Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Fish Creek (North Umpqua drainage)






We were camping at the Williamson campground after a couple days at the Sycan River.  I had really wanted the Williamson to be running, and while it had some water, we didn't want to tarnish our memory of it by running it too low.  We had gone to bed that evening planning to head up to the Miracle Mile the next day for some sunny laps at a nice flow.  Waking up I checked some flows to see if I had missed anything the day before, and noticed a creek that has been on my list for some time had dropped into an ideal flow during the night.  This was Fish Creek of the North Umpqua drainage, a creek that has fallen out of fashion after PGE and the Forest Service dumped truck loads of logs into it.  It had been running at what I calculated to be a high-runnable flow earlier that week, and I had expected it to stay there after a week of heat.  As it turned out, it had cooled just enough to drop it to what I felt would be the ideal flow to run it at, about 300 cfs.




Cooking cherry pie for breakfast.
Maybe the sugar rush helped sway Brandon to pass on a splash and giggle day in the sun on the Miracle Mile, for what was sure to be a trying day in a foreboding canyon.
Photo: Priscilla Macy


I had heard that before the Forest Service and PGE (FS/PGE) had dumped a bunch of wood in there for fish habitat, it had been considered one of the best class V runs in Oregon.  Since we had made the decision to paddle the creek pretty last minute, and would be getting a late start (12:30 by the time we got to the put in), we decided to treat the trip as a reconnaissance mission with the goal of finding out what Fish Creek was all about, while still getting out before dark.  We decided at the put in we would portage liberally in the name of making efficient downstream process.



The shuttle logistics are easy on Fish Creek, not typical for an obscure Oregon creek.  
Putting in at the NF-3701 bridge.
Photo: Priscilla Macy



There is a short bit of easy warm up before the first of the FS/PGE log jams.  We portaged this on the left, and boated down to the next eddy where there was another FS/PGE log jam on the right.



On top of the first FS/PGE log jam, looking down at the second.



 This second jam was passable, but leads in to Go-Fish, the first class V rapid.  Go-Fish is a giant boulder rapid that had a compelling line amongst various class V hazards.  We walked Go-Fish over boulders on the left, putting back in when the gradient cooled down.   The next 3/4 mile was mostly runnable boulder gardens with a manageable amount and location of FS/PGE log jams, each rapid requiring a look and some route finding.  We did walk a couple rapids in this section.

Brandon and Zach sorting out one of the boulder gardens.


After some time, things eased off for a moment.  The breather promptly came to an end at a sharp left bend in the river, and we eddied out on the right.  We crawled out on another FS/PGE log jam to take a peak downstream.  I recognized this corner as the entrance to the Flocked Gorge, the steepest section of the run dropping over 100' in the next quarter mile through a gorge and the point where a team of rafters attempting the run had bailed out in 2012.  We were looking at a chaotic boulder pile with logs sticking out of it turn the corner to the right as the creek entered the gorge.  This didn't look like a place we had time to sort out.  I looked up to the right and noticed I could see daylight through the trees, we surmised there must be a land-bench up there.  Looking at the satellite imagery I had downloaded onto my phone it seemed like if we got up to that bench and traversed a short way we might be able to portage the Flocked Gorge in it's entirety in one go, saving loads of time.  Brandon lead the way, finding a nice game trail that got us up to the bench much easier and quicker than anticipated.  Once atop the bench, we traversed and tried to maintain elevation for awhile, after 10 minutes or so we could see the creek at the base of a debris-free gully.  Another 5 minutes and we had scrambled down the gully back to the creek, from which we drank quite a bit of water.  I crawled out to look back up at the exit of what we had portaged, I was happy we had walked around it.


Looking back up at the exit of the Flocked Gorge, the visible rapid drops about 10'.

Given the portage only took 20 minutes and was much easier than we had anticipated, I'd again choose the full portage over dealing with the Flocked Gorge at river level if I return.  I do wish we had had the time to peak over the edge into the gorge during the portage though, to see what was in there.


 Our portage route around the Flocked Gorge.



Downstream the challenging whitewater kept up, there were numerous boulder gardens that each required a scout and contemplation.

At a point where a notable tributary waterfall entered from the right, the river bent left into the second gorge at the start of The ReddsThe Redds are smoothed out bedrock rapids amongst a run full of boulder gardens.  To reduce the route planning we walked the lead in boulder garden to the first of The Redds and concentrated on the tough to scout bedrock portion of the rapid.  This rapid ended up being difficult to view entirely from above and a pocket on the left was hidden during the scout.  One team member ended up in it (still in his boat) and needed a rope to get out.  A good location to throw the rope from was tricky to get to and after a couple failed tossed, I had to do some climbing to get upstream to a place where I could connect and pull him out.  He was beat after many failed attempts to get out while keeping from being pulled back into the hydraulic and the event made an impression on us as a group.  This was one of the few rapids that seemed mandatory, and the first person to go won't have safety.



 This is the first of The Redds, it does not have a reasonable portage option, the first person won't get safety, and while you can see the line from the scout, you don't see the hazard.  Just below and to the left (river-left) of Zach in this photo is the pocket, to his right is a shelf that offers safe passage.


 Downstream The Redds continue with more boulder gardens leading into bedrock rapids inside gorges, these gorges were all runnable and good quality even if they tend to look ominous from above.

Working our way through The Redds.

The Redds continue for a bit, some of these bedrock rapids have boulder gardens leading into them, some are stand alone.  The length of the day, the late start, and the earlier scare were starting to weigh on us as we continued to push downstream as efficiently as we could while keeping it safe and mistake-free. 


Challenging rapids continued as The Redds began to fade away and the creek returned to boulder gardens that were only occasionally interrupted by bits of bedrock.  Some rapids we ran and some we portaged.  The wood was present down here but we definitely portaged more rapids because they were hard than because of wood on this trip, with the majority of the rapids being runnable.  We were looking out for some powerlines overhead, because satellite imagery had indicated they marked the end of the hard whitewater.


Not out of it yet, tackling one a rapid at a time,.

Once the powerlines came into view we were faced with a final obstacle at Endgame, a landslide rapid providing one last major puzzle to sort before things cooled down.  Endgame looked heinous from above with full sized trees stripped of their bark jutting out of the boulders, aimed skyward.  We didn't bother looking at it and portaged left.  The landslide kept us from being able to portage all of Endgame at river level though, so I set about trying to scout the bottom corner of the rapid, which looked like it might allow passage.  Whether we could paddle through the corner or not was likely going to be the difference between finishing with light to spare or having to find an up and around route with the likely result of finishing the trip in the dark.  I squeezed up and through some logs to a point I could see the corner was clear and there was a nice eddy on the right.  However there was also a visible logjam downstream and the corner move into the eddy was not a gimme.  We weighed the risk of the move to the risk of paddling in the dark and decided to paddle the corner into the eddy.  

A low water photo of Endgame from below, the surveyor is standing in the eddy we caught above the log jam.


Once in the eddy, we were able to see that there were two more eddies just above the log jam on either side if the surveyor eddy had been blown, so it would not be as nerve racking on a return trip.  I also noted upon looking back upstream the trees in the rapid did not block the line, and the rapid was runnable class V.  A quick portage on the right around the jam and we made short work of crossing under the powerlines, breathing a little easier now with only 1.5 miles of read and run left on Fish Creek.  Turning left onto the North Umpqua there was less than a mile left of class II and within 30-40 minutes of passing under the powerlines we had reached the take out bridge, highly impressed by Fish Creek and happy to be done with 30 minutes of light to spare.

Most of the photos of Fish Creek were taken from my cell phone, in stark contrast to the quality of Priscilla's photos found in most of the recent trip reports on this site.




FLOWS

Fish Creek runs most predictably in the Spring from snowmelt.

Our flows for the day in the USGS 14315950 FISH CREEK ABV SLIPPER CREEK NR TOKETEE FALLS, OR


The gage is right there at the put in, producing an exact representation of what you will have when paddling the creek.  300 felt like a good flow, it could be done with more or less water based on your personal taste.  It is worth noting that there is a diversion upstream, and that can change the flows abruptly on rare occasions (up to 150 cfs).  If this is going on the change will be visible on the regular gage.

 The gage station at the put in.                                                         It was reading 4.8' when we put in.






















ACCESS


 Click on the graphic to enlarge.


Take out at the NF-4775 bridge (43.295861, -122.478533) over the North Umpqua River, a left turn about 39 miles upstream from Colliding Rivers Boat ramp/Glide on Highway 138 and about 4 miles downstream of the Toketee Falls turn-off.

To get to the put in (43.229973, -122.447593) return to highway 138 and head upstream/east 6.2 miles past Toketee Falls and turn right towards Watson Falls on Fish Creek Rd/NF-37.  In 2.9 miles turn right onto Camas Creek Road.  In about 2 miles you will pass the Toketee Airstrip, according to the Diamond Lake Ranger Station the road gets plowed of snow up to this point.  The Ranger Station can be reached at (541) 498-2531 to confirm.   After passing the airstrip it's 1.4 miles to the bridge over Fish Creek.

The Toketee Airstrip has a SNOTEL site.



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Nomenclature and History
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Go-Fish:  As in an appropriate response to the question of "hey bud, you about to go Ace that line through there?"

Flocked Gorge:  This is the stoutest gorge of the run, located near where Gabe Flock pinned on an early descent of Fish Creek, loosing his gear and nearly his life.  The gorge isn't totally f**cked, but it is close.  Inside are all of the hardest types of features found on Fish Creek crammed into a gorge and turned up to 10.  This was the final straw for a rafting attempt of the creek that decided they had had enough and hiked out after peering into the Flocked Gorge.

The Redds:  Salmon find gravel strewn sections of river to lay eggs, they kick up the gravel to smooth it out and lay their eggs.  These smooth spots where the eggs are laid are called salmon redds.  Most of Fish Creek is full of boulders, except this portion of the run where there are intermittent smoothed out sections of bedrock inside short gorges.

Endgame:  This is the final class V obstacle on the creek, the rest of the creek was read and run and portage-less below this rapid. The stress-level drops considerably once past the powerlines, which are just below this rapid.






 ---------





Fish Creek of the Umpqua drainage has an interesting boating history.  It rumbles through a class V canyon with bridge to bridge access near Toketee Falls, flowing parallel to Copeland Creek.

In 2000, the legendary Dan Coyle did a solo trip down Fish Creek, putting it on the map for boaters.  He wrote up a description, but that document is no longer available online (that I could find).



 A few years later, there was a bad pin between the first large cascade (Go-Fish), and the crux gorge (Flocked Gorge).  The paddler survived, but it was a close call.  "My air pocket was gone by then, and my knee and ankle were twisted badly and my foot still caught by the cockpit as I was mostly free but now facing up and the brunt of the flow still on me. I had to do another superman move with no breath yet! Pulled myself up far enough to get my foot out thank god"

Then came the wood.  An attempt was made by the boating community to have boater safety considered when placing fish habitat in this creek.  I don't know the full story, but the end result was the wood was placed anyway, and in a fashion that didn't take into account recreational boating.







































Fish Creek, a contender for the best class V adventure run in Oregon, descended into obscurity as paddlers learned from each other through either word of mouth or the hard way about the placement of the wood.

Fast forward a half decade, and that obscurity played a roll in the next documented descent of the creek.  A group of rafters was in the area, and the "itch for an adventure hit some of [them] like a bad case of poison oak".  Because the creek had fallen off the radar, it wasn't common knowledge in the boating community what was on the creek, or that it was full of logs placed by the Forest Service and PGE.

These rafters found their adventure, and then some.

I am not the only boater who has noted Fish Creek on a map during the last half decade, or while driving over on Hwy 138, gotten curious and raked the internet for information, to turn up only the story of the rafters, which was pretty hard to look past.  However, when I read between the lines, I got the impression their by-the-book approach would have led to a similar experience on any class V run of that nature. 

I spent some time digging a little deeper and turned up some snippets of information from the pdxkayaker yahoo forum (screen grabs seen above), saw some rumblings about past debacles on facebook, viewed satellite imagery that appeared to show a manageable wood situation, and fed off enthusiasm from other boaters who also wanted to find out what Fish Creek was all about (namely Mike Goglin and Joseph Hatcher, but also others around various Oregon campfires).

By 2015 it was a top five objective for me, but year after year I let opportunities slip by.

Then, waking up near Chiloquin after a great couple days on the Sycan in the Spring of 2019 with plans to paddle the Miracle Mile on the way home I perused some flows while killing time in the morning.  Fish Creek had been holding at what I felt would be at the high end of runnable all week so it hadn't even been something I was holding in the cards for this weekend, yet despite warm weather the gauge dropped to exactly what I wanted to see it at for my first trip (~300 cfs, like the rafters had).

I sent a text to Mike, who I had been planning to run Fish Creek with this year if the opportunity arose, lamenting the missed opportunity.  As it happened he was out of town anyway and I knew from conversation earlier in the week Joseph wasn't available either so I wasn't too bummed I hadn't been prepared for the opportunity.  I mentioned it in passing to the group from the Sycan at breakfast, figuring we had already done some exploring this weekend and everyone was probably ready to take 'er easy on the way home.  To my surprise both Zach and Brandon were all about it, Zach even mentioned tongue-in-cheek that he felt we had been jipped by the lack of suffering on the Sycan, and had aspirations Fish Creek would deliver the adversity we had evaded so far.  Since we had been planning a casual day we were getting a late start, but as it turned out, from where we were camping it was less than two hours to Fish Creek.  With info from the Diamond Lake Ranger District that the road would be plowed to at least within a mile and a half of the put-in, a gung-ho group, and a sunny day with perfect flows, this wasn't an opportunity to be missed.

Priscilla and I sorted out logistics on the drive over (she was going to be taking the day off from boating), and by 12:30 Zach Levine, Brandon Lake and I had driven a snow-free road to the put in and were floating under the access bridge on Fish Creek.

Photo: Priscilla Macy


By the end of the day there had been two throw-rope saves, loads of scouting, a fair bit of portaging,  and oodles of good rapids run.  Upon arriving at the take out and mentally exhausted from the no rest, full speed, quick decision making, no mistakes allowed 8 hour reconnaissance mission down Fish Creek, I had claimed it was a one time trip for me.  Less than a day later, after a good night of sleep, I was already looking forward to my next time in there.  Though an early start will be a prerequisite.

It really is a hell of a run, the wood from the Forest Service has shifted and while there are some portages and an added level of attention is required, the good outweighs the bad on Fish Creek.  If you are an adventurous boater who likes runs similar to the Clear Fork Cowlitz, you will be happy to know we have our own flavor of full day adventure right here in the heart of Oregon's Cascades.

And it runs from snowmelt!



    -jacob






Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sycan River: Coyote Bucket


Photo: Priscilla Macy






BETA
 7.5 miles




Stream: Most of the Sycan River is flat, the flattest part is the Sycan Marsh, where the stream collects water from snowmelt, spilling out into a kid and canoe friendly upper section that can be paddled.  As the Sycan approaches, then combines with the Sprague River, it again spreads out and braids.


The combined Sprague and Sycan.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy


Between the upper section coming out of the Marsh, and the flat land where it meets the Sprague, the Sycan drops through Coyote Bucket.  In this section are two long stretches of continuous whitewater, the first "bucket" is class IV, and the second "bucket" is harder.


An example of the boulders that make up the river bed/bank and where they came from.
Photo: Priscilla Macy 



The rapids are made of columnar and vesicular basalt from the Winema Volcanic Field that has collapsed from the canyon rim, similar to the rock found along the Upper Klamath.  The two buckets are split by 20 minutes of easy floating.  The whitewater is like a mix of the Upper EF Hood, Upper Klamath, and NF Payette.



Barret Titus, stirring the mixing pot.

 Photo: Yann Crist-Evans




Access is both easy and challenging, there is no hiking required, but the roads can be tricky to navigate and there needs to be someone in the group comfortable navigating primitive roads using satellite imagery, as when the Sycan has water, some of the roads are not passable.  This can all be sorted out beforehand though, the red roads are elevated to keep them from becoming bogs in the Spring and are used to get to the put in.  The take out is either very easy at a paved bridge if you want to float 6 miles of flat water at the end of the day, or a bit of an adventure if you want to take out at the end of the whitewater.



A high density of mosquitoes at a take out in the vicinity of Chester Springs motivated us to load quickly.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy


As a snowmelt run, this river runs when it's warm out.  This, combined with loads of great primitive camping options, make it a good place to spend a weekend.




From the put in, the Sycan rolls around a few lazy bends before slowly ramping it's way from flat water to class IV.  The first bucket has a long section of whitewater flowing through it and can mostly be read and ran, with a couple rapids that are worth a quick look if no one knows the lines, especially since there are sieves outside of the main lines. 


Brandon Lake dodging ordnance from Wile E. Coyote, the stand out rapid from the first bucket.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy



 Eventually this fun section of whitewater ends and the river returns to lazy floating where you can kick your feet up for a bit, or there are some nice places to stop for lunch but be ready for mosquitoes on the banks in places.



 Photo: Priscilla Macy



Near the end of the meandering the walls start to rise back up, and flat water gives way to easy whitewater at the beginning of the second bucket.  This ramps up to intermediate rapids and eventually there is a scouting eddy on the right above the horizon line at the second sustained section of challenging whitewater, which is a step up from the first bucket dropping 120 feet in the next half mile.  Most groups will want to do an extended scout on the right of both Roadrunner and BoB, the first two parts of this long section of whitewater.




Moving fast through Roadrunner.
 Photo: Priscilla Macy


Roadrunner is run mostly center-right, down to an eddy on the right, just across from the largest boulder visible at river-level.  


Yann Crist-Evans nears the end of Roadrunner, with the eddy that needs to be caught in order to scout BoB circled, just across the river from the largest boulder at stream-level.
Photo: Priscilla Macy 


A thorough scout of BoB is in order from this small eddy, as the river bends right through more hydraulics.  It is not so much BoB itself that is of concern, but the eddy that needs to be caught on river-left above Pin-Laden, which is the next rapid and one that paddlers may elect to portage.  This river-left eddy above Pin-Laden has a bugger rock guarding it if you try to boof into the eddy, it worked better to catch the middle of the eddy, don't miss!


Pin-Laden looks to have a line in the middle, but everyone in the group walked it both days.
 Photo: Yann Crist-Evans



Downstream is a long stretch of quality whitewater that is right on the edge between what we were comfortable reading and running and wanting to shore scout.  We always found eddies on river-right when we wanted to scout but they come up fast, and pass by faster if you are not scouting ahead.

                                                                   
  Photo: Priscilla Macy



The last distinct rapid is Fantasia, a rapid that fits it's own definition pretty well, with a boof at the top reminiscent of a scaled down version of this iconic rapid on the Fantasy Falls (1:41) section of the NF Mokelumne in California.


                                                            Between moves in Fantasia.
  Photo: Priscilla Macy



Below Fantasia the river spreads out a bit as it approaches, then splits around an island.  This section can be read and run, but scouting would provide the cleanest lines.  At the island, we went left.  The whitewater abruptly ends as the second bucket pours out into slack water a short way after this island and the action is over.  Some class I-II ends at another island and what can be a hard to see fence going across the river, we took a right channel and were able to duck under it.

Myself, Barret Titus, and Zach Levine at the finish line.
Photo: Priscilla Macy
 

Below the fence it's just a relaxing 10 minute float down to the take out if you parked at one of the upper take outs, or much further if you used the logistically easy take out at the Drew Rd bridge.


Soaking it in as we approach the take out near Chester Springs.
  Photo: Priscilla Macy


Flows:  The Sycan has a gauge, make sure to choose "instantaneous flow" in the drop down marked by the green arrow and box in the photo below. We were there April 26 and 27, and flows felt great both days.









 

 
Access:

The area around here is rugged, and many of the roads are primitive.  You will need to be comfortable navigating using satellite imagery on your phone.  Many of the marked roads cross through marshes that are not passable when the Sycan has enough water to kayak.  Fortunately the put in can be accessed via good gravel roads that are raised above the boggy areas.  There is good reception and 4G in the area.


A cell tower visible from the shuttle.


Because of the road situation, there are not step-by-step directions here, you will need to plan your own route.

The put in is here: 42.615212, -121.346747

This is where the whitewater ends (42.548507, -121.313715) there are a couple roads that can be used to reach take outs less than a mile downstream, near Chester Springs.  It's a good idea to park at a spot easily visible from the river so you don't accidentally float by.  Remember to shut behind you any fence-gates that you open, and know the mud is sloppier than it might look.  4wd and clearance recommended if you plan to use one of these take outs.

If you want simple logistics, or are not prepared to drive primitive roads, you can take out here (42.485369, -121.278400) at the Drews Rd bridge, though that would require floating 6 miles of flat water.

The Drews bridge take out, where the gauge is located.  If you use this bridge as a take out, keep in mind the whitewater ends in those hills in the background.
Photo: Priscilla Macy





Note:  If you follow Google Maps from Bend to the put in, it will send you to a ford of the Sycan River, which is not possible when the Sycan is high enough to kayak.  The correct route is to first drive to Beatty, then up the Sycan.





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Joe Anonymous and the Coyote Bucket
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I had never heard about the Sycan River, or noted it on any maps.  It's in an area east of Klamath Falls that looks pretty flat on a topo-map.  After running the Williamson River a couple years ago, a local commented on this website about the Sycan River through the Coyote Bucket and thought we might be interested in checking it out.  Looking at it on a map, I thought it would be a neat trip but a long drive and lots of flat water kept it from being a top priority for me.  Over the last couple years I started clicking in pieces of the puzzle, like locating roads that would cut out hours of flat water, and tracking down a gauge.  Some last minute consultation between Priscilla and the Klamath Lake Land Trust to learn about an area that doesn't have much online info, and friends willing to roll the dice on something new sent the plan into Go-mode.  We knew trips like this always have the potential to be more work than they are worth, but after two trips through the canyon we couldn't wipe the grins off our faces.  What a place to be.  Thanks for the tip Joe anonymous, if I ever find out who you are there will be a beer or two coming your way.



     -jacob



Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Packers Gulch


 All photos: Priscilla Macy



I try to mix up my trips to the Quartzville drainage these day.  Because the upper section that is the usual draw is short, there are a number of combos that can be had.  The ambitious can head upstream, or even further upstream.  My favorite option is to do the section from Greg Creek down to the reservoir, but sometimes doing a park and plop or adding on a tributary is the ticket for the day. 


This day we did an Upper Qville lap, then with a large group split up.  Some car portaged their rafts around the middle section to avoid Double Dip and Pick up Sticks, others did another lap on the upper run.  Priscilla and I went and checked out Packers Gulch.


The hike in was about 1 mile on a gravel logging road, no shuttle needed.  The first pitch is steep, then it flattens out until reaching a bridge at the put in.  The description in the back of Soggy Sneakers just says "class IV" and that's about how I'd sum it up too.  The run was worth doing once, had a few neat sections, engaging boogie water, problem solving, and two easy log portages.  






We were there January 20, 2019 in the afternoon.


Put In:  44.600335, -122.395380
Take Out:  44.589596, -122.392972





        -jacob



Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Northwest Fork Washougal: Headwaters


Northwest Fork Washougal: Headwaters








BETA
2.5 miles




Stream: I had my eye on this section above the uppermost bridge for a year or two, and got the opportunity by chance when another mission fell through on December 30, 2018.  We ran Lacamas in the morning, then decided to head over to Hagen.  I wasn't about to put down lap 15 or whatever on Hagen when there was the opportunity to see something new, so decided i'd check out this new section while everybody else ran Hagen.  I was surprised when nearly the entire group wanted to join despite my assurances it was almost certainly going to suck.

Adam Edwards, Ben Mckenzie, Andrew Bradley and I dropped Priscilla off at the Hagen put in with a large group including a raft or two and kept going up to the landing from which we would schwack our way into the headwaters of the Northwest fork Washougal.  The hike was not easy, but also not hard.  Using the GPS function on my phone and pre-cached maps kept us on track.  The final descent to the stream was on an unstable rock field that took extra attention to protect ankles.  From here we were able to get a good view of the creek, and we liked what we saw providing the motivation to make good time down the boulder field.  A small fence of Devil's Club was the final obstacle.

The creek looked promising from the put in, about 2/3 the size of Hagen and dropping along at a good clip. There was bedrock and a decent sized ledge above where we were.  The first couple hundred yards were nrrow and clean, but with branches blocking the eddies.  We shore scouted a couple short ledge/slots, both of which we ran as far right as we could with a left stroke.  Downstream the creekbed changed to open and sliding.  The creekbed was mostly just one long, low angle slide for a few minutes interrupted occasionally by steeper drops or small pools and we were able to read and run this portion with some faith.


There was a log that prompted a scout as the creek seemed to enter a more wood area and I prepared mentally for the portaging to start.  Adam hopped out of his boat for a look and informed us it was all good though, so we ducked the log and the low angle sliding with occasional small ledge drops continued.  We continued reading and running, branches were often present bu tthe never ending class IV bedrock whitewater made it worth dealing with.  After 1.5 miles we reached the confluence with Skamania Mines Creek.


It would be possible for a motivated boater to stop before the confluence, make the easy hike over the small ridge and pick off Mike's Slide, the largest cascade on Skamania Mines.  Downstream the continuous read and run III-IV continues to the bridge.  The ledge you can see just upstream from the uppermost/1200 Rd bridge has a hole that is definitely bigger than it looks from the road.  it is easiest to clear center-right.

We pulled into the eddy below the bridge and sat there for a second, we were all pretty surprised to have paddled a quality section of class IV whitewater when the expectation had been for a suffer-fest. Ben said "I can't believe that just happened".

We even hike up to the Hagen put in to grab vehicles after finishing the run, drove shuttle, loaded gear and rove down to the Hagen take out before the group Priscilla was paddling with finished their Hagen lap.  Not what we expected setting out for an afternoon exploratory trip.    
 

  
Flows:  We had 15" on the NWF Washougal gauge when we ran the creek, this was a good first time level.  I wouldn't have minded more water (remember the branches though), but would have minded if it had been notably lower.

Here are some nearby online gauges from that day.

 


Access:  Take out:  45.6909, -122.239

Take Hwy 14 to the town of Washougal, turn onto Washougal River Road and travel 10.2 miles to the Washougal River Mercantile.  From the Mercantile, head upstream less than half a mile before turning left onto the steep Skye Road.  Continue 3.9 miles on Skye Rd before turning right onto Skamania Mines/412th Rd (keep and eye out, people miss this turn occasionally).  The road quickly turns to gravel, as it winds it's way down to the middle bridge in about 1 mile.  This bridge is where the NWF Washougal Gauge is, on the downstream left side of the bridge. 
From the middle/Skamania Mines bridge head upstream on river left for 1.5 miles, and take the road going left.  This road crosses the NWF Washougal in less than 1 mile and is the take out if only running this section. 


Put In: 45.721, -122.2241


**If you are doing this section, you really should have maps cached on your phone for the hike, use the coordinates above**

From the uppermost/1200 bridge, continue (passing by the Hagen put in) for 1.6 miles and turn right.  There is a gate here, it was open when we ran this section on Dec 30, 2018.  If it's closed and you don't see an alternate route (4WD/clearance), just go back and do Hagen, it wouldn't be worth the hike from here.  If you get past the gate, take the left fork. 0.7 miles later take the right fork until it ends at a clear cut (45.7167, -122.2355).  Cross the clear cut and start bushwhacking.  Stay generally at the same elevation until you cross a micro creek (it took us about half an hour to get to this point).  Climb up the short ridge on the other side of this creek, then follow this ridge downhill, erring to the left until you reach a boulder field.  Scamper down to the upstream edge of this boulder field to put in where we did, watch your footing.