Monday, June 19, 2017

Lawson Creek









Stream: Lawson Creek is another tributary to the Illinois River I have had my eye on for awhile. We had planned and failed to run this creek a few times, but after getting some solid beta from Sean Bowen we really had the bug and made it happen the next weekend.  Sean not only hiked in to check out the access trail and take photos of the level (no gauge on this run), but got us in touch with his friend Jim who agreed to run our shuttle!  

We ran Woodenrock Gorge and the top section on the South Fork Coquille the day before Lawson, and were almost stymied by a log blocking the road we were planning to use.  Despite the best effort of some locals, it wouldn't be clear for a few more days.






We had put enough effort into planning for Lawson that we didn't want to give up.  I looked on the Gazetteer and saw three alternate routes.  One was a long shot due to snow and lots of recent windfall, another we had just been told by a local had too much snow to get his 4 wheeler through, and the third was a 4 hour detour.  

We went for the long shot, expecting at every corner to find a landslide or tree blocking the road, then as we climbed, a snow drift.  The only things of note we found was this neat little roadside grotto and a multitude of waterfalls also visible from the road.




45 minutes later we were back on track and headed to Lawson Creek!  We camped that night at Agness Bar where we were planning to use the pay phone to get in touch with Jim the next morning.




As it turns out the payphone has been out of commission for a few years now, but the camp host was friendly and offered to let us use his phone.  The only problem he told us is his phone only works for local calls.  This was just fine for us, since we were making a local call!

We met Jim at Oak Flat, the take out for Lawson Creek, and headed up towards our put in at the Fry Place.   During the shuttle Jim gave us some good intel about a time he hiked up the creek from the bottom.  He had gone a mile or two before being turned back by a small waterfall with vertical walls.  This added some trepidation to the trip, but we felt confident we would be able to deal with it since he said it was no more than 10' tall and that he actually hadn't really tried very hard to climb around it.  Part way up the shuttle route, a family waved us down and told us the road was blocked a couple miles up by logging.  Having come this far, we were not going to turn around without seeing for ourselves.  A couple miles later we came to the operation where heavy machinery was being used to clear debris from the road, the operators moved their vehicles and waved us through with a "hang loose" sign.  There were a couple turns past this point I had brought a map to figure out, but Jim knows the area well and he took us right to the spot.


We geared up and Jim checked out the ridge and Fry place, he gave us some more intel on what might be the best route to drop in on and where the trail used to be.  He watched us from a ridge line and we waved every now and then along our descent. 
Eventually I could no longer see him on the ridge and my mind shifted focus to the creek, where the rapids were looking more difficult than I had expected them to be at this point.  The final drop down to the creek had some poison oak, and neither of us came away clear from that on this trip.  Next time I would take a slightly different course I describe below in the access section.

Getting close.


Priscilla and I talked about the challenge of the rapids at the put in and what that might mean about the rapids downstream.   She was nervous, and I was nervous for her, but we both decided we were ok with the situation.  Optimism won out and we pushed off into the first set of rapids, and committed to whatever it was that was going to come down-river.

GoPro, making interesting rapids look like class III since 2002.


Around the corner we get out of our boats to scout a narrow pinch between boulders.  There are plenty of boaters who would have likely chose to run the drop, we chose not to.  The next drop looks more our taste, it has an undercut but also a controlled line will keep us clear of it.  We go one at a time and have clean lines, moving downstream the gradient eases to what I expected at this stage in the game along with our nerves.   


The last rapid in the first set, with the pinch rapid in the background.


Read and run class III+ continues until a ledge appears on a right turn.  It looks kinda ugly from above, but turned out to be straight forward and clean.



Below here comes the meat of the run, we turn to the left and the river again drops away between boulders, from above I assume we will be portaging.  A quick scout and the rapid turns out to be clean and fun.  I go first and weave through, catching an eddy above what appears to be an ugly rapid, but it turns out to be pretty clean.  This becomes a bit of a theme for the trip, rapids that look trashy from above have fun, clean IV-IV+ lines with the exception of the pinch we portaged early on. 


The beginning of Saturation Station, where a rock flow with the consistency of jello comprises the left wall, with a longer rapid at the base.


Boulder gardens of much variety make up the majority of the run.  One of the earliest, with an active rockslide on the left, marks the longest of them.  While we were there, the bank looked stable but was in fact so saturated that stepping on it we resulted in us sinking through what appeared to be rocks.  Bizarre!

The bottom of Saturation Station, a rapid at the base of a soggy rock flow.



The rapids up here mostly have a consistent style, yet with many different kinds of moves.  We scout a fair bit as its hard to tell if the rapids are going to be clean from above, but they all are.  There are a couple plucky holes hiding in there too, though we are always able to find a line through the soft parts of them.  






After many quality boulder gardens, one of them ended in a bedrock pinch at the entrance to a gorge that lasts for about a mile.  There was an unfortunate log just past the pinch that sent us portaging on the left.  In hindsight the rapid could have been run into an eddy on the right, and the log easily moved.  Oh well. 


                                                                          Shoulda, woulda, coulda.



The run changes character here as it enters the gorge.  The rapids are of similar challenge but a different style.   The stand out rapid inside the gorge is Jim's Waterfall, a 5 foot drop with a hole that needs to be boofed.  



Jim's Waterfall

Everything that needs to be scouted in the gorge can be, but as in most gorges, a log in the wrong spot could prove problematic.

Eventually the run tapers off and the gorge is left behind, we had about 20 minutes of easier floating in which to reflect on the trip before reaching the confluence with the Illinois.  Paddling across the Illinois delivered us to the take out at Oak Flat where our vehicle was waiting for us.  Heading towards Gold Beach, we find our favorite beach campsite unoccupied.  Goals met, all that remains is a leisurely drive back home the next day, mostly along the coast.





I look back on this as one of the more enjoyable class IV-V runs in Oregon.  A weekend combining Lawson Creek with either Lobster Creek and the Elk River or the South Fork Coquille is well worth the drive from the Willamette Valley.


Flows:  The pictures from this report were taken March 31, 2017.   If you run it with more water, you can expect a harder run.

The Elk River Gauge (541-332-0405) was at 4.4' that day.







Access:  Take out at Oak Flat (42.5488, -124.0547), less than a mile upstream from the confluence of the Rogue and Illinois Rivers and but a few hundred yards upstream of Oak Flat campground.

Put in by walking down steep, but mostly open terrain from the Fry Place (42.4926, -124.0981),  Reach the Fry place from the take out using these directions:  Return to Agness Rd, turn left and quickly cross over the Illinois River.  8.7 miles after crossing over the Illinois, turn left onto NF - 3318 (marked by a sign in 2017).  Follow 3318 for 5.8 miles to an intersection, continue straight and downhill.  1 mile later veer right onto a spur road (122), if you don't have AWD and clearance don't push it on this road.  So regardless of whether you are hiking or still driving at this point, continue just shy of a mile down the road (the "main" one) until it bends sharply to the right and levels out with a nice field downhill to the left.  

                                                           Gearing up at the Fry Place.


There was a fire line that went off along the ridge here, you can follow this ridge past a lake and down to the stream.  It might take a couple rope lowers, but in a little over half a mile you will be at the creek.

*There is a trail marked on some maps in this area (1173), but in 2017 that trail was not in existence*


Click to enlarge map                      


If you decide to run Lawson Creek, take poison oak precautions.  There is a lot of it on this run.


                      -jacob

Monday, June 5, 2017

Bilyeu Creek (Lower)




Pronounced "Blue Creek", this small creek enters Thomas Creek at the Hannah Covered Bridge.  Talking to a local farmer, there are apparently still some people from the Bilyeu family living in the area.  There is also a Blue Creek that flows into Bilyeu Creek (the French spelling of that word).

It's been on my radar for awhile, and some other boaters have looked at it, I know Pete and Jason from Oregonkayaking scoped it out and maybe even ran it, but they, like myself feared that because of the private property along the banks trespassing might be needed to scout or portage.


Creek level, with a grass seed field in the background.


It's March 2017 and the first week of daylight savings.  Priscilla and I are planning to take advantage of the light, good flows and sunny weather to do some laps on the Jordan Dam after work.  While at work I remember that driving by on our way to another creek earlier in the month Bilyeu looked like it had enough water to float.  With the Thomas Creek gauge at just over 2,000 cfs and dropping I think it might be a good flow for checking out some of Bilyeu Creek.  With the advances in satellite imagery available to the public, I am pretty confident the run won't be very difficult and wood issues look minimal.   We pick a bridge 1.5 miles above the confluence with Thomas Creek to start our trip from, and decide if it's too low or high we will still be able to divert to the last couple miles of Lower Thomas Creek.

The flows appear perfect and we drive up to the Bilyeu Creek Rd bridge and put in quickly, we are not doing anything illegal but still don't want to draw attention from locals.  Most of the time interactions are positive, but often enough the confrontation when kayakers are encountered by people who know little about kayaking is time consuming and unpleasant enough that we don't want to risk it today and get geared up at the take out, ready to jump out of the cars and into the creek in as little time as possible at the put in.

We are pulling our spraydecks on 40 minutes before sunset.  I think that is plenty of time to go 1.5 miles if we don't have a slew of wood portages, Priscilla is pretty sure we are going to be hiking out through a field in the dark.  I noted the day before it looked like there is currently about half an hour  buffer past sunset where enough light remains that it would be possible to paddle, so with some encouragement she leaves her concerns at the put in and we push off.

--------------------

A month later I return with Matt Pearson to run the section Priscilla and I checked out, along with an additional 1.5 miles upstream.  Now it's getting dark around 8:30 so we are not as concerned with daylight, but plan on moving fast regardless.

Getting ready at the take out (Hannah Bridge).
630pm

Again we gear up at the take out, ready to make an inconspicuous put in.  We make note of the level at the put in, and ponder the installment of a foot gauge here some day.


Just below this put in are two log issues, we squeak by both.  We cruise downstream, enjoying the small bedrock rapids that poke up here and there between the cruisy stuff.  Brush is present along both banks, and short bedrock walls pop up very now and then, giving the stream an intimate feel.


Typical Bilyeu Creek


Every now and then the brush closes in and impedes the downstream view.  Fortunately it never caused a problem and eddies were always available (however small some of them were) where we needed them.

There were two ledges in the first half of the run that stood out, both were worth a quick look as they had hazards if the line was missed.  The first one (Goulet) might be tough to look at if the flow was high.  We got out on the right and waded along the right bank to check it out.  There was an out-building from a nearby residence so we were sure to stay below the high water mark.  Right down the middle worked for us, just make sure not to get pushed into the overhangs on the right or left.

Matt, right on line in Goulet.
Goulet is a French word for "bottleneck". When capitalized it is a guy who lives by a river constriction.
Both definitions work here.


A private bridge over the creek signals the other significant ledge.  We were able to stop easily above it, but the situation was not ideal for getting out of our boats.  I was able to grab an eddy under some limbs on the right and scouted while Matt hung tight.  Walking along the bank was easy and I was able to pick out the line.  If the flows were higher I might plan on just running the drop without a scout.  For that reason I will note here the beta I relayed to Matt, which was this:

"Run the easy lead in center, then go off the horizon line just left of center with a right stroke.  Error to the left".

While easily avoided with the above beta, the right side of the river does push into a rock that would be painful to collide with.  If you are too far left you risk a piton.  It's easy to keep your nose up off the 5' ledge, but if you were to really whiff it appeared possible to get stuck in the left side of the hole which would not be enjoyable as it might be a bit of a pothole.  A class IV move, but missing the line would not feel class IV.

Moving downstream it was smooth sailing, lots of read n' run and while the whitewater was easy it moved along quickly and semi-blind corners kept our attention (again, there were eddies where we needed them).


The creek is pretty consistent in nature.  Looking downstream it is either busy class II-III between walls of vegetation or small bedrock horizon lines, and the occasional log to deal with (we had no wood portages on either trip).


We were having a good time and when we reached the bridge Priscilla and I had used as a put in a couple months before we relaxed and enjoyed the remaining 1.5 miles down to Thomas Creek.




---------------------
Back to the trip with Priscilla
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The parts I had scouted in the summer seemed like pretty easy bedrock on a brushy creek with a couple tough rapids sprinkled in the section above where we are putting on.

The first rapid is a nice set of small bedrock ledges, then not far downstream another small bedrock ledge.  There are eddies where we want them, but the banks look unpleasantly brushy so we are hoping we don't have to portage anything.  The stream is boat-scoutable so far, with some fun class III/IV ledgy rapids and a couple plucky holes.  There is more bedrock than I had expected and we have a good time cruising through the splashy rapids.

Matt (on our second trip), just below where Priscilla and I put in on our first trip.


We slide over a log, then deliberate about another one just above a bridge from our boats before Priscilla decides it goes and slides over the middle, it ended up being more straight forward than it looked from above.
Burmester Creek comes in from the left shortly below another bridge and the stream opens up a bit.

Matt Pearson at the confluence on a later trip.

One notable hazard was a line across the creek right at head level downstream of here.  It's hard to see from above so keep your eyes peeled after the confluence with Burmester Creek.


Half a mile and a few more small rapids later we float into Thomas Creek (being sure to drive right into the upstream eddy) and paddle up the eddy to the Hannah Covered Bridge where our car is waiting.  We had expected there to be some whitewater, but were surprised by the quantity and decide that as long as the run remains wood free we both hope to return.  The sun is still up at this point so we practice ferrying for half hour or so and have gear loaded just before darkness takes hold.

Matt at the confluence.


Rundown:

This is a fun, if oddball run, that I plan to return to given its proximity to my house in Albany. Take note though that with the brushy banks, wood presence and the couple more serious rapids it requires more of boaters than other class III-IV runs in the area like the Clackamas, Butte Creek or Molalla Rivers.  For that reason I would say this run is an option for adventurous and competent class IV boaters who are accustomed to figuring out runs for themselves, but not a good place for the class III-IV boater who is used to following others down new runs.

Also, while trespassing is not required to do this run, I implore any potential paddlers to be very aware that they are close to people's back yards and this is not the place to draw attention to oneself.  Gear up at the take out, put in quickly, and don't piss anyone off or infringe on their land.  

Difficulty:  III-IV (IV+) with wood potential and brushy banks.


Levels:  From the take out at the Hannah Bridge, walk to the confluence and look upstream.  This is a good barometer for flows.


Medium Flows
 7pm on March 16, 2017

Low, enjoyable flows.
7pm on May 17, 2017


A loose correlation to the gauge on Thomas Creek.

1,000 = Low, enjoyable.
2,000 = Medium
3,000 = High


Medium Flow at 7pm on March 16, 2017



Low, enjoyable flow at 7pm on May 17, 2017


Take Out:  Hannah Covered Bridge  44.7122, -122.7186
Put In:  Where E Bilyeu Creek Dr crosses Bilyeu Creek: 44.7041, -122.6669




----------------------------

The further upstream you go on the creek, the more challenging the stream becomes until you get to a couple mile, 300 fpm stretch and above that a waterfall.  All of the access points are bridges, but the challenges on the water are substantial near the headwaters.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jenny Creek









Stream: Jenny Creek starts off flat, gradually easing into class II-III boulder gardens with a stubborn presence of brush.  This brush becomes part of the game and by the end of the trip you hardly notice it is there and strokes are naturally adjusted for its presence.


                                                                  Joseph Hatcher early on


There might be a rapid or two that could be called class IV in the first portion of the trip, but every thing above the entrance to the gorge was boat scoutable.  The entrance to the gorge is an island where the creek drops away to the left.  The left side of the island has a nasty sieve, while the far right channel was manky but can be bashed down.  This island lands a paddler in a short gorge with a small ledge visible as soon as the corner is turned.  After running this ledge eddy out above the obvious horizon line.  At normal flows its not hard getting out above on the right one at a time while the other boaters wait in a more generous eddy on the left or upstream.

Joseph Hatcher with the portage route above him, it could be done without ropes but we took the cautious route and pulled the boats up after us.


 The horizon line is that of Jenny Creek Falls, which had a futuristic looking line, but has major consequences and was nothing we were interested in.  We ate some food and enjoyed this spot, which is one of "those places" that makes you appreciate where kayaking can take you.


After eating we made the easy walk on the right and scouted the lower falls, dropping back down to the base of the first falls through a nice gully.  Just downstream of Jenny Creek Falls is a narrow alleyway through towering walls, there is a small ledge at the base of this chasm that is best boofed on the right.






Exiting the short alley is Lower Jenny Creek Falls, an easy boof on the left or a cascade on the right.  We went left, beware a shelf in the landing if you are too far left.



Below the falls the whitewater picked up to class IV, it was a little tricky with all the brush but everything went minus one glaring exception.  Along the right side of a steeper island a landslide had recently deposited some debris in the creek that made for a nasty sieve, one I don't think you would come out of.  We paddled down the left channel as far as we could and then portaged back into the right channel below the sieve.



Below the sieve are two miles of busy whitewater, there are a lot of rapids in the lower part of the run.  It's class IV, but the low visibility and brush can make the rapids feel half a class harder than they are, though there were no wood portages in 2017.  Every now and then a rapid is more channelized than the others and creates fun hydraulics.  There are a couple small slides and a lowhead dam (runnable) near the end of the section.  We didn't stop much so I have no photos from this part of the run, check out oregonkayaking.net for more photos and info.   Note:  Do not use the directions on that page for shuttle.  That route adds almost 2 hours onto a shuttle that can otherwise be done in about 20 minutes.


Access:  Follow Interstate-5 to Hornbrook California, take exit 789 onto Copco Rd.  Follow Copco Rd 15.3 miles along the north side of the Klamath River and Copco Reservoir to where it crosses over Jenny Creek.  There is a large gravel parking area on the East side of the bridge that serves as the take out and a place to gauge water level.  41.9765, -122.3987

To get to the put in, continue East on Copco Rd 3.5 miles before turning left onto Fall Creek Rd.  Follow Fall Creek Rd 2.7 miles to a point where large and obvious powerlines cross over the road.  Park under them:  42.0176, -122.3414

Hike:  You can follow the powerlines down to the creek, lowering boats a few times near the end.  Or, take the route we did that is shown on this map, breaking away from the powerlines before the going gets steep.  Our put in:  42.0232, -122.3584


                                                       Click photo to enlarge



Notes:  


  • Just North of the powerlines there is a private gate on Copco Rd.
  • I made the shuttle in my Subaru with dry roads, but there were a couple spots that required attention.  A commuter car might not work.
  • From Joseph: "This is a flat, very easy walk and greatly reduces shuttle. Even turn it into a bikeable shuttle. Recommend bringing a gps or phone with map loaded for hike in, there was some other faint roads in there that could get you confused."






Flows:  Check out flows visually from the take out.  The stream is going around an island here so take that into account, there are no significant tributaries between the put in and take out.  Below is how things looked for our trip, we had a healthy low flow.  I would not be interested in trying this creek at high levels because of the blindness and branches.




Joseph used the following process to guesstimate whether Jenny would be running for our trip:


I looked at all of the gauges mentioned in this document.

Some of those with data in the 1920's are not online but some of them that are in the 1950-2000 are still online and if you look through the data can garner some benefit.  Yes, that was tedious but thorough.

I also know that the guys from Oregon Kayaking went on Memorial day weekend.  So I figured that was kind of on the late side and I should shoot for something earlier.

Ultimately, I think anything over 1000 cfs on this gauge would work.  I would **guess** anything over 3000 to be high.

I think on good snow years, this runs way more days than people realize.


I do see that there is a discounted warning on that guage website,"Turbidity data collection will be discontinued May 1, 2017, unless new funding partners are found.", but it is still operational.

---------------------------------

The only other gauge that was even remotely nearby with similar elevation headwaters and drainage size was Big Butte Creek Near Mcleod.  We were there on April 21, 2017.   We had a good snow pack that year and warm weather that week.  I am not confident the Big Butte gauge has a useful correlation to Jenny.









                     -jacob







Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Briggs Creek











Stream: Briggs Creek is a tributary to the Illinois River that enters on river right about 2 miles downstream of the standard Miami Bar put in for the Wild and Scenic Illinois trip.  It is accessible by road without a hike and can be done either as a day trip or tacked on to the beginning of a Wild and Scenic Illinois trip.  

Brandon lake, Ben Mckenzie, Emile Elliott and I ran Briggs Creek at the start of a 2017 "Cinco de Illy" trip, meeting up with 20 other boaters at Pine Flat on the Illinois River.  

The beta we had going in was that there was a rumor that while Ben Stookesberry had been going to school in Ashland he had run this creek.  He put on with high water and when he got to the final rapid, had found it too sticky to safely run.  He chose to camp out above it, waiting for the levels to drop overnight.   A good group of boaters had also gone in a few years ago and hiked out at the first rapid when it was determined the levels were too high.   I had also gathered from maps and satellite imagery that the run was steep and bouldery (250 fpm in the crux section), but looked like it had minimal wood issues.  One of the boaters who had attempted the run a couple years ago (Jospeh Hatcher, who had given us the only beta we had on the run) was planning to paddle the run with us and take out at the campground, but the morning of it looked like flows were going to be low.  He understandably decided not to take work off with a likely possibility of getting skunked.  The rest of us were doing the Illinois anyway, so figured Briggs would be worth a look for us.    

With the talk about the sticky final rapid, big holes at higher water and stacked bouldery rapids, we were happy to see low flows at the campground, but were they too low?




We decided to drive to the put in and if we could float our boats, put on.  Driving the few miles up to Brushy Bar, we were unhappy to see a plethora of poison oak in full bloom that lining the road.




We appreciated the beauty of the urushiol-free oak varieties though!



                                                  Classic Kalmiopsis water color at the put in.



Ben taking advantage of the facilities.

Priscilla saw us off and headed back up to the Swinging bridge to gear up her raft for the Cinco De Illy float.  We were planning on joining forces again either at the confluence with the Illinois, or more likely Pine Flat where the group was planning to camp.

There was about a mile of class II to warm up on with a log duck before the rapids began in earnest.
The first big rapid (one of two class Vs at our flows), was unique and was just around the corner from the onset of the whitewater.  The crux move was an 8' ledge with a kicker at the bottom.  Based on how you interacted with the kicker dictated how you went over the second, smaller ledge.  We had a variety of bounces off the kicker, with everyone coming through the bottom ledge upright, and most everyone facing forward :)



Ben went first, right on the money.


For the next mile or two, there were a bunch of nice boulder gardens with plenty of variety.  At our low flows, there were short pools between all the rapids, I don't see that being the case at medium flows.  Because of the low water there was also some mank, but the fun and clean lines outweighed the rock bumps.






Some of the rapids we shore scouted, most of them Emile boat scouted.  I bumped into a patch of poison oak on one of the first scouts, but we were able to avoid it the rest of the trip.  At higher flows, boat scouting would be more challenging as the rapids padded out.




We had a good time through this section of whitewater which made up the bulk of the run, all the rapids had their own flavor and came at a pretty relentless pace with enough recovery time below each to not feel stressed.  Most of the rapids were entirely comprised of boulders, but every now and then some bedrock played a role.




Near the end of the run we came across a landslide we had been keeping an eye out for, from the satellite imagery the rapid created by the slide looked like it would be a portage and signal the entrance to The Brig, the gorged in section where portaging stops becoming practical and from which one needs to run the sticky rapid we had been warned of to escape.  We scouted the rapid from the right and found that while it would be hard to style, it actually looked plenty good to go and pretty fun.  It just involved lining it up correctly, then setting your angle and holding on!



Even when you are pretty sure a rapid is good to go, you are never really sure until someone tries it out.                   Ben probes.


Brandon, most of the way through the whiteout.

Just downstream from where Brandon is in the above photo is another tier that delivers paddlers into The Brig itself, the walled in section that ends with the ledge Stookesberry was held prisoner above while he waited for flows to drop.

Emile and Brandon drop in.


 There are just a couple small rapids in The Brig before the exit rapid, which ended up being a 5-10 foot ledge.  As it turns out the final tier is not only unportageable, it is tough to scout.   The drop definitely appeared sticky from above, and the line was not obvious looking downstream.  The water split around a rock in the center; right seemed ominous, left looked like it might go, and boofing center like it might go.  Because of our low flow, Emile was able to tether into his cow tail and crawl along wall through the shallow water pretty close to the lip while we held the other end of a rope.  He came back with good news; he could see the left line and it looked fine.  The recycle was also not as bad as it had looked from above.  He agreed to go first.

Emile seeks freedom from The Brig.
He was planning to bank off the wall, but instead took a left stroke and that worked fine. 
  Brig - A place on a board ship used for temporary confinement, like a jail cell.  

 From below, he was able to see the rest of the drop and signaled Brandon and I off the right edge of the center rock (Ben had already followed him down the left side).

After seeing the rapid, we could all tell how this drop would get hellishly sticky at high flows.  The walls below it kind of bow in, backing up the flow and creating a bowl.  We felt that at medium flows boofing off the center would be something all of us would be comfortable with.  We did not see a way to set safety from shore, or portage.  It looked though like a skilled rock climber could maybe sketch his way out from above the drop without his boat, maybe.

Floating away from The Brig, the walls open up immediately, a true boof to freedom moment.  A few minutes of class II-III lead down to the take out bridge at the campground.



If you are doing this as a day trip, you are done.  If you are continuing through the Illinois you have one last obstacle.  Where Briggs meets the Illinois it sifts through a gravel bar, where some of the water disappears into the rocks.  Then, right where the waters merge a stand of brush has grown thick.  Ben read and ran the obstacle and we all followed.


Next time I might just portage into the Illinois :)


We waited at the confluence for the rest of our group for a couple hours.


Around 3PM we started to wonder if maybe they had actually gotten to the confluence before us, so decided to head downstream.  We arrived at Pine Flat and spent the next hour collecting firewood, reminiscing and avoiding the creepy-crawlies.



When the group did show up, the rafts were unloaded and Cinco De Illy went into full swing.




Flows:  There is a bridge at Briggs Creek Campground, below that bridge are two rocks that can be used to gauge Briggs Creek.  These rocks are circled in the photo below.  This run hasn't been run all that often, so take this rough gauge with a grain of salt.


From local Joseph Hatcher, who was part of a well equipped team that hiked out of Briggs Creek with the Illinois gauge reading 5,000 cfs. "If there was not at least part of that pointed rock sticking out, I would not go and consider it too high."  



Looking upstream the day the photos on this page were taken - May 5, 2017
Minimal enjoyable flow


If you want to ballpark flows before driving down to look at the bridge, here are the levels we had on May 5, 2017  I believe this is not a good reference as the Illinois was bumping from snowmelt.  Side creeks were at flows more likely to be seen with the Illinois at 1500 cfs from rain.

Word from local Jared Sandeen, who has run Briggs at least once before is that 2500-3500 cfs on the Illinois gauge is what to shoot for if you want a healthy medium flow.  





Here are a couple other nearby gauges from the day we did Briggs.





Access:  Briggs Creek enters the Illinois River on river right shortly below the put in for the Wild and Scenic section.  The same road that is used for the Illinois put in is used for Briggs, just instead of stopping at Miami Bar, you travel another 2 miles to Briggs Creek Campground.

The take out is at Briggs Creek Campground, the put in is at Brushy Bar.
All roads shown on the map below were drivable by a high clearance vehicle without 4WD under dry conditions in 2017.  Personally, I would not take a Subaru past Oak Flat.



A final couple of notes if you are doing Briggs Creek in conjunction with the Wild and Scenic section of the Illinois via self-support.

  • If you are hiring someone to run your shuttle, it might be tricky to start on Briggs.  You may need to get creative in order to leave your vehicle somewhere a shuttle company would be willing to pick it up.  
  • Stash your overnight gear near the campground so you don't have a loaded boat on Briggs.
  • If you get to Briggs Creek Campground and flows are not good, don't fret!  You can just put in right there at the foot bridge and you won't miss anything on the Illinois.  Or backtrack 2 miles to Miami Bar.




           -jacob