Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Personal First

The personal first descent is one of the most fulfilling experiences one can have on a river; no matter how popular or regularly run something may be, achieving a goal and running something new always feels like a great accomplishment. Leading someone down a river for their personal first is similarly awesome and gratifying.  Looking at the river for all its lines and intricacies, finding the best places to set safety, being super diligent about having good communication, maintain a good group dynamic (smiling!),  and assembling a solid crew ensures a great day on the river and makes for a successful personal first.

Last weekend, Anna Herring made her first descent on the magnificent Little White Salmon.  A river that many of us know so well, and still we find so much pleasure passing through that canyon time and time again.  Nate, Lucas Glick, and I accompanied her, with Lucas and I setting safety at a few of the more consequential spots (Boulder Sluice, Sacrilege, S-turn, Horseshoe), and Nate leading her through everything.  It worked great, and Anna absolutely killed it.  It's a mark of a good boater when they step up to something new and are more than ready for it, those are the boaters I want in my crew!

One awesome thing about going in there with Anna and setting safety, I was able to bring my camera, getting out at spots in the river I never have before and getting to know the Little White a little bit more intimately.  Also, it was great to work with Nate and Lucas and line out the best rescue options for each of the big drop.  Setting safety made for some sweet photo angles too, as you can see below.   Most of all, it was wonderful to see Anna kill it and another fantastic day on the Little White.

Nate Sluicin into the light

Anna's  Sluice run after styling Gettin' Busy!

Nate digging into Sac
Anna Styling again
And she styled S-Turn

Airborn at Wishbone
Glick Gutting

Still Stylin at the mental crux; Horseshoe
Glick was fired up, I almost missed him boofing hard

Chaos Wheelie

The perfect crew (Oakland not withstanding)!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

100 rivers: part 2

For awhile now, my father has been working towards the goal of having run 100 rivers.  For awhile he was sitting in the high 90s, only a couple away from his goal.  With his birthday coming up this last February we hatched plans to accomplish his goal the day he turned 52.  The weather cooperated and the Quartzville drainage had plenty of water.

Power was out in the Lebanon area due to a dozen or so power lines that had fallen onto HWY 20 with the high winds, slowing things down a little but before long we were cruising up the always longer than I think its going to be Quartzville road.

We started the day on Upper Quartzville for some fun assurance before hitting his 100th stream in the form of Canal Creek, a tributary to Quartzville.

Quartzville went well and we had a blast, even with two new pieces of wood blocking the classic lines in David from Behind and the log duck.  We used an alternate put in that added a neat culvert rapid and dropped us into Quartzville just before Technical Difficulties.  Quartzville really is a great run with easy access and many class IV rapids.

We set our second shuttle at the confluence of Canal and Quartzville and headed up to the Canal fork of Canal Creek.  I had heard from the generation of Corvallis Creekers (Eric Fostermoore, Rick Cooley, Josh Grabel, Chris Gabrielli, etc) before the current version that the Canal fork had some stuff on it including a class V rapid.  We hiked/roped our boats in and made good time down the stream, there were logs here and there but nothing to complain about.  Before long we reached the Class V drop, which looked tough and consequential and we decided to portage on the right.  Below here were a few more fun rapids before reaching the confluence with Elk Creek and the stream became Canal Creek proper.   We had plenty of time so continued down this fun stretch of stream that had lots of class III slides, one larger blind slide (center left was good) and 2 stand out boulder gardens near the end.

The day was ultra smooth and rewarding, the power was even back on by the time we returned to Sweet Home, allowing us a food stop on the way back to town.  Here is a video of the trip.

Quartzville Creek gauge went from 1200-6000 cfs throughout the day.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Drift Creek (Siletz Drainage)

Photos: Priscilla Macy

I expected this run to have only a handful of mediocre rapids separated by miles of flat water.  Lucas, Priscilla and I all wanted to see it anyway so went there on a sunny Monday after the 2015 Wind River Race.

Put-In for the guidebook run near North Creek.

 We found the run to be more enjoyable than expected at around 1,000 cfs with entertaining intermediate rapids in a nice gorge.  The run is described well at americanwhitewater.org complete with plenty of pictures.  The first gorge is the best, with bedrock rapids back to back, good scenery, and unique lines available.

First Gorge

The middle of the run doesn't have much going on, but it keeps moving.  Near the end of the run the whitewater picks back up and there are a few more fun rapids.

A nice boulder garden leads into this ledge that is larger than it may seem in the picture.

 Lucas scopes out a line.

 Once you see the pumping station on the left the run is over.  The two mile paddle out at the end isn't the greatest, but it can be tolerated.  The water keeps moving so I prefer to bring some hot chocolate and just float and drink rather than try to get through it fast as I can.  I would say this run is worth doing at least once, preferably more if you live close by.  Access is easy to figure out and its bridge to bridge, but in places has a remote feel.  I'd say if you enjoy Jordan Creek in the Wilson drainage, you would also like this one.

The run went by much quicker than anticipated so Lucas and I hiked into Drift Creek Falls afterwords and paddled down to the normal put in.  This upper run wasn't full of wood as anticipated, but there were only two rapids so that was a one time thing for me.

Lucas runs the larger of the two rapids.

 The event of the day for me occurred on the upper run when I went to eddy out behind a rock and there was a bald eagle perched on a rock in the eddy.  I had to brace as I leaned away and he took flight, both of us caught off guard!

Directions are on the americanwhitewater page, but here is an overview map to show you where in Oregon the run is.

Use Pat Welches gage to estimate flows.  1,000 was medium.  800 was friendly and fun.  Here is a link to a video from John Harmon running it at 1,500.

There is a gage at the take out that does not report flows, there is a staff gage on the river-right pylon though.  At 800 cfs that gage read 5.8-5.9', which again was a friendly and fun flow.