Tuesday, December 11, 2007

THE Canyon Creek!

Here in Pac NW (as in many places I am sure), we are blessed with numerous Canyon Creeks. There's the Canyon Creek of the Stillaguamish, often over shadowed by its close neighbor, Robe Canyon. There is Canyon Creek of the S. Santiam Drainage.. but most importantly there is THE Canyon Creek in the EF Lewis Drainage. I say THE Canyon Creek because all other pale in comparison! I know the Corvallis Boys love their Cayon Creek on the Santiam but even they have to admit there is nothing like bouncing down a lap on CCWA.

What makes Canyon Cr so special you ask? Its not the hardest, its not the steepest, it doesn't have any big waterfalls.... but what it does have is a little bit of everything! Its got a waterfall, its got a technical boulder garden, its got some stompy ledges and its got a steep section with a couple quality boofs back to back that are pretty hard to beat. It even has a little mank for those of you who need to be punished!

Last Sunday, Casey, Chris K, Amy C. and I were joined by Dusty (a recent transplant) for a couple laps down THE Canyon Cr on a cold December day.

The creek starts out unassumingly under a bridge down a forest road near Amboy, Washington. The time honored UNIT is the downstream river left bridge pylon. With the water just at the bottom concrete pad its 'even with the unit'. Time was we looked at the EF Lewis Gauge but recently a Canyon Creek Gauge came on line. I haven't figured out the correlation yet but within a couple inches on either side of the 'unit' you are sure to find some goodness. Though its been run at least to -12" and much much higher

The run starts out with about a mile of class II before you come to the first drop called Swizzle Sticks. Its a crooked boof, followed by a constricted ledge hole followed by a 200yd long swirly gorge.

Next comes S-turn, a really fun drop starting with three lines between boulders, making a tight turn to the left and ending in a thrashy, steep diagonal hole usually run on the left. Macho boaters eddy out on the right in the short moving pool between the entrance and the left turn.

Now depending on who you ask, the hole at the bottom of S-turn OR the next constriction is called Terminator. Regardless of what you call it the hole has S-turn has seen its share of swim and you would do well to avoid it, especially at higher flows.

Prelude to Thrasher and Thrasher are downstream aways and they are both broken ledges with stompy holes. I have personally swum out of each and I recommend picking your own lines!

After the Thrashers is the Boulder Garden. Another variably named drop, but most people know what you mean. It can be fairly challenging to scout but it starts out class 2-3, builds into a couple sizable ledges and ends with a bang at a pretty mean hole. Its been run all sorts of ways, but being far left at the bottom is probably the most popular.

Swimming here is a bad idea as Kahuna is the next drop. Kahuna is the largest single drop by far. Keep your eyes on the right side for the last chance scouting eddy! This one is super fun and since the portage basically amounts to a throw and go, you might as well run it.

The Drop Zone starts with Kahuna, goes through the aforementioned mank an over Champagne and Hammering Spot: back to back 8 foot (or so) boofs that just can't be beat.

The only drop left is called Toby's. The site of a drowning a few years go. Usually I go for the sneaky slide about 15 ft off the left but at the right flows, there is a flying boof down the right side. I don't recommend going for the gut of this one.

Well this concludes whitewater but you still have a mile or so paddle out on Lake Merwin. Just make sure you turn left and paddle till you find the take out bridge.

This is the point where you wonder what happened to everybody, but without carnage it gets pretty boring to keep telling you that we all had good lines so I though I'd wait till the end.
We all had good lines. Good enough for everyone but me to man up and hit a second lap. Instead I just sat around the takeout and played with the photos.

Jason Rackley also has an extensive write up on this one here.
Its a popular run for us and its worth a stop if you are in the area in the paddling season! Hope to see you up there soon!

Parting Shot:


Friday, December 7, 2007

Three Days in the Valley

The McKenzie Valley

When it rains really hard, the McKenzie River in Oregon has some of the Northwest's best play boating and accordingly, boaters from the area come out of the woodwork. Some people came with me for another play clinic, others just showed up on their own but the people I ran into while boating on the Mack are to many to name here so look at some photos!

Kim Russel at highwater Clover

Capo mid Donkey Flip at Clover


Julie G surfing low water clover for the first time

Aaron Goodwin mid Backstab at High Clover

Todd Baker getting some air at Clover

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving Photo Shoot

Before I was on the McKenzie, I was paddling on the Skykomish River in Washington. If any of you have been up there in the last year, then you know that the North Fork road saw some pretty heavy damage in the flood last fall. I had the good fortune to be up there the weekend it happened for some of the last runs BUT thats not important now. What is important is what it looks like now along with a some good paddling folks on the South Fork.

Another amazing day in the Sky Valley!


Monday, November 26, 2007

South Eugene High School Kayak Club and Friends

After the Thanksgiving week of gluttony James and I met up for a play session on Neils Point on the McKenzie River and for the third weekend in a row I ran into the South Eugene High Kayak Club. These shredders were tearing it up out on the wave and I know I wish I had had the chance to be kayaking at that age. I am jealous

I have to apologize to those guys but I am terrible with names and I can only remeber a few but Quinn, Althia and Geoff were just a few of em getting it done out there.

See you guys on the river soon I hope!

Check out some more photos here

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What do you get...

when you mix a bunch of women paddlers and one Dead Cow?


That's "No Ego and a lot of Smiles" if you failed 1st grade

I had the good fortune to team up with Kate Howell and the Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club
to teach a ladies only (mostly) playboating clinic out at Dead Cow Wave. We left Corvallis, bout 9 am picking up paddlers on the the way. Cate and I met in down town Corvallis and headed out to the infamous COP SHOP, a popular meeting area sandwiched between the local Adult Shop and the State Troopers post, where we met Kate and Kay. From there we headed up to Stayton Or on the N Santiam where we met Ashley, Grace and Dave (Dave was our token guy, besides me but I was teaching). Then up to the put in at Mehema Or where we met 4 more women, Rachel, Laurie, Lindsay and Courtney. ( I am so amazed that I can remember everyone's name).

After gearing up, a safety talk and a short warm up, we headed on down the river on the 4 miles of class 2 before the DEAD COW WAVE. The Dead Cow wave is the ultimate beginner wave. Its large enough to be retentive, small enough to be really non-threatening, fast enough to carve and throw small blunts, with a eddy large enough for 4 roll attempts and a swim! It has a smooth bottom and has about a 1000 cfs window on the North Santiam at Mehema gauge. You want between 2200 is getting low and 3500 is getting high. At one level at the higher end there is even as surgey wave hole where you can sling some ends and get some loops.

I recommend it to any aspiring playboater as a smooth transition to surfing if you're not ready for the Dries or Bus Eater!

I saw a few AHA's and alot of smiles on everybody's faces. Lindsay got some of her carves, Rachel felt what a difference a boat can make, Cate got to surf on her knees and a good time was had by all.

The only draw back to the Dead Cow is that its in the middle of no where, on Class 2 with a 4 mile paddle in and a 4 mile paddle out and the paddle out has a damn too. The damn is perfectly safe, there is a boat portage slide that's actually pretty fun!

I get as much enjoyment from teaching and watching people learn as I do from doing it so it was a great day for me too and I am looking forward the the next skill class I'll get to be a part of in Portland soon.

See more photos here!
UPDATE: Video that Kate shot!


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Class 2 is for you (and me)

I blame Cate for my pain. She brought the C1 devil to my attention and so I followed the crowd of WKCC paddlers out to the Deschutes for a little fun and found out a few things: I can roll a C1, I was worried about swimming on Class 2, its really hard to rescue boat on your knees and the pain doesn't go away in a day.

Steve Stuckmeyer in his 16ft canoe led a large, canoe strong, group of Willamette Valley paddlers to the East side for some fun. I though it might be a good time to come along, paddle Cate's Redline C1 for a kick. It was that indeed with the first day being about 14 miles and second being about 12. All I can say is that my life if fundamentally altered. My knees hurt, my ankles are still sort and I just spent about 7 hrs converting my cracked ZG to a C1. Good times.


Photos by Steve Stuckmeyer

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New Season, Old Story.

I originally posted this on In Between Swims but recent interest, a lack of good things to post and reasons to not forget have spurred me to post it again here.

Kenobi Gorge, Little Goose Cr. Washington:

Those of us in the Pacific Northwest are some of the luckiest paddlers in the country. Classic class V runs abound and partly due to that, so do untapped, untold gems. Jason Rackley (www.oregonkayaking.net) is a whitewater explorer always seeking out the newest, steepest of such runs and thanks to his effort and Chad Bellville he found one right under our noses. This one has since recieved alot of press and made some waves in the northwest and hopefully has helped kayakers in the Columbia River Gorge near Hood River, Or. to not take it for granted that all the best runs have been found. The Green Truss of the White Salmon, the Little White Salmon, the Wind River and many others have long since overshadowed any potential exploratory steeps, save this one. This the my story about Kenobi Gorge,a sick gorge on Little Goose Creek, a trib of Trout Lake Creek, a trib of the White Salmon and how I am In Between Swims.

June of 2006, I am talking with Portland boater Mike Long:
Me: So, what are you up to this week?
Mike: Something big with Jason.
Me: I'm in!
Mike: Are you sure, its pretty big.
Me: Sure, I can walk it if I don't like it right?
Mike: Uhh.. Sure.

A few days later I find my self in Washington, in the woods with Jason and crew. Jason had opted out to shoot video letting the rest of us have all the fun. Little Goose Creek has a handful of good drops on it, some serious mank and a marginal 50 or so foot waterfall we named Imperial Falls. Mike, Ben and John put on at the top and ran a couple extra drops, including the mank and portaged Imperial. I carried my boat down the path and put on just below the big slide called The Kessel Run.

After Kessel some more mank, a really fun double drop called Chewie which apparantly becomes a hellish swirly at higher flows. I had my fun a bit lower down.

Mike Long makes Kessel Run in less that 12 parsecs.

Right before the Gorge proper, we hiked up and out of the river canyon, to the rim and downstream to scout it out. We got to the fixed line that had been set up earlier. First drop looked straight forward, second drop was pretty obscured by the trees and I didn't feel like rappelling down and ascending just to look at the ledge just below so I move around a bit and said "So.... whats the line?" to which Mike Replied, "You wanna be 4 ft off the right wall and boof out."
Then I said, in my best cocky boater tone "Looks good, lets do it" (Thunder Cracked off in the distance)

So we hiked back and headed down into the Gorge. There was a bit more stuff to paddle before we all got out to look at it from river level. "Right wall, right wall, all I gotta do is get right and boof" I kept thinking....

Mike ran first and stomped it, then John, who also came out clean. I got in my boat, paddled off down river, First drop, caught an edge, but got upright and got way right no problem.... (Right Wall and Boof) I was so far right, "This is gonna be easy, why were they so worried" (Right Wall and Boof) Then suddenly my nose went up on the right side (Right wall??) and I dropped over the lip a bit sidways (..boof??). Luckily it is screaming down through there so I cleared the seam, not so luckily I didn't get my edge up and I flipped over. "No worries," I thought just before missing my first and only roll attempt. After that I felt my paddle up against the wall (@#%!^$ Right Wall, @$^!$ Boof!!!) and soon after that I fell in the seam, gave up on the roll and pulled out. I remember a fleeting glimpse of white, kicking like mad before there was nothing but water.

I was being held in the middle of the recirc, not getting tumbled, just sitting there agains that !@$$ wall. I pushed off, got spun, tried to kick off with my feet got spun, this is one sticky hole. When I reached up and felt my boat there surfing with me I thought, "AIR" and pulled my head into the cockpit. Well the best laid plans of mice and men, I couldn't get a breathe, just kept sucking air into my stomach. I even had time to recall the physiology of the mammalian dive reflex where your body won't let you breathe if you are submerged. Its the reason why most drownings are "dry downings." I gave up on the breathing, and tossed the boat and suddenly, my head cleared the water and I start hearing the voices of angels (John, Mike and Ryan shouting) "ROPEROPEROPE" and I vaguely recongnized the dark blob floating next to me as my salvation. But alas, I got pulled back into the hole trying to hang onto my Gus as my trip out only managing to get a finger on the handle of it as it took off down the next drop. Luckily this pulled me out of the hole enough to get the rope John threw me and though I went right back in to the sticky maw we named Sarlac, John pulled me out and onto the rock where I took my first breath in what seemed like minutes (really about 40 seconds). After Ben came down and I got myself collected thanks to the crew, we continued on down the river. I have never been so scared on a river as above the next drop we called Supercollider because of the way it hits you in the chest.

The miles of class 2-3 paddling out helped me to collect myself mentally and I was in good spirits by the time we reached the take out. I have since decided I need a redemption run 4 feet of the @#%! Right wall this time! Next time I'll do better but hey we are all in between swims right?

For a more complete trip report including video check here!


Friday, September 14, 2007

Drydeck Safely?

Is Creeking in a Drydeck Safe?

I've been using a drydeck for about 3 years. They are great for playboating as they are super comfortable, usually super dry (depending on the boat) and can be even cheaper than buying a skirt and drytop separately. Some folks think they are a bit dangerous, either because when/if you swim you're gonna get more wet or getting hung up on a log, or other hazard and being unable to free yourself. I creek in a drydeck in the warmer month because I find them dryer and more comfortable, easier to dress etc. I just got a new IR drydeck to fit a recent switch to Riot boats. Its my second IR deck and I've been really happy with it so far and IR's service (No, I'm not sponsored but I wouldn't mind one!)

I've never really worried to much about getting wet while swimming. Its gonna happen unless you're in a drysuit (and sometimes even then). As for entrapment, until recently, I had never heard of anyone actually get their skirt hung up and be saved by pulling themselves out through the tunnel. Now I've heard of it once from Jesse Coombs.

Its been my opinion that creeking in a drydeck is just as safe as creeking without a facemask or without body armor. I agree that it may be slightly more hazardous but the extra risk is minimal an manageable, same as wearing a helmet without a facemask or using a back deck roll while creeking. All of which I do. Granted there are probably more people that wear helmets without face masks than creek in a drydeck but I want to hear what ya'll think.

Hit me!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

September Upper Upper !?!

Just when the NW is at its Dryest...

Chris G started talking about the Upper Upper again. We must have been desperate or something but it was actually really fun! The guage read a little under 400cfs on Saturday and on Sunday seemed a bit lower but all the lines are the same, there aren't too many F-U rocks and even at Behemoth the line is pretty much the same but with some interesting results.
I also had a chance to paddle the Riot Thunder with my new IR Drydeck. The Thunder, is a sporty boat and the Drydeck is super dry and comfy too.

photos by Rick Cooley.

Yep, that me backwards!

Kris dropping in

Chris G and the Super BOOF

Saturday, August 25, 2007

On Injuries, Boredom and Pain

Hey Ya'll-

It's that season in Oregon where its dry. Dry dry dry. So we here, are largely bored. Local playspots and the odd dam release are all we have to go to till the rain is back. And though I'm injured, which is lame, at least I know I'm not missing much though I do miss the water. Till then, enjoy some photos!


Friday, August 17, 2007

Northwest Video Scrapbook

Check out the latest addition to the Northwest Kayaker Blogdom-
Ryan Scott of Columbia River Gorge Blog has recently started his new video blog.
Check it out at http://www.gorgehits.blogspot.com/

Sunday, August 5, 2007

August on the Upper Upper

I first ran the Upper Upper Cispus last year and it quickly became the destination creek for the mid-summer low water runs. It typically comes in just as the Ohane drops out and holds pretty well for a while. This year, I've tried to get on it twice already but have been turned back by higher water than we were up for each time. BUT finally I made it up.

Rare and Random shot of me on Behemoth. By Rick Cooley

The last minute assembled crew was made up of Mike Long, James Bagley, Kris Litz, Rick Cooley, JD Gaffney, Charlie and myself. We had heard about a couple spots of new wood. The boulder garden right below the First Ledge and in the third drop in the boulder garden below Behemoth.

The lower water we had made the first spot of wood runnable, though a bit scary. Most of us portaged it. The second spot of wood is really not a hazard. The lines through the boulder garden is still right all the way down. The wood is easily avoidable. HOWEVER, in the class III runnout, be on the look out for a mank drop leading into a river wide downed alder. With the dropping water levels its a serious strainer and Charlie had some trouble, swam above it and, for a few scary moments was caught in the branches under the water. Everything came out ok but keep an eye out for this log!

Otherwise, check out some photos below and HERE


JD on the First Ledge

Charlie finishing up Island Drop

JD at Behemoth

Thursday, August 2, 2007

WKCC Safety Weekend

This past weekend the Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club had their annual Safety Weekend where a the Willamette valley kayakers get together to share techinques, tips and practice throwing ropes and what not. I spent my time wandering around listening in, helping out and taking photos. Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

So It Goes

Ever have one of those ideas...

"Everybody's gonna love this!" and you get excited and see it through enuncumbered by the thought process. Yea thats me. I did that.

I was trying to let everybody know that I think Riot does a great job taking care of their customers unlike some other companies out there and to show how much I trust their boats. The Magnum is the best creek boat I've been in and there's nothing out there I'd rather paddle. Since I got my Astro 54, I've been getting more bounce and more pop than anything I've paddled before. No bull.

So, sorry guys.


Youngest-ever descent of the Green Truss

WonderMidget Strikes again

As far as anyone knows, WonderMidget, Devin Morton, is the youngest person to ever run the Truss at 12 years old.

Devin at Bobs

I had been planning a trip get get a couple Truss newbies down in Late July when Devin's Dad, Corey asked if they could tag along. "Of COURSE," I replied, hoping for a huge group. We quickly enlisted a bunch of people to put in with us: Nate Herbeck, James Bagley, Kyle Kovalik, Will Robens, Will's friend Will, Brett Barton, Kris Litz, Devin, Corey, Myself, Michael Williams, Rick Cooley, and Jason Schroeder. Interestingly, we started with 13 and ended with 10... The world may never know.

Anyway, back to the little dude... and the rest of the crew. I love bashing down the Truss with a huge group, low water especially. If I can't have water, I might as well sucker a bunch other others with me so I am not the only idiot out there right? Well as all the rest of the idiots would agree, it was a great run. No where near the expected carnage, only one swimmer; only two people didn't run Big Brother. (not bad for a trip where out of 13 only 5 had done the run before! After a quick scout at Bobs, and a huck session at Big Brother, we all fired off Double without scouting, even the Midget, who flipped and rolled between the drops and gutted #2.

Everybody had great lines in Upper Zig Zag, especially Devin, who floated calmly behind his dad, watching him get worked!

Nobody in the newbies group fired off BZ, but it will be there for a long time.
Check out Devin's blog for a short vid and some more about the little dude.

Devin at Double, by Rick Cooley

Kris Litz fires up Big Brother on her first time down

Kyle Kovalik on his first time over Bobs

Rick Cooley, another first timer on Big Brother

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Know what I did this summer?

Neither do I really..
Its been a while since I've had time to sit down and tell ya'll what I've been up to and though everytime I run something I think, "Oh man I've got to write something up for this one..." its just not happening. SO, basically since I left Idaho, spent a week in Montana, headed to Washington and met up with some Seattle friends for a good run down the Fall In The Wall, then over to the Cooper and headed home. Next couple weeks were work, trips to Spencer's Hole and Ohanepecsh, Clear Fork and a Hike in to the UU Cispus. Below are a handfull of shots from the last few weeks. Keep an eye out for more including the Youngest Ever Truss Descent!

More Photos


Jesse Coombs at Spencer's Hole, Gates Or

Sera Jansen at Spencers

Kris at Gold Hole

Missoula Crew on Kootenei Cr

Me on the last drop above Franklin Falls on Fall In The Wall

Rob on Monkey Cage, Top Tye