Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Little Nestucca (wondering about class five?)

I wanted to get some info out there about this run.  Its an enjoyable run and seems to be underutilized, though there are a few people running it.

I think it is in Soggy Sneakers but not many people seem to get on it.  This is probably due to its location, near Dolph crossing in Oregon's northern coast range.

A friend of mine from the Earth Science program here at Western has been wanting me to take them out kayaking for awhile.  The first day I took her on an easy run and she seemed to do really well and wanted to run something a bit harder.  I had wanted to get some pictures of the Little Nestucca, so decided I could take her there and have her walk the 3 main rapids.

The first 1/4 mile is my favorite part, its about 1/4 mile of quality route finding.
About to enter the good stuff.
(all photos taken by Aquilegia Leet on an iphone?)

 I have done about 5-6 laps on it so far at higher water each time and like it more each time.

The initial move.

 It keeps going solid for awhile once you are amongst it.

This run we had about 1700 on the Nestucca gauge and there were a number of fun moves and boofs.
Hitting one of the boofs (this one was not available at lower water)

 In the middle of this section is one manky drop that is worth looking at first.  It seems small but there isn't a good line.  I walked it at 1000 cfs (nestucca gauge), pinned sideways at the bottom the first time I ran the drop, and have figured out the line since, which involves driving up onto a rock that wants to slope you left or right onto piton rocks.

The tricky one. Would be trivial with more water.

Once past here there are a couple more boofs as things start to cool off.  
The cool off section is still busy enough to be interesting.

  The last class 3- above the bridge has a hump of water that provides one more launch pad.

The run tapers off and there is some easy floating (great rapids for my friend to learn on) until the next main drop, Stella Falls.  This is a really cool rapid.  Its short but pretty rowdy for what it is.  The bottom ledge doesn't look to have a dry line so I anticipated a plug.  I was surprised that it was possible to run with a dry head.

Scouting Stella Falls during shuttle.

Same drop at 5500 cfs

More easy floating leads to the last drop, Uptown Falls(~6').  This has been altered and is now a lowhead dam.  I suggest scouting/portaging from the right bank, but safety is better set from the left.  The hole is backed up and might not let a swimmer.  The boof on the right was straight forward though, so paddlers confident in their boof stroke should have no issues.

It is worth noting that it would be possible to get swept into this drop unaware.  Once below Stella, there is a "faky" gorge with some class two, once the stream leaves this section, the next bedrock you encounter is the formation creating the drop.  Immediately eddy out on the right to scout.  Cautious and knowledgeable (about the run) boaters should have no troubles here.

We finished up the run and I was impressed that Aqua made it down with no swims (a couple of T-rescues) and she seemed to really enjoy it.
The take out.

The take out is across from this cool old barn, just upstream of Fall Creek Bridge.

So why did I title this "wondering about class five?"?  If you want to find out if you are ready to step it up to class five, you might want to put this run on your list.  Here are my thoughts.

The first section is fast, however, if you think you are ready for class five, you should be able to lead this rapid, pick your lines, hit every eddy, hit every boof, and feel totally in control.  I felt it was a great test piece.  It is not a rapid that will mess you up, but its moving, requires quick thinking, and is steep-ish.

-Stella falls does not have the consequences associated with class five, but is tricky and will give you quick feedback on your boat control.  It also requires the scouting process of class five because you have to have the right speed, entrance, and angle to hit the bottom ledge how you want.

Uptown falls has the consequences associated with class five, but not the difficulty.  It forces you to know you can make the move, and do it.  It also gets you in the mindset of setting meaningful safety. Best hit that boof...

This run is out of the way for most people, but if you are wondering about whether you want to run the Truss, this is probably a good stepping stone. I think Stella is as hard/harder than every drop until Big Brother.  If you are a Corvallis/ salem boater, that first quarter mile is easy to lap and fun enough to be worth the drive.  Its a novelty run, but all roadside and worth seeing.

flows -----
minimum   1500
max  4,000+
I have yet to see it over 2000, but it could hold a lot more water.  I actually think the first part and Stella would get easier, who knows...

The put in is at the bridge 3.3 miles downstream of the turn off from Dolph crossing and hwy 22. There is a hundred yards of flat water to warm up in before the whitewater begins.

This is about a three mile section, so about a rapid per mile, so its not a run for a constant bombardment of fun, more of a training ground with time to think between drops.

Disclaimer.  Obviously only you can know if your ready for class five. Also, be careful with my gauge recommendation, I like lower flows than most people.

Lastly, I am talking about Oregon class five (is there any?).  maybe Ill post something later titled "so you think you are ready to for Washington?".  In short, don't run this and think you are ready for the Little White.  

*Maybe the Truss... 

~1,000 cfs

Same spot at about 5,500 cfs (not recommended at that flow without previous knowledge of the run).


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