The Little North Santiam @ Mehama gauge is far downstream of the "Opal runs" that kayakers from the area like so much. It's a useful gauge, but there is often discrepancy between gauge readings and actual flow. For example, last Sunday it was reading 680 cfs and dropping when I left my house in the morning. The low water cut off is generally considered to be 700 cfs. We ended up having a pretty medium flow, one I would have generally associated with 900-1,000 cfs on the gauge.
The day before the gauge was 1,600 cfs and dropping when I left my house and the stream felt like what I would normally associate with that flow.
A few years ago I noticed a gauge much closer to the "Opal runs", right at the take out for Opal Gorge in fact. There is no online reading, but Mick Evans has set up a Facebook page to report that flow on. If that reading interests you, following that page will give you updates. I am also collecting data here and will pull from that Facebook page.
The Elkhorn gauge, at the Elkhorn bridge.
In the meantime, the first big rain of the season is always an exciting time for boaters. In Oregon, Opal Creek is one of the most highly sought after rain fed runs and people flock to it early in the season.
Here is a video from Nick of opening weekend 2016, where we did a mine to Salmon Falls run at 6' on the Elkhorn gauge (I consider 5' to be the minimum flow). 6' is a nice flow for Opal Gorge where the run is not any harder but the lines open up in the main drops and the in between rapids are more fun than usual. If it gets much higher The Undertaker needs to be portaged on the right. On the main run nothing is harder (Big Ugly is even easier) except for Big Fluffy, which handed out some swims and a low percentage of upright lines.
Opal Creek and Opal Gorge from IKNick on Vimeo.
November 6th, 2015@370-300