Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lake Cr 12/27/8 Video

Video of Devin testing out the Liquidlogic small Biscuit prototype on Grassy Lawn and Mill Wave. As well as myself, Michael and Shannon Williams. The end of the video has what The Horn looks like at 18 feet!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Swollen Sweet Creek Scouting 12/28/8

So I'd heard lots about Sweet Creek near the Lake Creek playboat run for some time but had yet to make the drive downriver to Mapleton and up Sweet Creek Road to the run. With the flooded out Siuslaw at 18.3' there was no chance eith me or Devin would be putting on but we couldn't resist the temptation to drive down and check it out!!

Here's what we saw..... the pics at normal flows around 8.5' are all by EJ Etherington and can be seen on the write up on Oregonkayaking.net. All flood pics are by myself.












Lake Creek Weekend 12/27-28/08

This weekend myself and Devin finally got to see Lake Creek, OR for what it really is and then some. Last year we were only able to make it out for what turned out to be a low run around 8.5 to 9 feet. The good come in around 10.5 and are good with eddy service to 11.5 feet. Friday we decided to head down with Michael and Shannon Williams, weird to say since they just returned after getting married the other week! Congrats ya two.. We planned to head down Saturday morning early, boat, stay the night in Florence and boat again Sunday before returning home.

All went as planned getting down near Mapleton, OR to the creek. As we were driving down I was checking the online gauge located on the Siuslaw River which Lake Creek feeds into near the end of the run. It was coming up from 7.5' Friday gradually and looked to on line for 10.5 to 11.0 for us. We scouted the only real rapid on the run, "The Horn" and got our shuttle done. Michael knows the run very well so he showed us the playspots as we headed down. There are tons of catch on the fly with several named ones like, "grassy lawn","mill wave", "the ledges" and "red hill wave". All were in and we spent most of our time on grassy lawn and mill wave. Devin was finally able to put the prototype small Biscuit through it's paces and he was very excited with it's performance. He's loved his LL Pocket Rocket and now the Biscuit will make that transition into the boat a very pleasant one. During the run the levels kept creeping up and got near 12.0'.

Once done with the run and shuttle we headed into Florence to get a room and eat at the famous clam chowder place "Mo's". Great food at a descent price and we then returned to our room to rest up. During the night the rain kept coming and we found ourselves with just over 16' on the gauge!! Wholly crap! Over 15' it's highly recommended that you're on your game as holes in "the ledges" get very sticky. Luckily for me and Devin was happy to join suit was to hop into our LL Chico and Grande Jefe's instead of the LL Ronin and Biscuit. There would not be much play other than what your could catch as you ripped down river. This isn't a creek at this point! This run rivaled your big water runs like the Lochsa or Crooked in character. Michael only had his playboat so he went down with it and Shannon opted to run shuttle not having a creeker. Good call in my mind.

We put in this time at the upper put-in for a warm up to get a feel of the beast and watch all the wood floating down with us. Creepy watching large tree's to small branches shoot past you when you're on a wave? It also gave me a opportunity to get a feel for my new creekboat! The Grande Jefe is similar in size with the Nomad 8.5 I'd been paddling. I'll compare the two later on. I'm not sponsored like Devin so I have nothing to gain by my opinions. I was very on the Truss with the boat and it proved to perform as I wanted on big water too.

After the warm up we came into "the ledges" starting near the left bank and I watched Michael in his playboat charge over a few large waves. As I crested one I got a glimpse of Michael climbing a huge near river wide ledge hole. What happened next sent a shiver down my spine as I was on the same line. At the top of the hole he was rejected flipping back into the hole and began getting chundered! With what felt time 20-30 mph current I watched for where Michael was getting worked and charged the ledge hole at full speed. I hit the turbo on my shiny red boat and punched the hole within 10 feet of Michael making it through without issue. Michael spent a few in the hole before flushing out after some fun loops. There are multiple ledge holes that you dodge while boat scouting through them. I then found myself in the front and ran "the horn" first. The rapid flushes out at that flow but had some huge waves with laterals crashing in. Good stuff!! Just after "the horn" is another pair of offset ledge holes. At the lower 11.5' we went down the middle in between them. This looked to still be the ideal line. The entrance is a right elbow that wants to push you left as you come into the ledges. We'd initially talked of running the far right but as we creeped around the corner the right hole looked to be scary big and Michael adjusted for the middle line though the holes. It worked quite nicely. The hole was as big or bigger than the next rapid at normal flows, "bus spot". "Bus stop" at 16'+ was nothing but a couple large waves. I briefly caught the first wave and can say I've surfed Bus Stop!! LOL.

"Red hill wave" becomes to ugly holes that Devin spent time in the lower one in the Chico and was happy to playboat out of it. "Mill wave" was in and Michael had a great ride in the wave hole, I blew off being too far surfers right catching it. Devin said he had his best surf in a creekboat on it but the eddy service didn't exist so we were hundreds of yards downstream while he was on it. Bummer...

In the end when we got off the water as Shannon gave me a ride back up to my Subi I found that the creek was at 18.34'!? 18.0' is flood stage for the Siuslaw River and most of the water was coming down Lake Cr. over the Siuslaw. It was just plain BIG!!!


We also went down to Sweet Creek to check it out at flood stage. Pics to come!! As well as video from playboat Lake Creek.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What can you do with a broken creeker? Ideas!

So you creek most of the year and occasionally land on a rock, piton, rock spin, boof a 20' waterfall? By any chance do you end up with a garage full of kayaks? I remember a video from the PDX Film Festival a couple years back my Mike Long in which he is picking through a stack of kayaks to figure the one he wants to take onto the L-Dub. As he grabs one out, he points out the cracks, dents and general shape of the fleet of broken boats much like the Navy does in a ship graveyard.

Only one problem. Steel ships can be stripped and melted down into the next fleet of ships. Not so with the choice of material that gets us down our favorite creeks. There are a few avenues for recycling but to the most part they are just garbage. Even many recycling programs the stuff has no end placement and makes it into the landfill anyway. I've taken that "so called" dangerous asbestos tiles my work removed, triple bagged and I took them to Metro and threw the tiles into a pit not 100 yards from the garbage you took to curb. Hmmm....

Mike Olson or commonly known as "Oly" had given me and my boys a great idea last winter when at New Years they brought out a couple snow sleds made from old creekboats. It's easy to do with a reciprocating saw or other saw.

Here's a few pics of our new Liquidlogic Chico snow sled. It was cut big enough for one or two passengers. The length so far seems to give nice speed on the test run Sunday with the recent and rare dumping of snow in the Portland area.

Devin modeling it out.

Devin and Ryan testing out the tandem capability.

The sled in action at one of Devin's friends neighborhood.

Oddly enough the sled was not my priority of the use of the old Chico shell. It was to be my first attempt at a kayakers x-mas tree? What does that refer to? To me it utilized a broken creek shell, a drill. few strings of lights and a broken paddle. Hmmm... something I have a few of sitting around!! Paddle pieces taken off the river we've carried out and such. I cut the boat in two at the widest point in the midpoint of the Chico for shape and stability with the reciprocating saw, took a 1 1/4 hole saw and drilled through the nose and into the grab opening to place the paddle piece into. I trimmed the length accordingly. Next came the fun part. The lights. I didn't want to just string lights with the wire exposed around the outside. Tree limbs help with that normally so I decided to run the wires internal. Oh boy!! That required taking all the bulbs off the sockets. In this case 100 bulbs. (I was gonna do 200 but two sections of my lights didn't work out of the box so 100 worked for now) I used small style socketed lights with round bulbs for the size and so the round bulbs wouldn't fall back through the holes. 5/16 drill bit did the job.

Ryan was small enough to lay inside the nose and push the sockets into the holes so could put the bulbs on one at a time. This takes a while but it's a fun family project. You can then dress it up as much as you normally would but may need to drill a few hole to attach bulbs or strings on it. Slippery boat is good in the water, not so good to drape ornaments on! :)

Here's a few pics after dressing it a bit. I'm not 100% done yet but you get the idea. Any color would work but the white Liquidlogic plastic gives it a frosted appearance which you normally pay a lot for...

Close of the nose. You can see the bulbs popping through the shell.

A brighter shot to show the kayak tree as it normally looks.

I kinda like this pic for it's night before x-mas look. I'm sure the boys wanta know where the presents are though!

If you have any other uses with pics I'd love to post them as well. I've heard of planters but have no such pics. The mailbox cover on near the White Salmon is a classic too.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

UUC - It all started with a drainplug?

So I haven't posted anything in a bit for the same reason most whitewater blogs have been getting rusty and neglected. No Water!! We did get a good dumping several weeks back and got on Opal Creek a few times before it snowed in, Upper Wind once, we've have gotten on the Truss section of the White Salmon 3-4 times in the past several weekends. At 1.75' and all coming from the top, it's been really good. (except the day me, Devin and Michael Williams all forgot pogies and with 39 degree air and low 40 water it plain sucked. I opted to not run Big Bro' that day cause I could not grip my paddle for sure get the boof off the flake. Sp far I have a good half dozen runs over Big Bro' with improved lines each time. Last weekend it was the Truss on Sat and N Santiam from Big Cliff Dam down to Mill City. Devin took that run off to hang with friends. Friends that don't kayak? Poor kid!! Just kiddin' Dev.

So now ur up to date with the past month.

Devin had gotten sick towards the end of this week so he was MIA on this Sundays trip down the Upper Upper Cispus. Levels for this stout class V run started at 740cfs on the gauge and rose up to near 1000cfs during the day. We expected it was rising with the light rain we had the entire time up there.

UUC 12/7/8 GAUGE

I myself have been fight walking pneumonia the past three weeks and haven't been to the gym during and my skinny ass can use all the muscle it can get. Lung capacity was been the biggest issue and energy levels have been slacking. This trip to the UUC was the first test of my low energy output on a stout run.

After several people fell off the trip emails due to sickness or broken boats it came down to myself, Chris Arnold and Eric Arlington. We all are fairly new to the UUC and plaid it safe most of the way down. The run is by far the most wood infested I have yet to run. Add the steep boulder gardens and things can go wrong quickly. The first warm up waterfall has wood just downstream and while Devin and Joe Stumpfeld ran it my past trip we all walked it on the left with ease. The run was going good and I felt pretty strong which I was happy to see.

I knew of possible wood in the bottom of a drop I believe is called "prelude to island". Oregonkayaking.net shows Jesse Coombs running it in the write up on the far left. Anyway, there is a tree blocking the left to center of the river making you run a sketch middle right line boofing right to cut far river right directly above a wood/ rock sieve. I told Chris and Eric the line we took and they both went without incident and it was my turn. As I made the right boof turn my right blade was too close to the hydraulic and my planned stroke turned into a flip and I got quickly pushed the 5 feet into the sieve! As soon as I touched the wood I knew where I was and pulled my skirt and grabbed onto one of the 6" pieces of wood sticking out of the water to stabilize myself. My boat went into the rock sieves a few feet away. I still had my paddle in my hand. I was able to get myself up onto the bigger rocks and Chris hopped rocks to help me get it unpinned and drained. I'd highly recommend just portaging the whole rapid till the wood is gone on the left. We knew better! Eric while draining more water out while I got over to river right bank dropped my drainplug in the water and was never seen again.

With a little less energy we headed downstream. Another piece of wood "the 3 foot variety" is blocking the center left to right bank. Last time with EJ having more water at that point the line was safer running far left. We all ran it OK but we all kinda boofed up onto the tree with the ability to get denied and pinned. Portagable on the right and visible prior to committing.

Island soon came up and I could feel my lack of motivation setting in. I hate the left slide line as it usually drops you into the bottom hole of the right channel. The right line runs you through a narrow pothole drop about 6' wide. I have yet to see anyone style the first drop hitting their boof. Eric went first. Flipped between holes but rolled up before the second one. I hesitant, went second. I just don't like the drop but portaging is a pain. I had a descent line not flipping or getting stuck in either hole and Chris went last with good results.

At a rapid called "the squeeze" where the river constricts again into a s-turn that slams you into a rock outcropping on the right wall. I once again didn't get the best line and hit my bow on the right wall. It shot up onto my stern, smacked by bow on the over head tree and got violently endered. My back was a little sore from that one. This time I just couldn't get a god setup and had my first swim in a benign runout in quite some time.

More boulder gardens and we had one last portage around more wood. Portage on either side. That and the right hillside slide downstream signals the entrance to the Behemoth Gorge. A fun stretch of holes that would be a lot more fun to get stuck in if Behemoth Falls wasn't but 20 yards downstream!! Christie Glissmeyer and myself both got a quick tour of the last big hole on my last trip. Eric set safety at that hole today which was great to have. I got flipped in the hole but rolled up to catch the right eddy in time.

Chris was on the left bank after running the gorge first and Eric was above me. They both asked if I was gonna be the probe and I decided. Sooner the better I felt. I charged out from the right eddy with good right to left angle over the entrance slide portion of the drop. Last time I fell off the slide into the meat of the falls. Didn't want a repeat!! I charged a bit too hard, hit the flake and shot of the remaining 15'? sideways. Landed upright but the hydraulic quickly flipped me being parallel to the curtain. Rolled up quick to find to my horror the boils were forcing me into a part of the falls I'd only heard about. The eddy pocket left of the curtain!! I tried with all I had, even at 100% I'm doubtful the outcome would have changed.

The eddy is a place one doesn't want to visit! It's about a paddle width wide from left wall to the curtain of the falls. The boils continue wanting to shove you along the wall and into the curtain. I was still in my boat but trapped without either paddlers able to see me or know anything. Chris could see the exit of the falls and knew I hadn't made it out while Eric had no way to know. For the next several minutes I would try to paddle out, get rejected, forced back into the curtain, go up either end that it hit and paddle back away to get spun 180 and repeat. I was not coming out of the eddy without two options: Chris that was on my side of the river got down along the cliffs. I near impossible task without himself falling into the the river or I paddled into the curtain and got the beating of my life and with a slim chance in my mind come out downstream without imploding my skirt, getting shoved behind the curtain in the back in or out of boat. Swimming downstream means I'd be swimming towards my favorite "bastard hole" and a solid class V boulder garden while Chris and Eric could do nothing.

I took being in my boat and stuck till I got put into the curtain against my will or ran out of energy. After what seemed like a lifetime I saw Chris' head above me!! He threw down a rope he'd already anchored off to me. There were not grab point on the wall with the exception of a small pothole a couple of feet up. I tried several attempts at getting my paddle to stay and finally did. The boat was not a option for me to anchor into the rope so I pulled my skirt, holding onto the rope and pulled myself up onto the pothole and my boat disappeared into the curtain. Oh well!

This only provided a short term fix with Chris unable to pull me up from directly above via that rope. I used a carabiner and my safety anchor on the front of my Astral PFD to tie me to the rope. Chris then quickly worked his way downstream and lower to a point he could pull from and wanted to throw another rose to me. The plan: untie myself from the one rope and jump towards downstream aka the curtain and boils. I kept trying to get him to pull me straight up but he said that wasn't a option and after a few attempts to get me the rope. I did want didn't come willing or naturally. Jump. I finally did and I'm glad Chris is big enough anchor to pull me away from the curtain. That then sent me swimming the left line by the "bastard hole" Out of sight I made it to the left bank but the eddy wanted to not make it so easy.

Now safe and below both drops I found my boat and paddle were in the large recirculating eddy on river right next to the falls. I later found that they had decided to throw my paddle from above into the eddy after I'd tied the paddle to the rope I'd been anchored to. I was confused for a second till I found out why. Both Chris and Eric had good lines over the falls. Chris ran the "bastard hole" eddying out river right and Eric paddled into the right eddy to attempt to get my gear out of it's grip. In the end Chris with my PFD throw rope went up over the right cliff to the eddy within a punchbowl and the two of them retrieved my boat and paddle. Chris made a good call and hopped into my Nomad and with my paddle ran the "bastard hole" Eric had already ran it and got stuck in the hole. When he came out of his boat he was briefly stuck in the hole and I found I had neither ropes with me and could only watch hoping for the best. He and his boat flushed out and he self rescued all but his paddle that I could only watch it head through the class V boulder garden till out of sight.

Chris roped me over to my boat and we quickly headed down through the rapid. At one point I ran a drop, flipped getting pushed up against what felt like a large boulder with a small diameter piece of wood against it. I quickly pulled my skirt, flushed around it with boat and paddle into a eddy.

We charged down through the mile or so runnout and got to the take-out at 4:10? It was dark by 4:30! Scary....... :(

That now makes for the worst day paddling in my life. But at least my life goes on!!

Tally for the run:

me - wood/rock sieve rescue
me - 2 swims out of my boat
me - getting stuck in the left eddy of Behemoth
Eric - lost throwbag at Behemoth
Eric - lost paddle (last seen traveling through the last class V boulder garden
Chris & Eric - a shit load of river karma for helping me

me - oh, did I mention my Nomad 8.5 ended up with two large cracks under the seat during the run. I noticed the biggest prior to Behemoth Gorge.

Lesson learned:

Safety classes and continued practice of rescue skills can and will save a friends life.
Always wear a drysuit or equivalent in cold water. It quite possible saved my life several times on the UUC today from hypothermia!!

Video of Chris Arnold on Island rapid.