Thursday, March 6, 2014

North Umpqua: The Gorge Electric

photo: Priscilla Macy

This run starts out in the pool below Toketee Falls.  Either walk the short trail to the viewing platform and lower boats down the steep hillside, or drop over the falls (a V+ endeavor that I am not going to describe here).  The pool at the base of Toketee is a beautiful start to the run, take a moment to paddle around in it and enjoy where you are, being in a kayak it is easy to paddle to river left and walk around over there for a unique view of the falls.

photo: Priscilla Macy

The rapids begin immediately out of the pool below Toketee, starting out then maintaining a nice class IV grade.  The first horizon line after some read and run is reminiscent of Sidewinder on the White Salmon River.  Look at the landing and the walls closely, or sneak the left side channel.

Ben Mckenzie does it right.

Each notable drop seems to be slightly more challenging than the last until a final rapid that channelizes the river against the right wall feels more like IV+ than IV.  

A fun one in the middle of the run

Though a clean, intuitive line is always present, if it's your first time down it is worth scouting the rapids to find the hazards.

photos: Priscilla Macy

Downstream of the IV+ rapid a short way is a fun bedrock rapid that can produce interesting lines and is easy to carry back up for on the right.

 Lucas Rietmann
photo: Priscilla Macy

Brian Butcher
photo: Priscilla Macy

Sam Swanson
photo: Priscilla Macy

Ben Mckenzie
photo: Priscilla Macy

photo: Lucas Rietmann 

Not far downstream is a bridge, powerhouse, then a short pool.  If the powerhouse is releasing a lot of water, the next obstacle needs to be portaged along an easy path on the left.  If levels are low, it is sometimes possible to run that drop.  Make a good decision here.

Below here you enter the Electric Avenue, and if levels are up the rest of the run is fast and splashy down to the take out bridge at Slide Creek, if it is low the scenery helps pass the time until Fish Creek enters and adds some pad.  It's a special place.  On our second trip down, there was a lot of water in the system and an aqueduct was backed up and overflowing just above the take out.  It made for a captivating scene.

   -   If Toketee (at the put in) is at a good flow, the gorge below is too.  However the gorge could feasibly be run higher.  We had ~375 cfs on our first trip, and 450 on our second trip.  Both were good flows and I'd go back higher (or a little lower).  This section is heavily dam controlled and rarely runs at a good flow, so when its in it is worth heading down there.

February 11, 2017 was a good flow

Video from our first trip down.

CCC and the Gorge Electric from Jacob Cruser on Vimeo.

There are a number of take out options, the most straight forward is at the NF -4775 bridge near Slide Creek: 43.2961, -122.4782  It is possible to continue to the highway and get one more large rapid, but to avoid dealing I recommend taking out at Slide creek.

Click to enlarge


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