Thursday, August 10, 2017

Squamish Overnighter

It can be hard to appreciate where you are when the whitewater is tough, it sometimes takes a different sort of trip to soak it all in.


Stream:  We drove past the Ashlu bridge and continued up the Squamish Service Rd towards Fear Canyon.  We got to a creek that had been blown out and put in there.  We could hear the sediment moving along by a suspended load as it flowed through a culvert.  The creek only had 100 cfs or less so the amount of rock it was moving impressed us. 

The blown out creek and the origin of the mass wasting event.
All Photos: Priscilla Macy

Because of the newly deposited sediment the ground near where we put in was not as stable as it appeared.  A few of us sank knee deep through the rocks.  The deceptive ground reminded us of the scene from Halo Effect where the team gets their vehicles stuck in the Icelandic mud.

Though our scenario was far less severe.

With all the islands on this river, we were hoping there would be some good squirt boating for Emile.

We brought as much gear as we could squeeze in (and on, not necessarily a recommended technique) for what we thought would be flatwater and riffles.

Emile ended up not trying to squirt boat because the water was cold and shallow, he was pretty uncomfortable by the time we got to camp.  As it turned out there were numerous class II-III rapids that were enjoyable for us in the creek boats, but soaked and chilled Emile to the bone.

We found refuge on a big island in the center of the Squamish (50.0361, -123.3462), no doubt the best campsite I have ever used.  Fire wood was abundant, the committee for keeping it going was headed up by Ross George on this trip.

Since first driving up this part of the Squamish to run Dipper Creek, the prospect of camping along the river with a view of this glacier had called to me.  It ended up being everything I had hoped it would be.

Emile brought his training kite (to practice for kite-boarding) and we played around with that a bit in the morning.  The loads of firewood are visible in the background here.
All Photos: Priscilla Macy

The run ended up having more engaging whitewater than we had expected, big water class II-III waves that just kept moving along with no slack water.  Just enough whitewater to keep us engaged, but easy enough to sit back and enjoy the ride.  The most interesting part was there were so many channels between the islands we got to pick different routes, most with 1,000 cfs or so.  At one point the group split up and the channels didn't rejoin for about 20 minutes.

We were all pleasantly surprised with the run and I'd do it again.  I think it's part of the Elaho-Squamish run that has a write-up in the River Gypsies Guide to North America.  I'd put in higher and take out lower than we did on this trip next time as the combination of a fast moving river & no scouting means miles are covered quickly.

Sept 4/5, 2016:
This was a fine flow,  could do plenty higher or lower but this was a friendly med/low with fun waves and quickly moving water the entire way (no stagnant pools).  Many options to take different channels.  Incredible camping on the islands.  We camped here 50.0361, -123.3462

Our put in:   50.0711, -123.3435
Our take out:   50.0015, -123.3249

 Elaho Gauge

Squamish Gauge

Access:   Take Hwy 99 to Squamish, just South of the Cheekye River turn West onto Squamish Valley Rd.  In about 15 miles is a bridge over the Squamish leading to the Ashlu (49.9144, -123.293).  This is a possible take out, or continue upstream to any number of roadside pull-offs.

Do not travel over the bridge up to the Ashlu, instead stay on the main road paralleling the Squamish on river left.  About 13 miles after passing the Ashlu bridge is the blown out creek we put in at.  Next time I would continue another 4 miles past this blown out creek (17 miles past the Ashlu bridge/50.0712, -123.3431) and turn left to travel up the Elaho.  2.5 miles after making this turn there is a bridge across the Elaho marking the take out for Fear Canyon and I would put in at this bridge (50.1145, -123.4294).

*Class V boaters could start with a Fear Canyon run and continue down this stretch*

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cispus: Super Slides

Photos:  Priscilla Macy


More beta for this run can be found here, and here.

Stream: If you put in on Goat Creek with a similar configuration of trees as we found in 2017, you will find a small stream with numerous portages around logs and some loose boating.  If you put in on the Cispus, you might have a quick portage or two before the slides start.  Of the two approaches, I preferred the second.  It requires about 30 minutes of downhill walking through open forest, the classic Northwest forest allowed for easy dragging.

Once you reach the Cispus, the stream is consolidated and there are a couple class III-IV rapids before the first horizon line which can be easily scouted on the right.  From this point to a point less than 1/4 mile above Walupt Creek Falls the stream is continuous slides.  All fun, all straight forward.

The trick is finding eddies, when there is enough water for the run to be fun, you need to scout eddy to eddy which can take a fair bit of time/effort.  The first lap took us 4-5 hours, the second lap (once we knew the run) took us less than 15 minutes.  

The scouting and eddy situation starts out friendly once on the Cispus and slowly works its way towards tricky as the slides bend around sharper corners.  Nannie Creek enters the Cispus over the below pictured waterfall.  This falls is a good indicator of having reached the finale, the rapid above it is the first corner that requires creativity to scout.

The river bends right below the Nannie Creek confluence (last easy eddy), back to the left and then drops away steeply into the finale.  Once past the horizon line, paddlers are committed to nearly 1/2 mile of continuous slides.  It took about an hour to scout the first time high on river right, which we were able to do thanks to Adam making a dicey eddy and pulling us in out of the slide one at a time.  Once at Nannie Creek Falls, don't leave any eddies until you know how to get into the next one, or are comfortable committing to the next half mile of slides.  The second trip we knew it was clear so didn't scout and it took just a couple minutes to run.  The line for us was to stay center, justified to the inside of any corners.  

                            The steepest part of the final 1/4 mile, from Adam Edward's perspective.

This final 1/2 mile rapid below Nannie Creek ranks up there with one of my favorite rapids of all time, I felt the effort of the run was totally justified by the largest scale class III-IV rapid Iv'e ever run.  Giggles all around.  The whitewater soon peters out and then ends where Walupt Creek falls enters on the left.  There is a surf wave and rocky beach here, it makes for a nice lunch stop.

After taking in Walupt Creek Falls, it's time to head downstream.  If you are taking the trail out (a little under 1/2 mile downstream of Walupt Creek), keep an eye on river left.  After passing the second notable rockslide, there will be a 30 foot high cliff on river left visible downstream.  Eddy out just below the cliff on river left.  Walk up to the bench 10 feet above river level, you should see another rockslide at this point.  Parallel the river along the bench until you come across a trail, follow this trail up to the vehicles.

If you are using the bridge take out, you will enter the swamp a short distance below the final rockslide.  Downstream progress will become difficult for 1/4 mile as you portage through the swamp.  The river re-consolidates a short distance above the bridge.

Flows:  We ran this twice in June 2017, The Cispus was flowing from snowmelt with bumps from significant rain.  June 16 was a fun, friendly flow.  June 18 was a little lower, but still worth it.  Word is 3,000 is medium, give or take 1,000 cfs to get the range of low to high, 500 cfs or more than that in either direction are pushing into the distant edges of runnable.  Eddies are the limiting factor on this run, they were scarce at low flows.

Access:  The standard route into the area (NF-23 out of Randle) was not passible due to the road being washed out by the Cispus River near Blue Lake.  We took NF-21 paralleling Johnson Creek (which looked like it was at a friendly flow).  For that route, leaving Hwy 12, take NF-21 16 miles and turn left toward Walupt Lake.  Cross the Cispus 1.5 miles later.  This would be the preferred take out, except there is a 1/4 mile long portage through a swamp if you choose that route.  We chose to continue another 1.7 miles to a trailhead, where you can hike about 3/4 of a mile uphill at the end of the day to avoid the portage.

Bridge Take Out:  46.4146, -121.5244
Trail Take Out:  46.4234, -121.5011

To get to the put in return to the bridge across the Cispus and head back towards NF-21.  If you have a high clearance vehicle you may choose to take a short cut shortly before reaching NF-21 on NF-2152.  If you have a Subaru, continue to NF-21 and turn right.  Continue 2.9 miles and turn right again on NF-2150 (the road becomes unmanaged).  Another 1 mile and turn right onto NF-2152, and in another 0.6 miles left onto NF-016 (the road can be rough).  In 0.9 miles there will be a spur road going off to the left, and in another hundred yards you will notice a small marshy-pond to the left, park here.  Follow the rivulet leaving the marshy-pond down to the Cispus, the distance is under 1 mile.  You will know you are close when you reach a second marshy-pond area.


If you want to put in on Goat Creek, just continue past the marshy-pond to the end of the road.  Goat Creek is visible from there.  

Hike in to the Cispus:  46.4494, -121.5144
Walk in to Goat Creek: 46.4585, -121.5102

Paddlers:  Adam Edwards, Whitney Butler, Brandon Lake, Priscilla Macy, Jacob Cruser