Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lewis River falls

On June 21st, Nick, his brother Alex, and I drove to the Lewis river to camp and run some waterfalls. We got excactly what we were looking for with a great water level and a choice of a multitude of slides, ledges and falls. Nick and I drove up before Alex because he had a dentist appointment. On the way we scouted Rush Creek, which looked real steep. Later that day we went to scout the take out eddy above upper falls that would make the portage around the nasty job infinately easier than the last time we were there. As we were pulling back into the campground after our scouting trip, we rounded a corner to see a car with boats on it. We parked quickly to see what they were doing. We got to the falls just in time to see one of them saddling up for the lower falls (five-footer into a fourty footer). He took a real good line, cleaning the drop but landing flat, he said that it was a pretty big hit even though the water was fairly airated. Then we see one of his buddies set his boat next to the falls in seal launch form. We couldn't beleive that he was actually going to seal launch into the falls. Sure enough though, he pulled on his skirt and dropped in, completely melting into the falls about halfway down. He resurfaced upside down and was dragged into the cave behind the falls, a really bad place to be. He later said it was real difficult to breath even though he was upright just because of the spray. Ropes were thrown, including ours, but nooone could pull him out. He tried about seven times to paddle out, and on the final try just squeeked out. This boater turned out to be Rush Sturgeous, a pro I had heard of as a big waterfall guru. After seeing him have so much trouble behind the falls our hopes of running it started to dwindle. seal launching in After a while Alex showed up and we headed to Twin falls to do a few laps on this forgiving twenty-five footer. Both Nick and I cleanded it three times while Alex filmed. I was pleased that this falls was still running this late in the summer. We then headed to bed anticipating the next morning. Nick tucking Twin Falls We headed upstream the next morning to put in above Taitnapum falls. We scouted it and saw some other boaters runnning it. We heard they were going to run Upper from a guy named John who was one of there buddies, but had forgot his gear. We dressed quick and put in, I decided not to scout the first twenty footer from river level to save time, I dropped off the left side and had a perfect line, then ran the next slide to set up safety for Nick. The only spot with enough water to get an IK down was the middle, so Nick plugged that great and we headed downstream. Below here was a couple iii-iv drops chisseled out of the bedrock. Then we eddied out above upper and scouted the lead in that we were refering to as Apocalypse because from the top it looked like the end of the world (it is obviously still part of Upper falls so Apocalypse is not to become its full time name). This drop is a four foot drop, into a slide, into an eight foot drop with a decently sticky hole in the middle. Nick and I went left and it was fine. Apocalypse Nick decided not to run the next three foot ledge right above the nasty crack that we were portaging, while I ran it on the right, the eddy is plenty big, but if you miss your going over a class VI-ish drop backwards. We got our boats to the lowering point right as Ryan Scott was lowering his last buddy down. He offered us a helping hand and we slid down to a rock ledge right above the final drop in Upper Falls. We stood there for a second or two, then I helped Nick into his boat and into the eddy. He peeled out and had a perfect line down the falls with a great boof and tuck. I was then left up there to get in by myself. I slid in, but with noone to hold me in the eddy I came out before I was ready and had to fight to get towards my line, I ended up going a little farther right than I wanted to, but cleaned the falls in the end. I untucked my paddle before I landed and gashed my nose open on the cockpit of my boat. A small price to pay for such an awesome drop. Myself midair. After this was some easy water until we got to Middle falls. The slide on the right was so fun that we did it twice to get video. Some of the guys from Ryan Scott's group slid on there buts instead of running the falls. This one was so fun even Alex ran it:). Then we buzzed downstream to watch the other group running lower. We got there to here that they decided to not run it. The fact that a pro kayaker and a group of very skilled boaters, along with my split nose helped me make my choice to portage. Nick however, spent a long time scouting, but in the end decided the cave wasn't worth the risk. All in all it was a great trip and we hope to return some day. Here is the video, filmed almost entirely by Alex. -Jacob

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Wind River: Lower (Summer Flows)

Photo: Chris Arnold


Stream: The Lower Wind is a Summer time staple in the Columbia River Gorge, as well as a fun trip to do in the Winter.  This page describes the run as it is most commonly paddled, in the Summer at flows around 100 cfs.

The people who live at the top of the put in road don't really dig people driving past there house.  Adhere to their wishes and drive very slowly until you are past the houses.

There is a quarter mile of class II and a nice pool to warm up in and do some rolls before entering High Bridge rapid, a 1/4 mile long rapid that is bouldery and technical at low water.  If you have a good attitude and good boat control weaving in and through the rock piles can be enjoyable, if not you can take the opportunity to let everyone else in the group know how elite you are by complaining about how "boat abusive" and "manky" this part is.

A short distance below the end of High Bridge rapid Panther Creek comes in on the left and adds some water to the stream.  Read and run class II-III is the name of the game for awhile below here, as you learn the run you will develop preferred routes through each of the rapids. 

After passing a rope swing on the left (I don't suggest using it) the river consolidates and bit and goes through a couple III+ rapids that feel different than the rapids upstream before a small pool and horizon line signal that you have arrived at The Flume, which should be scouted and possibly portaged on the right.  The rapid looks straight forward, yet an obnoxious rock just below the surface in the center of the first ramp keeps people from running it sometimes.  Class III+?  Class V?  It has been called both, look at it your first time down.

A couple small, but enjoyable rapids separate the Flume from Beyond Limits.  There is a fish ladder on the left that is to be avoided, and a fun ramp on the right side of the river, or a mediocre boof all the way on the right wall.  It is easy to take a peak beforehand from a bench in the center of the river.

Another section of read and run III-III+ leads to a straight away with a foot bridge spanning the river that signals the approach of Shipperds Falls, the main event.  Stop well upstream of the foot bridge if you intend to scout.  There is a confined fish ladder on river left with an avoidable, but dangerous intake.  Just upstream of the fish ladder is a class III-IV, 4' ledge.  After going over the ledge, move right into a friendly eddy your first time.  From there you can ferry back to river left to a smaller eddy to scout the falls, or scout the falls one at a time.  If you are following people who know the run down, its not uncommon to run all the drops on verbal beta (Shipperds is a class IV rapid by the end of Summer).

The first falls has many line options, and with an eddy at the lip they can be mixed and matched.

Nick Hymel with the rail grab.

The second falls is powerful and can be hard to get a good boof off of.  While there are numerous techniques for running this drop, I feel the safest bet for first timers is to have some right angle to assure you end up in the nice eddy over there after landing.

The third drop looks janky, but if you run just to the right of the largest roostertail pointed at 11 o' clock it is generally quite fun.

Stop before going over the low head dam and ferry over to a small eddy against the retaining wall on the left if you want to hike up and repeat, the ease of doing laps on this falls is an incentive for doing this run.  I have heard of motivated locals exceeding 20 laps in a day.

When you have had your fill, plop of the lowhead down through the notch on the left side.  I like a little right angle here to avoid being pushed into the left wall, the hole is no problem if you keep your nose up.

From here it's read and run class II+ to the take out, with the bonus of a number of hot springs on river left, the one most commonly used by kayakers is 1/4 mile downstream of Shipperds, with the falls still in view.  

The take out is marked by powerlines crossing the stream.

Flows:  This run may never get too low, though below about 80 cfs you may notice you don't see others on the river.  Over 150 cfs Shipperds is a little less friendly and at some point it becomes a no-go (it's never been run at Winter Flows to my knowledge).

Access:  Cross into Washington over the Bridge of the Gods. A toll of $1 existed in 2015, with talk of that price going up in the near future.  Head East on Hwy 14 for 5.8 miles (passing through Stevenson) and turn left at a flashing yellow light that takes you up to Carson.  At the stop sign in town turn right onto Hot Springs Ave.  In 0.9 miles turn left onto St Martin's Rd, then make an immediate right onto St Martins Hill/St Martins Springs Rd.  This dirt road leads down to the take out.

Return to the stop sign in town and turn right onto the Wind River Hwy, in 2.1 miles turn left onto High Bridge Rd (there are many similarly named road in the area, so the odometer setting is especially helpful here).  Take the first right off High Bridge Rd and follow through the neighborhood, driving very slowly as soon as it turns to gravel.  Follow this down to the obvious put in site.

Monday, July 16, 2007

East Fork Hood; Upper

3.8' with a big diurnal at Tucker, on a day we got a raft down.  Photo: Tim Brink

4.5 miles

Stream:   The old put in used to be up at Sherwood campground, but in recent years there has been a couple wood issues between there and the Hwy 35 crossing a short ways downstream.  As a result most people put in at the Hwy 35 bridge these days.  If you do put in higher you will be treated to the only bedrock on this run, in the form short sloping ramp.

The ramp

The stream changes year to year, but is uniform in character.  That character is continuous steep and bouldery rapids with fun boofs and soft holes. No pools!  It's fast reaction boating and some people find it to be fun, others don't.  The steepest part of the run starts about 1/4 mile below the Hwy 35 put in and continues for about 1 mile.  This is fun read and run whitewater if you know the wood situation beforehand.  But if you don't, anything blind can be scouted.

After about 1 mile of continuous maneuvering the stream slows a bit, but it is still continuous class III-IV route finding down to the take out bridge.  If you don't have current beta on the wood situation, be cautious your first time down, then take a second lap!

Flows:   As of 2018 there is a painted gauge at the take out bridge where Hwy 35 crosses over the EF Hood near Dog River West Trailhead.  This gauge lines up roughly with the foot level of the Hood River at Tucker gauge when there is snowmelt.  In the Winter, the EF bridge gauge often reads 1'-2' less than the Hood Gauge.

4.5'-5.5' at the bridge gauge is the friendliest range.  It is still fun down to 4' but expect to hit a fair number of rocks, and it's possible even lower than that but is less enjoyable for most hard shell kayakers.  I do not know what the upper range is.

Some data points 

Access:  Take Hwy 35 out of Hood River, a couple miles shy of 20 you will cross the EF Hood at the take out, this is the bridge with the gauge (45.464787, -121.570097).  Continue upstream another 5 miles or so to the put in where the highway crosses the EF Hood again (45.410877, -121.570676).

Original write-up
The second lowest trip Iv'e done down the Upper EF Hood

July 12, 2007, headed to the Upper East fork of the Hood when the Truss didn't pan out.  We were surprised the EF still had water in July, even if it was pretty low. We put in right below the beginning of the Worm and ran down to a roadside pullout 0.8 miles downstream. It seemed longer because we scouted most of the river due to it being steep, low, and with wood present.

Typical Upper East Fork Hood

The run was III-IV, but a flip would have been painful, and a swim even more undesirable than usual.

Nick running my favorite drop on the run, it is not all pictured here.

Then Nick and I headed over to Punchbowl falls on the West Fork Hood for a couple laps, we had fun goofing off over there. The easiest hike back to the top of the falls was on river right, and this meant that the most convinient way back into the river was a nice seal launch pictured here. You can hike up the other side which we have done in the past, but we preferred this route. The hole at the bottom was not sticky at this level, but was still powerful for how little water was going down the gut as Nick shows in this sequence (the same thing happened to me).