Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quartzville Creek/Canal Creek


Stream:  This one of the best runs in the Willamette Valley portion of Oregon's Cascade Mountain Range.  With good flows, it is not stop class IV action for 17 miles.  I like to start at Greg Creek and groove through the culvert before walking down to Quartzville Creek, but more commonly people put in a mile upstream at a bridge over Quartville itself.

Just below Greg Creek the rapids kickoff with TD, a boulder garden leading into an 8' ramp.  This sets the tone for the difficulty level of the trip, if you are having a good time here you are in for a great day of boating.  The next two miles are referred to as "Upper Quartzville" and everything can be run down the main channel read and run style if you are comfortable with some reactionary boating, or you can scout the horizon lines if you prefer control.  This section is fantastic, and people often drive up here just to do laps on it.
Photo: Pete Giordano

The end of "Upper Quartzville" is at the Wrapped Bridge, the remains of an old road bridge taken out by a flood that has been strewn along the right bank just downstream of the replacement bridge.

Below the wrapped bridge you enter "Middle Quartzville", the least commonly run section.  In here is more great class IV, but also two notable rapids that need to be scouted and likely portaged.  The first is Pick-Up-Sticks, a small rapid that collects huge amounts of wood.  This can be portaged, and sometimes run right.  If you get suckered into the inviting eddy on the left just above the logs, the portage is more difficult.

An easier section leads to Double Dip, the most dangerous rapid on the river downstream of Pure Hate.  The eddies above this rapid should be scouted during the shuttle, there is a pull out and rock outcrop 1/4 mile upstream of a bridge from which it is easy to do this.  Double Dip has two powerful ledges, and the hole in the bottom one is dangerous.  This drop is almost never run, and can be portaged along the road.

Downstream the fun continues, easing off a bit until the confluence with Canal Creek.  The next section is where the big ledges are, usually accompanied by large holes.  There are class IV lines through them, but if you are in the wrong spot you could be in for a dangerous beat down at high water.

 Photo: Lucas Rietmann

Downstream of the ledges the rapids ease off as you enter the lower section.  This section cruises along with only occasional class IV rapids, but it's prime time for boof and hole hunting.  The rapids down here tend to be long boulder strewn rapids, with the occasional large hydraulic.  At low water this section is class III.  The final set of rapids comes below Dogwood Recreation site, with the crux coming in a gorge at a left hand turn.  Here you want to stay right through the bottom, as a large hole guards the center of what is now a river at the bottom.  Once through the gorge, take the right channel at a log strewn island and it's bee-bop down to the reservoir.  At 3,000-4,000 cfs give or take this is currently my favorite day of class fun kayaking in Oregon.  At these flows, you are really missing a treat if you pass on the opportunity to do the whole 17 miles.

Flows:  Quartzville has it's own gauge, and a wide range of flows.  If levels are between 1,000-2,500 I prefer just doing laps on the Upper Section.  2,500-4,500 is prime for the whole enchilada.  Over 6k the lower section is some of the best big water boating around, but the ledges in the middle section are huge and the upper is class V.  10k is not too high for a class soft V experience, and has been playboated at that flow.

Access:  Access information

Trip Report

Matt, Nate, Bobby and I ran Quartzville on Friday. ~1400 on the gauge led to a great spring flow. Last time we had over 2000 on the gauge but at 1400 we had more water in the creek. So the Oregonkayaking description holds true again in regards to spring requiring less water than winter or fall. No snow at all and a super nice day. scouted the first time down and took some video. Bobby threw an interesting version of a freewheel off Grocker that involved a piton/bow stall, but it was pretty sweet looking! Actually Bobby had a lot of super cool moments including an upside down low brace that should not have worked plus held on for a beat down in Movie Star that he was able to work his way out of.
             Scariest part of the day was Matt got pinned under a log in the middle of a slide near the put-in and had his skirt implode, leading to his first time out of a boat in almost a year as he floated downstream with a boat full of water, I don't think this counts as a true swim? To avoid repeating this go far right at the long class 3 slide with an obvious log at the bottom, do not try to go under on the left! Nate also had an impressive safe in Movie star with an iron fingers move holding onto the wall as the hole tried to suck him back in, Matt came to the rescue there. The take out ender hole looks super cool, Matt and Nate both went for some old school tricks and Matt came completely out of the water while Nate went for the loop. Second lap we just bombed and that is always so cool on this creek. Did the run in 40 minutes, could have been 30.

Quartzville creek from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.

We then loaded up and raced the failing light to get to Mcdowell for a park and huck of a clean 8 footer. It was squeeky clean and I threw two freewheels off it. We thought we saw a horizon line a ways downstream, so we ran the next slide, which falls onto a shelf but is actually a smooth transition, just watch out for the wood on the left. Then dropped a small ledge slide, followed by a class two shelf. Below here was a small slide into some wood that looked pretty sketchy so we looked for a way to portage, none. Then a way to get out of the mini gorge, none. So we put some effort into attaining/ wading our way back upstream, then groveling up the brushy bank. We took different ways up, some of ours more efficient than others...
I then made the long drive back to Gresham, and slept well after a great day of kayaking.
video coming soon.


Both pictures by Pete Giordano
        Two weekends ago I got to run Quartzville creek with Matt King, Pete Giordano, Paul ?, Jason Rackley, and James Bagley.  I had high hopes from reading Jason's description of it and I was not let down.  The run is every bit as fun as could be hoped.  It is class IV-IV+ with a minimal amount of time spent not running a fun drop.  We did two laps, with the second definitely being the funnest, as we didn't scout, just flew down the run.  My favorite drops were Grocker and wooden wall, they were both low stress boofs, with short, but requiring focused lead-ins,
          The run starts with TD, a boulder garden with a pin spot that is easy to miss if you know where it is, followed by an 8 foot slide that Matt went for the gut on both times.  It looked fun, but for some reason noone else was up for it, the rest of us boofed left.  Right around the corner is Grocker, it has a narrow lead in to a small hole that is the crux, deciding where you line up for the final ledge.  If you are in the right spot, you take a couple strokes, then launch off the rock center right, if not the consequences are minor.  Some fun, easier drops lead to Wooden wall.  I wasn't really looking forward to this drop because it looked like an uninteresting drop with high consequences.  It turned out to be much funner, much less consequential, and more interesting overall than I had imagined.  The move came down to one critical stroke, but it still took some effort to get lined up
 correctly.  Once you hit your boof, you bounce up and get pushed right and passed the log.
The log is just out of the shot on the left hand side of the picture 
I was told it used to be much more difficult, I am glad it has changed to what it is now 
        Some mellow water leads to David From Behind, this was next on my list of fun rapids.  Most of us snuck on the left side, where you had to boof right then ferry hard to miss a rock.  Again, low consequence, but interesting.  Pete decided to try out the much more complicated right side, and ran it perfectly.  After some smaller rapids, we arrived at Corkscrew, which was the most anticipated drop for me.  We can be thankful that there are people who are willing to cut logs out of drops in the summer, because this one would be unrunnable without the help of "Spider", who cut a log 43' in diameter out of this drop.  This drop was a super fast mini S-turn with no hole, again, low stress family fun.
What I remember most was flying into the eddy at the right to a whoop from Jason, who was leading the cheering squad on this day.  I have never boated with someone so excited to be on a river! He mustered up a cheer for every boater on every major drop!  It's nice to a have that kind of enthusiasm on the river. 
   Next is Movie star, this had a big hole that James, Matt and Pete ran down the gut on the second lap, while the rest of us boofed right.  
   Below here are some fun boulder gardens, then a small ledge before the take out, Matt went for the ender and got popped completely out of the water! This is the same ledge on the Oregon Kayaking trip report for the creek.  
      After this we headed to Canal Creek to do the falls to falls run.  It was too low, but Matt and I did it anyway.  The upper falls had wood, making it what I would deem unrunnable. 
      I would like to say thanks to Matt for the invite, and the whole crew for showing me down this very fun run.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lewis River video

Here is the video from our trip down the Lewis river this September.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gladiator Creek: Lower

 4 miles

Stream: There are 3 fun rapids on this stretch, it is best run as an extension to the Middle or Upper, but I have put in here before when Iv'e hiked to the bridge and decided flows were either too high, or too low for me to want to continue on.  You can also continue another mile past the put in bridge to a spur road after the quarry that leads down a nose of land for an additional mile with many more class fun rapids.  The story of the first descent starting at the lower bridge is worth a read over at Oregonkayaking.net.    

Arena is just below the bridge, and is my favorite rapid on the lower stretch, and probably the whole creek.  The obvious line down the middle is as fun as it looks, a fast ramp into a kicker.  It's one of those drops you might want to lap a few times if it was easy and you had the time.  While it is easy to line up, anywhere other than the line has injury potential so scout thoroughly.

A couple small ledges separate Arena from The Punisher.  Keep an eye downstream for a horizon and a waterfall coming in from the left, eddy on the right as soon as you see this, it would be easy to run out of eddies.  The scout and portage are both along the right, the drop has been run right at high water, but left at lower flows.

Ben Mckenzie tangles with the Punisher.
Photo: Adam Edwards

Another short stretch of class II leads to The Colosseum, a long set of low angle slides at the end of a straight away below Punisher.    It is a good idea to scout Colosseum from the left bank, which is easy to do and obvious when it should be done.

     Paddler: Joseph Hatcher

After taking in Colosseum from the pool below, you are done with the good stuff.   The whitewater starts off consolidated, but gradually spreads out and starts weaving through islands.  If the water is low, you take the wrong channel, or wood shifts this section can be a pain.  However, if flows are up, you guess the wood-free channels, and maybe bring some hot chocolate to sip this section goes by alright.  There are some small surfable features to change the pace too.  And trust that paddling out is better than hiking out.

A typical scene during the runout.

Eventually the islands end, and the take out bridge comes up just around the corner.  If you only brought one car, just drop the boats and walk the short distance back up to the gate to retrieve your vehicle.

*It is worth noting, all three of the major rapids can be scouted on the hike in from road overlooks.

Flows:  The rapids are still fun on the lower even when the Upper and Middle are low, even below 2'.  Don't forget about that runout though.  The Punisher lives up to it's name at high water, it can be portaged right.  Gauge location and details described on the main page and the gauge page.

Access:  From the take out drive upstream 1/4 mile and turn left, park at the gate.  Hike about 3 miles on the mainline (if in doubt stay right towards the creek) until reaching the Lower Bridge going over the creek to the right, this is the put in for the lower.

My first trip to Gladiator with a boat

My first time down was with Tim Brink and Bruce Reed from ORT, who were going to raft the creek.  When I got to college at Western Oregon University, I began looking at the coast range as a place to kayak.  I had three creeks at the top of my list, and this one was at the top of that list.  I scouted access with my mom and sister when they came to visit one day, and was pretty excited about what I saw.  The day before I was to paddle the creek for the first time, I paddled Quartzville Creek with Jason Rackley and Pete Giordano.  I told them about my plan, and they asked if I had read their story Cammando Creekin', which was about the first descent of the lower section of this creek.
The situation had changed a little since then, with a gate that they open up during hunting season so we brought along a bunch of camo clothing, stuffed the kayak in the back of Tim's Truck, and signed in at the entrance (2014: now it's walk in only, but access is allowed year round excluding high fire danger).
      We got skunked by low water on the upper and middle sections, but decided to try out the less mysterious lower run.  This trip started in excellent fashion, with a peal out into the 15 ft Arena Falls.

  After this is a short ledge, that demanded its own respect when it gave the raft an exciting shove in the wrong direction [the upside down direction :) ].  Shortly after this was Punisher, which had not been run on the previous descent.  I felt at this water level it looked good and was able to hit a line going left-left (and have repeated that line a few times since).   The first drop lands in shallow water so nose up is the only way to go.  The raft chose to ghost boat it on this trip.  A minute of class II and we arrived at the large horizon line of Colosseum.  It is about a 200 yard long series of slides, with multiple lines.  After this came the two miles of class two we knew we had in store.  It took awhile with the raft, and while there was some log dodging no portages were needed.
       I was really jazzed on this trip, and have been back a number of times.  It's one of my favorite creeks in Oregon.  I am thankful that Tim and Bruce were willing to come along, and that I got to see another awesome place I probably never would have without my kayak. 



Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lewis (falls section) birthday run

Lewis River
all photos by Aubrey Russell
For my birthday, my family, girlfriend and I camped at the Lower falls campground.  It had been over a year since I was here last.  That time I had shyed away from the lower falls after seeing Rush Sturges get stuck in the cave, and I broke my nose running Upper falls.  This year, my goal was to run Lower falls if I was feeling ready.  On Friday I ran the upper section with my stepdad Dave, and I had run a pretty interesting falls up there.  Sunday rolled around and it was time to run the falls section.  Jean Loosmore and John showed up along with Tim Brink and ORT, with Paul Guinea also along for the run.  Jean realized pretty quickly he had forgotten his PFD so he opted to video the show.  After scouting, we all put on and ran Taitnapum, a 20 footer that produced some interesting lines.
Paul went first and cleaned up.  I went next and was planning on a plug for practice, but hit a pad anyway and I dropped at a 45 until I hit the rock face forming the fall which dropped my bow and I came up facing the falls but upright. I got out and got a cool angle of the raft running it from where I was.  I was close enough that when they hit, they splashed a sheet of water onto me as I protected my camera!  Last was John, some miscommunication caused him to be offline and he got turned sideways and dislocated his thumb!  So after some interesting lines we headed down to Upper falls.  We scouted the first class IV sliding drop and all successfully ran that, then we eddied out and scouted the big part of Upper falls.
     Jean's girlfriend was starting to get sick, Jean couldn't boat, and John had dislocated his thumb, so they decided to call it a day and head back home.  Meanwhile we all got set up to lower ourselves to the shelf between the nasty part of Upper, and the sweet 35 below.  Getting into the eddy in a controlled manner is the most crucial part of this drop as I learned last year when I got blown out before I could set up.  This year Ox helped lower me backwards into the eddy and I got a controlled ferry into the river left side of this drop which is a bounce bounce hit into the pool below.  Last year Nick and I went much farther right and it is a ten foot slide into an autoboof 25. I wasn't up for that this year, the water was lower and the pool was not very airated over there. The left worked out great and Paul followed my line.  Next the raft worked its way into the current and dropped off the completely vertical far right side.  Amazingly they landed upright with a couple collided heads(football helmets were a great idea).  From here we hightailed it down to Middle falls.  Paul went for the gutsy left side slot and came away upright.  This drop was really technical where he went, the video and pictures should give you a good idea.  I went for the low stress far right slide with a paddle twirl after the raft slid down sideways.
 The raft had already taken off by the time I finished talking to my sister, mom, and Aubrey.  Paul and I played catch up for the next half mile.  We finally rounded a corner and got out above the big one.  Paul and I headed down to scout while Tim and Ox started lining their boat down to below the lead in rapid, which was too narrow for the raft.  I have not looked at a drop as long as I did that one and still decided to run it.  I wanted to do this perfect or not at all.  As I was getting closer to feeling ready we looked up to see Tim and Ox loose control of the raft, as we watched helplessly it plummeted over the edge, unmanned.  Well, that sucked.  As Tim and Ox took off to corral the boat downstream, Paul and I again set our sites on lower falls.  After a large chunk of time I decided to go.  I went upstream and got in my boat, I don't remember the upstream scouting or predrop ritual, but as I floated down I saw Paul waving the camera, signaling that he couldn't get it to work.  I didn't really care, I wasn't running this for the media, it was for me and I didn't want to refocus myself again after showing him what I hadn't pointed out earlier about the cameras more detailed functions, so I told him it was fine and continued into the lead in.
         I came through the lead in and slid into the fast water leading into the falls.  I haven't been so focused on a drop as I was then.  I saw where I needed to go, I took a stroke off the top ledge to keep my bow up but I didn't want to plain out because the lip of the 40 footer was just downstream. I was in control right where I wanted to be, I shifted the boat slightly to the right, took a right boof stroke, left correction stroke, remembered I wanted to tuck, took another right stroke as I came into my tuck so as not to throw anything off.  Then I hit, I am guessing I landed at less than 45 because I didn't sub out.  My face hit my arm, which hit my deck, but it was fine because I was tucked just like I wanted.  I took a left stroke and I was sailing through the gorge below the drop and into the huge pool below.  Sweet, it went absolutely perfect.  
     I was feeling just dandy, I was completely satisfied. No one except one random camper saw my descent (Paul was running down from up-top, my family and Aubrey hadn't arrived, and ORT was collecting there boat).  The moment was mine.  I was feeling so good that helping ORT slog there boat up the canyon rim below the drop wasn't even as painful as it should have been.  This did however remind me of the last time I went on a "raft first descent" with Tim on the N. fork Clack and we shlepped the raft up a couple hundred feet through the brush then too after missing the normal portage.  I have now come to expect this from first descents with the ORT crew:).
Paul drops lower falls
    Next up was Paul, I don't know his thought process so I can't give you a blow by blow from him, but it must have been pretty good cause he came away upright as well! 
All in all a great birthday, and I am very glad to have spent it with all the right people, in the right places, doing the things I love doing.  Thanks everybody.
extracted from my pdxkayaker film fest entryfile:///Users/jacobcruser/Desktop/lewis.mov