Thursday, December 21, 2017

Plympton Creek


Stream: A steep, woody stream with unique rapids about 30 miles East of Astoria on Hwy 30.  Like many Oregon streams, if this one was clear of wood it would be worth doing.  That wasn't the case in 2014 and we had many portages amongst some fun bedrock drops between bouldery rapids.  Scouting/portaging was reasonable except at a large falls that required ropework on the left to get around. 
Flows:  The day we ran the creek the Nehalem @ Vernonia was at 2000cfs and the Naselle was at 2500cfs.  This was a medium flow.

Access:  The take out was where Plympton Creek crosses under Hwy 30 in the town of Westport, 30 minutes East of Astoria.

The obvious put in we found on river-right was vetoed by some locals, who drove us over to river-left.  I don't know exactly where they dropped us off, but it was a short walk down to the river on a road.  Looking at the maps, Plympton Ridge Rd would drop you in at the right place if its driveable.

Trip Report

This is a silly little creek in the NW corner of Oregon.  Jeff Compton, Ben Mckenzie and I ran it when things got too high for plan A in February 2014, we had pulled out the Gazetteer and found this.  Gearing up we got told we best not be putting in where we were planning.  The locals were friendly enough to drive us to an access on the other side of the stream and give us loads of beta about the run.  It sounded like plenty of slides and waterfalls were down there so we committed.  We did the short walk to the creek and ran some shallow, woody stuff before we got to a log deck.  The log deck was a slightly difficult portage, but we could tell the creek picked up below there so continued on.  The next obstacle was a large waterfall we had been warned about.  It turned out to be a chunky, but likely runnable 60' cascade. We had a tricky portage on the left that involved roping ourselves into a chaotic pool at the base of the falls.  This landed us in a gorge and the next corner put us in a position every exploratory boater dreads: gorged in above a drop you don't want to run.  We tried to convince ourselves the log move would go, but knew if we ran it something bad would likely occur.  Finally I found a way to make the portage possible by taking a risky flying leap tethered to a rope.  Downstream was more wood and some steep rapids.  Ben ran one slide with a hole that almost got him above a sketchy rapid.  Jeff and I took the laborious portage on the left.  Portages continued down to the best rapid on the run, and one of my favorites of the year.  The line was to drive left then fall ten feet to a transition, clearing a hole at the base.  It was very welcome in the middle of the nastiness we had been facing throughout the trip.  Below here were a few more challenging portages and we were pretty sure we would run out of light.  We kept battling our way down river and eventually the stream flattened out and after a couple more logs we saw the highway.  We took out happy not to be stuck in the pitch black and gave our friendly local a call who came to run shuttle for us.  We all had a feeling of accomplishment afterwards, but this was a one time trip for me.

No comments: