Thursday, July 18, 2019

Tangle Blue Creek (Trinity River headwaters)

2 miles

Stream: This is a class IV-IV+ stream with straight forward access off Hwy 3 that flows into the Trinity River halfway between Etna and Trinity Reservoir.  Above the put in described here the stream is steeper, more bouldery, and has more wood.

The section described below has a wide array of rapids, there are plenty of bedrock ledges, ramps and chutes that tend to be around 5' tall, with boulder gardens in between.  

At the flow we were there, the boulder gardens were clean and fun, low water and they would likely be manky.  There were no log portages in 2019.

There are no gorges, or anything committing.  There are eddies where needed, the scouting is easy and the run is not long, so it's a fine one to sort out for oneself.  It was a pretty consistent run at the flow we were there, with opportunities for breaks in eddies but not pools. 

I'd certainly go back if I was in the area, and it combines well with runs on the Trinity above it's reservoir.
Flows:  We had what felt like a perfect flow for the creek the morning of May 30, 2019

Access:  Tangle Blue Creek flows into the Trinity River near it's headwaters, half way between Trinity Reservoir and Etna on Hwy 3.

The most straight forward take out is where Hwy 3 crosses of Tangle Blue Creek (41.232704, -122.645586).  You can take out a bit above or lower down if you like though.

To get to the put in go north on Hwy 3 for 1.3 miles and turn left onto a dirt road passable by a Subaru.  Continue on this dirt road exactly 0.9 miles and walk your boat down the nose of land to the creek (park here: 41.233058, -122.675238).  Upstream of this nose of land the gradient jumps up along with what looked like mank and wood is more of an issue.  

Trip Report

I heard about this creek from Bryanna Lyons, who mentioned it had a bunch of ledges around 5 feet tall said I should check it out if I was ever in the area.  She said the run was obscure, but shouldn't be given how easy access is.

At the tail end of a week long trip to California during the last week of May 2019, we found ourselves in the area.  We camped nearby at a place on the main Trinity we could use for a take out and headed up the next morning.  I had determined that while the access road to the put in does reach the creek at a point that could be used as a put in, there was a lot of bouldery gradient up that high, so we walked down a nose of land about half a mile downstream and put in where the gradient dropped from over 400 fpm down to under 300 fpm.  At first glance it seems like there was more water than I was thinking I'd want for exploring the creek, but it turned out to be a perfect flow.

Priscilla ran shuttle for Zach, Ben and I.  We found the creek to be good quality, with lots of 5-ish foot ledges as advertised broken up by fun bouldery rapids.  We had a good time working our way down this creek, doing a mix of shore and boat scouting.

We completed the run into the Trinity and back down to camp.  We were able to paddle everything and there was no class V, or anything that needed to be walked around, just consistently fun IV-IV+ rapids of all sorts.  That afternoon we scouted the headwaters of the Trinity and ran a short section of it, Priscilla and I hiking off after she bruised her shoulder during a swim while Ben and Zach continued another few miles.

Ben on the Trinity headwaters section.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Marion Creek


Stream: A short section of bedrock not far off Hwy 22 that flows into the North Santiam near the town of Marion Forks.

It's a novelty run at best, but was worth doing for us under the right occasion.  We thought if we were driving from Salem to Bend at the right time of year it could be a nice way to break up the drive.  Or if someone was looking for a class IV version of Sweet Creek.

There is a short walk in through the woods, and everything can be scouted either by the standard method of catching eddies and walking down the bank, or before putting on by walking down a rudimentary use trail that parallels the creek on river right.

There was one log that was in the way when we did the run in 2019 that required us to bang down a shallow channel on the left.  The rest of the run was clean.

The last horizon is the tallest, and is run down the middle.  Below this ledge/ramp the creek returns to boulders and the take out is on the right just below the island in the following photo.

Flows:  We were checking this creek out on July 5, 2019.  It had some water left due to snow-melt, but it wasn't really "in".  Enough for a fun adventure for us, not enough to recommend to others.

These photos were taken from the bridge just downstream of the take out.

The rock circled in the photo was wet, with water washing over it.  If it was covered, I think that would be a runnable flow.

 July 5, 2019

Access:  No need for a shuttle vehicle.  Drive to the town of Marion Forks, about 16 miles SE on Hwy 22 from Detroit (between Salem and Bend).   Head up Marion Creek Rd 3 miles, there will be a bridge off to the right.  100 feet past this an easy-to-miss road goes to the right into a campground, which is the take out.  Scope out/mark the exit from the creek at this point.

To get to the put in drive upstream 1/4 mile, on a short straight away after a right turn and before a left turn park in a tiny pull out to the left.  Walk up the road another 100 feet and enter the woods and b-line for the creek.  

The walking is easy, there is a final bench to drop down to the creek.  If you are in the right spot there will be a log jam above and the first horizon below.

If you want, you can set the boats down before the bench and walk upstream a short distance to take in Gooch Falls.  It's not runnable, but is pretty.  There is a rudimentary trail that goes down to the campsight from Gooch Falls along the creek, so you can scout everything before putting on if you like.

Trip Report

It was the first weekend in July and we had done two week long trips to California in June.  I didn't really want to spend much time in a car this weekend, but still wanted to see something new.   It had been a good snow year so I thought there might be some water flowing off the Cascades still, so I set about finding a creek that would be capturing that snow melt I had not paddled yet.

I had seen plenty of photos of Marion Creek in the summer-time and it seemed like it held it's water better than rain fed streams of similar size.  I had read the Oregonkayaking trip report and while I didn't want to repeat that experience Jason had mentioned in there a section of ledges and slides below Gooch Falls.  The maps did show some waterfalls, and there was a bridge downstream that would make for a take out to a half mile section.

Priscilla and I headed up on a Friday with our rock boats, and found the logistics pretty straight forward.  We hiked in to Gooch Falls via a short bushwhack.  Gouch Falls was worth staring at for a bit before we headed downstream.  50 yards of boulders led to a log jam portage, and just downstream was a horizon line.  I recognized this first drop from the OK trip report.  We ended up taking a center line instead of the left line.

We found the section below to be just as advertised, 1/4 mile of small ledges and slides.  We scouted a number of them, one had a log in the main line that we skirted to the left of.  Other than that it was a clean creek bed.

Just below the largest ramp/ledge the creek returned to boulders and I saw a log jam downstream of the next island.  I headed over to the right bank to portage and noticed it was at a campsite.  I set my boat down and looked around the corner to see the take out bridge, so instead of portaging just left the boats at the campsite and I jogged back up to the car while Priscilla explored a trail heading  upstream from the campground.

We decided that we should do another lap, so drove up to a point Priscilla had determined from her trip up the trail from the campsite would drop us in just below the log jam we had portaged at the top on our first lap.  This time we didn't have to get out of our boats and were smiling as we hopped out again at the take out.

We both thought we might be back some day to break up a drive between Bend and Salem, feeling it was like a tamer Sweet Creek experience.  With more water, maybe we would even leave the rock boats at home.

We still had some time left over so paddled the Breitenbush at the lowest flow I have done yet.  We didn't have to get out of our boats and I'd probably even do it again at that flow under the right circumstance.  The left side of Sharon's closed out and pinned Priscilla, and we took the second from the left slot at the Notch, everything else went in the normal lines. We took out just upstream of Humbug Creek, as we typically do if flows are low.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Calapooia River: Headwaters

The Calapooia River was for many years one of the Willamette Valley area runs that was only accessible during hunting season.  Some years the water would line up that early in the Fall, other times it would not.

In 2018 Linn County reached a deal with Weyerhaeuser that the road would become a year round easement used for accessing the Willamette National Forest.  This is good news for boaters, as now any day of the year we can paddle the river.  There is a catch though, and that is that the 9 mile section described on has ballooned into a 15 mile run, and the section below that lost a couple miles.  The reason for this is that part of the deal is there is no parking along the easement section of the road.  This is all well signed and the rules are as follows:

Upper Calapooia Road

  • The road is open to the public unless the gates are closed. We will post a notification on Linn County's website when we are going to close the gates.
  • The road is posted no parking from the end of the pavement to the national forest boundary. Law enforcement is writing citations to anyone who violates the no parking restriction.
  • There is no legal access to the river from the public road until you get into the national forest.
  • Weyerhaeuser is actively logging in the vicinity so be very cautious and watch out for log trucks

Neither Priscilla or I had run any of the Calapooia before, so this year resolved to check it out.  We started with the lower section, then set our sites on the headwaters.  I didn't have high hopes for this run, but I had seen a photo of a ledge drop and the gradient was around 200 fpm mile so I figured we would get to run a couple new rapids amongst the logs we would surely be dealing with.

We had planned to go just the two of us because of the high probability of a suffer-fest ensuing, but Zach Levine reached out and was game so we met him in Holley with plans to do the headwaters down past the no parking area for a total of 16 miles.

We hit snow shortly after reaching the National Forest boundary, so walked a mile or so through the snow to the put in.  We lucked out with a road I had not seen on the satellite imagery that led right to the put in so there was no bushwhacking necessary.

There was a fun ledge adjacent to the campsite, then a few visible log portages.  We geared up and got ready to parta.


Just below the fun ledge were 3 log portages in a row, the first two were easy, the third would have been on the right but we took the problem solving option on the left.  Things moved along for a bit below these logs and there were some ledges amongst more wood dodging. 

The stream bed was good, but the wood had Priscilla on edge.  After a couple more log shimmies and a portage or two she was reaching the edge of her comfort zone.  After an island portage, the wind picked up in a big way for about five minutes.  Trees were waving wildly, shedding limbs into the river and pelting us with hail.  We pulled over to chat in an eddy, while talking over the options a 20' long, 6" diameter tree floated by, Priscilla decided this was the last piece of wood she wanted to avoid for the day and headed up to the road.   Zach and I would meet her at the next bridge, heading downstream quickly so we could pass the floating log before it could wedge itself in a problematic spot. 

Zach and I passed the mobile strainer and pushed on for awhile, but after a short section of wood free creek we reached a braided area with some wood that required scouting and came up with a plan.  We'd hike up to the road, find Priscilla, reload boats and drive down to the National Forest Boundary (which turns out was less than 1/4 mile downstream).  We floated a few options after meeting up with Priscilla, but it was 2PM and she wanted to return when there was enough time to enjoy the remaining section of the Calapooia instead of the option in front of us which was to paddle the remaining 15 miles as fast as we could to get to the end before we ran out of light.  

So instead we decided to head over to Wiley Creek and do a couple laps on Cascade and down through the ledges to the quarry.  Wiley was at a great level, and provided a stress-free finish to the day.

We did the run on 4/5/2019
Pat Welches Calapooia estimate rose from a little over 1,000 cfs to 1,400 cfs throughout the day.

We put in at the Keeney Creek Confluence:  44.240961, -122.360716
And took out 100 yards above the National Forest Boundary:   44.236851, -122.383142