Feb 14, 2011

Winter: Update

some epicness in Greece I stumbled on
courtesy of Whitey White, really.

The rains have come and so has the cold, snow and general nippiness you get living in the mountains. Haven't been skiing in the last 2 years because boating (and recovering from boating) keeps the lot of my time. 4 PFD's (personal first descent) this year so far, and some sick trips in between including this one to Nicaragua.

         Ernie's Canyon:  

Ernie's - now taking reservations

One of the new runs I got on, Ernie's Canyon, defies description. And I should say before offering any description that it's the scariest bit of whitewater I've paddled. Ernie's is serious. You know it even before you hear about it. You know there is a run out there like it. From the time you get your copy of the Bennett Book and start looking through ALL of the different rivers around here, discovering the ratings system and all the "crazy" class V-VI runs that you are NEVER going on. You haven't even heard of Gorge Beasts yet!!

Scannin' the scene, lookin' fer Gorge Beasts

Fish and Totten discuss 'options'

Once you're in it don't stop

Days go by, weeks, months even. There are    so    many    rivers        in Bennett's Book...
Then one day, you find it: Ernie's Canyon. How can this be so close to Seattle?!?

The run starts with class III warm-up and soon after you pass through class III/IV Hancock Rapids, the river enters Ernie's Canyon. From this point the river drops through two miles of big and powerful drops. The first of these is Raft Catch, where you get out on river right to scout or portage. This drop marks the start of an intense half mile of whitewater where pools are non-existent, eddies are few, mostly hidden, and rarely hold more than two boats comfortably. It's a river without waves-the water is moving too quickly, through holes and over ledges. It's not boat scoutable and the walls are steep.

Life from then on is not the same. Ernie's has lots of big lines and classic drops. That said, there is a sense that there are forces at work trying to kill you. Maybe slightly dramatic. Nevertheless...

Toilet Bowl ~ with a big storm sewer
of a rock sieve just downstream. 

 With drops like Raft Catch, Manky Mannequin, Little Nasty, Cool Rapid, Room Of Doom, Big Nasty, and Hard Left, you are guaranteed to blow out an adrenaline valve. There are plenty more without names, as well. Portaging isn't easy either. You wanna go in feelin' goood, brah.  Here is a sweet video of Ernie's from fellow Creek Sider, Dan Patrinellis. Dan likes makin' it look easy steezy.

     Deer Creek:

Another I got on this year was Deer Creek. With 1200 cfs being the 'low end', this is no creek my friend. Deer Creek is a river! Of course getting in to sweet rivers like Ernie's and Deer Creek usually involves some sort of...
Joe and Fish (I know there's a Country Joe and the Fish joke in here somewhere)
lament the fun mile stroll in to Ernie's  

 ...or fun woodsy hike in to Deer Creek
Don't worry though. Gate assisted hiking will be the least of your worries. It's refreshing to be among woodsy critters in the forest on the way in to a sweet run. Especially in winter. I really love the winters here in the PNW.

Deer Creek is serious.   photo: Dan Patrinellis
This is how much time you have to get your shizz together
between Fluffy Bunnies and the next big juicer!!

Who put the 'creek' in Deer Creek? This stuff is BIG!!
Joe routes the juice.

Sure, there's a gate. Go in early. Sure, you go for a walk through the woods to get to the river and there could be a branch or two in the way. Strong boat scouting skills will get you to the top of Hudson. Venture too far and you could be in for trouble. Hudson ends in a near river-wide stomper.

Hudson    photo: Dan Patrinellis

Adrian charges the scary ferry @ Hudson
Deer Creek doesn't stop

The hills around Deer Creek are being chopped down. It's part of what adds to the Deer Creek flavor. Just make sure you make it out before the loggers do.

Get out before the loggers do.

Othewise, Baby spends the weekend in the woods.

    Carbon Canyon:

Found my way back to the Carbon after 5 or 6 years. Still super cool. Classic classic box canyon, complete with a 150 foot rap in from the canyon rim.

Dave Moroles has this run dialed and shows the bros down the river. There is one typical portage a few drops into the run. I would say, all in all, this is the crux of the run. As the water gets higher it makes getting out of your boat much harder. Once one person is out it becomes much easier. They can grab your bow and pull you up onto the rock slab which is at the lip of the portage. The challenge, of course... there has to be a 'first guy'.

Carbon River - Landslide Section

Carbon - 'classic canyon'

This last update may come in handy for upcoming Creek Sides missions this spring. Carl, from Kayak Hot Dogs has come up with a fairly simple backpacking system that looks good and for the price you have to try at least once. Thanks, Carl.

More Creek Sides trips planned this spring, kiddies. And as soon as I get my act together, i.e. a reliable internet connection, Winter Update pt 2 will be up before you know it!! Keep yer head up.

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