Thursday, September 30, 2010

Oswego Creek

all photos: Matt King

About 5 years ago I was attending an event with my family in Portland. I was still an Ik'er but the bridge we drove over was intriguing even then. I guess it was a precursor of things to come, but I just HAD to find out what was in that creek. I didn't have the map skills at the time to figure out what creek it was, so I just took a mental image and stayed up that night imagining what was flowing along under that bridge.
Then earlier this summer I am driving through Portland and drive over and recognized that bridge.  I pulled over in a no parking zone and hopped out to take a look.  My hopes were low, but it looked like there was some bedrock down there, not what I was expecting.  Anyway, I drove around some more and saw some wood, but the first drop looked worth the effort to me, so I did some research and found out my mystery creek was Oswego creek. I tried to find when they did releases, but this project fell on the wayside as more promising creeks emerged.

This last weekend, driving back from Bend I returned to the Willamette Valley with a message from Matt King.  He was standing next to a creek flowing through downtown Portland and it was running, he said it had a 20' tall, 30' long slide and said we should run it!

I called back and he informed me he came across the creek after riding his bike to pick up a ladder, how some things happen.
The drive home from Bend was brutal and I almost fell asleep a few times, I even think I had a dream or two.   However, the thought of getting to finally run this creek kept me going and motivated to make it to Portland that night where Nate, Matt and I awaited the mornings events. I was up as soon as I heard footsteps in the hall.
We skipped breakfast (saved for later I should say, thanks Caitlin!) and loaded up. We were in high spirits and showed up at the put in bridge to see... other kayakers!  Word had gotten out that Lake Oswego was being drained for maintenance to the dam.

After we were informed of the protocol for the day (don't be on river right due to landowner issues), we went to the put in and did some scouting before dropping this pretty rad slide right there in downtown Portland.

Nate and I, round two.

Matt and Nate dropped down Blue angel style, Matt's paddle got caught in some rocks and he almost went over, but kept it upright and retrieved his paddle. We then all hiked up for round two as the LOPD showed up with an unhappy landlady.

"I am, not a crook"

We saw an obnoxious argument with landowners who were uninformed about Oregon's navigability laws coming up, a possibility Matt, Nate and I had foreseen and didn't much want to be a part of.   We paddled off downstream and into the Willamette, across the river, then hiked up a road through Matt's neighborhood to his house.  The other group got to talk to the bystanders, but the police officer was informed and after discussion got to continue paddling a few more laps.

Downstream on Oswego Creek

Upon arrival Caitlin had a big breakfast made up for us, ending a unique morning in quality fashion.  Matt and Nate had more in mind so headed off for the Truss, and I drove back down to school.

Put in:  outlet for Lake Oswego    45.4101, -122.6675
Take out:  George Roger's Park.   45.4105, -122.6608
Total length:   1/2 mile.

This creek only runs once every three years when the lake is lowered for residence to fix boat docks and more rarely for the city to clean sewage pipes beneath the lake surface. 

Shit eating grins after Oswego Creek dawn patrol.

All photos: Matt King


Deschutes River: Benham to Bend


Stream: The Deschutes River upstream of Bend has some great whitewater at a time of year when the rest of the Pacific Northwest is drying up.  As the Summer gets into full swing, water is needed for agricultural purposes, so water is released from Wickiup Reservoir into the Upper Deschutes.  This bumps flows up to around 2,000 cfs and turns what is already a nice run into something even better.  The only downside to this run is the flatwater, between each section of whitewater lies quite a bit of it.

The uppermost rapid is called Benham, it is also the hardest rapid on the run.  Because it is at the top, and because it is challenging and hazardous, it does not get run very often.  However, putting in at the base of Benham gives paddlers half a mile of fun III+ whitewater before easing off to flatwater for the next 2 1/4 miles to the next whitewater at Dillon Falls.  Because of this flatwater, if paddlers are not interested in Benham, putting in at Dillon Falls is a more common option.

Scotty Baker and Matt King taking a Dynamic Duo through Benham Falls.  
As I heard it, they didn't want to do a practice roll before hand, as they wanted to have some beginners luck in their back pocket.

Dynamic Duo Benham Falls from baker scott on Vimeo.

At Summer flows, Dillon Falls is one of the best rapids in Oregon.  If you put in here, you can either walk down from your cars to scout the rapid along a trail on river-left, or paddle down to an eddy on the left just before things turn from class II to spicy (obvious horizon line).  The standard line in the summer is to enter down a ramp on the left, then boof off one of three humps.  There is another option to run down the far right, though it is more challenging.  There is an exploding wave-hole over there that is noteworthy just above the lip.  The center of the falls is to be avoided at Summer Flows,  as it creates a powerful U-shaped hydraulic.

Dillon Falls

Regardless of how the falls is run, the next obstacle (the Dill-hole) comes up quick.  The Dill-hole has a good seam on the left to shoot for, the center is liable to give you a surf.   Downstream are a couple eddies on the left that heads up boaters can catch, before entering Dillon Canyon, a 300 yard long rapid reminiscent of the NF Payette.  The crux is the first move, where the cleanest line starts left (to avoid a flippy diagonal on the right), threading over to the right on the back of the flippy wave to avoid another flippy hydraulic on the left. 

 Dillon Gorge

 Below the crux, the line is typically down the right into an eddy on the corner, there is also a big boof in the center of the river if you want to spice things up.  Coming out of the eddy on the right, ferry back to the far left to avoid a sticky hole on the center-right.  Below this hole is some splashy water into a long pool.  Better than memorizing these moves or trying to figure it out in person, is to follow someone down who knows the deal.  The old internet/GoPro scout goes a long way on this river too.

Between the rapids, you can expect your fair share of this.  Note that the smiles from Dillon Falls are still there.

Photo: Sam Drevo of Enrg Kayaking

After 1 1/4 miles of flat water Big Eddy is reached, a fun III-III+ rapid that last for half a mile.  There are some fun eddies to grab, and some hydraulics to hit.  Locals sometimes do laps on just this rapid to build skill sets and as an after work option as it's easy to walk back up via a trail on the left.

A group paddles fast down Big Eddy the day after the Meadowcamp Race.
 Photo: Sam Drevo of Enrg Kayaking

A half mile of moving flat water separates Big Eddy from Lava Islnd, which can be scouted on the right.  Lava Island is actually a section of whitewater on it's own, with three rapids and some splashy stuff.  The first rapid is Lava 1.  Lava 1 starts with some twisting/boiling stuff that can be run right or left, followed by a bottle neck with holes on the side before splitting into two channels.  The right side is a sloping ramp into a hydraulic that can be passed by right or (more commonly) left.

Priscilla passes by on the left
Photo: Sam Drevo of Enrg Kayaking

The left channel consists of a ramp, followed by a sticky ledge hole that can be boofed over, or passed on the left.  The two channels quickly reconvene, and there is a nice eddy to regroup in on the right.  Downstream is Cut-up, a great class IV rapid that can be read and run, Iv'e typically started center-left.  Some splashy water and a pool lead to Lava 2, which involves a classic big-water left to right move.  The typical line starts left, then as soon as a large diagonal is passed turn on the burners and drive right to avoid a large hole on the left (has been boofed over succussfully, but can also swim you).  There is a large boulder on the right many boaters use as a marker, getting as close to that as possible before going over a ledge adjacent to the large hole center-right.  Upon landing the current will move you back to the center of the river, this is desirable as there is some debris on the bottom right.  A class III+ run out leads to another pool.

The hardest whitewater is over at this point, but the most sustained section is still to come.  After 1.5 miles of flat water small rapids start poking up, passing by River Rim Park (a put in option for the class IV Meadowcamp Run) a sign warns of hazardous rapids downstream.  Within a couple hundred yards the class IV starts in earnest, and sustained whitewater continues for 1.5 miles.  Paddlers coming down from Dillon and Lava shouldn't have trouble reading and running if they don't have someone to follow (it's not hard to find someone to follow, the locals run this stretch nearly every day in the Summer).  If in doubt about the line, the right portion of the main current is typically a good place to be throughout this entire section. The stand out rapid is Dammit, which starts with a 4' ledge into a pillowy ramp.  At the end of the ramp a pipe shoots water into the river, the trick is to get as close to it as you can and boof to the right over a diagonal to avoid being swept left into a rock.  Nearing the end of the run the river splits into three channels, all channels can be run, but far right is the cleanest.

The easiest to find take out is the Farewell Bend Park adjacent to the Reed Market St Bridge half a mile below the last rapid.

Flows:  This section is at it's prime in the Summer, at 2,000 cfs give or take a couple hundred.  It can be run down to around 1,000 though the lines change (for example the left line at Dillon closes out, while the center opens up).  Winter runs typically skip Meadowcamp, as a diversion pulls most of the water out that time of year.  The gauge is found here.

Access:  The easiest to find take out is the Farewell Bend Park, adjacent to the Reed Market St Bridge (44.0408, -121.329).

Locals know of another spot a bit further up, but parking there is limited.

To get to the upper river from there, cross the Reed Market Bridge to river-left, pass straight through the first round-a-bout.  At the second round about head South/"left" onto Century Drive. 

**In 3.2 miles you will pass by a turn off to Meadowcamp Picnic area, the Winter time take out. **

4.9 miles past the round-a-bout, turn left at a brown sign indicating the road goes to the Deschutes R. Recreation Sites.  After making this turn, you will turn left off this road to your put in of choice, all put ins are signed.

Lava Island: 0.4 miles

Big Eddy: 1.7 miles

Dillon Falls:  2.6 miles

Benham Falls:  4.0 miles

Each of these put in areas request that you purchase a day use pass, the fine for not purchasing the pass is the same as the cost of the pass itself, but you will need to mail it in.

Original Write-up

My first trip out to run the Upper Deschutes was in the Winter during a low water year.  The flow was 1200 cfs which was fun for Dillon and the Lava's, and ok for Meadowcamp aside from a rapid called Amazing that we portaged due to low water.  We had a good time.

Of note was Jeff and Dan running Dillon on verbal beta, due to waning daylight.  This was a result of running Benham in the morning, then Lava through town next, before heading back up to run Dillon.

Nate Merrill running Dillon on another low water trip.

A paddler gutting into Dill-hole at Winter flows, this ended in a beat down and subsequent swim.  The boat pinned in a tough to reach spot on the left and with the short amount of time we had left in the day, chose to leave it there overnight.

Jeff Compton and Dan Mccain rafting Lava 1 at 1200 cfs.

Anna Herring, approaching the crux of Dammit, the crux rapid of the Meadowcamp run.
100%, the final rapid on Meadowcamp, at low water.
Capping off the Triple Crown; Jeff and Dan crashing through Benham.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

End of guiding season

Recently finished up guiding season. It was a fun one with lots of trips, thanks Pete!
Now its September and I am trying to figure out what to do with myself until school starts. With no water and everyone gone, Iv'e been scoping out some exploratory stuff, as well as planning for potentially the largest mission Iv'e ever been on. We will see if that one happens.
In the mean time, Iv'e found some good stuff to boat, so check back here once the rain starts as I hope to start knocking some of them off the list.

Some shots from guiding season.
Janus the wonder custy from a martian planet.
(all photos courtesy of Adam Smith from Blue Sky Rafting)
The double jump at the narrows (with cool headcam footage from Janus)

Texas Longhorns! They don't look like they are from Houston to me

Rock and Roll!

(all photos Courtesy of Adam Smith of Blue Sky Rafting)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Secret Stash

Photos: Nick Hymel

Nick, Alex and I took a trip into the hills looking for a low water adventure. Armed with wetsuits and tubes, we set out to explore the ""secret stash". Discovered by an older generation of boaters, they kept this slice of whitewater in obscurity. One can only imagine why, maybe they wanted to have somewhere to go only they knew of, maybe they wanted to make sure the access stayed open, I like to think they left it so others could explore it and figure it out for themselves. It was a bit of a drive from Gresham, luckily the gates were all open and we drove straight to the take out bridge. This is what we found:

15 foot ramp to 30 foot free-fall was my estimate after looking from base and lip.

Tubing in the crux section, upstream of the falls.

Alex, between a rock and a soft place.

The entrance falls into the crux section. A possible line exists right where Alex is, not very confident it actually goes though.

Portaging not feasible on river-left, maybe on the right?
all photos by Nick Hymel.

Alex finished the day with a solid showing on the tube. Running every tube-able drop plus some...