Thursday, May 31, 2012

From the Great Salt Lake: Provo River Utah

My good friend Nick just sent me this trip report of a run down near Salt Lake City he has been talking about for a few years.  He finally got the chance to run the stream and it looks like it was a great trip!  Here is his account...

For the last three years I've been trying to get on one of Utah's only steep creeks and have be turned away by lack of water and road closures.  However, this May things finally lined up and I was able to throw together a trip.  The creek only runs for about one week a year and you need an average amount of snowfall on the year.  If its too high the snow melt happens too late and the creek turns into a monster.  Too low and the road won't be plowed before the creek turns into just a trickle.  

Although I have plenty of boats to borrow out here I only had one day notice that the trip was actually possible.  I took the best option I had; an IK rental from REI with no thigh straps or foot pegs.  I'm plenty familiar with IK's (look some of the archived footage from 2007 on this blog) but hadn't paddled one in two years.

The creek was a bit low at 700 cfs, I would have preferred around 900 but hey, beggars can't be choosers.  The run is only 1/2 mile and can be scouted in its entirety from a trail running along side it.  Thankfully my roommate wanted to check things out so he said he would take some media.  

The first 1/4 mile is all 3-5 ft drops similar to the one below.  I instantly realized that without thigh straps I would not be attempting the lower two drops, which both have very narrow lines.

After the warm up drop are three slides that provide a good warm up for the steeper drops.  I am in the middle of slides 1 & 2 below:

Three main drops make up the 50 feet of vertical drops that this run is known for.  The first is a 15-20 ft slide that ends directly above the main double drop.  At higher levels it would be almost impossible to eddy out above the main drop.

Since I was using a rental boat without thigh straps I chose to run the bottom half of the main drop.  The line for the upper part is to run river right, which worried me because the deposit I would lose on the IK if it were to tear was $500.  Needless to say the bottom tier was straightforward and I ran several laps to please the onlooking families.

Below are the two big drops below the double drop.  They both land in waist deep water.  The larger of the two has seen 3 broken backs in the past few years.

Overall it was a great trip.  It felt great to get back in the water and get some vertical in-even if it was as straight forward as they come.  If anyone reading this ever ventures to Utah in May I would highly recommend getting on this creek and checking out the surrounding areas.  In my opinion it is some of the most impressive country close to Salt Lake.

   ~Nick Hymel

Thursday, May 24, 2012

County Teaser

Here is a quick teaser showing some of the wealth located in NE Oregon.  The melt is about to start, get out and explore!

    Some pictures Matt took of the intimidating gorge the crew took care of a few weeks back can be found here.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Sierra Photo Drop: Wildplum, Pauely, Middle Feather, and the South Branch

This month marked a major milestone in my kayaking career: A paddling trip to the legendary sierra mountains.

On May 4th, Alex Kilyk, Dan Rubado, Dan Dellwo, Abe Herrara, and I loaded up in two rigs and headed south for a few days in the sun.

Cali Crew 2012 - Middle Feather Put-In

We had left the plan in a fairly fluid state: Make it up as we go....

After it was all said and done, we had knocked off two of the greatest rivers I've ever had the pleasure of paddling and completed two easier northern california classics.

Day 1: Travel
We left Portland after work around 6:30. We ended up crashing out along the shores of Lake Shasta around 2 AM.

Day 2: Rendezvous
After meeting up with Abe and Dan in Oroville and eating some breakfast at the delicious and nutritious Oroville Denny's, we headed up into the mountains towards to the town of Downiville and the NF Yuba.

 The NF Yuba is 8 miles of class fun. We didn't get out of our boats and it still felt like a long day.

The Author riding the Wildplum

After finishing up the 8 mile Wildplum section of the NF Yuba, we decided to rally up the Downie River to run Pauley Creek.

Pauley creek is similar to Canyon Creek, WA @ 500cfs in many ways. Lots of one stoke moves over steep pool drop ledges.

Slip n Slide

Our tour guide for Pauley Creek

After wrapping up Pauley Creek, we began a mad scramble around Downiville to find cell phone service and wifi. After checking levels, we threw together an ingenious plan to get onto the Middle Feather. The level had been steadily dropping for the past 7 days and was hovering around 2100 cfs. With warmer weather in the immediate forecast, we decided to drive that night to the put-in with designs to run the 30 mile wilderness run in 2 days, rather than the standard 3 day journey. Our plan was to beat the warm weather to the punch and hopefully be taking off the river by the time that the levels started to creep back up. Most reports I'd seen online feature Middle Feather runs at levels closer 1500 cfs, so I was a little nervous about the higher flow. However, I was reassured by several folks milling around Downville that the run didn't get really hard until flows surpassed 2500. With this in mind, we placed a call to Matt King's cousin Shawn (who lives in Quincy) who agreed to pick us up at Milsap Bar at 7 PM on the second day and drive us back to our cars.

Gear Explosion in Downiville

We rallied to the town of Quincy and picked up some groceries and were in bed at put-in by mid night.

Days 3 & 4: Middle Feather

Unfortunately, we awoke the next morning to temps in the mid-twenties and frozen gear. After thawing our gear by the fire, we were packed up and ready for our adventure.
Dan and his icy dry suit

2100cfs covers much of the mank on Day 1
 Abe loves Franklin Canyon

The hits just keep on coming

Reaching the end of Franklin Canyon

 Warm and Cozy

 Enter Devil's Canyon

 Good talk boys.

 Alex has it under control.

Rubado in Landslide - This rapid is nasty and unportable. We heard later, folks run it on the left.

Alex feeling the heat - One of my personal favorites

 Dancing with the Devil

Salami, crackers, and cheese.

Dellwo with some sympathy for the Devil.

The Devils mandatory portage.

Fat lady's singing over the middle feather

The Middle Feather is no joke. The rapids never let up and increased in intensity as the trip went on. There were probably 15 class V drops and over 40 class IV drops in all and several were not portage able. We were able to finish both days with time to spare due to heroic boat scouting efforts of the Dan's and Abe. Quite remarkble considering no one in our group had been down before and we only had limited beta regarding the manadatory portage. I really just followed the leader for much of the run. Thanks guys!

About a mile from the takeout on day 2, we were overtaken by another group of paddlers. Two of the group turned out to be old friends of Runados. Amanda and Macy? After sharing some laughs at Milsap Bar, they informed us that the South Branch of the Middle Feather, was indeed running and a prime level! The next stop on our Sierra Tour!

Shuttle Shawn showed up 30 minutes early and quickly loaded up into his giant pickup truck. He kept us entertained the entire drive with his stories about growing up in Quincy and the trouble him and Matt got into back in the day. Back at the Put-In, we again beded down for another night in the cold.

Shuttle Shawn! Thanks again man.

Day 5: South Branch Feather

We all woke up early and hit the road headed for the South Branch. We'd heard word of a sneak route through the mountains via the Quincy-Laporte Rd. Sadly, we hit snow just passed Little Grass Valley Resevior and were forced to take the 'long way' to the put-in. After running shuttle, gearing up, and eating a little lunch, we weren't able to launch on the South Branch until 2 oclock.

En Route

We had some serious reservations about putting on so late into the day. It's said that folks who know the run can do two laps in a day, but the run can easily take over 7 hours for those who have not been down before.

After a quick discussion, we threw some food, headlamps, and lighters into a dry bag and headed down stream.

 Mank on the First Third

Looking down into the mandatory gorge!

Alex amongst it!

Mandatory Fun

Dellwo finishing up the mandatory gorge.

 Alex too.

Okay guys... Don't over boof. My bad.

Double Dippin on the South Branch

I'm sure all these drops have names.....

Out on the porch

Planning my route to China.

Dellwo headed for the southern hemisphere.

Sunset over the sierras

Wait. It didn't look this big in the pictures.

East-bound and down.


"I didn't know this thing was must run."

 A fond farewell.

 Seven Falls.

The South Branch is far and away, the best creek I've ever had the pleasure of paddling. The drops are big, mostly clean, and don't stop. I never heard a firm number on the gradient for this thing, but I'd have to guess that bottom half drops over 600 fpm.

The photos don't do this run due justice.

We finished the portage around 199 problems and all remarked how 'un-runnable' the falls looked. Little did we know, that a few days prior, Chris Korbulic had actually fired er off.

The sun was setting over the Sierras as we came to the last drop on the South Branch. The much anticipated 55 foot waterfall.  With day light running thin and the line being evident, I was ready to get it out of the way. After Abe and I fired it off, the race was on. Everyone had great lines... with one broken paddle.

With that, we began snooping around the banks for the 'obvious' boater trail the leads up the canyon walls to the parking spot far above. This trail was not as easy to find as had been indicated, but Abe followed the plastic to the head.

An hour later we all at the car in the dark after tackling what was one of the worst hike-outs I've ever done. Dan R compared it to a double dose of the Hoffstadt hike out... with more poison oak...

Day 6: The Road Home

The next morning, we got leisurely and ate breakfast creek side. After getting organized, Dan R. Alex, and I bid farwell to Abe and Dan D. and headed North.

After a quick stop at In 'n Out for a much deserved burger, the guys dropped me and the Redding Airport so I could catch a flight to LA to complete a short job for work.

I have to admit, it felt rather surreal to dawn the business clothes and enter one of the biggest cities in the country after such a wild 5 days in the Sierras. I'll be back next year... without a doubt.

Many of the photos in this report were taken by Abe Herrera. Abe grew up in Ecudor and runs private kayaking trips through his company Boof Sessions. Check it out at:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spring Thaw: Water's Up in the Wallowas

Matt here, checking in after a long hiatus.  

The past couple weeks have seen increasing temperatures and some significant snowmelt, so it's time to get after the whitewater I've been thinking about all winter.  This waterfall was the first project this year.  Connor Ross, who's from La Grande, has been looking at this thing since he was a kid.  As a youngster, he had dreams about it and often wondered if it could be kayaked, rafted, tubed, or otherwise survived.  Conner, who also tends to be my best and only boating partner round these parts,  told me we had to go look at it soon after I moved here.  So off we went, last spring, to scout the thing.  It was winter and the water was low, but it looked alright and we knew the time would come when we'd have to give it a try.  Last summer, we checked several different flows, but none of them looked very good.  Between the tricky lead-in with a huge boil, the weird rib that parallels the current at the lip and the cave/wall combo at the bottom, this thing has a pretty small window of opportunity.

This year we knew had a feeling about what the right flow was, and we got a willing crew to come out east (Jacob, Andrew, and Scott Baker).  Fortunately, the flow was right and we got it done.  Connor and I even did a couple laps.  I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking for now.  Stay tuned for some sweet video footage!

The Top


 The Entrance

 The First Half


 The Finale