Monday, July 14, 2008

2nd Descent of the Upper North Fork of the Tumalo

Bend, Oregon
Date: July 15, 2008

Hey hey people! This summer has been a hot one here in central oregon and because of a heavy winter, this means lots of good creeking.

This Sunday I headed up to the Upper North Fork of the Tumalo. The first descent was accomplished by Josh Mckeown and Scotty Baker on the previous weekend- sadly I was unable to be a part of the 1st D as I had a 12 hour work day :(.....BUT the 2nd D was just as amazing.

To get to the Upper NF, prepare to off road for roughly 1 hour. We were within 2 miles of the creek when we came to a gate....a gate that the forest service in all its wisdom decided was best kept closed. Hmmmm not sure what that was about because it is always open on Sundays! Josh managed to find an alternative "road" through the trees and around the gate but this was not without casualties later on. Note- make sure you dont try to drive a BIG vehicle back here between the just wont work. Also, note the width of your roof racks and realize that the skinny branches are tougher than they look! More on this later.....

Anyways, so it's about 2-2.5 miles up the road from the gate. Once we got there, we hiked down to check out the were they NICE! This was only the second descent so we were still learning about the drops. One thing we did know was that water behaves very different when it is a low flow. This also means you have to paddle different.....yes yes I will remember that next time! The current moves right along!

We began scouting drop one which had a nice log in the top right portion of it. The decision was made to pull the log and I climbed down below to retrieve it from the pool...ha ha ha I kept thinking "Why is the smallest person of the bunch the one grabbing the big tree?" Dont ask me!

The first drop was now looking great so we fired it up....
If you look closely, Josh is firing up the first drop. (Below) This drop had a super bony entrance that would easily pin ya if you werent on top of things. It's a falls into a rocky slab so boofing is not a good idea......if you just go with the flow it's a smooth ride. :)

Photo: Christina Russell
Paddler: Josh Mckeown

(Above) Photo: Scotty Baker
Paddler: Josh Mckeown

Josh and I fired up the second falls- a super shallow landing with a log in the landing zone. Make sure you boof it or you'll be feeling it in the morning! While we ran the drop, the rest of hte crew portaged to scout the next falls.....

Here are two kick butt members of the crew, John Cramp and Kirk (Below)

The best drop of the whole run is just downstream of the shallow ten footer. Here it is....

(Above) Photo: Josh Mckeown
Paddler: Christina Russell

It's a 30 foot splash and giggle slide. We ran it down the right side, just to the right of the sharp flake in the middle. It was definitely the most fun on the run and one of the best drops I think Ive been lucky enough to do. Thank you river gods!

(Above) Here is Josh running the 30 foot slide. Look at the Jefe doin' its job! It's still the best creeker out there!

Everyone in our crew fired up the slide and we were ready to head further downstream. I should let ya know that if you think you've experienced cold water, you probably haven't! This was snowmelt- and the source was not far above the run. I dont expect the water was over 40 degrees!

The riverbed spreads our a bit below the falls so the depth gets more shallow...ugh. Thankfully none of the river rock was sharp lava! How cool is that?! EVerything here in bend that we've been running has lava rock in it. Super sketchy to swim here for that reason. But on the Upper NF of the Tumalo, it was smooth rock all the way. AWESOME! I got out to get a few more pics....

(Above) Looking downstream of the falls-isnt Oregon beautiful!?
Photo: Christina Russell

Around the corner is a two tiered drop that flows into an undercut wall. The water flows over a shallow ledge that's roughly ten feet high and then down a 3 foot ledge. BUT....the landing is SUPER shallow. 4 out of 7 hit rock bottom. Right down the center allowed for a plug but if you wanted to run left, you had to boof. On this run down, my method for running ultra shallow drops was more of a sideways boof. Ha ha it totally worked!

(Above) Me side boofing the second to last ledge
Photo: Josh Mckeown

(Above) and here I am on the last ledge.
Photo: josh Mckeown

Tumalo Creek is a gem of the Northwest. It only runs when there is enough snowmelt so you have to plan on being there on a hot day. We ran this when it was 95 degrees out and crystal clear. I would expect that with a heavy rainstorm, this would also be runnable. The toughest part of the whole thing is geting in and getting out....

Josh and I were concerned about getting back up the hill we came down as the top soil is extremely loose. Josh got some good speed and with me spotting the line, he drove up between the trees. It was all looking good until the front left roof rack got yanked off by a tree branch! NO!!!! I tell you I was paying attention but there must have been a branch I didnt quite see. :( At any rate, we made it up the hill ok and the roof rack was fixable. That was a close one. The other vehicles quickly followed with a near flat tire and a side mirror that almost got ripped off. Yah so it was a bit manky but no vegetation or vehicles were harmed!

The creek was absolutely amazing and one I hope to get back on here soon! Until then, Im off to scout out another creek....stay tuned for pics!


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Big Brother Footy

Thank you Ryan Scott for taking this video! Check out his site at


Friday, July 04, 2008

California Update 2008

photo: robin betz

One of the best memories I have from California is meeting Kaweah River Keeper Bill Pooley. In between highwater runs on the Kaweah Bill filled us in with the rich stories about everything from swimming after too many beers on the river, to unrecognized first descents, to stories about all our friends who had met him in years past. If you need to know anything at all about the Kaweah's or Three Rivers just visit Bill's page or drop him a note - Kaweah River Page.

Bill Pooley with Chris
photo: robin betz

The East Kaweah was still too high, so one day we ran around and looked at the South Kaweah ( it needed more water, and so did Clover Creek), so we went and ran the Hospital Rock section of the Kaweah at stompin' good flow.
Shout out to BC paddler Corey Boux - who bombed down with us at 5.5 on the stick guage. It was too high for Zero to Sixty but the 420 gorge and everything else was full of good water boofs, curlers, and stompin holes - High Side of Good!!!
Then took a day off and went cliff jumping...
photo: daniel windham

After chillin' in Three Rivers for a couple of days with Bill, we decided that Dinkey Creek would be dropping in just perfectly. It was so exciting to find all these places and show ourselves down for the first time. Stanley and Holbec give you the minimum directions you need to find your way there, as if they want you to enjoy the same sense of exploration as they experienced back in the day.

looking down into dinkey creek...
photo: robin betz

So yea, we took the scenic route to Dinkey Creek, a little offline, and missed our cut-off time to start hiking in. We were also taken aback when we were scouting to find the trail and witnessed a black hawk helicopter extracting hundreds of pounds of marijuana from the tributary we were about to hike down to get to Dinkey.

photo: robin betz

We decided to avoid potentially getting shot by the DEA and camped out at Ross Crossing bridge and waited till the next day to start hiking. It was a dirty start to the two trip down Dinkey, but all the millions of gigantic-super-clean drops on Dinkey definitely made up for all that b.s.

Clayton Gaar in Spike:
photo: robin betz

Adam Secrest in the sweet-as S-turn rapid...

photo: robin betz

One of the very few portages on Dinkey Creek...
photo: robin betz
Day 2 - Adam in the Perfect Horizon Line ...
photo: robin betz

More stories and photos at Astral Buoyancy

and Shred Ready

Big Waves in the Desert

When my microbiology final was done on Friday, josh and I split from Bend with a fully loaded Tacoma. We wouldnt be home for a full two weeks so we had lots of stuff with us. Josh declared he would be driving the entire way.....poop on that I say but then again, when I drive, I need a pillow under my bum and behind my back to see over the dashboard! ha ha ha unless Josh wanted to move the bench seat forward a foot, it's tough. All Josh needed to get there was a few energy drinks, a Quiznos, and a good surf wave at the end of the road. That can be arranged :)

It's a three hour drive to Hood River (Below) and from there it is an additional four hours to the small town of Cashmere.....yep...those energy drinks saved us. In the middle of a friggin desert, the Wenatchee River has some of the best play I have ever seen...and about twenty minutes away is some stout creekin!

At the flow of about 5600 cfs, Granny's Wave is the best play feature to hit. It's right off of the road and there is never anyone there....only negative is that you have to hike up every time you take a ride.....see what I mean? (below)

so aside from the hike, she's a perty perfect spot to play- especially for us Oregonians who arent blessed with great playboating...but we DO have creeking :D This was actually our second time playboating since last October so we were both a bit rough to start. However, after an hour or so of floppin around on the wave, we had things figured out...and I was HAPPY :)

Josh was pretty happy too :).....

Icicle Creek Canyon:

Every night we headed West toward Leavenworth to camp along Icicle Creek. It is an amazing place. Crystal clear water and one impressive creek.....

The middle section is a solid class 5+ run and at the juicy flow it was, we didnt touch it. Two people on that run is sketchy. The lower is a class 4+ but most everything was flushed out so we passed on that too! We decided to just play on the Wenatchee and return at a later time to run Icicle....

Below is a drop on the middle
We had about six days of amazing playboating at Granny's Wave and I know we will return next year! Stay tuned for the next post on the Women's Paddling Festival in Hood River, OR!

Happy Paddling,
Christina :)