Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Special Drainage

The North Fork Siletz is kinda out there so it gets less traffic than some of the more popular runs around Oregon.  It is unfortunate more people don't make the trip because it really is a cool drainage.

The drainage has 4 runs that have a reliable rain fed season.  2 of which make my top ten overall list.  The North Fork Siletz itself is about as classic as coast range runs come and is what this report will focus on.  The more adventurous runs are described elsewhere on this blog and the internet at large.  The main section is all roadside, has great water quality, 3 bedrock rapids of the class IV-V variety (easily portage-able) and miles of III+ splashy goodness. The area also boasts some of the largest trees in the coast range and you drive through the site of Valsetz if you come through Falls City.  When this town was a thriving logging community, it experienced more days of rain than any other city in the contiguous United States.  The town has now been reduced to a couple foundations.   Every time I visit the Siletz headwaters area it reminds me why I like kayaking so much. 

Photos from Lucas Reitmann and his Gopro.

The run has a write up on Oregonkayaking, but they run it at flood and it doesn't paint a picture that makes people want to rush out to the NF.

I have run it a few times and its made a good impression on me, so I'd like to share some beta.

At flows above 5' on the Siletz gauge, the best put in option is to walk the short Valley of the Giants trail to a footbridge and put in on that fork.  Within a hundred yards you will be the confluence with Warnicke Creek and if the gauge is over 7' you will have a very enjoyable III+ ride down to the Boulder Creek Confluence.

On our most recent trip, the gauge was at 4.5' and we decided to put in on Boulder Creek.

Below here are some small rapids before reaching the first ledge.  This is the ledge described on the Oregonkayaking report that only Jesse Coombs ran.

At the lower flows we had, it is a benign slide in the middle, or a slightly less benign ledge on the left.  The rapids below here remain small, but the bedrock is intriguing and there are some surf spots (maybe even a squirt spot Emile?).

Eventually there will be a left turn towards the road, the river then turns right and enters Bombshell Gorge.  Its worth scouting and setting safety on the left.  At 7' on the gauge the first hole is sticky looking.

Lucas enters Bombshell

At our flow there was a sneak route on the left or a tricky twisting ledge drop on the right that produced a couple rolls at our flow of 4.5'.

Gabe drops a Bombshell

Victor becomes a piece of plastic shrapnel.

 Below here is a twisting drop and then a hole that might be worth setting safety on.  The easiest way to do this is to have a confident boater run it first and get out on the left.

The small, but sneaky pocket hole in Bombshell Gorge.

Easy pool drop rapids continue below here until what has been referred to as the recommended portage.  It would be possible to unknowingly enter this unassuming drop from above so its worth familiarizing yourself with the area on the shuttle.  We scouted for awhile and Lucas said he wanted to run it but like the rest of us was worried about there being a rock in the chute.  Priscilla and I paddled over to river right and got a big stick.  We probed the depths a few times and determined there were no obstructions hiding beneath the surface.

Lucas then decided to give it a go. He came in and submerged briefly before riding out a tailstand in his Dagger Axiom.

 It was an inspiring line.

  Inspiring enough in fact to start to make the rest of us interested in the drop.  Victor was heading up to his boat almost immediately after Lucas came through.  Lucas called across the stream that it was good to go and we should give it a shot.  Victor then floated into the chute, also submerging and coming out upright.

Recommended portages are often of the grandiose variety.  This one is a compact model.

I followed Victors approach and floated into the chute, letting the water funnel me into the deepest part of the channel and using a rudder stroke I skipped through like everyone else.  Lucas was quick on my tail for a second lap and came through this time without even getting his head wet.  It looked to me from downstream like he drove harder right and took a big stroke.

We took out here and Lucas did the scooter shuttle.  While standing around it was decided this drop should have a name.  It has only been referred to as "the recommended portage", but given Lucas's volition to go first, along with a second successful attempt we devised a name that we felt was ever so clever.

We dubbed the drop "Go Reit, mann"  as the line is to go right, and Lucas's last name is Reitmann.  

 Lucas fire's up "Go Reit, mann" again.
As Nate later pointed out, it's best said in a Jamaican accent. 

There is even a bonus side slide.

Video of the day from Lucas.

NF Siletz from Lucas Rietmann on Vimeo.

 ~1000 cfs is the minimum for this run, 5'-7' on the Siletz gauge provide ideal flows.  If you are looking for a more full day with plenty of class IV(V) and the level is over 4,000 cfs (7ish ft) check out Warnicke Creek.  You can start above Golden Goose and run through Go Reit, mann for an extended day of very fun boating.  Lastly, if water is super high, a combo run of this and the south fork is worth looking into.


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