The Blue River drainage is a staple for the Eugene boating community, and its a drainage that I have been wanting to check out for awhile now. After a long weekend of driving, we were happy to stay in the valley for MLK day. We woke up to the Blue running over 1,000 cfs so decided to give it a go.
Being turf of the Eugene boating community, I garnered all my beta during the week from Nate Pfiefer's Wheels and Water blog aside from a helpful hint from Bobby Brown on another creek in the area.
Priscilla and I collected Emile Elliott on our way south, then met Ben Mckenzie in Eugene. He is recovering from a shoulder injury, so was taking pictures today and making it possible to maximize our boating options by running shuttle.
Ground Support for the day.
All photos in this report by Ben Mckenzie unless otherwise marked.
First on the hit list was the Upper Upper Blue River
We wanted to skip the portaging in the upper stretch, so followed the overgrown 535 road which branches off the main Blue River shuttle road 1 mile past the Quentin Creek bridge. We followed this overgrown road to a point where we could easily access the creek. This occurred where the road started to disappear and an obvious route down to the creek was visible.
Our path is highlighted in black. Route modifications are available.
We put in just below a bit of an island and just around the corner was the odd box noted on Nate Pfiefer's report. A direct hit in terms of where we wanted to enter the creek.
Our Put in on the Upper Upper Blue.
This run was full of non-stop class III+ or IV- slides with a couple more channelized rapids near the end.
We had only one wood portage and made it to the take out at the confluence with Quentin Creek in short order.
Next was Quentin Creek
I think we were all the most excited about this one because of the fun looking slide/falls. Unfortunately for us, less than a half a mile up the shuttle road we came across a logging unit whose work site blocked access further up the road. We decided that the mile+ hike in and bushwhack would eat up the rest of the day. We had more fish to fry, so saved this one for another time.
Nate Dogg has gotten in there, here is his POV of the run.
We detoured to Cook Creek, where another road block (this one in the form of numerous logs across the road) turned us back yet again. That was probably ok, as it didn't look all that good on the maps.
We had beta from Bobby Brown that Tidbits Creek was pretty fun, so drove upstream to where Ore Creek flows under the shuttle road via a large culvert. Emile and I paddled through this culvert and into the non-stop action of Tidbits Creek.
The run was fast paced class IV fun with a couple of ledges and two short log portages.
Status Quo on Tidbits Creek.
There was one ledge that was pretty ugly which Emile ran right on verbal beta from me. The result was of the sort that I then chose to portage, sorry Emile.
For anyone debating whether it is worth touching up on those play boating skills, Emile makes a strong case for doing so in the clip below.
Just downstream of this dubious ledge was a short portage, it was fortuitously placed as Emile found a whole bunch of Ganoderma Oregonense, a mushroom which can be made into a tea and are reported to boost ones immune system. Also called the "mushrooms of immortality".
We passed these mushrooms off to the ground team at the second portage.
Below the second and final log portage was more fast paced, fun whitewater that was all boat scoutable. Near the end of the run was a ledge we had seen driving up. We scouted what turned out to be the signature drop of the run.
Boofing through Tiddlywinks.
While waiting in the eddy downstream for the ground crew to shuffle around for photos, Bobby Brown (the boater who had told us about this run) showed up with his dogs. There was one more sticky hole that was easily punchable on the left, then some more fun cruising down to the confluence with the Blue River.
The sticky hole, fortunately its an easy move on the left.
Bobby had his boat with him so we decided that a quick lap on the classic section of the Blue sounded like a fun thing to do, we all drove up to the put-in where Brian Ward happened to show up as well.
Priscilla, Emile, Bobby, Brian and I then joined forces for a fun lap on the Blue River. There was one quick wood portage on the right (gone as of Feb 2016), and the rest was fun and splashy III-IV with some neat moves and friendly hydraulics. Bobby and Brian knew the run well so we were able to move along at a nice clip.
After finishing that one up, we walked up the road for a quick trip down the Lookout Creek slide. It was enjoyable and next time I'll aim to paddle more of what is upstream on that creek. Next we ran shuttle and headed over to scout out the headwaters of Quartz Creek. While we were not overly impressed by what we saw on Quartz Creek, we were pretty impressed with Bobby's snow driving ability. Nate (Merrill this time) has run some of the stretch above the normal put in and reports at least one unique IV-V rapid that is not visible from the road. The sun was setting at 5PM at that time of year so that about wrapped up our day.
Lookout Creek Slide.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the whitewater in the Blue River drainage and hope to return again some day.
The wood situation is pretty good right now, so get it while its hot.
Here is a map if you want to orient yourself with the streams mentioned in this report.