Monday, June 25, 2007

Goldan Canyon: Idaho 07

After our Big Sands trip the whole crew headed over to the SF Clearwater for a low water run down the Golden Canyon. Grace, Jason, Kris, Megi, Rob, our new friend Matt R. and I drove out on a hot day staring down at the pin rock and seives thinking this may not be such a good idea. Golden Canyon is normally run, by those we talked to, at around 1500cfs or greater. We had about half that.

We put in right below Coyote Falls, none of us could see a reasonable like throught the rocky seivy run out. Just as well, we all had a solid reson not to run it instead of the typical "If my shoulder wasn't bugging me," "If my boat wasn't cracked," and "I'm not used to this boat yet" excuses. From there on down, it was more or less boat scoutable class IV and Rob, Matt and I too turn probing the larger drops where Jason would get out to scout and shoot some photos. We also had David shooting photos from the bank the whole way down.

Fortunately for me, it was much cleaner than I thought and though I was paddling my Riot Magnum, I was wishing I had been in my new Astro for a few spots. Unfortunatley Kris got wedged in a seive through one of the gorge-y sections, and had to pull out but she flushed out immediately thankfully and all gear was recovered and everybody was all smiles. She probably just needed to cool off. The run concluded with a fair amount of flat water that has us all wishing for more water at the takcout, one more swimmer after an chin-meets-rock incident (ok in the end). Jason was super-stoked on the run and he's right, its a pretty good class IV run a that flow that I'd reccomend but still think a bit more water would be better. It reminds me of a mini Tumwater Canyon stretched out over a few more miles.

Next time you are stuck in Idaho for the second low water year in a row, I check it out.

Thanks to David for all the photos.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Salmon River Canyon Media Update

Remember the AP news crew from that last Salmon River Gorge trip?
Well they got their stuff published in the Summit Daily News in Colorado.

Check it out!

Sorry Jay, unless you were paddling the Riot Magnum that day, the photo is of me.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Big Sands Creek: Idaho 07

Like so many water starved Oregonians, we headed over to Idaho with Jason Rackley this June dreaming of big waves, huge holes and high water on the Lochsa and anything else we could find. We tried last year and hit low water so we tried again this year, a month earlier and hit even lower water! Good news is we got a run on Big Sands Creek. Having Kris and her brother Ben "The Montana Connection" Litz along is always a good idea . A group of Missoula boaters were headed down the day before us and you can catch there experience on the American Whitewater Site.

It started with just Rob and I but we ran into a wandering but not lost soul at a local hot spring who we invited to join us for our run. As our conversations with him continued, and as the night moved on, Rob and I gave each other a lot of hard looks and had some serious thoughts about whether Matt, "Class V --", was up to the task. We decided it would be alright but were still a bit nervous on the hike in. Speaking of which, its one of the easiest 3 mile hike ins I have ever done, gentle up hills, smooth dragging and easy downhills... except for one quarter mile long section.

Kris and Matt hiking over the new deadfall. 'Que the fuck?'

Once we got down to the river, having never paddled with Matt "T-rescue" Reistetter, we started going over hand signals and river etiquette and he made a few more comments about not being a Class V boater and then something we never expected. "So, if I can't roll, do you guys want to T rescue me or just pull me upright?"


Till Rob said, "Just Roll."
Pretty much the only think the Idaho guide book says is 'Don't get in over your head on this one' and 'Hiking out would be nearly impossible' so at this point Rob and I were pretty worried but in true tempt-fate style we put on, Matt chagrined and floated on downstream to the first few splashy class IV rapids. Long-ish but straight forward drops with fairly easy to avoid hazards make up the first entry drops but once the river tightens and steepens up, we were in for a good time. The hits just kept coming though when at the bottom of the first Class IV drop Matt said "This is definitely a step up for me." A comment that was immediately followed by a long hard stare between Rob and myself but we kept on going. About the only thing I had to say was simply, "We just need to keep heading downstream, walking or paddling, just keep heading downstream."

Rob on the first 10 footer getting the boof off the right wall.

We all had good lines off the first drop and set the tone for me being the probe unit all day. We all portaged the drop below the logjam as there was log across it and Pancake and the drops below it. I ran everything else and Matt and Rob made one more portage above a sticky hole somewhere in the middle.

Reenacting the guide book photo at the end of one of the long technical rapid of the day.

Matt, Where the wild things are. Right above Pancake and the subsequent gorge seen below.

We all portaged this long boulder choked rapid starting with
Pancake at the top followed by two marginally runnable
piton filled ledges and some fast water.

After the portaging around Pancake, the gradient mellows out for a while and I was convinced we were done till we came around the corner and White Sands dumps in. From there on down to the take out, the gradient is pretty constant, and the extra water made for some big fun Class IV drops where I couldn't help myself and just didn't want to eddy out. It reminded me of coming onto Wooley Cr from Bridge Cr in Cali, or the bottom two miles of the Bald Rock Section of the Middle Feather.

Matt, class V-- wonder stud, did great all day never faltered, always made good decisions and stayed on the game the whole way down. Look for him in Seattle now.
With some takout beers, some bullshit talk, advice on getting a new helmet and a ride back down to camp in his Westfalia we made a friend and ended up boating again the next day on the SF Clearwater.
Turns out our fears were unfounded and I can't tell you how glad I am.

Check out more photos here


Friday, June 15, 2007

Wenatchee RiverFest '07 and Top Tye

The way was long, the road was dark but last week an bunch of us Oregonites, natives and transplants alike, ventured up to the Washington and the little town of Cashmere for some fun in the sun.. or clouds. So the weather didn't cooperate for Saturday but the water level was prime for Granny's, where they held the rodeo and those folks know how to put on a festival. A rodeo, downriver race, lots of vendors, a couple different auctions, live music, an exclusive campsite and just plain good people!

Some of the good people!

Granny's is a big fast wave in the middle of a wave train at the last rapid of the normal run on the Wenatchee. Some of the competitors had a rough time on the wave; it can be a little flushy on one of the shoulders. I didn't show up in time to compete. Instead we got up late, had a run on Lower Icicle with some minor carnage, a breakfast and Sandy's Waffle Haus in Leavenworth. So once again, I was behind the camera for this one.

Top: Rob, still crazy after all these years (notice the lack of skirt)
Bottom: A new generation of crazy: Robbie

Later that night, after a play run and some chill time, I found Jeff, staggering around the parking lot, Lisa uncomfortably asleep in back of my van so we decided it was time to head to the campground but as we went to leave, more and more people wanted a ride back... So.

Post party load up.

In the morning, a quick play run followed by a journey up to the Seattle are gem the Top Tye!
The Skykomish at Goldbar was at 7500 or so and since the floods last winter, its apparently reading about 25% low. So it was pretty high but it only equalled big water fun times! A group put on upstream of us and before we even had gotten ready, one member came down after swimming in one of the first ledges, hoping to find his boat. Another member of their group had his first swim in 6yrs at Box Drop, a straight forward ledge that drops into a meaty hole below a sketchy ferry above a rock/log sieve. Most of our group portaged with the exception of James, who had a smooth line.

Don't get me wrong, we had our share of carnage! A swimmer at Monkey Cage, whose boat travelled over Crack in the Earth without him and we were chasing his gear, and portaging CITE, Thad ran the gnarly ledge below and had a good surf and out of boat experience.

The rest of the run was fairly uneventful but following a portage around Paranoia, we can to the best part of the run. Big boofs, big water feel and tight twisty drops with push! Good Times!
Monkey Cage for me, shortly before being upside down

Monkey Cage for Brad... an hour after being upside down!

I recommend getting on it that high if your confident and it made a great end to a great weekend with great people. Isn't that great? The drive back home was long, and dark but we made it safely. Got to go for now though. I'm heading to Idaho for two weeks starting tomorrow morning.

Big thanks to Sybille and all those who organized the Wenatchee Festival, another gret job guys. And thanks to Conor for the shots on the Tye!