Sunday, April 15, 2012

Have I told you I love Washington boating...

If I haven't told you how much I love boating in Washington, I absolutely LOVE boating in Washington. I've had the best times down there for whatever reason...maybe because it's typically warmer than BC, I've happened to have good weather when I head down..or simply the cheap beer and food and amazing parks (National, State, you name it) system they have down there with often properly protected 'Wild and Scenic' status waterways. For whatever reason it never gets old, and living a half hour from the border, it's a no brainer to head to Washington. Facilitating the fact is that as of April 1st, they've again raised the rates for BC Ferries over to Vancouver Island (often these are the only easily accessible places running early in the season)...I wonder if it's yet less expensive to drive to Washington and take their ferry to Vancouver Island...?

Anyway, now that my rant is done. It was my second Easter long weekend as a kayaker, and much like the first we did a great road trip down south for some delectable creeking. Last year it was my first ever creeks I was to run, this year we hit all the same ones (CC Stilly, CC Lewis, EFL) plus Opal Creek down near Salem, Oregon. Fortunately the 3 do-overs had much more water, which was a bonus. Opal was lower than I would have liked, but an amazing creek nonetheless which I highly recommend experiencing.

Canyon Creek Stilliguamish near Granite Falls is a great class IV creek run if you're not quite up to Robe Canyon (right beside each other), or wanting something cruisy or to switch it up.

Canyon Creek Lewis is the classicest most classic of classics I've ever had the chance to boat. Class IV/IV+ super pool drop with fun, fun, fun rapids. Including the 'drop zone' with Big Kahuna falls and the back to back Champagne and Hammering Spot. With the added water this time around all 3 falls had amazing autoboof options, Swizzle Sticks was a straightforward ledge boof with a fun, boily gorge to follow as opposed to the technical slot and slackwater gorge I remember from last time. The rapid before the lead in to Big Kahuna has changed quite a bit for the better now featuring an amazing lead in boof into a rather large wave ramp to a constricting hole, tons of fun!

East Fork Lewis River was also way better with more water (but less than requires to run the upper flood run). Both falls are straightforward fun and the rapids and mini-gorge in between are way more padded. The entrance rapid to the gorge is also easier to stay left on.

The new run we got on this weekend is an Oregon classic. Opal creek (actual name is North Santiam Creek) is an amazingly scenic canyon reminiscent of Cameron River on Vancouver Island. With lots of fun class IV drops and two optional class V's (Little Nasty and Big Fluffy). The best part of the run is the end with the 'Doors' rapid giving you 4 distinct options to run, followed by 'Thor's Hammer', a 40 foot natural tower in the middle of the river, and an extremely fun double drop to finish things off! If you want the action continues into Opal Gorge, but this seemed like a lot of work and dealing for the time being, though I would like to hit it in the future.

All in all it was an amazing weekend with more good weather as usual down there. I cannot wait to go back for the Northwest Creeking Competition with races on the EFL and CC Lewis next weekend, hopefully levels are good.

Annie runs the entrance to Little Nasty. Photo Denny Lunge

Annie dropping the final drop of Opal. Photo Denny Lunge

Author slamming Terminator. Photo Denny Lunge

Author dropping Big Kahuna. Photo Denny Lunge

Annie airing out Hammering Spot. Photo Denny Lunge

Scott drops Sunset while the author and Ben chill below. Photo Denny Lunge

Ben running the left slot on Horseshoe. Photo Denny Lunge

All smiles on the river. Photo Annie Lagueux

Denny runs out Little Nasty. Photo Annie lagueux

Dropping the Big Fluffy portage seal launch. Photo Annie Lagueux

Denny finds the Champagne sweetspot. Photo Annie Lagueux

Erik drop left Toby's as the author stands idly by. Photo Annie Lagueux

Chillin' below Opal's last drop, just look at that water! Photo Scott McBride
Author on Opal. Photo Joel Metcalfe
Denny scouts Big Fluffy on Opal. The lead in is like Middle Gordon Entrance Falls on steroids. Photo Joel Metcalfe

Thor's Hammer in the distance. Stay inside and watch your TV, going outside is dangerous. Photo Scott McBride

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