Saturday, November 20, 2004

Canyon Creek

David above the first drop on Canyon Creek.

On Saturday, Joe, David, Nick, Steve and I ran Canyon Creek. This small tributary to the South Fork Stillaguamish packs quite a punch into its 1.3 mile length. The run begins with a sliding ledge hole with class IV runout. Below this entry drop, Canyon Dreek enters a narrow gorge and the houses disappear. Shortly after the entry drop, below some class III busy water, a nice ledge appears. Excellent boulder gardens and ledges fill the riverbed for the next mile.

Photos from this trip are posted in the gallery.

First drop video coming soon
Joe cleans the first ledge
Nick and Steve

Second Ledge
Steve runs the second ledge

The first drop on Canyon Creek.

The ledge from river left.

Nick melts through the ledge hole in the first drop.

Steve bracing for his life as he gets ready to swim the first rapid.

That's me, also about to swim.

The canyon below the first drop.

A shaft of afternoon sunlight filters into the canyon.

Below the second rapid, Canyon Creek drops through a series of complex boulder gardens. The shots below are of one such drop. A good line through this drop is center, just left of the large midstream boulder. While the left looks better, it's worth a scout to locate this center line, which is much cleaner.

David running a typical boulder garden. The center line is just left of the mow, dark boulder on the right side of this photo.

Steve in the same drop.

The next major drop comes above a headwall with a trashy boulder garden above it. At the flows we had today -- 375 cfs -- the only semi-clean line was on the right, forcing a tough ferry in front of the headwall.

Steve in the trashy headwall drop

A trashy drop. Pick a line, ane line. You will hit rocks.

David gets friendly with the headwall at the bottom of the trashy drop.

Joe, Nick and I decide to portage after watching David's swim.

Swimming the trashy headwall drop is not recommended. The drop leads immediately into a busy class III section with few eddies before dropping over a pair of big ledges. This IV+ drop is not portageable and would be very difficult to scout. Run it on the right, and stay in control, for it in turn leads in the biggest drop on the run.

Steve runs the entry to the IV+ double drop

The horizon line of the must-run IV+ drop. This drop is difficult to scout, but can be run cleanly off the right wall.

Looking back up at the crux of the must-run drop.

Closeup of the river right side of the drop.

Immediately below the double ledge, Canyon Creek pours over, through, and around a huge boulder jumble. The best line is far right on the class V drop. A good pool on river right provides a great place to scout, portage, and get set to run this drop. Make sure to start right moving left over the first drop, to avoid a submerged rock. Run the second ledge in the right chute, but left against the boulder.

Steve tries the drop
David tries the drop
Steve, round 2
David, round 2

David swims the class V drop.

Steve, again bracing for dear life in the class V drop. The brace having failed, Steve takes the second ledge head first.

David, making another go of the class V and cleaning it, grinning.

Below the class V drop, the river continues for several hundred yards of fun class IV boulder slaloms, before finally plunging over a small ledge with a huge reversal. Nick ran this ledge far right, and flipped end-over-end, barely escaping getting recirced and worked over in the hole. Excercise caution here.

Nick looks back upstream at the ledge that nearly gave a serious beatdown.

David in the boulder gardens below the ledge drop.

Though the tough stuff is now behind, there remains one last fun ledge before the river eases to class II+ as the confluence with the SF Stilly approaches.

Final ledge video coming soon

Joe, below the final ledge drop.

Steve enjoys the incredible scenery of the lower canyons.

David, proud to have completed his first IK run this month with paddle intact. Way to go David! ;-)

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