Friday, April 13, 2018

Mosby Creek

Pete Giordano, Priscilla Macy and I kayaked some of Mosby Creek 3/28/18.  It is on private logging land, but permits can be obtained for the South Valley area which gives one access to this creek.

We paddled a 5.5 mile section starting at Lilly Creek (43.5791, -122.8649) and ending at a bridge near Allen Creek (43.6408, -122.9125).  The beginning and end had quality class III bedrock slides and rapids, with one near the end being class IV.  In the middle was a gravelly section with a couple logs to negotiate.

On the drive out we stopped to paddle a fun, roadside class IV chute against the left bank.

The flows for the day:

Elk Creek:

Coast Fork Willamette @ London was a good gauge too, but seems to have gone offline.

This resulted in a friendly, medium flow, more water would equate to more fun.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Part One: Starting with the Guidebook

~Words from Matt King

When I made my way out east, I knew there'd be lots of good outdoor activity to be had; skiing, hiking, fishing, ect. On the other hand, I was moving away from kayak central and had no idea if there'd be anything good to run. So I started with the guidebook, which pointed me straight to the lower end of of the Imnaha River. When flows started to rise in the spring, I knew the time had come! I scrounged up my kayaking gear from it's winter hiding spot and headed down the Dug Bar road into the canyon with a modest crew: Caitlin and Oakland the dog.
The Imnaha River drops from the east side of the Wallowas and parallels the Snake in Hells Canyon until the Sake takes a turn and the Imnaha cuts in. Needless to say, the canyon is impressive!
Dropping into Hells
When we got down to the last bridge over the Imnaha at Cow Creek, the river was raging, but still had eddies and some pools. I later looked at the gauge and saw that it was over 3300 cfs, which is a bit over floodstage. But it looked good to go, and I put on and left Catilin and Oak to hike the trail and do the camera work. The water was big and pushy, but there weren't any big holes you had to hit and no real class V's, just lots of really fun wave trains and even a few boofs. It was easy to hop out and scout on the trail most places too.
Big Water Goodness
The last mile or so has the hardest drops and is the only really continuous part, but it empties out into the Snake and is consumed by the flatwater. There's some really cool history at the confluence, with some terraces from a doomed hotel, and a huge bar that's perfect for a picnic.
Then there's the hike. While you could continue down the Snake to Heller Bar, the shuttle is heinous and makes the hike the best option, with a kayak at least. This run would be great in a raft, but you'd certainly want to float down. With minimal gear, the hike's really not that bad: 4.5 miles on pretty flat terrain, definitely worth the effort. The trail is also in great shape, albeit shrouded in poison ivy and a had quite a few ticks (we pulled 100 off Oak, then just stopped counting...).
The Imnaha proved to be a fantastic run and definitely one that's made annual list, but it only piqued my curiosity of what the headwaters looked like. But that's a story for another day..
Signing Off,
Matt "The Labrador" King

Elkhead Creek

This is a small stream near Sutherlin/Drain that flows out of Elkhead Valley.  It always caught my eye on the map because it goes through a small gorge, but low gradient and volume never put it high on my list.  After finishing a trip on the nearby Mosby Creek, we still had plenty of light so Priscilla and Pete Giordano were willing to check this one out before heading home.

We took out where Elkhead Rd Crossed the creek (43.5959, -123.1937), and put in where BLM rd 23-9-91 intersected with Elk Creek (43.5861, -123.172).

What stood out at the put in was the silence.  We were parked 20 yards from the creek and couldn't here it, winding slowly through the end of Elkhead Valley.

We seal launched in and floated through a rare scene in Oregon, a flat spot without any sign of human influence.  The banks were grass, the trees were diverse and everything felt like it was were it belonged.  We hopped onto the bank for one quick walk around a fallen tree, and another couple minutes of floating had us making a turn as the telltale sound of whitewater was heard and the creek bent right and dropped out of sight.  We scouted, and eventually portaged this first rapid on the right along an elk path.  The rapid was likely runnable, but the flow was pushing pretty hard into two subsequent wood hazards.

Below this first rapid the creek cooked along quickly and more wood was present throughout the next 1/4 mile.  There were a couple blind corners that required wading through blackberry bushes to scout what ended up being class II and wood free sections.

About a 1/2 mile after putting on we reached the confluence we had been looking for and the size of the creek bed increased notably and downstream visibility increased while stress decreased.  Just below the confluence was a sliding ledge before the creek eased off to class II+ with the occasional wood hazard as it wound around corners.  Mostly this part was pleasant floating, passing quickly by semi-scenic views with the occasional log to deal with, not much in the way of rapids.  Again, the area immediately next to the stream felt unmolested.

Photo: Pete Giordano

There was one island Pete and I went right of and had to make a portage, Pete signaled back to Priscilla to take the left channel and she avoided getting out of her boat.  To portage, Pete and I ducked under a log, becoming partially submerged.  At this point the importance of closing my pee-zipper all the way was reinforced.

The river was splashy II-III from this island to the take out bridge.

This creek has a gauge, the day we ran it the flows felt good after we reached the confluence, but were a bit stressful before that.

Click to enlarge

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Siyeh Creek; Glacier National Park

Photo: Priscilla Macy

 This run passes through 4 bodies of water, all would be worthwhile on their own.  You start on Siyeh Creek which has loads of slides, paddle that to the confluence with Reynold's Creek as a transition to gorges and ledges happens, then paddle that to the St Mary's River that has more open whitewater ending in a powerful waterfall, shortly after floating onto St Mary's Lake where the beauty is epic.  This makes for a diverse paddling experience, one of my favorite days of adventure boating to date, bring your bear spray.

Photos: Priscilla Macy


Here is some flow research that might help anyone interested in making the trip


 We had about 150 cfs on June 29, 2017

 These guys had 70 cfs on July 8, 2016

These guys had 300-400 cfs in early June, 2017


We put in at Siyeh Bend: 48.7017, -113.6676
And took out near Baring Falls at the boat dock on St Mary Lake: 48.6757, -113.5942
And walked the trail up to our car at Sunrift Gorge: 48.6785, -113.595
Click map to enlarge


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Whistler Classics: Notes from an Oregonian

These runs are described better here than I would be able to do.  What I have are some notes, as Oregonians may perceive things differently than a BC local.  I have gone up there a number of times over Labor Day weekend when the water is low, but the trip was still completely worth it.  Written for the weekend warrior, class IV-V boater type without a guide.

I have found that if the Cheakamus Gauge is reading over 2' it is worth making the trip to the area, with 2.5' being perfect (excluding Tatlow).


Similar to the Green Truss from the put in through the Springs (below Double Drop), but if Big Brother was super clean and straight forward.  We have run it at 2' and wouldn't recommend driving up there for it at that flow, but if you are already in the area it might be worth it.  The boulder gardens are pretty manky, but it's still boatable.  The first falls goes on the right when levels are low enough that the left line closes out.  2.5' is a fun, friendly flow.


If you are looking for something new in the Whistler area, and don't mind hiking a bit, the Upper Callaghan is a good option.  This section is better at lower flows than the classic section. 



This is the most stress free run on this list, and perhaps the most fun.  Boaters from Oregon will still feel that there is plenty of water to enjoy the run at 2' on the gauge.  While the put in drop is generally run on the left, at low water the right side is a better option.  From below the falls (easy to put in below it) to the take out is fantastic read and run whitewater.  There is one rapid early on that I got a moment of "whoops, should have scouted" as I entered, but it actually flushes beautifully and there is no need to scout.  A sign on the right bank warns to "not get bit" just above this drop.  Triple Drop, the next rapid downstream of the one under a high foot bridge, is worth scouting on the right your first time down.

Right line at the put in falls.


This one takes more time than the upper, it requires decision making and has the feel of a relaxed adventure.  This one goes lower than the Upper Cheakamus, and I doubt it ever gets too low by Oregon standards in the summer.  One of the beauties of being here at low water is the waterfall (Balls to the Wall) is stress free and the pockets in the run out are not much in play.  Everything can be scouted on the run.


Non-nondescript rapids that are fun.  Everything is scoutable and portageable at the low levels we had.



If this run was anywhere else it would be held in very high regard, since it is the section upstream of the Box Canyon of the Ashlu, some of its glory is stolen.  That's fine for the people who make it up there, as it has a more adventurous feel than the Box  Most people put in at the Mine the run garners its name from. The rapid is as hard as it gets for the day (aside from the portage), so its a good barometer for how the rest of the day will be.   It is also the only non-portageable drop, so come ready for a class V rapid off the bat.  From there down there is loads of good rapids, all can be scouted and portaged.  The crux of the run is recognizing the portage, the location of which is described adequately in the Liquid Lore Report.  On that report they also describe the semi-tricky way to ascertain flows.  I have done this run at 13 cms (they were releasing all they had into the Box), and at 55-60 cms.  Both were fun, but I would not have enjoyed the high water run if I wasn't following someone who knew the lines at that level.   That time we were coming off of Tatlow Creek, so ran some rapids above the normal put in as well.  I recall two big ledges with big holes, then portaging a mega rapid (The Mine Drop) that Willy Dinsale ran, this rapid is visible upstream at the Mine put in.  He was online through the rapid, yet spent 10-20 seconds in the crux hole that eventually spat him out (still in his boat).  13 cms felt low, but was still plenty enjoyable.

Priscilla Macy run the bottom of the Mine Rapid at 13 cms



Classic class V canyon, Dan Patrinellis led us down and that made the day enjoyable.  I recommend scouting as much as possible before putting on by using the trail on river left, the whitewater was not a style I was accustomed to at the time and rolled 4 times that day.  The first section of whitewater you can see from the trail is par for the course for difficulty on the run and it does not get harder, nor easier.  Because I wasn't looking, I am not sure if there are un-scoutable rapids, but the high walls make me think its highly plausible.  If you want a warm up before 50/50, the Mini-Mine section is just upstream and good class IV fun. 

TheBox from Ryan C on Vimeo.



The rapids are more fun than I would have expected from boulder bars.  Fast moving water and some large waves.  We did it for the camping, which was fantastic. 


Very committing, but you don't need to be a world class boater to enjoy it.  However, good decision making and competence are required.  Having a guide or researching the location of rapids and the lines before getting there will greatly reduce the stress level, there is sufficient video and literature out there.  I believe as of 2017 there is wood that is causing people to skip the first few drops by putting in below them.  The drops on Dipper were good, but my favorite part was floating out on the Squamish, fantastic canyon there, and the whitewater is low stress at that point.

Our trip down Vetigo Gorge

Dipper Creek from Difficult E on Vimeo.



Scouting isn't usually an option, so have the lines memorized before going (plenty of GoPro out there).  As of 2016 the road into Tatlow washed out many miles short of the take out, it sounds like people are no longer doing this run.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Heard it's been done

A "just for fun" page for those curious boaters out there.  These are runs in the area that I have heard have been done, and are included here for communal knowledge because I cannot find information about them in any guides, online or in print.  This page will be stored in the "Tutorials/Miscellaneous" tab.

Jeff Compton paddling into the Washougal from Canyon Creek, just above the Mercentile take out.

Upper Hagen - One fun double drop about 10' tall, nothing else of note.  Started about half a mile above where the Oregonkayaking crew started. ~ Ryan Cole

Walupt - Lots of wood, a couple bedrock ledges that were portages (choked with wood).  Take out above or big portage around Walupt Creek Falls.

Mill Creek (Hwy 26) - Class III, illegal.

Upper Skamania Mines - some bedrock, lots of wood. - Hans Hoomans, George White, et all.

Outlet Creek (below Outlet Falls) - Ben Mckenzie ran below Outlet Falls to the Klickitat in 2017, lots of portaging through brush due to lack of eddies and wood at the end of long bouldery rapids.

Drowned Out Creek - Nate Merrill and I ran the slide just upstream of NF-3348 on the way back from our first trip down the Illinois in 2010, Hunter Connolly also ran it in 2016ish .   Priscilla and I hiked a ways upstream to scout in 2017 and it turned to steep boulder jumbles pretty quick.

SF Salmon (Mt Hood) - My dad and I ran the lower mile of this once.  There was a nice, kinda tricky ledge at the put in.  The rest of the run was III+ and pleasant.  We had the family dog with us, she ran down the banks until she got cliffed out at which point we would rope her to the other side of the river.  Rinse and repeat.

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.