Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stebbins Creek


Stream: 2016-ish the area the trail into Stebbins Creek passed through was logged and the trail disappeared.  We went searching for another way in the next fall or Spring and found a way in that was shorter, and added some extra rapids.  Details for this approach are in the info section of this report.  

On the way into the south fork
 Photo: Adam Edwards

After reaching the South Fork of Stebbins Creek near a small tributary, I recommend dropping the boats and walking either along the right or left bank to scout out the first drop.  This is a 20-30 foot falls with what appears to be a shallow landing.  On our first go at the falls 2 of us boofed and 2 of us plugged, no one in the group contacted anything but water.

There is some twisty, bouldery class III with some wood for a hundred yards or so below the put in falls (3 of us made one wood portage, Brandon made no portages in this stretch).  If you are catching eddies you will see a pinch and horizon line when the bedrock re-appears downstream.

It is an easy scout on the left, but you can only see the first drop and a horizon line from here.  The horizon line is a double drop described on Oregonkayaking as two ten footers run by Dan Coyle.  The pinch through the double drop (all slides) can all be run far right with right angle (the middle one you can be more middle-right on).  On our trip the first person was able to catch an eddy on the right after the pinch to scout the double drop (his boat also slipped off the bank while he was scouting due to slick, angled walls).

This set finishes off in a pool and there is another log to duck.  Then there is some steep class III that finishes off with a drop that should be scouted shortly after a small creek cascades in on the left (not a big drop, but it has it's issues).

More read and run continues to the only mandatory log portage we encountered in 2016, though if a couple branches disappeared it would probably not be a portage.  We made the easy portage on the left.  After putting back in, there is a short bit of bouldery stuff before reaching the confluence with the North Fork, which was historically the put in location for Stebbins Creek.

Below the North Fork confluence is some splashy class II-III before reaching Jetboat Falls.  Jetboat starts off with a nice 10ish foot ledge, followed by a hundred yards of sliding and splashy class IV before finishing off with another fun ten foot ledge run far right.  I recommend leaning forward as you go over and forcing right angle as you ramp out into the pool, ideally catching the eddy on the right.  We had a couple people get caught by surprise at how fast the water pushed them across the pool into a couple pieces of wood that looked like non-factors from the scout.

At healthy flows it doesn't take long before you reach Get in My Belly, a fun ledge best run far left, and the beginning of the meat of the run.  It's worth at least one person making a quick scout on the right here for wood.

Immediately below here we portaged a log on the right and scouted an unnamed, but signature boulder garden of the run.  We were able to enter middle, and finish right with a boof fading away from the right wall.  

The next rapid is Lethal Injection, which is currently in a runnable form though none of us paddled it on this day.   Unfortunately, portaging Lethal Injection high on the left is probably the best move as of 2017 with the current wood configuration at the next rapid (Tsunami) causing problems for people who run Lethal Injection or portage at river level.

If you run Lethal Injection, you can scout Tsunami from the right, but you cannot portage it over there.  It is also not reasonable to get out on the left to scout or portage Tsunami if you run Lethal Injection with the 2017 wood configuration.  With the current log situation you will likely be forced to run the right line on Tsunami, as Brandon demonstrates here.

If you portage Lethal Injection on the left (Priscilla said it wasn't bad, and that had she chosen the correct route a rope would not be necessary) you have more options at Tsunami.  She helped Adam and I get out on the left, which even with her help was a bit dicey.

I attempted to seal launch onto the first drop of Tsunami, a move that had worked at lower water the last time I was there.  This time I got a weird bounce at the bottom and got stuck in the hole, from which I swam.  I clambered up onto the shelf in the center that was backing up the hole, and Adam roped me back to shore after Brandon had come through.

Priscilla and Adam took the smart route, which was to put in below the first two holes and ferry out to run the last two tiers.

Just around the corner there is a slide along the right wall that routed Adam right into a log.  As he was headed for it he called back to Priscilla to alert her to the hazard, the log hit him square in the chest and just like in the movies a personally significant object he kept in his PFD was caved in instead of a rib.

There wasn't anything more of note until we reached Zoom Tube.  Adam portaged along the boulders at river level while the rest of us went up and around (river-right).  Neither route was strenuous but Adam got to the end a little faster.

There is a small exit rapid below there we ran left and some more boogie led to Bongo Furry, which had a nice boof on the left where a brace was handy.  The nasty rock on the right pictured on the Oregon Kayaking report had either moved or was under water.

The very next boulder garden looked trivial from above, but ended up being pretty sketchy.  It had a log at the bottom so Brandon and Adam tried to work their way right, both were rejected hard and got flushed under the log (rolling up safely below).  Priscilla and I corrected and started left, driving back right just above the log which turned out to be the move here.

From there to Mad Dog it was read and run.  At Mad Dog the river bends slightly right and there are a number of options for running the drop.  Brandon went right-right (deep but upright), I went middle-middle (boof to upright), Adam left-left (no wet hair) and Priscilla middle-right (swim).

Hop out on the right at the confluence with the Washougal.  If you are still motivated for more paddling, the Washougal Waterfall run is generally at a good flow if Stebbins is in and the put in drop for that run is visible upstream from the take out of Stebbins.

Flows:  We had the Washougal gauge peak at 6,000 cfs while we were on Stebbins, this was a low but enjoyable flow and I would definitely go back with similar or higher flows.  Word is 10,000 is a better flow, and there are rumors of 15,000 cfs+ being done and enjoyed but don't take my word for that.

Here is what Stebbins looked like from the take out bridge the day we ran the SF for our first time.


Access:  Take Hwy 14 East from I5 into the town of Washougal, turning left at the light (signed for Washougal River Rd).  Take Washougal River rd 19.5 miles past where it crosses the Washougal River in town to a bridge over Stebbins Creek (passing the Mercantile at 9.5, and crossing the Dougan Falls bridge at 17).  This is the take out.

To get to the put in continue the way you were travelling upstream along the Washougal.  You will head uphill for awhile and eventually come to a hilltop at an "intersection"  Head right and downhill.
1.6 miles later you will cross Deer Creek and reach a "T", turn right.  2 miles later make another hard right. 2.7 miles later STOP and unload the boats.  There is an unmarked, decommissioned road going off to the right which you follow to start the hike.

Hike:  Use the following map (I recommend printing it off and bringing with you if you use this put in).  From the vehicles (red circle), follow the decommissioned road for a short bit until it meets up with a fully functioning logging road (it appeared to me that to drive to this point from the take out would take more time than it's worth).  Turn right on the logging road and follow the main road to the line of trees.  There is a game style trail down to the creek, pretty easy going but some competence is necessary (no rope work needed).

 It should go without saying, but these logging roads are not made for public use and are subject to change at the whim of those who created them.

*Remember, once you reach the put in scout downstream as eddies are scarce above the falls*

Original Write-up

I have been trying to get on this creek since my freshman year of high school. This was a creek that Nick and I were always talking about and was at the top of our list. For various reasons, from snow to being dragged to Canyon Cr WA instead, many factors kept us off Stebbins. When Nick left for college, I still tried to get on this run. Then I left for college and still was trying. Finally, my junior year, after a few more attempts including actually hiking the trail, then bailing, I got on the creek.
Ryan and I stoked to finally get on Stebbins, after numerous failed attempts for each of us.
This was with the rafting crew which added some different logistical challenges. Snow on the road is always a concern in accessing the put in. Luckily we were able to locate a couple of sturdy trucks to get the job done. With over a foot of snow on the ground, this was crucial. We made it to the put in, but not without challenges.
Maybe we should just put on the NF. It doesn't look that far away...
Jeff Compton did a good writeup on his blog www.yougonnaraftthat.blogspot.com
so you can read the whole report and watch the video there.
The main things I would like to point out are...
-Lethal Injection is runnable with the current wood configuration
-Tsunami falls has new wood at the lip. I got around this by seal launching from where my boat is perched in the picture below, landing halfway down the first drop. . 

 This was fun and smooth.
- I didn't think we had enough water with the EF Lewis around 1500 cfs. 5,000 in the Washougal would be my guess at a good minimum. You can get down it much lower, it's just not all that good (but it is very good at proper flows)..


Monday, November 29, 2010

SF Rickreall Creek

Last week my dad and I were up in the woods near my school when a hunter stopped to inform us that the drop I had just run was surely frowned upon by the authorities. I deflected that statement and went into my usual questioning of locals as to whether they knew of any waterfalls nearby. He informed me that yes, there was a drop that he believed salmon would not be able to make it up (10-15 ft?) on the SF Rickreall creek that was easy to access.
I still recall the directions.
-travel up the road until you cross the South fork of Rickreall Creek. There will be some logs in the road.
-the road to your right is the road to take, do not drive as there are signs posted against it. Its only half a mile that you can drive anyway, so it shouldn't be a big deal.
-The road comes to a washout, cross this and a couple more for a short time until the road ends for good. Follow the hill down to the right and you will hear and see the waterfall.
Seemed simple enough to me. I decided that the gates were only open for two more days, so I went in today. I left my house at 1:20 thinking I'd be home before dark. I got to the road he described and started hiking.
After what was clearly over a mile of hiking I was having serious doubts as to the accuracy of this mans report. I finally came to the washout and started dealing with those, each one took about ten minutes to negotiate and there were a handful. I was becoming concerned with light at this point but the prospect of a new waterfall was enough to keep me going. After finally coming to the end of the road, I started off through the woods. I could tell it wasn't going to stay light for that much longer, so after seeing only braided channels and wood upstream, I decided to put on. I made it fifteen yards before I was out of my boat again for wood. Then about 30 yards before the next. The story stayed much the same for some time. I saw a slide coming in on the left that looked like a good ten footer, so I hiked up to run it for "fun insurance".  There was one slide on the main creek that was kinda fun that I ran after a quick scout.

After this I was realizing I should probably hike out. I passed one good opportunity to get up to the road only to go another hundred yards, turn the corner, and see about six wood portages downstream. I bailed up the steep slope on river right, hit the road and never looked back. It was dark by the time I got changed and started my drive home.
It was fun for me to go on a mission like this, I'm just glad I didn't try to talk anyone into coming with me.
Lesson learned, I had already written this creek off on the maps as worthless, but the call of an unknown waterfall was too much to pass up, wish I would have found it... so maybe no lessons were learned, I'd do the same thing again.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dragon's Throat Revisited

(photo: Matt King)
The footage taken from the first descent of this drop was ruined by moisture, so I had hoped for awhile to get back up there and get some more. The time presented itself when my dad came down to school to see where I was living now and drop off some essentials. While eating lunch I decided we should head up there and look at that drop as it is a pretty cool spot and Macey (his dog) needed to get out and move around.
I figured as long as we were up there I would bring my boat and try to get some footage. To make a medium length story into a short story, the footage didn't turn out again... I guess I will need to go back yet again, but maybe it is destined that I will never get footage. Oh well, Matt and Nate took some great stills, so I will put the rest of those up today.
~Skipping back to the first descent~
Matt and Nate rallied down to meet me as I got out of classes for the day. I had been looking at this drop for quit some time and was ready to get it done. We drove the logging road up to the drop, went for a quick scout, then suited up.
Here I am scouting the drop.
(photo: Matt King)
The drop is pretty interesting, as it comes over a manmade structure in the form of four blocks narrowing the farther downstream they went. This resembled a set of teeth, and was the beginning of the Dragon reference. These we left unrun, as they landed in shallow water. Matt theorized that with a high enough flow, you could get speed and boof flat enough to avoid contact with the riverbed. Just below this is a lowhead structure (no hole) that begins a descent of about forty vertical feet over the course of 75 yards or so resembling the throat of the Dragon before it empties into a bit of an open pool (the belly you could say). The key is to get as left as possible in order to avoid crashing into the right wall halfway down. We all came close to the second pillow on the right on at least one of our runs, but this second pillow proved benign. The key is starting the slide in control, as it would be easy to get spun backwards. Once the slide is started, it is all about working left and controlling any bounces. It looks like at one point there is a six foot drop onto a slab of bedrock, but none of us took any sort of hit whilst running the drop.
Here I am below the "teeth" loading up for the first go at the drop.
(photo: Matt King)

The effort pays off as I careen down the Dragon's Throat.
(photo: Matt King)

Nate takes his turn dropping into the belly of the beast.
(photo: Matt King)
We all had really clean lines and a good time. We continued downstream for a quarter mile, but I would advise against this in the future. On my return trip we set up a rope and pulled the boat out on river eft just below the drop and this was very simple.
Speaking of the return trip, I ended up having an interesting line my first go of the day, trying to get too far left, my nose caught a shallow section and spun me sideways. Just about to drop off the steepest part of the drop, I spun backwards and rode it out as such. I was already far enough left however to avoid the right wall. I then hiked back up and had a much cleaner second line.
A couple shots head on of the drop.
Nate from the bottom.

Myself from the bottom, most of the way down.
(photo: Nate Merrill)
If anyone would like to take a look at/run this drop feel free to contact me and I'll point you in the right direction, but for various reasons I am going to keep the exact location off the internet. It is less than an hour from Salem.
A parting shot.

(photo: Matt King)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pdxfilmfest 2010/new blog

Here is my video from the 2010 film fest. It features a lot of rafting footage. Jeff Compton is in most of these shots and has started his own blog at www.yougonnaraftthat.blogspot.com Be sure to check it out. First post is on the first documented raft descent of Opal Gorge. They also smashed the myth once and for all that you cannot portage Undertaker on the left in the rain as they did it with two rafts... Not that it should be taken lightly, but it is very doable.
enjoy the video.

3rd edition from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.

And remember to check out the blog



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Elk Creek

(all photos by Matt King unless labelled otherwise)
Elk Creek turned out to be a neat run with a multitude of fun bedrock rapids, kind of Hagen Creek esque. 

Pete sent out the call to do some exploring in the Kalama drainage. I had a feeling as to what we might be up to as my dad had sent me these two enticing pics the year before on a trip to the Kalama.

taken from 200 ft above

My dad had said it looked like some good drops, tiny creek, probably bad access, the usual recipe for an exploratory run. So anyway, I tell Pete I am in, Matt says he is in. We leave Portland around 830 and drive north. Everything goes smoothly. We locate a takeout and head to the bridge where my dad took those pictures. The bridge is about 200 feet up from the creek and there are no guardrails. We decide there is enough water and the creek looks enticing. After driving around on some logging roads we find a good access point right at the confluence of a few streams that create a runnable channel right off the bat. Its not often on these kind of runs you can drive right to put in and take out. 

The walk to a better put in shown below, we took out at the first bridge across the Kalama downstream of the confluence. We put in at upstream at the confluence with the NF Elk Creek.
We put on and bash down some bouldery stuff for a couple hundred yards, with some promising signs of bedrock. The creek builds into class three and then we rounded a corner to find a boxed in horizon line just below. Everyone makes their way down to where they can get a peek at the drop (scouting is much less stressful when you can walk right down the middle of the creek). The drop is a little under ten feet tall, with a log in the main line on the right. The log looks slideable, with the left side dropping into a friendly (at this level) pocket with a picket fence of wood blocking the exit, and the right leading to an unobstructed path downstream, with the majority of the water sliding off the log to the left. We moved some wood around and made the drop runnable. Matt and Pete go first and get pushed left, but are able to pull themselves over the guard logs at end. I used what I had gleaned from their runs and am able to get right after a fun slide down the log.
Pete drops into the penalty box at "Rail Jam"
The put in shown on the map is below this rapid.
The run came into its own below here, where many clean bedrock drops started to stack up. There were plenty of class III-IV bedrock rapids with maybe a IV+ or two. The next notable horizon had the entrance blocked with wood. Despite our best efforts the rapid remained un-runnable (was clean enough to run on a return trip the next year). Just below our only wood portage was another good drop. We seal launched in and utilized the nice auto boof on the right.
Pete drops a good one
Shortly after this fun drop another horizon presented itself. This one was a bit odd, but also fun. The line was to stay right and attempt to land in the green water, though much of the current folded left into the wall.

Much of the stream was lined with bedrock like this.
Eventually we came to a drop that is easy to tell from above is more significant than the rest. At this level, this drop was the only one to present a class five challenge. Caution should be taken around this drop as the canyon becomes formidable and while it is easy to scout and move about on the right, the seal launch (only reasonable portage option) is on the left and would be difficult to access with more water. We scouted for a bit and Pete decided to seal launch while Matt wanted to give it a go. I was still on the fence so decided to watch Matt's line as he had plenty of conviction. He ended up drifting to the right off the lip, but did a good job of keeping his body off the wall and only dragging his paddle.
Matt's Line through "King's Corner"

(Pete G. photo)
I decided that I didn't want to deal with the wall, so from where I am standing in the picture above (just above Matt on river right), I got into my boat and pushed off hard to the left. The momentum put me right where I wanted to be and I came away upright as well.
The exit to this pool lead into a boulder pile, we bumbled through moving left but with more water right would be more desirable. On trips like this, there is often a feature (or many) that keeps the run from being something that I want to return to often. We were waiting for a logjam, or nasty rapid that would create an unfavorable work/reward ratio, but were pleasantly surprised by the continued enjoyable whitewater. The run moved along at a solid class IV pace. One drop that stood out was a six-foot ledge with a cross-current boof on far left, or delayed boof into the hole in the middle. This drop was the beginning of the home stretch and lead into more entertaining bedrock drops.
Shortly into the home stretch we encountered a tricky ledge with a backed up hole on the left which flushed right and required missing a bit of a log hazard. This one was not straight forward to scout, though Matt and Pete had trouble getting out of their boats they ended up being successful scampering down on the right. Getting as far right as the current would take you worked for us.
Next up was a deceptive double drop with an undercut in the first part on the left that is not visible while scouting. Below here was a final series of fun bedrock ledges and chutes continuing to the bridge, then a final boulder pile as the creek enters the Kalama River.

Pete and I in the Kalama looking back at the Elk creek bridge
and the final boulder jumble. If you look really close you can see two hunters standing on the bridge. Its really tall!
All in all, we had a good trip. It's one I had planned to repeat often, however years later it has only been repeated once due to increased Weyerhaeuser restrictions to access. I feel fortunate to have explored this little creek while I could.
EF Lewis was at 800-ish the day these photos were taken, and the SF Toutle was around 3,000 cfs.
Thanks for making it happen Pete!

Click here to view interactive map.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First documented descent: Dragon's Throat

I found this fantastic drop last summer as the water dropped out. I had been waiting for the gates to open and water to arrive. The day finally came on Nov. 3rd. Nate and Matt were fresh off their Battle Axe mission and were in an adventurous spirit. They rallied down to meet me as school got out for the day and we headed out into the hills... I'll finish this report later when I get the video put together and don't have to use my roommates computer. Dragon's throat from the top.

Nate making his way into the belly of the beast.
(photos by Matt King)

Battle Axe Creek: Lite

Photo: Priscilla Macy


Stream: I have used both the put in described here and the lower put in described below. If you make it to the top, you do get some extra rapids that are fun.  However, the hike is longer and generally all uphill, while the lower trail is shorter with less uphill.  While I felt it was worth doing the longer hike for the upper part once, I will use the lower put in for any future trips where the bang for buck ratio is higher. 

After the 3 mile hike to Jawbone (these work like a charm), shoulder your boat, cross over Battle Axe Creek and check flows. 

 Looking upstream from the bridge at the very minimum of runnable flows.
While the snow looks pretty in photographs, its not preferable on the water or the hike.

The Battle Axe bridge in Jawbone is a good place to take a short break, check the level, and switch from wheels to shoulders.  We were able to drag on this trip due to the snow.

Keep hiking (route described in the info section) past the bridge to the faintly marked Whetstone trail and veer left.  This leads to the creek at the lower put-in, in less than a mile (downstream of S.O.B.). 

The creek consists of many 5-10+ foot bedrock rapids with logs sprinkled throughout.  You can expect a few easy log portages, but mostly they can be dodged.   

Even at very low flows there are some fun ledges.

This drop is the largest and means you are close to the end, it can be run left-of-center or right (I like left-of-center).

That's about all there is to say, no unusual hazards, no class V, just fun rapids with some logs.  If there wasn't a hike it would be done all the time.  If you didn't get an early enough start hike back out from Jawbone the way you came in, or continue to Cascadios de los Ninos/Sawmill Falls.  If you built in enough time to continue through Upper Opal, I would recommend that.  Or if you are really efficient you can paddle down to Three Pools or tack on Opal Proper.

                                              Battle Axe through Salmon Falls @ 1,100 cfs
Double this flow is better, but if you have a rock boat, Prijon or ZET plastic it can still be worth checking out at these flows if you want something new added to an Opal trip.

The Battle from Difficult E on Vimeo.

Flows:  2,000 cfs on the Little North Santiam gauge is minimum enjoyable.  All the rapids are well channelized.  3,000 cfs is a healthy medium and the upper limit has not been found.  In the Spring when there is a snowmelt component it can be run all the way down to 1,000 cfs if your kayak has strong plastic.

Looking at the ledge below the Battle Axe Bridge in Jawbone.

  • If the blue line is the only runnable line (like in this photo) you have low water.
  • If you could feasibly paddle the route indicated by the orange line, water is medium.
  • If the orange line looks padded out, you might be in for an exciting day.

Medium/High flows, I wouldn't want much if any more on a first trip down. Snagged from this video of the last 1/4 mile of the creek.

Access:  Take I5 to Salem and head East on Hwy 22.  In about 22 miles turn left at a flashing yellow light onto N Fork Rd.  In about 15 miles the road turns to gravel, and at 21 miles you will reach a gate where you leave the vehicles, a location that has a $5 fee to park.  

Get your gear carrying devices out and head past the locked gate up the gravel road about 3 miles to Jawbone Flat along a nice gravel road.  Then cross over Battle Axe and continue upstream along the road next to Battle Axe until a trail heads off to the left (marked as Whetstone in 2017) that leads down to the put in a mile or two above Jawbone.  Or continue to the upper put in.

Notes: Do some research to make sure there isn't snow above Jawbone, hiking/paddling in the snow isn't a whole lot of fun, and might make for lower flows than expected if some of the water is locked up in its solid state.  TRIP CHECK is a good resource.

Trip Report

Battle Axe Creek: Lite

2010:  Nate checking in from the land of Funemployment.
I woke up Tuesday morning with tentative plans to go kayaking. Matt and I had planned to get up leisurely, check levels, and maybe tackle something close to Portland. I finally pulled myself out of bed around 8 o’clock and got on USGS to find that EVERYTHING was in. Overnight, the Little North Santiam @ Mehama had gone from somewhere just below 1000cfs all the way up to 2700... and rising. The first thing that came to mind was Battle Axe creek, a small trib high up in the Little North Santiam drainage. The creek is described on Oregonkayaking as having all the elements of a 'classic creekin run'. With amazing geology, great scenery, and lots of waterfalls, battle axe has been on the top of our list for a long time. However, there are two issues that keep this creek from being run all the time. 1. You need lots of water! At least 2500cfs in the LNS gauge. 2. Access is a bit of a nightmare. From the parking area where you begin your hike into the normal Lower Opal creek run, it is over 3 miles to reach Jaw Bone Flat, the take out for Battle Axe. From there, it is another two miles of hiking up the creek to 3369 trail crossing, which was the put-in used by the oregonkayaking crew a few years back. Needless to say, this creek is an all day affair.
Back to the story. Having woken up at 8, Matt and I were not able to get on the road until 9, which would seem to be far to late into the day to attempt such a time consuming mission. As I mentioned, this run has been on our radar for some time now, so much so that Matt had already devised a plan to get us into Jaw Bone with far less time and effort than the standard hike. At 11 am sharp, we rolled into the Opal Creek trail head and unloaded our boats, our gear, and the bike cart! Within a few minutes we had the two kayaks loaded onto the cart, along with all our gear, and we were peddling up the dirt road toward Jaw Bone. (this particular cart is rated up to 300lbs) We must of looked like some sort of circus act as we headed up the road, being that Matt was towing the cart on a single speed bike, every once in awhile I would have to jump off my bike and push from the back to ascend particularly steep sections. The cart did tip over once or twice, but it held up nicely and we rolled into Jaw Bone (the take out) within 30 minutes of leaving the car.
Here is where things started to go a little south. As we waited for Caitlin, who had come along to enjoy the beautiful day in the woods (did I mention we had gorgeous weather?), we started chatting with the live-in care-takers of JB. They were all very nice and we had a good time talking with them about their life style up in the woods, however, we did get one piece of bad advice, which we followed. They recommended that rather than follow the trail right up the creek, we should continue on the road, which would eventually meet back up with the trail and was not nearly as steep. We decided to go along with this plan thinking that we could continue to bike all the way to the put-in, rather than shouldering our boats. After tackling a few steep switch backs, we were making good time up the valley with the creek far below us slowly rising up to the meet the road.
After we had gone a considerable distance we found a substantial trail coming up from the creek and intersecting our road. After some discussion, we decided that we had made it to the crossing and our intended put-in... but the intersecting trail didn't seem to have any access towards the river and was actually trending back down towards JB. At this point, we decided to just drop into the creek through the woods and put on, our rationale being that if anything, we were above the put-in used by the Oregon Kayaking crew. As we put on, two drops were visible upstream, each about 10-15 ft tall. One had wood in the base, the other was clean. It would have been a terrible bush-wack to get above these drops with our boats, so we kept with the plan and put on. At this point we actually thought we might be dropping in above the nasty upper section described on oregonkayaking.
Within 100 yards we came to sizable ledge drop leading into another ledge that appeared to be pretty sticky. A quick scout revealed a fun twisting drop with a retentive hole near the bottom. The drop went well and was free of wood. We actually had no wood portages on our entire run. After a few more ledges we came to a big horizon line that was creating a truly amazing vista. The drop consisted of 3 ft. ledge that fed right into an 15-18 ft. water fall. This drop is called Battle ax falls and was run on the far right by the oregonkayaking crew due to wood in the center of the drop. The drop was clean as whistle on this particular day and the center line was the preferred choice. A sloping 5 ft slide into a flake! Great drop.
The only bummer about running Battle Ax falls was the realization that we had dropped into the creek too soon and had missed a significant amount of the gradient. Taking the lower grade road turned out to be a huge mistake and resulted in a longer walk and less paddling . If you do this run, just follow the normal trail right up next to the creek, it isn't very steep and is well maintained.
After this realization, we made the call to continue down to Cascada de los Ninos on the Little North Santiam to get some extra paddling in. We bombed down what remained of Battle Axe enjoying the numerous ledge drops and the final falls below the bridge at Jaw Bone before hitting the confluence. 10 minutes saw us at the lip of Cascada. Matt took a quick peak, which was pretty difficult to do given the high water and signaled me over the drop. He followed shortly after and we took off the river feeling a little bitter sweet about our experience on Battle Axe. Given the ease at which we had attained the creek, we didn't feel too dejected about the drops we missed, but it was still a bummer to have come so far to boat so little. We'll know next time. Despite our folly, a great day was had by all. The creek is excellent and I encourage everyone to get up there and see for themselves, just be sure to put on at the proper spot.
After ditching our boats, we walked back up to Jaw Bone to meet Caitlin, who had been so kind as to ride the bike trailer down the hill for us. After a few games of horse shoes and exploring the old mining village, we were on our way back down the hill. After a quick stop to load up the boats we arrived at my car and were on our way home.
Thanks go out to Caitlin for helping with the bike cart and to those who found this gem and made it known to the world.
Until next time.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A better way to run The Fluffster

Here is Matt trying out a line that has been attempted a couple times by people in our crew this year. While it lines you up nicely and is probably a good low water line, both Matt and Nate say its hard to get speed, so a little surfing may be in the cards if you try this line over a thousand. I bet its golden at low water though. And is probably as close to a hero line as you can get without it turning into the beatdown line.


 I think the money line over a thousand cfs invloves going as far river left as possible, for as long as possible, and actually going through the eddy (but not stopping as to keep your speed), then driving back to the right near the lip. As you can see it worked out well this time, but due to some miscommunication on my part the result is all you can see. Im sure we will get some video of the entire line at some point.

 Videos taken by Jeff Hartley ..........................................................................................................................-Jacob