liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Trip Report: Bull Run into Sandy, Salmon River, East Fork Lewis

On Friday we paddled Bull Run, which is the water supply for Portland and the site of a slalom course. The water was high, and it was just T and I paddling. We'd set up a shuttle at Oxbow Park, another 7.5 miles downstream on the Sandy River, for a total of 10. The water level was high--the Sandy was running in the neighborhood of 7,000 CFS. The Bull Run section has several class III's in a narrow ash-composite gorge. Those class III's had mostly merged together into one long class III with a few stompin' holes and a lot of big splashy waves. I'd estimate that the flow was in the neighborhood of 2,000 CFS at the put-in. The confluence with the Sandy approximately doubled the flow, and there was a substantial rapid just downstream from the confluence. Many other small streams joined in as waterfalls as we traveled downriver. After that it backed down to class II or less, and stayed there. By the time we reached the takeout we were worried that we'd passed it, but the road down the river left slope was a good clue that we were there. After having done all that I'd like to do laps on Bull Run, taking out at Dodge Park and going back up to launch again, instead of running the next many miles on the Sandy. This flow was fat for Bull Run, and it might be more fun at lower flows.

Saturday we paddled the Salmon River in Oregon (another Sandy trib) with the LCCC. The Salmon is another tributary of the Sandy, and the run begins just below the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, where the road is still covered in deep slushy snow. It was a bit epic just getting up there, and T and I didn't stop for gas on the way up, so by the time the shuttle was run his tank was empty. The issue was resolved on the other end by heading up to the putin vehicles with a gas can full. The river was a small rocky stream with lots of pool and riffle drops, some bouldery. Mark designated T and I to run lead, which suited us. There was one full fledged class III which was readable without getting out of the boat, but most of the group took a look. There were a few strainers but nothing that required getting out of the boat. The Sandy up where we were was running about 2,300 CFS and falling, and the level was the lowest Mark had seen it and a reasonable minimum. I think it would be fine at 2,300 and rising, or with the Sandy higher, or when the snow is melting.

Sunday we paddled the East Fork of the Lewis in Washington State with Joey. It's a gorgeous run, short, with lots of whitewater, and close to town. The flow was 1970 cfs, which was rated on the AW site as being too high, but Joey said he first made the run at 2,000 cfs and that we'd have no problem. (It's higher today; it rained all day while we were on the water and last night on previously saturated ground.) We launched at Sunset falls, with Joey and I running the falls and T launching below it. There were several substantial class IV's on this run, and T and Joey were more conservative than me. I felt pretty good. Screaming left turn was a difficult move, I made it but barely, and watched another female paddler blow the move and run the right channel where someone has died on a piece of wood. Below there was Dragon's Back, a pillow move into a narrow gorge...pretty cool. And one called John's swimming hole which reminded me somewhat of Woodall Shoals with a stiff hole and a lateral move to miss it. I actually met the other 3 boaters on the river blow that drop, there were two girl boaters and I was happy to see them out on the water. Below there there was only one more major drop, Horseshoe falls, with a variety of possible lines. We took the fan rock center right, it was not hard. T's entry was a little off and he dropped off the right corner of the fan, landing flat right side up in the froth coming out of the far right suicide slot. He and his boat went all the water under the froth and popped back up upside down within a second. He set up to roll and in the moment when he might have rolled his boat slammed into the boulder on the right, and he swam. He hadn't been removed form his boat in 1.5 years, so he was due. He was relaxed about it, and I was happy to see that he could be outside his comfort zone and not get his ego hurt. We will return to this run at much lower flows and repeat it until we know the lines and feel happy there.

Horseshoe falls:
Tags: kayak, oregon, river, washington, whitewater

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