Last Friday night we ran "Shit Creek", the South fork of the Coeur d'Alene in Idaho, along I-90, at about 2000 CFS. That was high enough that there were few eddies left, and the brush is as usual occluding the channel for large sections. There were two strainer portages. The surfing wave in the tunnel was gigantic but I was too chicken to turn around and try to surf it. It's so dark in there! It's really wild running continuous class III whitewater with semis floating by on suspended roads beside you.
Saturday we went to the Thompson in Western Montana. We drove all the way up to the Little Thompson and because we were there we decided to try to run the lower canyon of it. The put in was in a pasture and the obstacles mostly were "root ball shots" where all the current goes straight into a thicket and you have to run right up to it and deflect off. There were logs to hop over, and one fun rapid that actually requested that you know how to boof and then make an immediate move. Our group is not highly skilled at creeking, as this rapid proved. When we got down to a narrow gorge with a small class IV rapid in it, the two logs across the bottom of the canyon dissuaded our group from going there. I would have run it, as would a couple of the other paddlers, but not after so long hemming and hawing about it. By the time we had climbed up above the gorge, we were almost to the road, and took out. There was less than 1/8 mile of river left at that point.
Then we went down to paddle the section of the Thompson that we'd come to run. It looked like class II from the road so we were leery, but there had been multiple reports of whitewater down there so we went. And there was whitewater down there! Bouldery class III+. The water was what I would call medium-high, the AW page said it was above recommended.
Sunday morning T and I paddled Lightning Creek from Susan's swimming hole down, at 1790 cfs. The level was nice. I like this flow so much better than 2,400, when everything is washed out and it is just splashy. At 1790 there were starting to be a few holes and even small eddies. With a few hundred less there'd be more eddies and still many holes. And still continuous, with braided channels for final section.
Today I'm headed to the Kalama in Washington. It's a new run to me. We're doing the Red Barn section, which is closest to the interstate. Lower Kalama Falls to Modrow Road (Kalama Falls Hatchery to Red Barn (Indian Creek)) Usual Difficulty: III-IV (for normal flows), Length: 7.7 Miles.
Tomorrow sounds like we'll be on the Sandy Canyon, which is currently flowing 1560. I've run it once before at around 1200 I think.... the day the icicles were falling.
Sunday I'm rooting for a first run on the Breitenbush. It's under 600 cfs and getting near to being done for the season. I haven't run it yet. It's supposedly got a gradient of 200 feet per mile.
Monday is 7/4 so we may even get on the water that day!!
update Saturday afternoon
Sandy Canyon. 1,400 cfs, which I think was harder than 2,000 cfs. Hot sunny day. Joel, Tom, David, Patty, Craig, Tim, Dom, Denny and me for a total of 9 kayaks, all creek boats. I felt nearly invincible in the creek 240, love the way it floats through holes and is completely predictable in swirls or holes. Tim got stuffed under the big rock in the middle of the river at Boulder drop, and thank goodness he emerged heads up in an eddy though his paddle was floating downstream in two pieces. I had spent perhaps 10 frightened seconds trying to sort out how I could get to him if his head didn't show up. It did not look good, wading upstream through a rock sieve with a lot of water pushing through it. But he did emerge after being stuffed, and Joey and Craig roped his boat and then him across to the river left. Joey had a spare paddle and he was all put back together. I portaged drain hole, just didn't like the sneak and wasn't feeling cocky enough to take the main line. So much wood hazard! Joey and David made the sneak look OK but Craig made it look like I had been smart to portage. I also sneaked the big boulder sieve at the takeout. The boys all ran the middle, which I ran last time and didn't like. They were all over the place. I was happy that I sneaked.
Looks like the gang is going to June Creek tomorrow. Meeting at Fred Meyers at 9:30am. Not sure if I'm going. The flow is about the same on the Clack---1,400. The boys will be paddling their play boats.
Terminology for riverese:
baby heads = medium cobbles and rocks that shift around causing the riverbottom to change constantly
blown out = too high, as in a water level that is unacceptable