Thursday, December 24, 2015

Bridal Veil

Priscilla Macy dropping the bottom tier of Bridal Veil Falls.
~1,200 cfs on the Bull Run nr Multnomah gauge.
Photo: Andy Ploon

Bridal Veil gauge beta:

  This drop is commonly run when it has been raining a lot in the Portland area.  If you are willing to take a hit, it has been run pretty darn low.  If you want medium flows, with a nicely aerated pool, shoot for about 1,000 cfs or more on the Bull Run near Multnomah gauge.   You can expect around 15% of the flow on that gauge in Bridal Veil Creek.  I have never seen (in person or photos) this drop with too much water in it to run.

It's been rafted too, here is a video from the first time that happened.

 Location:  45.5548, -122.1802

 The falls is found taking the Bridal Veil exit off I-84, about 20-30 minutes East of Portland.  After taking the exit, turn right/West shortly onto the historic highway (aka follow the signs).  There is a parking area and trail to the base of the falls on river left off of the historic highway.  Poke around a bit and you will find a way to get to the seal launch between the two falls.  People hucking the upper tier put in where the historic highway cross Bridal Veil Creek.  The falls can also be accessed from behind the Bridal Veil Post office at the end of the gravel road.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Class V Mentality

I often find myself thinking I'd be happier if I chose to run class III-IV from here out, to let go of the stress both on and off the water that comes with paddling class V.  Yet while the reward is for the most part both intangible and ineffable, for many of us it is paramount.  The challenge of descending a new, difficult river will continue calling us back week after week and year after year.

Jeff Compton gives his two cents on the class V mentality.

As Matt has said, "sometimes when you push the limits, the limits push back".
Jeff in a pushing match (he and Dan both stayed in the boat on this descent of Sarlac in Kenobi Gorge).

Thursday, December 3, 2015


This is one of those runs a lot of people talk about doing, yet few actually do.  The logistics are more challenging than your average boating trip with snow conditions, hiking, daylight and flows all weighing in to the equation.

I kept putting it off but after hearing from Jeff Compton, Scott Michael, Nick Hymel and others that this was a special run I decided that I would give it a go when the next opportunity presented itself.

A couple of the videos that got me excited about Siouxon Creek.

From Nick Hymel

Siouxon Creek Washington Kayaking from IKNick on Vimeo.

And another from Scott Michael.

A couple weekends ago I got that chance, others also wanted to see it for the first time (Priscilla Macy, Ben Mckenzie, Jake Brown) and two were happy to go back (Scott Michael and Matt King).  We met in Jantzen Beach at 6:30 and decided to do the shuttle this time around.  Utilizing a spur road we reduced the hike to 1.5 miles of easy downhill or flat hiking.

The shuttle is not for everyone, it requires modest navigation skills and adds a big chunk of time at the end of the day.  Those I have talked to who have hiked from the bottom say its pretty darn easy as far as 6 mile hikes go, plus when you finish the run you are done and can head home instead of having to retrieve your car.  That said, I might still do the shuttle next time.

Oregon kayaking has accurate shuttle directions and a good description of the run.

Hiking in

  Below is the hike that we did, including an easy 5 minute bushwhack to meet up with the trail.

The run starts off right away with fun bedrock features, these are all pretty straight forward but keep an eye out for wood.

The first twenty footer (Upper Siouxon Falls) is really fun and clean.  Matt sent us all off blind which was a fun way to do it, a couple of us even went back up for seconds.

More high quality intermediate bedrock rapids with an occasional wood hazard continues until a big and obvious horizon line presents itself, scout/portage Middle Siouxon Falls on the left.  We thought we were in trouble for daylight at this point as we had been moving very slowly so we all portaged what looked like a good drop without giving it a good look.

Downstream more excellent intermediate bedrock whitewater continued, broken up by stretches of class II-III.

Eventually after an extended class II stretch an obvious horizon presented itself at the double drop.  We scouted right, Ben went middle off verbal beta because he was chilly and didn't want to get out of his boat, but also didn't want to miss out on the big boof in the middle.  The rest of us scouted right and three of us ran left while a couple others walked on the right.  The left side was fun and more friendly than it had looked from the right bank.

We paddled a ways more to the horizon line at Lower Siouxon Falls, again the scout/portage is on the left.  We looked at it for a short bit and I decided it was too doable to leave it unrun so gave it a go.  I was where I wanted to be from top to bottom, but was tossed nearly 180 degrees by the big feature at the transition resulting in a descent that ended up being more spectatorially amusing than technically proficient.

More class II broken up by some III+ continued a little less than 1.5 miles to the West Creek campground where we took out.  This take out is not obvious and we only knew it was there because Jake Brown had hiked there before and recognized the spot.  West Creek is the second creek to enter from the left below Lower Siouxon Falls, if you pass that creek you are in for a long day.  The preferred take out is about 100 yards above that confluence on the left at a clay bank.  I would suggest following Oregonkayaking's advice and scope out your take out before putting on.

We did the short hike back to our vehicles and set about running the long shuttle with half hour or so of light left, finally meeting at Nick's Diner in Amboy for dinner around 8pm.

The downside of the car shuttle; once you finish the run you still have over 2 hours of driving before you finally exit the Siouxon drainage.

We were there November 15 and thought flows were good.  Could have gone higher or lower.