Monday, July 23, 2012

Rock Creek

Rock Creek is a hidden gem located in the southern Bitterroot range of western Montana. The creek has remained fairly unknown through the years due to its location at the far end of a lake, requiring either a four mile paddle across the lake, or a hike around the bank. Being the resourceful people that we are, we borrowed a company jet boat, and lazed our way across the lake. Arriving at the far side, we had only a short mile or so to hike up to put-in. The creek starts off with a few low angle slides, and then drops into the main rapid of the run. With high flows, the main drop is a ten footer leading into a long slide, then some ledges and boulders, finishing off with a nice mini-gorge. The whole rapid was probably close to a half mile long. Below this was a nice sliding flume, and then an interesting spot where the creeks splits into two channels. The right side is a triple 15 footer set with a questionable landing, while the left side is a log choked double twenty foot falls. If we could get into this drop to clean it out, I suspect it would be one of the best drops in the state. Hope you all enjoy the photos by Rosalynn!

Drinking my booty from Graves Creek before heading up to run Rock Creek.

Beautiful scenery looking towards the South Fork of Rock Creek.

South Fork Rock Creek.

Terrible views on the hike into Put-in.

Stoked to be at put-in. The creek looked more like California than the typical Montana bushwhack adventure.

Frank and I scouting the middle of the main rapid. The log jam to the right looked nasty, but fortunately was not a deal breaker as so much water went to the left.

Frank Preston running the lead-in drop to the big slide.

Casey Wilcox about to hit the bottom kicker on the slide.

Casey, all smiles as usual.

Ryan Knight dropping in.

Ryan styling a fun boof below the slide.

Ryan just above the last mini gorge section.

Martin on the slide.

Hey, where are you going with my ball?

Looking back upstream towards the biggest rapid. Just downstream from Casey is a nice flume slide. We had some interesting carnage about five minutes after this photo was taken...

Casey about to hit warp speed.

Ryan, hot on Casey's heels.

Well this could get interesting...

After an unfortunate dual pin on a downstream rock, Casey and Ryan were both out of their boats and swimming. They managed to recover Ryan's boat rather quickly, but Casey's Burn was swept downstream over the triple 15 footer set. we found the boat pinned in a sieve half way down and after some creative rope work, managed to pull it free. Luckily, we found Casey's camera just downstream in some bushes, safe and sound in its Watershed bag. Whoop Ya.

Martin trying to catch up with the downstream swim team.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

High Water Bear Creek Fun!!

"So, how's  she lookin?" I ask Matt as he walks back up from the creek's bank. He chuckles, and replies, "Well, it's not low. That's for sure." 

Not low. Huh. Now there's an understatement. 

We gear up in the parking lot, attach our boat backpack systems, and begin the trek upstream. After hiking for around a mile, we reach Brave Bear Falls, the culmination of the run, and the take-out point. Looking into the meat of the slide, a normally prominent rock is now fully underwater and invisible in the massive pillow forming upstream. My sphincter tightens. Matt and Zach laugh nervously. Yup. It's not low. 

Unabashed, we continue upstream, scouting the major drops as we go. The "Tijuana Crack Whore" looks spicy, with a nice juicy lead-in. The nice thing about this flow is that the crack that runs down the middle of the slide, notorious for smashing elbows, is now covered. Around the corner, we take a peek at the Money Slide, Log Drop, and Airplane Turn. It all looks good to go, minus most of the usual eddies. 

We finally make it to the put-in slide, the Big EZ, and peer downstream. We all seem to take our time at the put-in, and after a few minutes longer than usual, we are ready to rally. 

The paddle down was awesome. After all the anticipation, it was nice to be on the water and let instinct take control. The Big EZ flew by in a flurry of splashes and giggles, followed immediately by the Jedi mank of the Swiss Chute. We managed to catch a small eddy before dropping into the Airplane Turn, and launching a sweet boof in the center of the creek. Below this was some fun to be had at Log Drop, and then the Crack. 

The Tijuana Crack Whore, or TCW, is a tricky slide with a boulder garden lead-in to the main drop. The idea is to run the slide straight, either forward, or equally as common, backward. At this point in the season, I am 4 for 5 on keeping it straight, but on this day, I ran about half the drop stern first. 

After catching the eddy below TCW, we all decided to call it a day there. To go beyond this point, with this much water would necessitate running Hotel California, a slide into a massive hole. You can check in, but you can never leave. If you do make it through the hole, then you are pretty much committed to running Brave Bear, which looked heinous. We decided to play it safe, and save the lower section for a day with less water.

Two days later, I returned with Zach, as well as a few others, and ran the same section at even higher flows. Definitely sporty, to say the least. 

Enjoy some of the photos Rosalynn took!

Bear Creek Trail.
Looking up the first third of Brave Bear.
Flowers and Whitewater. Good times in the Montana sun.
Bear Creek scenery.
Fresh growth for the new year.
Matt and Martin coming through the bottom of Airplane Turn, and headed towards Log Drop.
Martin dropping into the Log Drop.
Money Slide. Around the corner is TCW.
Matt Sylvester, coming in hot on TCW.
Martin, about to go backwards through the bottom hole.
Zach Campbell, making it look easy on the TCW.

High Water and Bushwhacking... Idaho's Finest

The Lochsa River in Northern Idaho not only offers up some great big water fun, but as we found out during mid-May, it also hides a few secrets up its sleeves. Or rather, the secrets are hidden in its tributaries. The one other thing we found out, is that food poisoning while camping sucks. The up side to this is that you can simply roll out your tent door to vomit. No rush to the bathroom necessary. 

We arrived at the Lochsa May 16, and found a nice juicy 9.5 feet, or thereabouts at the put-in. Stoked on the high water, we rallied a lap, and then went to find a camp. The next morning, we decided to make a quick trip up one of the tributary streams to search out a falls that is visible on Google Earth. In doing so, we learned several valuable lessons. First, Google Earth is not completely reliable for gauging distances. Bring a map. Second, when you think something is "only a few miles up the trail" double check that. 

After about five miles of bushwhacking upstream, we finally arrived at our destination. A beautiful waterfall set in a scenic Idaho canyon. The flow was about 10 times what we expected, and the three of us were very happy to have not packed in our boats. Looking intimidating, and mostly unrunnable, the falls plunged around thirty feet into a massive boil, where most of the water recirculated into a cave behind the falls, and the water that flushed went straight into a nasty sieved out mess downstream. 

Happy to have made it to our goal, we headed back to the car in search of food, intent on returning as soon as flows looked less than deadly.

Lochsa Area Rainforest.

Rosalynn, happy to have at last found some sort of trail, and a lot farther from home than expected.

Ummm, so Where are we again? And where the hell is this waterfall?

Finally. The falls from the river right cliffs.

Close up of the Falls. Notice the big cave on the left side of the photo.

And the run-out from the drop... Nasty.

Jesse, trying to become an American Whitewater accident report.

Wrangler sizing up the falls for the first Canine decent. 

Big water Lochsa fun.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bear Creek, Bitterroot Range

This past weekend we made a trip up to Bear Creek in the Bitterroot Valley. A warm spring day coupled with fantastic whitewater and good company made for an awesome trip down this Western Montana classic. 

To gauge the flows for this run, the difference between the gauges on the Bitterroot River at Darby and Victor should have about 600 to 800 cfs difference. On this day we had a flow difference of 800 cfs, which seemed like a great level. 

The drops were nice and padded, but not pushy and there were plenty of eddies available. The section starts off with a great slide, the "Big Easy" shown in the video. Below here there is some classic Montucky mank that plummets down a narrow chute, before reaching Airplane Turn. After this is another fun boulder garden, and then you are off to visit the Tijuana Crack Whore, which goes surprisingly well. Below here are some more fun low angle slides before Hotel California, which we portage this run, and then the grand finale of Brave Bear Falls. Matt decided to fire off the falls, while I puckered, and opted for a nice lil portage. 

Here is a short video from the day that Rosalynn was nice enough to film for. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kootenai Creek

With the temperatures finally warming in the valley, and some light rain over the weekend, we were finally able to get some good boating done. Kootenai Creek lies down the Bitterroot Valley, about 40 minutes Southwest of Missoula, MT. It is a short, but sweet section of creek, and easily accessible with a 10 minute walk. The creek itself consists of some boogie ledges, a nice little 10 foot drop, some more boogie, and finally a fun set of ledges and a slide at the end of the creek. The entire run is maybe a half mile long, but its proximity to town, and the ability to easily run multiple laps make it a worthwhile endeavor.

Looking upstream toward the put-in. The biggest drop is visible just under the tree.

Yesterday, we had a good crew consisting of Myself, Jesse Dagle, Shawn Robertson, Frank Preston and Jason Shredder. Between the five of us, we had two swims, a pin, two oddly wedged paddles, and one broken paddle. Not to mention the two rock-check-to-bounce-to-face-plant maneuvers executed flawlessly by Shawn and I. Having said that, this creek is super fun, and in my opinion, underestimated.

Martin Belden running some delightful Montucky mank.

Jesse managed to capture a few shots of the day, but sadly the carnage went undocumented. Until next time, that is.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thank You Astral Buoyancy!

I would like to give a huge Thank You to Astral Buoyancy, and Bryan Owen for their continued support during the 2012 season.

In this sink or swim world that we live in, Astral continues to help the swimmers amongst us stay afloat.

Stay tuned for more updates as the weather warms, and good lines!