Sunday, January 9, 2011

Slesse Creek

If you really want to do something, you'll often end up doing it. Ever since the August throwdown when I'd heard Kay mention Slesse Creek and Keyhole Canyon within it, thinking I'd be able to run it by next year, it was on my list of things to do in the shorter term.

Slesse Creek is the biggest tributary to the Chilliwack River and flows in just a bit downstream of the salmon hatchery from the southeast. It actually starts a long way away in Washington State and is known there as Silesia Creek. It flows through military land just before reaching the river and up until recently has been accessible to everybody. As I understand it was a year or two ago a locked gate was placed on the road up to the put-in at around the same time when many gates were sadly put in place in the Chilliwack River Valley.

Rumor has it there are some great class IV/V sections and waterfalls up above the regular put in...but that's another scouting for another day!

The regular put-in is near the military demolition range for Chilliwack. From there the creek is a wider, shallower class III run down to the river, you have to watch out for a couple drops and lots of wood, there were one or two places we had to portage the wood. There is one notable feature on the run and that's keyhole canyon.

Keyhole Canyon is an amazing canyon near the end of the run which you should scout from above on the way up for wood, as it often collects in there. It is an amazing class IV- series of 2 or 3 drops in a short bedrock canyon that from the downstream side looks like a giant classic keyhole! How I wish I had a camera! There are tons of salmon spawning in the pools below. When we ran it we did have to go through a narrow river left chute at the bottom as a log spanned the main run of the river.

Above Keyhole is where the military engineers based in CFB Chilliwack used to practice bridge building...if you ever get the chance to see up there, it would be a pretty scary place to build your first bridge! Probably a good 200 foot + drop to the bottom.

The bad idea was running the creek at a super low level, 0.86, which we knew wasn't too wise, but did it anyway, and most of it was a boat drag over rocks. It was still nice to see and keyhole canyon was still lots of fun, but I'd recommend not running it below 1.4 (which I've heard from a few people) if you're ever heading up that way!

Keyhole Canyon calm bottom at super low flow

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