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Trip Report: West Fork of the Hood



The level was somewhere around 5 feet at the Tucker bridge, which according to Soggy Sneakers is right in the middle of the good range for the West Fork. It was a pleasant flow, well padded but the holes weren't big. We put in at the confluence of two creeks and the West Fork was class II-III and fun for the first 2 miles. The terrain is basalt canyons with fine columns, some chunky, some slopes grass covered, some deciduous forest. Gorgeous, really. Pretty day, too, sunny and relatively warm though we were all still in drysuits and pogies. Oliver kept reminiscing about his days in the southeast, and told me he heard that folks were already paddling with bare arms on the Chattooga this spring. After the warmup section we portaged the Fish Ladder (on the left) and the whitewater cranked up to class III-IV, with a really nice boulder garden to kick off the fun. I wish there were more miles of it, really. The run was only maybe 5 miles long and it went by really fast. We had a strong group of 5 (Denny, Oliver, Joey, Craig and me) and nobody swam or otherwise needed rescuing. The takeout is a steep climb up a grassy slope. From the slope you have a view of Punchbowl Falls (pictured below), which is a 10ish foot vertical plunge into a really deep pool. The water was so clear that you could see how deep the plunge went, and if you swam there you could be under water for a really really long time. I guess Joey and others have had bad swims there so nobody wanted to run it. I saw nice lines on either side but I have made it my principle not to run stuff unless there is some way for someone to get to me if I have trouble. There is no way for a person who is not running Punchbowl to effectively set safety for someone who is. So we all took out above it. Denny has run it successfully before. I look forward to my next opportunity to make this run. Apparently it drains out of a lake that does not have much drainage from the mountain, so it will run out of water sometime soon after the low elevation snow is gone and the rain stops. The East Fork of the Hood drains from higher up on Mount Hood and so sustains flows later in the springtime.

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