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.


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