Friday, June 24, 2016

Ohanapecosh Update

June 18-19, 2016

The Ohanapecosh experienced some high water this last Winter, and produced some notable changes on the stretch from Secret Camp to La Wis Wis campground.

Slide above put in:  There is a slide a hundred yards above the put in that had a log jam, that log jam is gone along with a couple river wide logs above that.

Rail Slide:  I had never seen anyone miss the move on this rapid before last weekend, when 5 people blew it.  I guess I attribute this to a couple small, but deceptive hydraulics in the lead in to the ledge.  Think the squirly water above Horseshoe for those familiar with the Little White Salmon.

Photo: Clinton Koontz

First sweeping right turn:  There are a few rapids that you start on the left and then bend right through some medium sized hydraulics.  The first and most pronounced of these has changed significantly.  It's no harder, but notably different.  Driving right after entering left worked best for us.

Shot: Clinton Begley

Non-descript rapid:  A paddler ended up in an innocuous sieve in the bottom right hand side of a nondescript rapid with a left to right move.  It was frightening for all involved and changed the mood of the trip.
 Shot: Clinton Begley
 Shot: Clinton Begley

Fun Boof:  There used to be a small rapid in a straight away with a fun boof at the end, the boof is gone :(

Butcher's Block:  This rapid changed significantly, the portage route on the left now has water flowing through it and a lot of the logs got blown out.  Last weekend all scouting and portaging was done from the right hand side.  Fortunately, the rapid itself is much friendlier and almost everyone ran it multiple times.  It did cause one swim and some flips, but it is no longer the rapid it used to be.

Jesse Shapiro in Butcher's Block
Photo: Clinton Koontz

Triple Drop:  Earlier in the season there was a log on the right side of Triple Drop, it is out of the way now.

Narrow slot on the left:  The boulder garden with the narrow slot on the left has changed in a number of ways.  First is, there is no longer a narrow slot on the bottom left, it is more open and straight forward now.  The sieve on the bottom right appears to have changed, it may even be runnable now.  Also there was a sneaky piece of wood half way down on the left.  It wasn't much of a hazard last weekend but it likely will be at lower flows.  It might be worth scouting your first lap down if flows are below 1200 cfs.

What used to be the narrow slot on the left, is picture here on the right.  No need to tuck the elbows anymore!

Elbow Room:  Lines are the same, but there are some nuanced changed where boulders moved around.  One person ran the bottom right by accident and had a dry head run, but there were about 11 people all holding their breath there for a moment.  The line appeared even thinner over there this year than last.  Left line went ok for everyone who ran it.

Petrified:  Same lines, but with minute changes such as the middle hole is a little less sticky (two people worked their way out of it) and its easier to make the middle to right move (a nubbin at the boof point disappeared).  

Clinton Begley got on the Ohanapecosh for his first time this weekend and like so many others have found out, its a pretty special place.  Here is a video he made, which is where most of the screen shots in this report came from.

/áw-xanapaykaš/ | Ohanapecosh River, Washington | Whitewater Kayaking | My First Descent from clintergalactic on Vimeo.

With all the changes it seems the upper stretch may be worth a look again, but we didn't check it out.

Hawt Fire:  The class VI rapid just above has even more wood in it now, including a giant old growth that wasn't there last year.  If running Hawt Fire definitely don't put in at the bridge!  This was the highest I have run Hawt Fire and the hydraulics were larger, but the ride was still smooth. 

2019 Update:  The log is gone, the pinch is still stout.  A fun exercise is to try to visualize the amount of water and power that was needed to move that log.

Photos: Dan Price & Adam Edwards

Hawt Fire!

Boater Photo Order:  Ben Mckenzie, Adam Edwards, Priscilla Macy, Jacob Cruser
Photo Sequence taken by: Clinton Begley
 Final two photos by Priscilla Macy and Jacob Cruser

Ben looked at Silver Falls for a long time but in the end saved it for another day, that is one big chunk of whitewater.

Flows: 1,000-1,500 cfs in the Cowlitz @ Packwood is the friendliest flow.  It is often done between 700-2,000 and higher if you want.  It's runnable, but stout at 4,000.

Directions: The typical take out is at La Wis Wis Campground.  To get there from Packwood continue up Hwy 12 for 7 miles and turn left into the campground.  Turn right at the bottom of the hill.  Make another quick left and leave a vehicle by the large covered structure and take out at the confluence with the Clear Fork Cowlitz. 

To get to the put in return to Hwy 12, and turn left.  Half a mile past La Wis Wis turn left onto Hwy 123.  In 2.3 miles turn left onto a gravel road (If you cross under the National Park Entrance you have gone 100 yards too far).  At the bottom of this rough road go right until you reach an open area.  


Friday, June 17, 2016

PPNWWW Guidebook

There is a new guidebook coming to the Northwest, here is a teaser put together by Substantial Media House to help get the word out about the book.

If you would like to support your local shops, please do.  Next Adventure, Alder Creek and the Kayak Shed will have them here in the Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge area.

If you would like to support Amazon, it can be purchased there too.

Paddling Pacific Northwest Whitewater: A Fresh Guide to Northwest Rivers and Creeks from Substantial Media House on Vimeo.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Gladiator Creek: Rock Quarry Access

4.5 miles   :      Class IV/IV+(V)

Stream: This is the section of Gladiator Creek I run most often.  The hike puts you in about 1 mile below Vesuvius Falls, thus removing that drop from the equation along with ending up with a shorter hike while still getting the vast majority of the class fun whitewater.  There isn't much to say other than it is fun, there are loads of rapids, and everything is scoutable/portage-able.  Once on the creek, the rapids start off pretty quick with some bedrock and don't let up until the bridge marking the beginning of the lower section.  Depending on flows, the rapids are IV-IV+.  The only class V rapid at the flows I have run the creek is The Punisher, on the lower section, which can be portaged.  I always appreciate the amount of variety in the rapids.

Flows:  There is gauge information on the main page and gauge page.   Iv'e had a good time on this section of Gladiator Creek down to 2 and even a little under when I took out, though 3 is just about perfect.  It could also be paddled higher but you'll need to decide for yourself whether you want to push that realm.

Access:  To get there, hike up to the bridge at the start of the Lower section, staying on the mainline.  There are no turns, but at any major junctions stay right.  Cross the bridge and continue upstream, and uphill for a steep mile.  At the far end of the rock quarry, the road takes a sharp right.  Just as the road turns right, an overgrown road veers to the left of the main graveled road.  Get onto this overgrow road and follow it as far as it will take you, the end is on an obvious nose of land.   Just beyond the landing at the end of the overgrown road was a small clear cut in 2020, enter the trees just to the left of it, there is a bit of a path here.  You will need to loop back around to the right once past the clear cut to stay on what remains of a grade from an ancient spur road.  Try to follow that down to the flood plain, then over to the creek. 

*If you wait too long to veer right, you will have a steep, slippery descent to the creek.

*If you follow the nose the whole way, you will miss some whitewater.

Click on the maps to increase resolution, and consider printing them out or saving to a phone to carry during the hike if you plan to do the creek.


Zoomed to Rock Quarry

Note:  While the parts of Gladiator upstream from this section leave me with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, the rock quarry section always puts a smile on my face.  If this photo is indicative of that, Priscilla agrees.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Lion Creek


Stream: Stream information
Flows:  Flow information

Access:  Access information


I first visited Priest Lake in high school (northern Idaho panhandle) and had taken the trip up to the natural waterslide on Kent Creek.  I had a blast and was irrevocably captivated by the large granite slides visible on Lion Creek during the hike up.

Last year my friend Alex, who lives near that area in Coeur D'Alene, heard about something called the Pack River.  He told us about it and we were excited to visit him and check it out.  Our main interest was the Pack, but we also put Lion Creek on the list.  That trip didn't work out last year due to dismal snowpack, but this year we gave it a go the weekend before Memorial Day.

Lion Creek starts at 3:16
Video by Nick Hymel

Northern Exposure: Idaho Road Trip 2016 to the Pack River and Lions Creek from IKNick on Vimeo.

Friday we did the Pack, then Saturday we headed for Priest Lake and Lion Creek.  We drove to the end of the road up Lion Creek and walked down to the creek to mark our take out.  We had scouted from a couple places on the drive up and decided to save the section below the parking area for another day.

We got some good beta from local boaters Chris Calentano and Kurt Dobbins who were up there to check out Lion Creek, Chris photographing with his girlfriend Heidi and Kurt boating.

The 1.5 mile hike was about as easy as they come along an old road grade.  

 As challenging as the hike got.

Before long the old road crossed Lion Creek, at which point we walked upstream on river right a short ways to get a bonus slide.

Photo: Chris Celentano

We pulled over when we returned to the road crossing not far below the bonus slide and hiked up Kent Creek to do the waterslide.  There was a trash bag with a pillow some locals had left that we used as padding for the slide.  I wouldn't want to do this much more water as the trick is to stop in a pothole halfway down the slide, and if you miss the pothole the slide continues another 100 feet into a nasty undercut.  Super fun at this flow, but caution is required and lower flows are advisable.

The next bedrock feature below the confluence with Kent Creek wraps around a couple of corners, starting easy but quickly building into the only rapid we portaged on this trip (it has been run).  It is easiest to get out on the left before the first of the small slides to scout the whole series.  

More interesting drops continue below, scout thoroughly and watch for wood which wasn't an issue on our trip but reportedly has been in the past.

Eventually we reached a short meadow with nice views and a welcome break from the action.

At the end of this meadow is a short class III boulder garden and then a large horizon line.  

The first drop is better scouted on the left, and portaged on the right.  The most obvious line is down the left, though there were other options that had potential.

We were sure to set up a person with a throw rope at the base of this drop as it leads directly into another large slide with high mangle potential in the event of a missed line.  Fortunately this second drop has a clear line on the far right and the two drops together make for an exciting rapid.

Alex at the bottom of the two part sequence.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

There is a small pool here and then another tall granite cascade with a number of fun moves in the right channel, and some decapitation potential in the left.  This one can be easily scouted and portaged on the right.  Because it was so convenient to move around on the bank so we were able to set up our ideal safety conditions including a valet to help direct boats over a shallow bit mid-rapid.  

Kurt takes off.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

 It looks like hitting the wall is inevitable, but we all we able to avoid contact.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy

Assistance at the crux maneuver.

 The two channels came together and dropped into a significant hole.  With all the speed generated from the slide all of us who ran it slid over easily.
Photo: Priscilla Macy

Downstream was a final challenging rapid before things eased to class III-IV down to the take out.

 Be sure to mark your take out before putting on!  Just downstream the creek enters a rapid with a nasty overhang at head level, then drops 200 feet in the next quarter mile.
Photo:  Chris Celentano
We were very happy with this run and I certainly hope to return.  We had 450 cfs on the Boundary Creek gauge and 600 cfs on the Pack River gauge

The part we ran


For curiosities sake I hiked upstream from where we put on and saw some pretty marginal whitewater.