Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cedar Creek

I had read the Cedar Creek reports from Oregonkayaking (upper and lower) just like everyone else around here and had been put off by those descriptions.  I have learned through my time kayaking that it is usually best to make up your own mind about streams as things like weather or wood configurations can skew a single trip report.  After a couple scouts and confirmation from Pete Giordano that it really wasn't all that bad I was set on trying it out at some point.

Last weekend we were floating by on Classic Opal and noted that Cedar looked like it was at a good flow.  Once we reached Thor's, it was decided that instead of doing the usual and continuing through the gorge that we would pack up and check out Cedar.

We noticed a log portage a hundred yards above the confluence with a convenient trail up to the road just above so used that as our take out.  Continuing upstream we scouted the eddy situation for Box Drop, The Impaler, Coombs, and Hellevator at about .6, 0.8, 1.7 and 1.9 miles above the bridge near the take out respectively.  Fortunately all of those spots are visible from the road for those with a sharp eye.  

Ben Mckenzie and Brian Ward put in where Oregonkayaking put in, Brian Butcher and I put in at the confluence with Sullivan Creek to avoid the Hellevator portage (which turned out to be an easy portage along the road for the other two. 

Ben Mckenzie and Brian Ward warm up above Hellevator.

Just downstream of Sullivan was a horizon line that turned out to be a fun slide.

The Slide

Almost immediately downstream was Coombs, Brian Butcher portaged left above a ledge while Ben, Brian Ward and I portaged the ledge on the right, then ferried across where Priscilla (who was providing ground support along with Sam Box) pulled us onto shore. This is the trickiest eddy situation on the run. If there is no one to grab your boat, I would suggest portaging left as soon as possible after the fun slide. Ben looked at Coombs seriously, but in the end decided to join the rest of us in the portage on the left.

Looking back up at Coombs.

Below here things got pretty fun with many straight forward, but stacked and steep class IV rapids that ran one into another. Eddies were there when we needed them from here down, and we had a great time. One person typically hopped out and sent the rest through on beta. 

Fun with a clear line.

Eventually we were in the straight away above The Impaler, where Priscilla and Sam helped us spot the eddy, from which we portaged on the left.

The Impaler

Seal launching in below The Impaler.

More good whitewater led to Box Drop, where the ground team again helped us spot the eddy on the left. Both sides of Box Drop were run, though right looked smoother. There was also an easy portage option on the left.  

Brian Ward finishes up Box Drop.

Ben running right at Box Drop.

From Box Drop down to the take out we went back to the one person scouts and had a grand old time cruising a few more steep boulder gardens with a couple bedrock rapids mixed in. 

Brain Ward lifting off at the campground ledge.
This ledge can be used to gauge flows, how to do so is described further down the page.

We skirted one log on the left and took out on the left just above a sign reading "One Lane Bridge".  

A good run, one I will certainly be back to.


It's a 3 mile run from the NF 2207 bridge, which is what I would use if I did the run again. If you are short on time you can put in above the ten footer visible from the road a short ways above Hellevator like us (and OregonKayaking) did. If you are running Opal Creek, it is the stream coming in on the left just above the only bridge on the run (green and about a mile above Thor's). 

Maybe it is from all this global warming business, but snow hasn't been much of an issue on the access road as of late. The entire run is very roadside, so scouting the eddies above the big drops before putting on is a good idea, maybe even mark them with flagging. We had no wood portages on the run.

I think it is probably difficult to use the Little North Santiam Gauge as anything more than a ballpark estimate. If flows are dropping 1,500-2,000 cfs is probably a reasonable range. We had flows peak at 1,200 cfs on that gauge while we were on Cedar (Nov 8, 2015) and thought we had a good level.

A visual level check is really what is needed, it should look floatable but there should still be rocks visible about the surface. There is a campground with a ledge 1/4 mile above the confluence with the Little North Santiam that can be used as a visual gauge. 

The campground was marked by this sign in 2016.

Walk down to river level here and check out the ledge. This will be a good indicator of the run. If the ledge looks shallow then the run will be shallow, if there is a big hole the rest of the run will be scary and the eddy situation dire. If it looks fun and straight forward, the run is probably at a good flow. Make good decisions.

If I went back I would look for the rock with the blue circle to be covered and the one with the orange circle sticking well out of the water. But that's just me, use your own judgement. 

Here is Brian running this ledge the day we did Cedar Creek. If you run this creek at a different flow, please account for the change in difficulty that often goes along with a change in water level. I personally would not want to run it much higher than the flow we had. At all flows, scout out your eddies above the hard rapids before putting on.

High water would be fun, but stressful. Previous knowledge of the run would be highly recommended if flows were padded out. Make good decisions. 

Just upstream of the confluence with the Little North Santiam the day we ran it.


No comments: