Monday, July 16, 2007

July 2007: Hood River: CARNAGE!

July 16, 2007:
Wind River and Green Truss

Sunscreen Warriors! (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Water levels in Oregon during the summer are pretty low. The snow melts fast, and by mid-July you are stuck with very few options for both creeking and playboating if you want to leave the town of Bend. Cross your fingers for lots and lots of rain!

Since Christina and I have been staying local more or less all summer, hitting up the local runs such as Meadow Camp, Dillon Falls, Lava Island Falls and Area 51, we decided to take a chance and head up to Hood River to try and find some H20!

Mt Hood (Photo by: Kim Russell)


Christina and Josh McKeown headed up to Hood River to paddle the Wind River before anyone else could beat it up to the Gorge.


Scottie Baker and I left Bend at around 7:30 am, headed for Hood River, where we would meet up with Christina and Josh for some quality creeking! Between lots of good music, naps, and burning fingers on cigarette lighters for no reason (dont ask), we made it to the Kayak Shed in Hood River where we met Christina, Josh, and River ranger Brandon Backman.

Josh Mckeown, Christina Russell and the rest of the crew on the upper Wind River, Wa
(Photo by: Kim Russell)

We made up our minds to run the Green Truss section of the White Salmon as well as the Wind River (both in Washington). Being 10 am and super windy as it usually is in the Columbia River Gorge, it was fairly chilly out. The group decided it would be best to be on the Green Truss at the warmest part of the day (it's a canyon), so we decided to run the Wind River in the morning and the Green Truss in the afternoon. Wohoo!

For everyone out there who hasn't read our previous blogs, according to guidebooks, the Wind River is class IV/IV+ at normal flows. It starts of with a fairly long boulder garden with some good sized drops throughout. About halfway through the run is Beyond Limits, a drop that is more or less a terminal hole (normal flows). Gnarly! Portage on the left over the fishladder if you want to live! (or so we have heard). Below this drop is the Flume, one of those rapids in which you boof hard through the hole and whatever happens happens. At the end of the run is Shipherds Falls, which is usually unrunnable at normal flows due to the deadly weir at the bottom of the drops.

Shipherds Falls (Photo by: Kim Russell)

This past weekend, at about 125 cfs, however, the river was super low, and you used a creek boat not because of the size of the drops but because of the need to keep your bum alive by the end of the run. crap! Since it was so low, too, everything was runnable, including the waterfalls and the weir at the end of the run. Between the drops, the river was super shallow and you did a fair amount of bedroom-stroking (pulling yourself along the riverbed) to get downriver.

The crew below the Flume (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Anywhoo, we put on at about 11:30 am, and made our way down through the rapids, Beyond Limits, The Flume, and Shipherds Falls.

Josh McKeown on Falls #1 in his Jefe (Photo by: Christina Russell)

Christina tucking a little early on Falls #2 of Shipherds Falls (Photo by: Kim Russell)

The crew hangin' out above Falls #3 (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Scottie Baker dropping Falls #2 (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Nitrosisters! (Photo by: Josh McKeown)

Once we got off the Wind and made sure our bums were intact, we all went for some epically awesome $4.00 burritos at a burrito place in Bingen, Washington. (May I recommend the veggie burrito...YUM!) Next up... the Green Truss.

This is how we get boats off off tall trucks (Photo by: Josh McKeown)

The Green Truss is a Class V section on the White Salmon River in Washington with drops such as Elbow Room, Bob's Falls, Big Brother, Little Brother, Double Drop, Upper and Lower Zigzag, as well as BZ Falls. It can be run more or less year round from 1.5 feet up to however high you want. (In the floods this year, the river reached over 16 feet! WOW! Check out our blog from early this year with flood pictures). Most people, however, don't run it at over 4 feet.

The put-in. Looks fun, huh? (Photo by: Josh McKeown)

The run starts off fairly pooldrop with some boulder gardens as well as tight slots. Class IV rapids build in quick succession until you reach Bob's Falls, an eight foot tall pourover with a super sticky hole at the bottom that is known to cause more swims than any other rapid or ledge on the run! That says something! Right below Bob's is another sticky pourover or two, then Big Brother, a twenty-five foot waterfall. When you first look at the falls, it looks pretty straight forward, but it's very deceiving. Most of the water at the lip is moving hard to the left. There isn't really a lead in, but as you paddle to the lip, you have to stay far enough right, fighting that leftward current to not land on the shelf at the bottom on the left. If you err on the safe side and go too far right, you will probably hit the right wall on the way down and end up in the cave at the bottom, either right side up, or upside down. If you end up in the cave upside are in for quite the swim as the walls are VERY VERY undercut. The higher the flow, the gnarlier the swim.

Christina at the put-in (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Today, the gauge read a solid 2 feet on the stick. This level is as good as it gets for summertime creeking (it's the most water anywhere in Oregon!). The crew consisted of Josh Mckeown, Scottie Baker, Christina and I. (Scottie and Josh both paddle yellow Jefe's and LOVE them- watch out for the "twin's" as we like to call them). We all made it through the upper section quickly, taking in the scenery as we went.

Once we reached Big Brother, Christina and I immediately portaged. We don't like the looks of the cave and would rather save ourselves for some other waterfall (more specifically the 12 footer below Big Brother. Josh was 50/50, but Scottie decided to fire it up.

Scottie Baker dropping Big Brother (Photo by Kim Russell)

He had a nice boof but got pushed into the cave immediately upon landing. Ouch! As Christina and Josh were on the pre-portage side of the river, they were able to see Scottie in the cave and what was going on. I guess the second he was pushed in the cave, he was pushed up against the walls, flipped over, and had no choice but to swim. As I mentioned before, the walls are super undercut, so the situation is getting sketchy quick. Christina yelled, "He's out of his boat!"

When you hear these words being yelled across the river to you at Big Brother, your heart starts beating very fast. I ran up to the cave as fast as I could and found Scottie to be stable, holding onto his boat and paddle in the cave. He managed to keep the boat between him and the walls and was okay for now. I clipped into the wall (there are two pieces of webbing bolted to the outside walls of the cave to clip into--it's the only was a rescue can happen), threw Scottie a bag and pulled him out. For the next two hours or so, we went through two pin kits worth of gear while trying to get the boat out: 30 feet of webbing, 3 pulleys, 8 carabiners or so and 3 throwbags). We tried as many systems as we could to get the boat out: semi-climbing on the wall/semi-swimming in the water to the boat (only the boat was so far in that by the time you got half-way there, your legs were all the way under the cave wall-SCARY!), filling a bag with gear and rocks and trying to hook it on somethign in teh boat to bring it closer to us, attempting to find a stick to pull it closer to us, etc. In the end, Josh McKeown ended up jumping back into the cave on a line and clipping another bag onto the boat. We pulled Josh out, then were able to get the boat out.

Kim and Scottie working on the RESCUE! (Photo by: Josh McKeown)

Christina, Kim and Scottie, one hour later... (Photo by: Josh McKeown)

AND! Get this, while the boat was halfway-sinking, halfway subbing out, getting closer and clsoer to being lost forever, Scottie's paddle ended up IN is boat. ON IT'S OWN! Sweet! It was rad! I guess the boat ("Old Yeller") was lonely. haha.

Two and a half hours after Scottie dropped Big Brother, we pulled the boat out. Right now, it was about 5:30 and still had a fair amount of significant drops left. We were all exhausted but decided to push on and finish the run.

Little Brother (Photo by: Kim Russell)

We dropped Little Brother, a clean 12 foot waterfall right below Big Brother, portaged Double Drop, a two-tiered drop in which the river narrows down to about 15 feet. It is a teen foot drop into an eight foot drop, both of which are separated by only enough room to take one stroke between the drops. If you miss that stroke, more than likely you are going to get worked in the lower hole. For the sake of time and lack of energy, most of us portaged this drop, although Josh ran it and barely avoided a beatdown.

We made it through Upper Zigzag smoothly, a Class V rapid where the river narrows again to about 15 feet wide and flows between swiss-cheese like basalt walls. It is fairly intimidating as the walls are undercut and it's usually super hectic in there. I think the first time down this run, Christina and I more or less had a Boatercross going on the whole rapid. haha. This trip, things went smoothly and we found ourselves in the pool above Lower Zigzag in no time. Lower zigzag is a little different than Upper in that it's wider, but there is a flake rock you have to drive hard left of, then a run out of massive holes you have to dodge.

(BEWARE: at the bottom, at high flows, there is a MASSIVE hole on the right. It's hard to tell it's there as it comes after somewhat of a big wave-train and right in front of the hole is a HUGE wave. Yeah-- don't go there. You'll be in there for awhile. But if you do there is an eddy on the right below it for your friends to laugh at you from. :) )

Earlier this year, however, one of the old growth trees that usually lays across the canyon walls high above the river fell in and is now blocking the line. PORTAGE!

Cool fact of the day: There is a cave at lower zig-zag that no one really knows where it's at. Well, it's been found, as you end your portage right below it...check out the picture below of the light coming from the other side... The cave itself is HUGE!

Starting the Portage at Lower Zigzag (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Lowering the boats (Photo by: Kim Russell)

After the portage on the Green Truss (Photo by: Kim Russell)

The cave at Lower Zigzag (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Below ZigZag canyon, the river mellows out and then you reach BZ Falls, a very sticky, super stout Class VI drop. The best of the best swim here and it is virtually a roll of the dice whether you are going to swim or not. Scottie Baker, once again, fired it up, and CLEANED it! Way to go!

Scottie dropping BZ Falls in his Jefe (Photo by: Kim Russell)

We got of the river around 8:00 a full 5 or 6 hours after we put on. Usually the run takes 1-2 hours. It was a long day!

AND as if this blog isn't long enough, the trip isn't over!


Josh and Scottie had to drive back to Bend right after we got off the Truss, but Christina and I decided to stick aroudn in order to have the option of lap 2 on the Truss the next day. Let's just say, we woke up in the morning tired and sore, feeling like he had gotten run over by about 23, yes 23, trucks and decided to head home and hit a play spot on the way: Area 51, where we once again, met up with Josh McKeown and Riot local Jason Aytes.

Check out the shots!

Splitwheel! (Photo by: Christina Russell)

Kim in the Pocket Rocket (Photo by: Christina Russell)

Jason Aytes gettin' a loop in... (Photo by: Christina Russell)

Jason Aytes landing the loop (Photo by: Christina Russell)

Christina testing out the subbing skills of her old boat (Photo By: Kim Russell)
Josh Mckeown (Photo by: Kim Russell)

Josh McKeown...BIG AIR! (Photo by: Christina Russell)

(Photo by: Christina Russell)

If you are desperate to paddle and live in the Northwest or feel liek goin' on a road trip, shoot us an email or give us a call and let's paddle! Wohoo! We've got warm weather for a little while! Yeah baby! See you on the river!

Kimchi :)

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