Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zigzag River

           After a low water run on the West fork Hood (3.7 ft) that included two laps each on Punchbowl, Nate Merrill, my dad, and I headed over Lolo pass in order to run the Zigzag river on the way back.  We put in where highway 26 crosses the creek the second time if you are coming from Sandy.  We had low water but it was floatable.  Nate had one scary pin mid creek, but was able to work his way free.  The creek was really fun and going from this bridge to the lower highway 26 bridge is a good section of very difficult class III.  It sounds like an oxymoron but if you ever run it you will understand.  I feel comfortable on low end class five and such, but this was still keeping my attention, and Nate (who is plenty capable of much more difficult than class three water) had two pins.  My dad also pinned his IK on a rock that was actually under the water within the first ten seconds of the put-in, but cleaned the rest of the run, so the IK's will do fine. We only had one super easy portage and some minor log-dodging, which isn't always the case for this creek, or any creek of this size for that matter, or really any obscure creek in Oregon :) That was a pleasant surprise.
            I think it is a very worthy stop if you are in the area.  It is very similar to the majority of streams coming off Mt Hood, such as the upper Sandy, East fork Hood, White river.  It is just smaller and steeper.  It would be a great run to do before the Sandy Gorge, definitely more focus required, but no individual rapids are harder than Revenue Bridge, but you might feel right at home pin-balling your way down the upper part of that rapid if you have just come of the Zigzag.
            My verdict-worth doing.
Sandy at Brightwood should be between 1000 and 2500 cfs.  It would be super fun at high water but logs would start to get very scary in a hurry.  I don't know if I would be willing to run this creek when it was at bank full but it would be very very fun. 
      - It runs from snowmelt mostly.
a picture of the zigzag river at flows too low to boat

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yellowjacket Creek

                                 all photos by Matt King               

            Matt King and I ran Yellowjacket creek last Wednesday.  The ride to Randle was longer than we had expected from Portland, but eventually we made it there and after one wrong turn we made our way to the learning center to hopefully find a guy named Drew we had heard of on the internet, and maybe secure a shuttle.  Drew wasn't there, but one of his co-workers, Layla, was kind enough to offer help on the shuttle afterwards.  When we drove over the take-out bridge we both took a deep breath, the water was looking a lot lower than we had hoped for as it flowed across a flood plain.  We decided it would hopefully consolidate upstream, and we could float down this last section, so we would at least make it down even if it was low.
          We drove upstream about five miles to the normal put-in and took a look.  It looked like it was deserving of the "class V scramble" reputation it had been given, we had already decided to use the upper put in, pioneered by Dave Hoffman and group in 2008 so continued up the road another 2-3 miles until we started catching glimpses of the creek and a short, dirt road went off to the left. 
          There were a few boulder gardens in the first part of the creek, along with some easier floating.  

Eventually we came to the first real rapid since the put-in rapid.  We saw some wood so we scouted.  It was a 3 foot ledge with a weird hole, then a nasty falls with wood. It almost drew us in as a boat scout-able rapid, which would have been an error.  The right is the natural side to scout and portage on, but the left is better if you find an eddy you like over there.

From a return trip
photo: Priscilla Macy

Matt found a path on the right, so instead of running the marginal lead in drop and catching one of the little eddies on the left, we portaged on the right pretty easily.  Note: On a return trip, Whitney Butler ran the lead in down the left into an eddy then a number of us ran a lubricated seal launch on the left.

Matt and I ran a short drop right below, followed by a couple more fun boulder/ledge drops in the class four range, then before we knew it we were scouting another larger drop, which turned out to be the best rapid on the run.  It had an easy sliding lead in, followed by a moving pool, then it split and the right side was pretty manky, but the left side accelerated down a 15 yard long ramp into an 8 foot boof.

 The exit was a short slide, then I believe the creek went back to being pretty easy down to the next major drop.

 We knew there was a 30 foot falls right above the normal put-in, so we where on the lookout for that.  Eventually we found it as the creek started to consolidate.  It is a weird place for a falls because it goes from gravel bars right into the falls.  We got out on the left and at first thought it was good to go, then we saw the boulder on the left that the majority of the falls pushes towards.  We felt it was probably runnable, just hard, with high consequences.

               We did a throw and go, which was fun.

Priscilla does the same on a return trip in 2017

The falls does go.  Adam Edwards takes the center boofing right line, following an inspiring probe by Whitney Butler on a return trip.  June 17, 2017

photo: Priscilla Macy

Brandon Lake

Then we scouted the next couple slides which were pretty fun. 

                             The second slide                      all photos by Matt King   
                     Then we where on the guidebook section.  The first drop was wood infested required a creative portage along a log to the center of the river (clean in 2017).  Next was a series of ledges before McCoy creek comes in.  Godzilla was benign at this flow, but is rumored to be rather hungry at higher levels.  There are a few more ledges and fun rapids when flows are good, then it peters out a bit before coming to the final rapid against the wall, which is run with the main flow.  Take a peak for logs if you are unsure about the wood situation.   If flows are low the rest of the run can be tedious, if flows are medium or more it's still engaging.  Somewhere in a short class two section I boofed right onto a piton rock which launched me onto my head causing the only roll of the day :/             

Eventually we came to the flood plain after what seemed a long time (it was low water, this section moves along nice and has fun III+ at medium flows) and then dealt with two more logs, one of which would be a portage at higher flows (in 2017 the only portage of the trip was a log just above the take out).  Finally we came to the bridge, satisfied with the adventure.  I hung around the take out while Matt and Layla from the Learning Center ran the shuttle.

Look for 2,000 cfs+ in the Cispus @ Randle for medium flows, fun can still be had at 1,500 when the notable drops are still fun but the in between starts to get scrapey.

DIRECTIONS: From Randle, head South for 1 mile on 139 before veering left onto Cispus River Rd/NF-23.  8 Miles later turn right on Cispus River Rd towards the Learning Center.  You will quickly cross over the Cispus, and 1.3 miles after the turn you will cross Yellowjacket Creek at the take out.

Just passed the take out bridge (and on river left) turn upstream onto NF-28, continue upstream 7.4 miles.  The creek should be close by and a road blown out by a debris flow heads towards the creek and to a bridge at the put in. 


Monday, June 1, 2009

Eagle Creek teaser video

Here is my footage from Eagle Creek.  We are trying to compile more, but it may take awhile.  This is a fun little video though.
Also, check out Ryan Scott's site CRG productions at to see what he has put together from the trip.

Eagle creek 09 from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.
and here is a helmet cam version of Robert Shingleton running Punchbowl

just raw footage of punchbowl falls. from Robert Shingleton on Vimeo.