Friday, June 25, 2010

East Fork Hood, Upper and Middle


You can find beta for the Upper East Fork Hood here.  The beta here is for the less desirable middle section of the East Fork Hood.

Stream:   This isn't a great run, but in a year without wood issues it could be considered worth doing. It begins at the take out for the Upper section and is fairly continuous class II-III all the way into Dee.  If you continue that far be cautious of some old dams just above the take out that could be tricky at high flows.  There is also a water intake at some point along the run to avoid.  Mostly it's just quickly moving water and try to make sure you don't go around a blind section that has wood hiding downstream.   I wouldn't call this section a portage-fest, but we probably walked 3-5 wood hazards.

Flows:  We had 3.8' on the Hood Gauge from snowmelt when I did this stretch.  For any section of the East Fork Hood I usually look for about 4' with a noticeable diurnal on the Hood gauge and will go down to 3.5' sometimes.  5' from snowmelt is better, and it can be run even higher but I hear it gets fast over 6'.  If it's running from rain I don't have any flow advice, Iv'e never run the EF Hood except from snowmelt.

There is a new estimate from Pat Welch for the East Fork.  I look for a diurnal of at least 50-100 cfs on that gauge.  It has been run with that gauge reading 300-1,000 cfs with little difference, so going off the diurnal seems to be the best bet.

Access:  Take Hwy 281 out of Hood River to the town of Dee.  A bridge crosses the stream in what used to be the middle of a town.  This is the take out.

The put in is accessed by continuing upstream on Hwy 281 to where it intersects Hwy 35 in the town of Mt. Hood.  Turn right onto Hwy 35, in a little over 5 miles you cross the East Fork Hood and that is the put in for the middle section.

Original write-up

all photos by Tim Brink of ORT
With water levels starting to hit the summer flows, it was time to start heading back to the go to runs. Usually this means the Truss and Little White. I usually try to stay off these runs as much as possible during the winter, knowing they will have water long after everything else dries up.  With this thought in mind, it was easy to be corralled to the other side of the Columbia and into the Hood River Drainage.

Day one was the Upper East Fork Hood, which Tim wrote up on the ORT blog .
I enjoyed the run and appreciated the extra flow from the last time I had been here. There was not a single pool on this run.
We put in a Sherwood campground, dodged a couple trees, ran a fun sliding ledge, then boogied down to the worm.
The author running the sliding ledge.
The worm was pretty fun, fairly trivial at this level still, but fun.

Here I am just below The Worm entering the best section of the river.

Then the river kept going for about a half mile of very fun class IV whitewater that tapered off to III-IV and a wood hazard or two.  Tim and Jeff from ORT had a good time in the Puma, so if you want to take a small raft down this section, it's possible.

We then continued down the middle section of the EF, which was all class II-III with a couple wood portages. At least we got to see a new section of river.

The author finishing up the middle section near the diversion canal. Not a hard move, but don't go the wrong way!

The East Fork is boatable down to 3.5 on the Hood gauge at Tucker. We had 3.8 ft for this trip.


Monday, June 7, 2010

NF Cispus

(photo-Nate Merrill)
 There were more log jams than clean rapids when I ran this river in 2010, hopefully things change because it would otherwise be a nice run. There is not much to report about the river, as we portaged most of it.
Gary and I had a scary experience at the end of the run. We were passing by our campsite and decided that we would just continue down to the take out bridge for the sake of completeness. We were floating around a class two bend and I saw a log on the outside corner. It didn't look like a big deal and we had seen much worse all day. I saw Ryan float through just fine and was following Gary down too closely so my downstream view was obstructed. All of a sudden he was typewritered violently across to river right. I was wondering what the heck had done that to him and in the split second I was thinking this, I saw the log that had done it that was funneling strongly into the log I had seen from the top. I decided I was too close to try and boof over it at this point (no momentum), so drove right, hoping I would be able to drive onto shore or the logjam itself. A split second later I realized this wouldn't work, so I found the place where there was the most space under the log (about 1 foot) and aimed for that, grabbed it with both hands and tried to shove myself under it. I got most of the way under, but it was stuck on my chest and I was in a bit of a hole that pulled me farther right and flipped me. At this point Steve and Nate were out of their boats and all they could see were two boats pinned upside down under a log! Steve said he feared the worst. At this point Gary pulled, which flushed both of us somehow (lucky, lucky), and as I washed downstream I was preparing to have to pull and swim under the jam. I decided to stay in my boat as long as possible in order to get pinned close to the surface. Luckily I was able to grab a log and was trying to handroll when I saw Gary's boat. I grabbed the nose and righted myself, pushed off the logs and started handpaddling after my paddle as Gary swam to shore. I collected my paddle and my thoughts as I eddied out, made sure everyone was ok, then looked for Gary's paddle (which we never found).

A typical view on the North Fork Cispus. (photo-Nate Merrill)
This was the second time I made a bad decision boating that led to this kind of life threatening situation. The first I listened to someone else's beta that I didn't know very well even though I had a strong desire to scout. This time, I just sort of turned my awareness off because I felt we were past all the nasty stuff. We had been dealing with wood all day and this looked fine to me, it just goes to show you should always be aware of the situation. Even in the runout. Just because a person runs class five rapids doesn't mean class three can't kill you. I knew this, but this experience helped drive that home. We hiked back upstream and took another look at the jam. It was not as bad as it could have been, but it was still sobering. Gary's paddle is still under there as far as we know. While both Gary and I escaped without more than some cuts on my hand. I hope I never blow it like that again.
 I want to note how quickly Nate and Steve were out of their boats and ready to help, those are the kind of people I want to boat with.  Looking back years later, that is a quality far too rare amongst kayakers.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

McCoy: more smiles than portages

Last weekend Rick and I (Matt) ended up on McCoy creek while Jacob, Nate, and others had an epic on the North Fork Cispus. The creek was rather full of wood, but the portages melted away after all the fantastic drops on this run. It helps that all the good ones are nearly wood-free, but really, the drops are just that good. We were moving pretty fast so I didn't get much for photos, but there are a few good ones. Rick on the pothole drop. It'd be good to bring a saw for this one, but we both manage to avoid it with a high speed duck. This drop is fun, but downstream is where the real goods start to materialize, with a grand finale of this nice waterfall. Rick blasts off. After the goods you have to portage this beast. If the pictures look bad to you, you should see the lead in. Makes this part look easy, logs and all. We roped the boats up the hill to start the portage, then followed a path that Rick knew down to a little finger of land that doesn't require any repelling. After you get up to the flat part, walk about 100 yards then go downhill. The path is just downstream of a sweet slide. After checking out the beast, we both enjoyed the no-brainer slide. A nice way to cool off after working through the portage. Soon after we were at the confluence with yellow jacket and on our way to hot spiked cider from the nice couple camped at the take out.
cispus@Randle ~2,000