was mostly pool and riffle with a couple intermediate rapids. One of the rapids had massive boulders, but an easy line to the left. About the time we started wondering if I had interpreted the maps incorrectly during earlier research, a horizon line between large boulders presented itself. We scouted from the left, finding shore routes through large boulders. There was a clear line, but it was a little intimidating. Priscilla and Anna chose to walk this rapid on the left, while I had success paddling the rapid.
Anna amongst the boulders.
The whitewater portion of this section is shaped like a pistol.
Running the first significant rapid on the Pistol, entering The Grip.
This was the beginning of an interesting section of river. It was obvious this stream experiences massive amounts of water as house size boulders were strewn about all over the place. This type of river does not usually channelize well, but that was not the case this time. We found clean lines through a couple of rapids before reaching our next scout.
This rapid kicks off The Barrel, it is a straight forward lead in
to a ledge hole. All three of us ran this one successfully.
Downstream the Pistol pinched down and dropped over a ledge. This ledge had a tricky entrance into a significant hydraulic.
None of us were feeling this one and we all portaged, left was a better route.
Downstream is a pool at the end of The Barrel. Below here is one more rapid that was tricky at our flow before the whitewater tapers out and returns to riffles.
We found a rope swing that was put to good use.
Just below here was our take out on the right. We saw a couple more rapids downstream on the drive back to highway 101, something to check out next time.
This was an enjoyable section of water that could be run at a variety of flows. The river could handle huge amounts of water and still be runnable, but it would be very class V. It can also be run pretty low, we had 1800 cfs on the Chetco gauge.