Monday, January 25, 2010

Skate Park round 2

Dan and Ben went back to Skate Park Creek last Saturday to take care of some unfinished business, cleaning up on the drop Dan and I had flipped on a week or two earlier.

Levels for Skate Park Creek.
Attempt 1
      -3000+ in Klickitat
      -500+ in Little Klickitat
Attempt 2
      ~2000 in Klickitat
      ~300 in Little Klickitat

Attempt two was the minimum I believe as the rafters carried their boat through the runnout below the Skate Park.  It was too low to float.  I don't know what a max would be, but the wood dodging could get interesting at too high of flows.  I would not be worried even with the Klick at 5000 though.

My current thoughts on flows are:
 -a minimum of 2000 in Klickatat at Pitt and 300 in Little Klickitat at Wahkiacus.-
  Of course you could get down the run in kayaks lower, but I think this is a good thing to look for.

  Check out Paul Thomson's website to see shots of the Duo running this drop, as well as a lot more of their recent adventures including Bridal veil and Spirit.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Skate Park Creek

After a year of collecting information; water levels, access, legality, ect everything lined up and MLK day 2010 looked like the day to fire up the diabetic duo's "top of the list" run.  Unfortunately Ben was stuck in Bend, but Dan was insistent on getting this done.  After not being able to land an R2 partner, he set to work trying to get me into the raft with him.  I agreed that this had to happen and felt comfortable enough to give it a go.  He recruited Sam Drevo to help out and Shane was in as shuttle driver/ground support so we were on our way.
The first goal was to get there at a reasonable hour, so we woke before six, met sam in Troutdale at 7:30 and were in the gorge as the sun was coming up.  We went through BZ and made our way East towards our goal.  We scouted Outlet on the way over (which was running), then with one short detour, made our way to the takeout.  We got to the put-in road and it was blocked.  I don't know if this was new, but it made for a quarter mile hike or so.  Not too bad with the dolly and three people pushing.  We headed into the woods as soon as we felt we were close enough to the creek to justify it.  We took about 45 minutes blowing up the raft and outfitting it.  I have a new appreciation for why rafts seem so slow, its because they are. We took forever.  Now it was time to go, Summit baby!
Sam took the lead and we followed.  He would eddy out and signal the wood situation to us and would make sure we got into the "eddies" we needed to catch.  We had a couple portages and a lot of dealing but we got through.  Eventually we reached some class four slides and we were quickly at the lead in to the Quarterpipe.  We went for a long scout hoping to find Shane, no dice.  After an hour or more of scrambling around, scouting, sitting, and looking for Shane, we decided to run the lead in.  At this point I had opted out because of the close proximity of "The Well" to the Quarterpipe drop.  They are back to back and there is one eddy to catch that is about the size of a raft.  This meant we had to stick the line.  So I didn't think I would be willing to risk it.
  We lined the raft to the lip of the lead in slide and made sure we dropped this sweet drop with right angle so we didn't get blown over the big one.  This went smooth and soon we were at the lip scouting this monster.  We spent some time here and I decided I was in.  It looked like we would be fine over the drop and I thought it would go.  
Looking itty-bitty at the top
(photo by Sam

This photo looks unreal to me. 
We took our time practicing our grab while Sam set up media about a hundred feet above the water.  We decided it would be wise to come out of the eddy on the right.  We started to head over but got stalled out by some shallow rock.  We stroked a couple more times, then came to almost a complete stop for a fraction of a second.  Dan (weighing 50-75 lbs more than me) was on the shallow side keeping us glued on his side.  While I (weighing 50-75 lbs less than Dan) entered the deeper water.  This lead my side to start its decent, while Dan's side did not.  We each gave one more feeble attempt at a correction stroke and held on for the inevitable disaster.  As we went over the lip, I took a look at Dan, then turned my attention to the rock slab waiting 40-50 feet below me.  I stared at it the whole way down, tightening my grip as we neared impact. 
Staring down at the transition and our fate. Dan on 
the right, myself on the left side of the raft.
(photo by Sam Drevo of ENRG kayaking and )

Miraculously the transition was buttery smooth, saving us from a trip to the hospital.  We 
relaunched at the kicker and at this point I new we would survive :)  I felt the second impact as 
we hit water and turned to see Dan spread Eagle flying towards me.  I ditched my paddle as not 
to impale him and waited for his body to dismember me.  It was not as bad as I anticipated, 
and I held on to the raft as my side(weighted and downstream) created a ton of friction at that speed with the water and sunk while Dan's side (airborn, so not weighted) went skyward and 
flipped over me downstream.  I pushed myself from under the raft and B-lined it to the left shore.  Gave Sam the all good signal and asessed the situation.
       -raft stuck before "The Well" somehow.
       -we were on the wrong side of the drainage ditch
       -my paddle was gone
       -Sam's gear was still above the drop
         After hearing the transition was smooth, Sam decided he would fire it off in the kayak.  He thought he might overrotate in the center, so decided to hit a flake on the left to get his nose up.  He achieved this goal, but this meant he missed the transition.  He bounced off a rock, then bounced off the bottom shelf.  To protect his back he flipped himself going off the final transition to lighten the impact.  This worked and he rolled up with a bit of damage to his gear, and a sore back, but no worries, sometimes thats how it goes.  
Next up was "The Well", a drop normally portaged because it is almost too narrow for a kayak.  Despite all my animated discussion of how a baseball bat would have trouble making it through there, let along a raft... Dan decided he would fire it up.  I was not about to intentionally eat guaranteed sh*t, so I decided I would hop onto the upside down raft as it came by below the slot in the fast water above the next slide.  
Dan drops "The Well"
(photo by Sam Drevo of
In a fit of luck and skill, Dan came through that slot like an osmosis experiment without slowing down and didn't even come close to flipping... How does he do it?  I was happy to be jumping into an upright raft and did so as we slid down the next drop whooping it up.

Myself jumping in.
(photo by Sam Drevo of
As we eddied out we got an unexpected suprise... Shane! He was on a small perch to the right and had been there for 3 hours! Also, my paddle was stuck on the left side of the river, awesome. I retrieved that as Sam came and cleaned this drop along with the next one, which we all fired up without scouting.  In the next drop Sam's paddle broke, so it was time for him to hike out, luckily Shane was right there so he was able to show him the path of least resistance after making the decent 3 1/2 hours earlier.  We stuck his boat on the back of our raft and started the battle with the trees down to the take-out.  After some miscalculations and correct calculations, we arrived at an out of place peice of blue tape on the right. I saw an old road coming down to the river, so I ventured a guess this was our take out.  A quick scramble up the road confirmed this and we had a sigh of relief that our adventure was coming to a close.  We drug the raft up the road and headed hiked downstream to locate Sam and Shane at the truck.  Someone had been kind enough to place some refreshments under a sign.  For this we were greatful after such a long day!  If it was someone reading this, thank you, it was much appreciated.  We shared stories and began the long drive back to Portland.  I was very pleased with how the run turned out and would like to thank Sam for making it so smooth and Shane for being so willing to help out even though he has a messed up shoulder and can't boat at the time being.  And Dan, thanks for letting me hop in the raft with you, though I will be sticking to a kayak for the most part from here on out :)
Dan would like me to point out that in the video, it looks like he is taking a drag stroke right at the lip that turns us sideways.  When in fact he was pushing off the rock, trying to turn us the right way.

Hagen gorge alternate access/first raft decent

(photo-Matt King)
I headed up to Hagen Gorge with Matt King, Josh Grabel, Eric Foster-moore, Ryan Scott, Jarred Jackman, Dan Mccain and his dental school buddy Trevor.
We decided to try out the alternate access I had been looking at the last time I was up there, that had been confirmed by Micheal Long.  I decided to try getting down a little farther even to make sure we put the raft in below the log deck.  It looked like this was doable, so we started carrying the raft down an old abandoned road until they reached the end in the form of a bowl with old car stuff and a campfire.  From this point, we dropped off the right side just before entering this bowl and found a slightly steep, but short and reasonable descent to the creek.  I never even had to take the boat off my shoulder.   In my experience this was easier than the historic clear-cut hike, and made it worth while not dealing with the new portage up top, the manky stuff, or the log deck.

             We headed downstream, and while the raft was having the anticipated problems of hitting rocks all the time, we made reasonable time.  Soon we reached Hagen Daaz and after giving the rafters and first time kayakers beta plopped off and regrouped in the pool below.
  Dan Mccain and Trevor reaping the rewards at Hagen Daaz falls.
(photo-Matt King)
 Below Here we continued down to Euphoria falls.  We didn't dilly-dally too much, with Ryan and Matt skipping the scout.  The rest of us took a look, and then our turns.  Once at the bottom we all poked around for a good view of what we hoped was an entertaining raft descent.

And entertaining it was, with Dan getting sucked under the raft before they even entered the main drop.  Luckily he was able to get back in and hold on as they careened their way into the fang rock, then bounced down the rest.  They hit the bottom drop much better.   Since this was hardly registered as a crash in Dan's long history of bodily abuse we quickly moved downstream.

Of note was a small and insignificant looking, but sticky weir hole that got the best of one of the kayakers.   To avoid a similar outcome, the rest of us went left of center.

Teakettle gave me a nice pirouette, and Ryan hit a cool boof off the curler landing in the eddy.  The raft wasn't on target, but crash through the hole on the right without issue.

We all stared and talked around the Cracken for awhile, but were not all that excited about getting thrown around by the bottom pinch.   I had assumed the raft would portage, but there started to be talk of Dan wanting to run it, and that Matt was considering hopping in the raft with him.

It was painfully obvious to everyone that the crack was too small for a raft, but Dan and Matt were pitching something about weighting the left tube and bringing it through there sideways.  It didn't look like a bad swim if you went into the bottom drop upright, so there wasn't much concern since the top drop seemed easy so everyone not in the raft settled in to watch the show.   Matt let me use his camera so we were able to document the result.
    Dropping in, looking good.

They stalled out a bit at the lip of the shallow 15 ft'er at the top,  as they went airborne Matt (who hadn't had any time to practice holding on with Dan's rope system) came out of the 

Matt getting into position for the re-entry, while Dan seems to have other things on his mind.
He was having trouble getting back in with the aerated water, so he devised a cunning plan at 
the last moment, waiting until the raft dropped out from under him in the second 
drop, and using the moment of weightlessness to pull himself in as the boat went over. 

Making the leap.
     This worked out, and while he was quickly dumped again, I'm sure this was preferable to swimming through the drop.

Dan managed to keep the raft straight enough and pulled off the most an impressive low-side to keep the raft from going over and rode away on the raft sunny-side up.

From here we blasted to the take out and loaded the inflated raft on Dan's truck with high hopes of getting a fast and loose Lacamas creek lap in.

We got to Lacamas with 30 min of daylight left.  I decided to hop in the raft for this one, we cruised the lake, portaged the first ledge, ran the first falls on verbal beta (or in the kayakers case, no beta) , then we eddied out above the Norway slide.  We scouted for about five minutes before it was go time.  As the light started to fade, we dropped this large slide with a good bit of water pumping down it, skipping across the pool at the base, it was a grinning good time.
The kayakers crushed it blue angel style which was one of the cooler things I have seen while boating in some time.  From our perch 15 yards below the drop we couldn't see past the lip of the final plunge, they came from seemingly out of nowhere one right after another all on slightly different lines barreling down the face landing but a skip away from the raft.
The sun was gone at this point and we paddled downstream through the flat/woody water on whisps of refracted light down to and through a culvert.  Not long after we had schlepped the raft up to the road, happy to have avoided a mis-adventure even the a haphazard approach.

From here we made quick work of the flat/woody water at the end, paddled through a culvert, and before we knew it had our boats up at the road after a successful blitz mission.  This was a great day of boating, and one I won't soon forget.

The alternate Hagen access

How to get there.  There is a clearcut where people normally put-in.  Less than 50 yards before the clearcut is a road with a ditch across it shooting off to the left through the woods.  Walk down this road a hundred yards or less.  A road goes off the the right, do not take it.  Go left for another hundred yards.  You will cross another ditch, and the road will open up.  Go right here and you will cross another ditch.  Follow this road past one more ditch until you hit the end.  You will see the circle at the end of the road, veir right into the woods at the very beginning of this circle.  You will be able to find your way to the creek reasonably easy from here as you are less than a hundred feet above it.

These directions will drop you in one class III drop below the log-deck.  

For Lacamas, put in at the lake, then take out where the road through town crosses the creek.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Yaquina River

We did an exploratory run on the Yaquina river this weekend.  It is near the town of Summit, OR within an hour of Corvallis.  The run started out with a nice 7 ft ledge that deflected off a ledge at the bottom.  We ran this ledge, then began a long scout/portage on the left.
           Eric was going to boat scout this next section, but we decided to take a look and this saved him from a blind send of a 40' vertical falls into a pool with a highly suspect depth.  This falls may be runnable, but it was hard to see with all the brush. I might go back in the summer to check out the depth of the pool (A Summer scout a few years later confirmed a pool of marginal depth).

Following this were two more large waterfalls, the first landed on rock and was about 50' tall, the second was a slide to vertical that looked good except for a log across the lip.

Below the waterfalls the creek was all bedrock for awhile, blind and twisty class III/IV slides and ledges.  There was wood present, but I'm not sure if we had to walk anything for awhile.  After this I figured the run was over and would be flat till the end, but whenever I thought this was the case we would find another section of class III-IV bedrock slides.  The longest drop on this run below the falls would have been challenging to scout, but with the low levels we were able to just walk down the creek bed for a look.

Eventually we were portaging a log and saw a horizon line downstream, we scouted on a trail on the right side and saw that there was a nice waterfall here!  It was about fifteen ft with a short ledge just above.  The main drop was smooth and Chris dubbed it "Muddy Boof Falls" because he dried out in the center of it and hit some plant matter/dirt in the center of the drop and that caused the falls to be muddy for a couple minutes.  Also it was a nice boof at the bottom. If this was a run that was going to get repeated very often we might have whipped out the Thesaurus, but I doubt this run is going to get much future traffic outside of adventurous locals.  Below here I don't recall any rapids and the logs started piling up.   There were probably just under ten in this section.  Overall we were approaching twenty portages.
            We had low water.  Just enough to be considered kayaking.  This run would probably only be a true run if everything was just sort of flood, and preferably some of the wood near the end disappeared, even though these lower portages were not difficult.  When Sweet creek is too high, this probably goes.  We had 450 in the NF Alsea, 1500 SF Yamhill, and 2500 in the Luckiamute.  You would probably want around 1000 in the NF Alsea, and 2500 in the SF Yamhill.  At flows higher than this, the fun factor would go up, along with the stress factor.
Thanks to Chris Arnold, Eric Arlington, and Josh Grabel for carrying their boats through the woods with me, along with kayaking a bit.  Also to Chris Gabrielli for helping with shuttle and helping us figure out portage routes.

Put In:  44.7123, -123.5922

Take Out:   44.687, -123.5963 or wherever you can find.

Headwaters of the Yaquina River from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bridal Veil Falls

Jeremy kayaked Bridal Veil falls this last week.  He was followed shortly by the first ever raft decent of the falls by Dan Mccain.   Here is a teaser of the event taking place on the final day of my winter break.  Full footage will be in Ryan scott's new NWVS that will be coming out before too long.  More information on this can be found at  
Check out for a great picture of Dan running the falls by Paul Thompson
Enjoy the clip 
 (but pardon the whistling, its an inside joke)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Henline Creek

Ran Henline creek today with Chris Arnold and Ryan Cole. Level@mehama was ~3300 dropping to ~2900. This was a good level, but we could definitely have used more water. I think 3500 and rising would be perfect and not too hairy, definitely cleaner. We all had great lines up top, with some collisions with rock occurring farther downstream. Scout the entire section ahead of time. The best part in my opinion is from where we put in, to the drop just below the bridge. I would just take out there and do another lap if I were to run it again.  Though it was nice to see the entire section of creek.        If you go in there, you might want to bring a small handsaw for the put in drop, especially if there was more water, but we had no problems at all getting through there. Really no wood to be cautious about at this time, although it might be convenient to get rid of a couple branches here and there though. I had a blast on this small creek. If the levels are similar to what we had, you might want to bring your rock boat. Scout everything before you put on (not hard to do), and hike out on a trail on creek right (though this is not the best place to scout from below the bridge). Pretty tame hike to the put in on Creek right though, and you can scout on the way up. -Jacob