Monday, February 11, 2019

Goose Creek: Upper

Photo: Priscilla Macy

I can't really give this stream a fair shake, as the high flows from the day before had dropped out overnight and then again as we hiked in during the morning.  Putting on at noon we had 1/5th the water that there had been the day before at noon.  The Smith is known for spiking fast, and dropping out fast.  None the less we were surprised when we got to the put in bridge after 2.5 hours of hiking and saw there were fish flows in the creek.  

 Photo: Priscilla Macy

We weren't about to hike back out so started ass-jamming our way downstream.  Since it was our mistake putting in at this low of a flow, and not the streams, I tried to picture the rapids as they would be with water in them, and thought they would be good.  Miles of class IV with two class V's and a number of ledges that were fun even with next to no water.

Photo: Priscilla Macy


For an informed opinion of this stretch of stream buy a copy of Dan Menton's New School Guide to Northern California Whitewater.

Flows:  I would shoot for 5-10k on the Jedediah Gauge if I went back, but that's just a personal guess.  There was 3k on the gauge when we checked at 7 in the morning, but it had dropped to 2k by the time we put on, and 1.5k by the time we took off on November 24, 2018.  We needed at the bare minimum twice as much water as was in the creek at the put in.


Seven miles downstream of Gasquet, CA turn off the highway and drive over two bridges (MF and SF Smith).  Drive 12.7 miles, paralleling the SF Smith to a Stevens bridge over the SF Smith, this is the take out.  41.6932, -123.9303

 *4.9 miles shy of the take out you will cross Rock Creek.  I imagine this creek could be used to gauge whether Goose will be in (not a perfect gauge).  From a couple trips up there, I think Goose will have a proportional amount of water in it, though Rock Creek is much smaller.  

From the take out, drive upstream along the SF Smith 1 more mile and turn right, quickly crossing a bridge over the SF Smith.  Follow the paved road called the "Go-Road" 8.9 miles, getting some beautiful views once the road has topped out if the weather is good.  At the 8.9 mile mark turn right onto a small spur just passed a guard rail as the Go-Road turns back to the left.
41.5921, -123.8766

Depending on your vehicle and willingness to pinstripe your car you can knock off quite a bit of hiking by driving down this road.  Even without pin-striping, high clearance vehicles can drive about 1 mile.  If you are going to push as far as you can in a vehicle in the name of reducing hiking, bring both a chain and hand-saw.

  Photo: Priscilla Macy

From the Go-Road, you can hike 8 miles without leaving the road to a bridge at the put in(41.5824, -123.9101).  Those directions are in the New School Guide.  The hike can be reduced to just over 2 miles if you are willing to bushwhack.  Either way, I recommend bringing a paper map and/or having maps cached on your phone since there really isn't time to get lost on a trip of this length.

 Photo: Priscilla Macy

Here is the route we took.  The last bushwhack was humorously challenging.  Bush-surfing and tunneling, most of us were laughing but I wouldn't chose that route again.  Joseph went first and barrelled his way through, creating somewhat of a path to follow for the rest of us.
2.5 miles

Click on photos to enlarge.

Here is the route I would take if I went back.  You could knock it down to 2 miles with a second bushwhack after the first half mile. 
3.2 miles


*As Dan Menton's book notes, Arn's Falls does indeed have a tricky lead in, at the low flow we seal launched in from the right side just at the lip of the second drop.  Watch the pockets, especially the right wall.  This area is probably the most nitty-gritty on the creek, both for the drop and the gorge that you are in.  Don't forget to look around.

Arn's Falls, sans flow.

*Double walls falls is gnarly, I don't see any circumstance where I would want to run it, though it does appear runnable.  It's an easy portage on the left.

*There was remarkably little in the way of wood issues, though it was present.  I believe we had one wood portage in 12 miles.

*We put on at noon, and took out at 5pm.  We were pushing hard to make downstream progress and had no incidents and functioned well as a team.  The hike took 2.5 hours or so.

*The Go-Road goes up to 3800' during the shuttle, so snow is a going to be a show stopper most of the season.  There were rumors of a gate on the road, but it is past the portion of the road used for the Upper Goose shuttle so is a non-factor.

Paddlers: Priscilla, Zach Levine, Joseph Hatcher, 2 visitors from Europe.