Wednesday, March 28, 2007

North Fork Clackamas

During this last winter break I got an e-mail from Tim Brink with a proposition to run the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas. It would be the toughest thing I had run, but I felt up to the challenge. But by the time the day to run it came around the river had dropped too low. The diversion from Harriet lake to the Three Lynx power station keeps this stream from running very often. His next plan was to do a first raft decent of the North Fork Clackamas. His rafting partner was to be Dave Sacquety. They had met a week or two before on Opal creek, this was to be there first time doing an entire river as a team. I was going to be along simply to video/photo there accomplishment and help with the portaging. We drove up to the put in road expecting to have to carry our boats about a half mile. When we got to the final road to the put-in Tim decided that he could make it and we made it down the old logging road that most people carry down. I would not suggest this since the road is very narrow and slopes the wrong way, along with a small berm and some stumps at the beggining that require negotiation. We arrived at the put in that was right on the creek very relieved that we did not have to start the day lugging the raft down the road.
The put in
At the put in the creek is class two, building up to class 4 and 4+ within 3/4 of a mile. There was one or two easy log portages in the class two section and one log that we went over. The rapids in this section are quite steep, but at the level we had the rafts would just wedge themselves between a couple of boulders at the top of a rapid, find the route, tell me where to enter then scoot over the logs into the current and down the rapids. The majority of the rapids in the beginning started with two entrance options, then funneled down into a 3-4 foot ledge with a hole. At the lower levels we had the rapids were technical, I found myself worried at the thought of flipping.

Typical NF Clack
Eventually we entered a gorge that began and ended with ledges of about 5 feet. After this we were on the look out for the portage of the 50' waterfall. We missed the normal take out for the portage and ended up lugging our boats 100' feet up the side of the hill and down an overgrown logging road, then down another hundred feet only for me to realize I left my paddle at the top, requiring another two-hundred vertical foot round trip for me. Overall the portage took a little over an hour of work. It was the hardest portage I have done, we felt good about getting it done in a reasonable amount of time. We then scouted Stairway to Heaven at the end of the portage, which would be my first class five rapid and the reason the rafters were here. It was a 20' sliding cascade.
Me at the bottom of "Stairway To Heaven"
Scouting the falls

The raft went first while I took video. They went over the final drop sideways but pulled it out nicely. I went next and did fine, but I went deep in the final drop and had to roll, the first of the day for me. After this the rapids cooled off for a short period but quickly picked up again with some more fun rapids.
Dave ended up doing an R-1 decent of this rapid after the raft started to take off while they were scouting. This is a good indicator of how low the run was. In Jason Rackley's report , the rock to my left has about 2-3 feet of water going over it.

One rapid in particular stood out. This rapid is called storm drain, and I had planned on portaging it before we put on. When we got there I didn't even realize this was that rapid. The raft ran first and had there only real mishap of the day. Upon landing they got pushed left and into an aerated eddy with wood blocking the downstream end. They eventually paddled out, and I adjusted off their line by boofing to the right. We then ran a couple of cool, longer rapids. After a while came the class two runout. This wasn't very fun for me, but the raft was having a much more difficult time. It was taking about 10 min. for them to get down every rapid. It was in here that I did a 2' seal launch into a class two rapid and had my second and final roll of the day, I was lucky I didn't smack my head. After forever we made it to the lake and paddled the final 1/4 mile of flatwater. Overall it was a fun run that I will be back to, but I doubt it will ever be run again in a raft.

 Note:  I actually ended up rafting the creek myself years later with Hans Hoomans, whooda thought.

Video from a return trip with only kayaks.

Between 2500 and 3000 on the Clack at Three Lynx seems to be a friendly first time flow to shoot for.

Tim and Dave paddle the final bit of lake to the take-out

Friday, March 23, 2007

White Salmon: Oreletta

2.2 mi

Stream: The Oreletta section of the White Salmon is a nice intermediate run that flows all year.  It consists of the final 2-ish miles of the Green Truss, dropping boaters in just below Lower Zigzag.  It is especially nice late in the year when the sections above are too low, as springs still provide water for this section. 

Boaters have just a hundred yards or so before the first rapid, a steep rapid with an island in the middle that can be avoided right or left.  The most common line is to stay along the right bank, without crashing into the right wall at the bottom.  This kicks off a series of fun class IV rapids in a classic White Salmon Canyon, keep an eye out for Sticky Hole.  Sticky Hole is a small ledge in a narrow part of the river, it takes up 90% of the river with a nice tongue existing on the right that avoids if it you know its coming.  If not, make sure you have a quick draw when it comes to big boof strokes.  It can be surfed out to the right, yet rafts have been surfed upwards of 5 minutes in it.

Sticky Hole

Eventually the rapids ease off and there is some class II-III floating before the river bends right and enters Broken Paddle/Triple Drop, the easiest line to remember and execute is to run the first ledge on the right, moving back to left and hug the left wall the rest of the way down.  Other lines exist once you know the rapid.

A bit of fun boogie exists before The Flume, signaled by a flume of water falling from a manmade structure on the left and a narrowing of the stream bed.  The trick is to stay center-right the whole way down.  The bottom part accelerates through a fun ramp with offset hydraulics that ends in a nice pool.  If it's your first time down and you are not with anyone who knows the run, it's safest to get out in this pool and walk down to check out BZ.  There are a couple last minute eddies right at the lip that can be caught for a shorter portage if you know where it is.

BZ Falls gets run all the time, but it also dishes out big beatings on a regular basis.  There are a couple seal launch options on the right for portagers, its also possible to get back down to river level to launch.

Priscilla Macy, BZ Falls.
 Photo: Clinton Begley

Boogie water leads to a set of rudimentary steps on the right that marks the take out for the Green Truss.  Most people running the Oreletta will continue down through the Middle White Salmon to Husum Falls.

Just below the steps the river enters Maytag, where the main line is left through a large hole, or right over a double drop.  If the water is low you can scout left before entering the rapid, if the level is high I'd recommend running right your first time through.

Halfway through this rapid you enter the Middle White Salmon.

Flows:  This section flows all summer, for quality class IV action look for 2'-3.5' on The Husum Gage.  It can be run lower, or higher.

Access:  Get to Hood River, Oregon.  Cross the bridge over the Columbia River ($1 toll in 2016).  Turn left at the stop light, then make a right in 1.5 miles on Hwy 141 (the turn comes up kind of fast, if you cross the White Salmon River you have gone too far).  Continue about 2 miles to a stop sign, then turn left.  In about 4 miles you come to the town of Husum, where you can leave the take out vehicle, check the gauge, and scout Husum Falls. 

To get to the put in, continue north along Hwy 141 about 5.8 miles (pass the BZ launch site at 4 miles) to a bridge over Wieberg Creek, which you walk your boat down the middle of to the river.  Stay off any private property, don't ruin the access for others.  There is a parking spot on B-5000 a hundred yards past Wieberg Creek on the left.

A video from our younger years (High School) on the Oreletta.

Copper Creek

Copper Creek

Last Winter we had our first trip to Copper creek. This was Nick and my first river with tough class 4. The trip went well and access is easy enough. We looked down stream and wondered how we were going to get down if the river spread out at all. With 1100 cfs in the EF Lewis it turned out to be an optimal first time flow. We made it down the first section of class 2-3 rapids to Triple Delight without incedent. The falls consists of three ledges, the first a two footer into a seven footer, then only about 20 yards downstream it drops over a clean 18'. The 7 foot drop is definately the crux and the approach is made somewhat difficult by a boil after the first drop that funnels a boater into the meat of the ledge. The plan was to drive left after the first drop and boof off the left side of the ledge. This worked perfectly for my dad.
Nick and my dad scouting the begginging of Triple Delight
Nick went left and got pushed right by the boil. He gutted the meat of the hole and overotated upon landing. I went next and hit the left bank between the drops. I recovered enough to give a halfhearted boof over the ledge which is all that is required if you are in the right spot.
Nicks first run
After my mostly successful run Nick decided to try and redeem himself with much the same results, this time finishing with a huge ender where he was sucked from his IK.
Nick attempts to redeem himself
We decided to run the left side of the falls which is an autoboof that me and my dad both botched and ended up turning sideways midair, but no flips. Nick did redeem himself here with the perfect line and keeping his head dry.The right side is run often but from the videos looks like it pushes you left onto the ledge forming the falls before dropping over. It also had a large branch in the landing making it unrunnable that day.
Myself resurfacing below Triple Delight.
My dad below the lip of the falls After this were a few fun ledge drops including Piton and the Flume. Niether was class 4 at this level, but still very fun.

Nick drops into the Flume

My dad exiting the Flume
After some more class 3 we arrived at final five. This is the signature drop on Copper creek and is a very fun rapid. It was the toughest thing Nick or I had ever run before so we scouted the second and third drops for ahwile. We had seen plenty of video of this canyon so we had a pretty good idea of what we were going to do. My dad went first and ran the first three drops perfectly. Then Nick and I headed to the top for our run. We cleaned the top drop and said a few words before the next two drops which include a 5' punchbowl and an 8' slide into a headwall. Nick dropped over and got a HUGE tailstand, he should have gone over but incredibly landed it. It would have been a very bad thing to swim here because of the headwall drop. I then came down and shot to the right with a boof then dropped down the slide with no problems. Once we were below these drops we realized we couldn't scout the last double drop from where we were. We had decided not to do it earlier because of private propery issues and were hoping to get a peek from in the canyon. Nope. I already knew how I was going to run it, but my dad insisted on going first for safety reasons. I explained that you just aim left over the top drop and boof off the left of the next ledge. He didn't go left... I came down next and did excactly what I wanted then Nick came down a little closer to the hole on the right. He paddled out just fine though. It was then that I realized my dad was a little wet. He ended going to far right where the hole is backed up by the right wall. He ended up swimming and getting recycled by the hole for about 15 seconds. After he felt a little better we headed downstream.
The exit to Final Five CanyonWe then drifted to The EF Lewis and enjoyed almost continuous class three to Horseshoe falls. We all dropped this easily down the center chute and made good time to the takeout.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A day at meadows

A day at meadows
We headed up to Meadows on a nice clear day and took a few pictures. At one point I went over a rope that had been knocked down to drop a ledge. It turned out to be safety day and I got my pass marked for the infraction. Too bad, we still got a few good pictures of the poached ledge.
Nick drops the Daisy ledge.
I drop the ledge
On this day we found a couple of ledges near the top of Daisy.
Nick drops the one that is visible from the lift.
Then a couple smaller ones on the canyonish run on cascade chair.

Alex drops one of the small ledges while Nick looks on. Then we found a nice powder turn spot.

Overall a great day on the Mountain. It seems that everytime I have gone up this year the conditions have been optimal. This was a pretty good winter and I am looking forward to the Spring season.

This blog is for a couple of High school kids who love kayaking and snowboarding. I will post as often as I can, but I assume the first few weeks will be slow. We live in Gresham, less than an hours drive to Mt. Hood and about 30 minutes from the Columbia Gorge. Instead of getting into trouble on weekends we have chosen to explore the area where we are so fortunate to be growing up. We will show you our adventures so that hopefully you will learn about these places or have something interesting to read during slow times after dinner or while you are waiting to go to the places we are showing you.


Trout creek

Trout Creek
Last Saturday Nick Hymel and I set out to run the upper Wind. We were hoping to get a shuttle from a group that would finish first, then help us run our Shuttle. This plan went down the tube when we picked up our potential shuttle on the side of the road after they hiked out because of a dislocated shoulder. After getting them back to there cars we decided that with no shuttle we would simply run a short section of Trout creek. The run was class 3 boggie water a couple of 3+'s and one that might be class four at higher water. The run starts out at a 15-20' dam that looks runnable. We decided to pass because the top was shallow and it dropped into a small but uniform hole. With just the two of us we decided to put in right below.
Put in
(the dam is gone now)
The river immediately enters a couple class two's, then is 3-3+ for a quarter mile. The rapids are ledgey 2-3 foot drops, mostly a fast move past a rock. The biggest rapid is at the end of this section and is a series of holes, each slightly larger than the last. Its not quite class four, but interesting none the less.
Me half way down the largest rapid.
Final hole in bigger rapid.After this it is pretty manky until you reach a small ledge that we ran through a double-drop on the left. After this there is one more hole, then our take out.
Nick runs the double ledge

I then jogged the mile back to the car and we headed to Upper Panther creek to scout a couple falls. Unfortunately one was unrunnable and the other had wood. The top part drops ovaer 50' throug a crack that turns 180 degrees, while the lower was a 25' drop with the left landing on rocks, and the center dropping cleanly through a narrow slot with wood intruding on the entrance and halfway through the falls. The beauty more than made the trip worth while though, along with the interesting scramble to the creek.
Lower tier
Nick checks out the upper falls The normal Trout creek run continues down to the Wind and is much harder. This is what we were planning for until our shuttle was injured. I wouldn't suggest the run we because of it's short length, but it could be an after work/school run for a solid class three boater looking to get into creeking during the winter. Just don't miss the take out if this is the case because there is no other take out before the class 4-4+ on the lower part and the Wind.