Now that the gate is open on Slesse Creek, it's finally accessible to paddlers. For a long time I've been touting this as a great training ground for class III boaters looking to step it up.
For those seeking a thrill Ben and I went in there at high water (1.8) in late June and it was a thrilling run at that level that we agreed a class III boater would not belong on. With continuous class III+/IV- and wood everywhere down to keyhole canyon which was a rowdy, somewhat full on class IV/IV+ section at that level with a stout riverwide hole at the exit containing an obvious boof in the middle. It should be said at any level you can easily scout keyhole canyon for wood on your way up, and should do so (there is a road off the right of the main FSR early on that leads to the entrance, and you can hike an established trail with a cable fence down the exit drop). We came out of the run all smiles. We also scouted the Upper above the regular run to find a long clean of wood from what could be seen (90%) continuous class III+/IV- section at that level going almost all the way to the border (Slesse drains off Mount Baker in the states, like the Chilliwack and Tamihi Creek as well), it also had a slightly stouter section with 3 more pronounced drops, but nothing individually spectacular, though it's all pathside but the path start is difficult to find as the road has washed away at the beginning.
I'd ran Slesse Creek early in my boating life at low flows having lots of fun as well, and this last Friday finally got in there at a good medium level with Dave. The level was ideal as Dave finds himself in the nether-regions of the class III to IV boater and finding it hard to find ways to step it up within his comfort zone. Not everyone is as lucky as to have a river with a wide range of difficulty of runs on it like the Chilliwack accessible 20 minutes from home/work that makes it relatively easy to bring it up to a certain level.
As he described it, Slesse Creek is perfect because at medium flows you run down braided class III with the odd optional boof (some good ones!) while keeping an eye out for wood until you get to Keyhole canyon. Keyhole canyon is incredibly user friendly as the entrance can easily be walked, the pre-entrance drop can even be walked, and if you want to the entire short canyon can fairly easily be portaged. Though be mindful at medium flows and up once you put in below the most difficult entrance drop you are committed to the short canyon section and exit drop. Below the braided Creek continues until it marries up with Chilliwack River and shares the Chilliwack Canyon takeout.
Slesse Creek video medium flow by Dave Gerbrandt
Now onto the goods.
Last year I was lucky enough to fire up 2 runs on the Cooper around 1100 cfs, it was amazing, but I was still learning to boat at the time so I was fairly challenged. This year we, along with every boater in Washington apparently, had the idea to hit the Cooper at a perfect medium flow, 1500 cfs. It was a blast.
I'd say the Cooper is comparable to Canyon Creek Lewis in ultra-classicness. It is super accessible, currently super clean with no portages, only a single limbo log, a short hike down to the put in from a paved road, and great camping and usually great weather in the dry non-coastal drainage.
It is a series of ledges spaced apart with medium length pools, medium sized eddies and a couple rapids and multiple move drops. The perfect run to perfect your fading left side boof stroke on. There is one consequential keeper hole, if you get stuck in it, called Norm's Resort, which comes up surprisingly quick. This run could take a long time to fire up with scouting everything if no one knows it, but once it's dialed, laps can be done in under a half hour. I think this weekends record was 14 minutes.
Below are some photos, there are plenty more at lower levels on my August 2011 post 'Washington IV+', or if you search the internet it is very easy to find!
|Annie avoiding the undercut Wall of Voodoo.|
|A look up at the final set on our lower water second day.|
|Denny running into S-bend. By Annie Lagueux.|
|The author boofing the standard S-bend line. Photo by Denny Lunge.|
|Author eating the undercut. By Annie Lagueux.|
|Pristine cliff jumping directly above the takeout. Look at that water. Photo by Denny Lunge.|
|Props to O'Conner Chrysler with hooking me up a vehicle that can easily fit a kayak inside! By Annie Lagueux.|